Tabletop and video games have branched out since the advent of such classics as “Monopoly” or “Pac-Man.” Today’s games often involve intricate strategies or cooperative gameplay, and video games have started to rival big budget films with their visual effects and A-list actors.
Like the film industry, technology has made it easier for games to be produced right here in Vermont, and many of them will be on display at this weekend’s Champlain Games Festival.
Festival creator Curtis Aube, who founded Ketos (pronounced Kay’-tos) Games with his wife, has been a part of the gaming community in Vermont for a handful of years.
A graduate of Essex High School in 2004 and later Vermont Technical College, Aube works as a software engineer for MyWebGrocer, but in his spare time, he follows his passion of developing educational and family friendly games.
“I love being creative, that is a huge piece of it, but there is also the side that I want there to be very healthy games that have no profanity or gore or violence – things of that nature,” he said.
Aube identified the need for this festival since Champlain College discontinued the Green Mountain Gaming Festival in 2015, where he exhibited one of his most successful games, “Marble Muse.”
Although Aube remained part of a video game development group that would meet regularly, it was clear this sizeable community still needed an outlet to share and test their projects with the masses.
“I decided to just go for it,” Aube said. “I was even surprised how large the tabletop community was here.”
Emulating other gaming conventions that have popped up around the country, the Champlain Gaming Festival allows exhibitors to share their video, tabletop and card games that are still in development, giving game creators a chance to receive feedback about their projects.
“Most important is gameplay,” Aube said. “You can put all the polish on a game you want, but if it still isn’t fun, who will want to play it? Find out if it is fun, then make it look pretty.”
As an active Christian, it was also important to Aube that the festival be appropriate for all ages. Even though many of the games have not yet received a rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board, Aube asked exhibitors to do their best to imagine what rating their game would earn and to not submit their game if it would warrant an “M” or mature rating.
There will also be a section of the festival run by Carnage, an annual convention in Killington, where visitors can bring their favorite tabletop games and play against others attending the festival.
The Champlain Games Festival takes place this Saturday at the Champlain Valley Exposition from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. For information or to purchase tickets in advance, please visit the festival’s website.