Opttacon 2019 may not have drawn the crowds that it did a year ago, but that doesn’t change that it was and event that shows off Sequim’s fun side at the table.
“Even if we have less people here this year, we’re still having a lot of fun,” event organizer Jeff Tingelstad said.
The board gaming-centric event returned to the Guy Cole Event Center at Carrie Blake Park on Aug. 17 and drew only about 70 people — compared to about 150 a year ago — with an unfortunate scheduling coincidence taking a big chunk out of Opttacon’s crowd.
“We knew we would be going up against the Clallam County Fair,” Tingelstad said, “but Dragonflight (a bigger game convention in Bellevue) wound up being this weekend too, and a lot of people went there instead.”
However, Tinglestad said he didn’t let that get him down.
“This just gives our vendors more time to spend with our attendees, and our attendees more time to spend with the games,” he said.
One of those vendors was Cherry Picked Games, who had a demo available of a new two-player cooperative planetary exploration game called Far Away. Several of the attendees spoke glowingly about the game, enjoying the cooperative aspect of it instead of going head-to-head competitively.
“We wanted to create an experience for people who enjoy playing games but don’t want to have that antagonistic aspect to it,” said Anne Nautsch, one of the founders of Cherry Picked Games.
Her partner, Alex Jerabek, is the creative designer of the company. He added that they thought there was a need for “a game that couples can play without getting mad at each other.”
“Well, until you get each other killed in the game,” Anne said, laughing.
Several comic artists were present as well, including Cammry Lapka of Pugmera Studio, a Port Angeles-based artist who also designed the convention’s t-shirt.
“Events like this are fantastic to get the word out about what I do, and just to meet more fun people who like the same kinds of things that I do,” Lapka said.
Even with a smaller crowd, the guests still were having a good time, getting the opportunity to sit down with numerous new games. One man from Port Angeles even admitted that he had hardly played board games other than classics like Monopoly before, but came to learn.
“I always see these cool games in stores, but I’ve never had a chance to play them,” he said. “Now I may have to buy a few to take home.”
While Tingelstad wasn’t too upset about the lower-than-expected attendance under the circumstances, he’s still looking at potentially finding a new venue for next year’s edition of Opttacon.
“With the cost of renting the Guy Cole center going up, I’m not sure we can justify coming back here next year,” Tingelstad said.
“Especially if we go back to a full weekend event like we had last year, it would take up the entire budget just to rent the place. There would be nothing left for gifts for people coming here or vendor support or anything else like that.”
Tingelstad did say that he’s still thankful to the city of Sequim for letting him get his convention established at the Guy Cole Event Center, but financial realities mean it just may be time to move on.