Metatopia is a must-attend event for aspiring game designers, and is an invaluable resource for established companies in the field.
It’s sort of a “reverse convention”; companies are encouraged to bring their new designs and ideas to be both playtested and discussed in depth. For playtesting, the fine folks at Dexposure (who have honed their convention-hosting skills with both Dreamation and Dexcon) will put you together with players (or other designers!) who share certain things in common with your game.
For instance, if you’re going to be playtesting a game that deals with Tarot cards, the pre-convention questionnaire will ask how interested you are in Tarot cards on a scale of 1-10, and match up relevant interests. I will certainly be availing myself of it in a big way next time the con comes around.
For players, Metatopia is a unique opportunity not only to get a sneak peak at what some of your favorite game companies are cooking up, but also to have a real chance to influence the design of the game with your feedback. This is an opportunity you don’t get every day in many cases, and I know a lot of people jumped at the chance.
The panel and seminar track was for me the high point of the convention. It was like going to a game design and publishing university. Some of the leading lights and rising stars of the gaming industry were there (both RPG and board games; I was particularly delighted by the fact that they didn’t focus completely on one or the other). I took dozens of pages of notes on everything from printing options to marketing to playtesting strategies to ways to communicate with a team collaborating over the web to put together a game. Kickstarter.com also had someone there to give a presentation; an acknowledgement of just how important that crowdfunding website has become in a very short period of time.
This convention was worth every penny and every minute I spent there. Plus given the spectacular location (easy walking distance to scores of excellent restaurants of just about every cuisine imaginable, a very nice hotel, and free parking), it’s become an instant must-attend in my very limited schedule of convention-going.