Little 10-year-old Alec Pike hunches down with his game cards fanned out in his hand and peers over the cards with wide eyes as his competitor makes a move.
Across the room, Marty Connell of Charlotte leans back in his chair, slaps his hand over his mouth and mumbles a painful “ohhhh.”
The two gamers joined several hundred board-game thrill seekers Saturday at the fourth annual MegaMooseCon — a two-day tabletop gaming convention in Richburg.
“We needed a large, summertime board gaming-centric event, so here we are,” said MegaMooseCon organizer Mark Kale of Fort Mill.
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Unlike the name might suggest, there are no moose at the event, unless they are a character on a board game, like the many other critters, woodland creatures and mythical animals.
Before this year’s event at the Gateway Conference Center, Kale held the convention at the Moose Lodge in Rock Hill. The number of gamers swelled and it was time for a new venue, Kale said.
When he first became interested in gaming, Kale said he joined online groups where gamers would invite people over to their homes to play. He didn’t feel comfortable inviting strangers into his home, so he organized the annual event at the Moose Lodge, he said.
It was a big hit.
“Everybody basically was like ‘let’s do this again soon,’ ” said Kale, who started taking up collections to pay for the convention, which draws more than just hobbyists.
The event continues Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Gateway Conference Center, 3200 Commerce Drive, Richburg. The convention is open to the public. Tickets are $25.
During the convention, game designers bring in prototypes for other enthusiasts to play for feedback on how to make the games function better, Kale said.
Among the stack of games are some that have not been “published,” which attracts the hobbyists to the conventions. Publishers send Kale the games to test at his convention so they can gauge popularity.
Other games have been published, but have not yet made it to the stores, said Kale, who estimated gamers had nearly 350 choices at the convention.
Joe Hout, a youth pastor from Winston Salem, N.C., brought his new game “Dragon Draft” to the convention to seek feedback.
Hout needs to raise $4,000 for the “four-gamer, trick-taking card game” and has launched a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.com.
Another designer Forrest Et Alia of Richmond, Va., is hoping to make it big in the gaming world with his first product “Bunny Island,” a “territorial control game where you control your own tribe of bunnies.”
Having a game published is an arduous process, according to Et Alia. After developing the game, designers need creative and art direction and someone to print the materials.
Et Alia teamed up with his wife, a creative director, who “turns all my ideas into beautiful works of gaming,” he said.
Kale just wants all the gamers to enjoy the variety.
“Everybody is here, they’re having a blast and they’re getting to do what they are wanting to do,” Kale said.