SOUTH SIOUX CITY | The Marina Inn Conference Center had a busy weekend hosting more than 200 Siouxland gaming enthusiasts at Tri-Con Spring 2015.

Many types of games were played at Tri-Con, but the majority were board games that are more complex than Monopoly, said Mark Wilson, president of Tri-State Gamers, the local nonprofit that organized the event.

Miniature sci-fi spaceships and detailed figurines replaced tin game pieces, and critical thinking and strategy outshined a die roll. 

“People are looking for things that are beyond Monopoly,” said Wilson. “(Games like Monopoly) are too simple for a lot of people. People want games where they actually get to make decisions that are meaningful.”

Wilson said games like Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures, which has tiny scale models of spaceships featured in the movie series, have richer game play and strategies.

Tri-Con featured competitive tournaments for various board games, card games, and role-playing games. Casual or new gamers could borrow their choice of hundreds of board games in a game library and practice at the event. 

There were also booths from local board game designers and gaming stores, and a charity raffle was held for the Food Bank of Siouxland.

Sioux City has had gaming conventions for over 30 years, said Wilson, but this is the first year it was branded as Tri-Con. He said the Siouxland gaming community is growing.

Tri-State Gamers meets monthly for game nights, which are free and allow people to try out new games and meet other gamers, said vice president Chuck Themm. Many members meet weekly for game nights. 

“If anybody is looking to get into a regular or weekly game, the best way to do that is to come to one of these conventions or the monthly game days and meet people there," Themm said. 

Many gamers are dedicated. Wilson has over 500 board games that he and his wife have collected for 10 years. Themm said some Tri-State Gamers members play four nights a week.

For Wilson, gaming provides mental stimulation and entertainment while also allowing for socializing. 

“I think sometimes it’s easy for us to get home, try and turn off our minds and turn on the TV set,” Wilson said. “But with games, you’re exercising your mind all the time. I think that’s really valuable.”

“(Board games) are a social video game,” said James King, owner of Games King on 504 Nebraska St. in Sioux City. “You actually get to talk to the person in front of you and get to know them a little bit better.”

King’s parents introduced him to the iconic Dungeons and Dragons game as a child, and he never looked back. He holds open gaming days every Sunday at his store, which opened in March.

He recommends newcomers start off with the board games Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan.

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