Tabletop gaming a booming industry, driven by internet crowdfunding

Mar 1, 2018, 9:02 PM | Updated: 9:19 pm

LAYTON – The board games you’ll see at SaltCon, inside the Davis Convention Center this weekend are not much like Monopoly or the many others you might have known growing up. They’re very genre-specific creations, designed to draw players with often very niche tastes.

Among the newest of creators are Ron and Jayson Smith, two brothers from Boise, Idaho.

Ron Smith (L), Jayson Smith (R)

“Tabletop gaming really tears down the barriers that sometimes we put [up],” Ron Smith said. “It allows us to be ourselves, and we’re not so self-conscious anymore.”

Their wizard-battling game, Wizardz Bluff, combines elements of what they call a more complicated version of Rock, Paper, Scissors, and Poker. Players try to cast the winning spell, sometimes using trickery to eliminate opponents. Like hundreds of other relative newcomers, their product is coming to market, thanks to crowdsourcing through the website, Kickstarter.

“We’re two wizards, in a crooked tower,” Jayson Smith started, jokingly, as he and his brother were both wearing brown wizard caps. “At the top of that tower, [we’re] creating these masterful games.”

Games that might have otherwise been passed on by bigger-name publishers, are now getting made with the help of grassroots movements, like the Smiths.

Dale Gifford

Dale Gifford, managing organizer of the SaltCon Board Game Convention, said the same movement has helped his event grow by 20 to 40 percent each year in its ten years of existence. Attendance in 2017 was estimated at approximately 1,100.

“It’s exploding,” Gifford explained. “Kickstarter just set off a revolution, because it eliminated the gateway to get your game published. Now, you can publish it on your own.”

The Smith brothers said Kickstarter is helping them realize a family dream. Their creation is in some ways a reflection of their childhood.

The Smith brothers’ parents, Ken and Maralee Smith

“We come from a family of eight boys, and gaming was always big,” Jayson Smith said, pointing out that their mother, Maralee Smith often drove their love for games. “She was always inventive, and she was always encouraging us to think outside the box, to play outside and create other games.”

Maralee Smith passed away about a year ago. She had cancer.

“Definitely, my mom had an impact on our lives, bringing us together before she passed,” Ron Smith said. “Just teaching us games and just having fun. [We] made a lot of friends that way.”

The Smiths lost both of their parents in a relatively short amount of time. Still, they say they have valuable memories of them and the whole family, at the table.

“They’re the best memories,” Jayson Smith said, holding back tears. “I know why people desire the same type of memories.

SaltCon runs through this Sunday, March 4.

Wizardz Bluff will be available on Kickstarter, beginning March 30.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 09: A pharmacist prepares to administer  COVID-19 vaccine booster sho...
Cary Schwanitz

University Health recommends getting omicron booster and flu shot now

SALT LAKE CITY — The CDC approved the COVID-19 bivalent boosters that target the most recent omicron variants on September 1. Since then, tens of thousands of Utahns have rolled up their sleeves. Doctors from University of Utah Health Monday reminded everyone that they should also get vaccinated for the seasonal flu, which could be […]
17 hours ago
116 bags of methamphetamine are stacked on the hood of a UHP unit. (Utah Highway Patrol)...
Cary Schwanitz

UHP makes million dollar drug bust near Cedar City

A Utah Highway Patrol trooper stopped a pickup truck on I-15 outside of Cedar City Friday and confiscated approximately one million dollars in methamphetamine.
17 hours ago
Eliza Pace

Poaching in Utah: 319 wildlife illegally killed since Aug. 1

“We need your help,” DWR Lt. Chad Bettridge said. “Please keep your eyes and ears open and report suspicious activity to us."
17 hours ago
Salt Lake City police arriving at the shooting scene on Sept. 16. (SLC PD)...
Pat Reavy, KSL.com

Brothers arrested in Salt Lake shooting investigation

Two brothers have been arrested in connection with a shooting in Salt Lake City earlier this month.
17 hours ago
(KSL TV)...
Casey Scott, KSL TV

Exploring the benefits of stretching with Casey Scott

We all know it's important to stretch before any kind of workout, but there are a lot more benefits than just preventing injury.
17 hours ago
Ashley Moser

Utah mom encourages others to look for signs of strokes after her 3-month recovery

A Utah mother is grateful she followed her gut and had her family call 911 after waking up in the middle of the night partially paralyzed.
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
Tabletop gaming a booming industry, driven by internet crowdfunding