MCBD – A Journey to the East

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So first of all, what exactly IS the MCBD ? I mean I’ve mentioned it multiple times under the header of “a special board gaming event in Korea” but that could be many things, so let me elaborate. The Korean board gaming market is fascinating, it’s full of some very bright and creative individuals that have started to turn their efforts to what is an emerging new market in their country. Rising 5 is just one of the great projects to be coming out of Korea and we’re certain to see many more over the coming years.

The MCBD or Master Class of Boardgame Design was an event meant to stimulate and titillate these new actors in the board gaming industry. Organised by our own Kevin of Mandoo Games, he secured an amazing location in Seoul before inviting industry professionals from all over the world to speak about their adventures and share their knowledge.

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Amongst those very generously invited to Korea by Kevin was the creator of Jenga; Leslie Scott, Anita Landgraf of White Castle, Nobuaki Takerube from Japan Brand, an author who needs no introduction; Bruno Cathala as well as M. Dutrait and myself! Through all this the participants learned about creating games, illustrating them and getting them onto the market, whether it be European, Asian or Kickstarter!

Now I can only speak for myself and Vincent, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that all the speakers had an amazing time. We were exceptionally well received by Kevin and the event went off flawlessly, which is pretty impressive by itself! Over 200 artists, authors, publishers and teachers (educative board games being a big thing on Korea) turned out to list to us and sat through hours of “lectures” before barraging us with their own question. Therefore, saying that the audience was interested and invested would be an understatement.

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Speeches aside, we also sat down for some one-to-one “coaching” sessions with authors to look at their games and give them some advice on how to develop them. Obviously for myself it was from a Kickstarter perspective but Anita and Takerube were also present to offer advice for the traditional market. I saw some pretty good games there, some needed work but they all had potential, we may even see as HGG projects later on, who knows!

There were also two tournaments, one for Jenga (which is a sight and hear to see I assure you) as well as Bruno’s new game: Kingdomino with ample prizes handed out to participants. A big raffle saw people walking away with even more games and even a Vincent Dutrait original and there was plenty of casual gaming and showing off of projects going on. Kevin really pulled out all the stops when organising the event and it created a fun yet professional atmosphere, which is important as I believe it is the event’s strength and what sets it apart from any other event I’ve attended.

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You see, as amusing as Spiel or Gencon are they are hectic and tiring affairs. You’re constantly dashing all over the place whilst trying to keep an eye on your stand and most meetings are held in, shall we say, less than optimal conditions whilst constantly keeping an eye on your watch to make sure you don’t fall behind. Don’t get me wrong, it does the job but the MCBD offers a different solution. By putting you in its rather particular atmosphere it makes you feel like you’re a simple attendee and so you can just kick back, play some games and chat with those around you, a very rare occurrence for industry professionals at events.

Of course the business follows suit, impossible not to talk shop and exchange ideas with so many passionate people around you. This is why I was so pleased to be part of this, the first iteration of the MCBD. It’s why I’d jump at the opportunity if invited back but it’s also the reason I’d return in any case, just for the professional and social opportunities this event shines a light on.

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On the other side of the aisle, I can only assume that everything was just as good. I don’t speak Korean so I can only base this opinion off of feedback I’ve received but people in general seemed thrilled with the event and, most importantly, motivated to go out there and create. What more could you ask for?

It wasn’t all work and no play though. Korea is an amazing country and even after my second visit there I’m still eager to go back and explore it some more.  We also got the chance to visit Seoul, lodged as we were in the Gangnam district, which of course meant lots of sightseeing, nightlife and of course famous Korean cuisine which is always a delicious affair! Of note was the game bar “Small World” held by Juhwa Lee, the author of Minuscule which is probably the best board game café I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting in terms of choice, décor and atmosphere!

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Things didn’t end with the convention for us though as we were spirited way to the island of Jeju just of the south coast of Korea as a thank you for participating in the event. As far as I see it, we’d already been amply thanked with everything that Kevin had put together for us so this was above and beyond the call of duty but it’d be an insult for this to even sound like a complaint! The island, in reality the flanks of a now dormant volcano and its 300+ satellite volcanoes is an amazing place, rich in natural beauty, amazing venues, and just everything you could want from a holiday destination such as this (as it is to the Koreans). The trip there was truly the icing on an already very tasty cake!

You only get one chance to make a good first impression as they say and Kevin really nailed it with the MCBD, enough to make myself and all the others that attended want to come back for a second. On top of that, as much as I do love visiting korea, I can definitely see the promise in hosting one of these events in both Europe and the U.S. in order for even more people to experience it’s unique qualities and profit from them!

Whilst I’m here, I can only encourage you, reader, to go and visit the amazing land that is Korea, it really is a fabulous and exciting country! On top of that, if you’re a professional in the industry, do give some thought to attending the event next year, I hear there’s already been quite a few volunteers for speakers and sponsors!

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A big thank you and congratulations to Kevin and all his team for a job impeccably done, to all my fellow speakers for the time spent together and the amazing stories they shared and to you guys for reading all this! I look forward to seeing you there in 2017!

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