When I wandered the exhibit hall at Gen Con, I stopped by the Mayday games booth to check out the new games they had this year. To my surprise, there was something else at the booth that I didn’t expect to see. They had a sunken gaming table for all of their demos to be played on. What amazed me even more is that these are not full tables but rather something you can place on any table to achieve that luxury game table experience. I had to find out more about these tables and, luckily, I ran into Kevin Burkhardsmeier while wandering the hall and asked if I could do an interview about the tables now on Kickstarter.
Board Game Quest: Can you give us a little background on your gaming life?
Kevin: I have been a gamer since high school playing Axis and Allies, Shogun, Fortress American, Risk and the like. My family (I have 4 children) became very active with the Days of Wonder games. We would get two every Christmas as family gifts and play the mess out of them. 5 years went to our first GenCon with my son for his graduation gift.
This was the point where the world of hobby games took a whole new meaning for us. My eldest daughters own a historical costume company: Matti’s Millinery and Costumers. My family is a hoot and whenever we play games, we immediately move into role playing the theme, so we thought why not dress up in costumes and play games thematically while showing the game play off. Thus Board Game Theater was birthed. Our first episode was Sheriff of Nottingham.
BGQ: What is it about board games that made you want to build this product for gamers?
Kevin: It’s all about interaction for me. I love game mechanics and I love theme, but the overall enjoyment of connecting with people over a tactile board game is like no other hobby experience for me.
BGQ: You’ve also been involved in many other endeavors related to board games. Can you tell us more about them?
Kevin: After starting Board Game Theater, we became a periodic contributor to The Dice Tower Network. This led me to start a board game podcast with Barrly Doublet (also a Dice Tower Contributor) from France. We do a bi-monthly show the Burky and Badger Board Game Babble Show, where feature industry guests with their insights and a super fun game show, feature games, immerse ourselves in the “Babble Topic” and just create overall silliness.
BGQ: I love the idea of a portable gaming solution that you came up with. What made you start to design the Game Toppers system?
Kevin: About 5 years ago, I designed a table with a rustic wood theme that my father built for me. We loved playing on this table. This led me to build a prototype topper for when I went to my daughters, (now married) home for game nights so we could play like we did at home. 5 generations of prototypes followed till we had what we thought was a good idea. I started taking it to regional cons, and people’s homes and getting reactions. People loved it.
BGQ: Can you give us the elevator pitch about the product?
Kevin: Game Toppers converts your existing table into a high quality, yet affordable gaming solution.
BGQ: Why should people consider getting a Game Topper?
Kevin: The whole point of gaming table is to create experiences. Our Game Toppers do just that. Our thematic game mats immerse you in the theme. The features of our rail system that include cup or goblet holders, and gaming accessories with high quality craftsmanship gives you that luxurious feel and function of very expensive tables.
Cost is a big factor for a lot of us. I wanted to make something great for people, while making it relatively affordable compared to the tables that cost thousands of dollars. Many people do not have space for a dedicated table. Game Toppers solve that problem! In literally one minute you can convert your own kitchen or dining table into a high quality gaming table. Even standard Lifetime folding tables can be used for that extra game space needed.
BGQ: Did you have any issues in the design or production process?
Kevin: You always have issues. That is one of the reasons I decided to stay in the USA for my manufacturing. Not only that, I am working with a company that is in my local community that has the capacity and skill to accomplish my demands. This is highly beneficial to us in problem solving and monitoring quality control.
I have been working with engineers for almost a year to create our patent pending Military Grade Aluminum Rail System that performs better than wood. This provides us with the quality, strength, precise tolerances, needed for every time consistency. They are also powder coated for an incredible strong finish. This also allows us to manufacture very efficiently.
My reputation is on the line, and I’m a bit picky when it comes to quality, so rest assured I will do what it takes to make sure these live up to my standards.
BGQ: Finally, is the system a one size for all or is there some choices when it comes to size of the tables?
Currently, we have 4 sizes. Play area: 38” x 60” and 36” x 72”. Each full table can become a mini table 30” x 38” and 36” x 36” with our accessory rail or ordered complete. It allows people to find the right size for their gaming space.
I want to thank Kevin for taking the time to tell us a little more about himself and the Game Topper system. If this is a product you would like to find out even more information about and possibly back, please follow the link to the Kickstarter.