News Digest 128

This is a copy of the “script” we used to organise Brainwaves Episode 127. It is not a full transcript but should give you an overview of the news as we reported it. Quotes are in italics.

Brainwaves Episode 128


Gencon Breaks attendance record

  • Gencon is the largest US tabletop gaming show and is held Indianapolis, Indiana
  • This year’s convention broke attendance records with over 70000 unique attendees
  • Reported on Gaming Trend the show brought in about $75 million for the local economy
  • The company that runs the convention also announced they would be staying in Indianapolis until 2030. 
  • David Hoppe, president of Gencon said
    • “The Gen Con attendee experience is continually at the forefront of our decision-making. We are excited to announce that Gen Con will be extending its stay in Indianapolis through 2030. I am eager to see the continued growth and success that will come from our partnership with a city that has supported us over the last 20 years.”

Gencon Theft

  • As is to be expected with a show of this size, the event did not go on without issues. 
  • As the show was setting up, two individuals got themselves a pallet hitch, wandered into the trade halls and walked away with $300,000 of magic cards. It has not been revealed from which company this was stolen from. 
  • The individuals in question were caught on camera and police are now seeking them in relation to the robbery. 
  • They were identified as Thomas (TJ) Dunbar and Andrew Pearson Giaume, both residents of New York City
  • The tabletop game community were quick to identify them as designers of a game called Castle Assault. One of the pair was wearing a t-shirt, with the name of the game on it. 
  • The pair remain at large as far as we know

Wizards uses AI

  • Wizards of the coast, publishers of Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons, have once more found themselves in the spotlight of bad publicity. 
  • Wizards of the coast had started showing off pages and art from their forthcoming product for Dungeons and Dragons, Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants. This was on the 5th of August
  • When some of the art was shown off many pointed out that it looked a bit ‘odd’. Many started to look into this, and it was concluded that the artist had used AI to produce the images. 
  • As the controversy grew, the artist in question did admit to using AI to finish off the images. The artist who goes by Shkpin, posted this
    • There is recent controversy on where these illustrations I made were AI generated. AI was used in the process to generate certain details or polish and editing. To shine some light on the process I’m attaching earlier version of the illustrations before AI had been applied to enhance details. As you can see a lot of painted elements were enhanced with AI rather than generated from ground up. 
  • Their twitter bio reads: Deconstruction of the flesh through painting and AI.
  • On the 6th of August, Wizards of the Coast put out an official statement, saying
    • Today we became aware that an artist used AI to create artwork for the upcoming book, Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants. We have worked with this artist since 2014 and he’s put years of work into books we all love. While we weren’t aware of the artist’s choice to use AI in the creation process for these commissioned pieces, we have discussed with him, and he will not use AI for Wizards’ work moving forward. We are revising our process and updating our artist guidelines to make clear that artists must refrain from using AI art generation as part of their art creation process for developing D&D art.
  • Since the book was due for launch on the 15th of August, Wizards will not have had the ability to change any art in this print run of the book.


Embracers mysterious deal partner revealed

  • Embracer Group is the large Swedish holding company that owns quite a lot of the digital gaming world as well as the behemoth that is Asmodee, the biggest board game publisher in the world.
  • Earlier this year they reported that a $2 billion dollar deal had fallen through and the consequence of that has been the closure of some computer game studios. It is yet to affect the world of tabletop gaming. 
  • News site Axios reported on August the 14th that the mysterious partner was the Saudi Government funded Savvy Games Group. 
  • Embracer has previously had investment from this group as we reported back in episode 101. 
  • Saudi Arabia has made no secret of its plans to invest heavily in the video game industry. The Saavy gaming group has a budget of $38 billion to use to that end.


Zenobia Award

  • We covered the Zenobia Award extensively during its inaugural season in 2021. But what is this award? The site for the award explains it like this
    • The Zenobia Award is both a competition and a mentoring program in which game designers from underrepresented groups develop and submit historical tabletop game prototypes. Throughout the design process, competitors will receive mentoring and feedback from industry leaders, to help them move towards successful game publication.
    • The Zenobia Award seeks to attract and reward more diverse design talent in order to improve historical tabletop game design and participation and to diversify historical topics simulated in published hobby board games. It seeks to apply the Derby House Principles for diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming to hobby gaming.
  • The Derby House Principles are named after the location of the Western Approaches Tactical Unit in Liverpool in World War 2. It was staffed by women and men considered unfit for duty at sea through illness and injury. 
  • The principles are as follows:
    • 1) Promoting inclusion and diversity in professional wargaming, through the standards we set,
    • the opportunities we offer, and access to activities we organise.
    • 2) Making clear our opposition to sexism, racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination across the board, as well as in wargaming.
    • 3) Encouraging a greater role and higher profile for colleagues from underrepresented groups in our professional activities.
    • 4) Seeking out and listening to the concerns and suggestions of our colleagues as to how our commitment to diversity and inclusion could be enhanced.
    • 5) Demonstrating our commitment to diversity and inclusion through ongoing assessment of progress made and discussion of future steps
  • The award will open its next intake in October of this year. Games must be new and unpublished. The designs must follow the following rules
    • The design idea must be for a manual tabletop game (board, card, dice, tile-laying, miniatures, etc.). It must have a closed-system rules set that does not rely on role-play or referee adjudication to resolve actions and reactions.
    • The design must be rooted in a historical setting from any time up to the present day. It may concern political, social, cultural, scientific, economic, military, or any other human affairs in any combination. 
    • The game must be playable in under two hours. Longer games with at least one scenario playable in under two hours are eligible and will be judged by that scenario.
  • Decisions will be made on applications roughly two weeks after the window has closed. A full list of rules can be found on the Zenobia Awards site. 

Trans Chess Ban

  • There has been much discussion in mainstream sports media over the last few years around the inclusion of trans athelets in events. We are not going to wade in there of course, but it seems this topic is now appearing in the world of tabletop gaming. 
  • FIDE, is the international chess federation. It is known by its french abbreviation which comes from Federation International des Echecs. 
  • This organisation has recently introduced guidelines about transgender competitors. These were orginially shared by French Transgender FIDE master, Yosha Iglesias. We got the story from Substack Erin in the Morning who reports on Transgender issues. The substack summarises the changes like this
  • Transgender men must relinquish their women-category titles after transitioning.
  • Transgender women can keep their previous titles.
  • Transgender women have “no right to compete” in the women’s division.
  • Transgender women will be “evaluated” by the FIDE Council on if they will be allowed to compete in a process that may take up to 2 years.
  • FIDE can mark transgender players as “transgender” in their files.
  • Gender changes must be “comply with the player’s national laws” and may include birth certificate documents (despite many nations refusing to change transgender birth certificates)
  • As you might expect there was much ridicule sent FIDE’s way when the policy was announced. Many pointed out that the women’s category is nothing to do with ability but more designed as a way to increase participation among women. 

Unseeded man becomes UK chess champ

  • In recent days the UK Chess Championships have been taking place in Leicester and drew a strong lineup of competitors including 30 titled chess masters
  • There were 63 contestants and 5 grandmasters in that field. 
  • The star of the show though was Poley resident Steven Jones who took second place from being completely unseeded. 
  • Over the course of the 9 matches he played Steven recorded 6 wins, one draw and two losses. 
  • Steven is a key member of the Basingstoke chess club. They meet every Wednesday at the bridge and chess club on Sherborne Road starting from 7:15pm

Mayfair acquires Mr B Games

  • Back in episode 124 we reported on the revival of the Mayfair games brand by Webbed Sphere Incorporated. 
  • This newly revived brand has made its first acquisition in Mr B Games
  • Mr B Games has been around since 2006 and has produced games such as the Killer Bunnies line. 
  • Jon Huston, president of Webbed Sphere Incorporate said:
    • “This acquisition is a strategic step forward in our mission to provide high-quality, engaging games to our customers. Both Mayfair Games and Mr. B. Games share a deep commitment to creativity, innovation, and customer satisfaction. By Bringing these two brands together, we are not only expanding our portfolio but also strengthening our ability to deliver diverse, exciting experiences to gamers worldwide.”
  • The first game from this collaboration will be Celtaelater in 2023. Mayfair will offer the full Mr B. Games catalogue to retail.

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Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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1 Response

  1. 21 Aug 2023

    […] News Digest 128 […]

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