What is GAMA? Why You Should Care.
A lot happens during GAMA Expo including seminars, game announcements and previews of products through the rest of the year!
Scott and I had the pleasure of joining a handful of other members of the game media as hosted guests at GAMA Expo a couple of weeks ago. You may be asking, “What is GAMA, Nicole, and why should I care?” I’m so glad you asked!
GAMA (The Game Manufacturers Association) is a non-profit trade organization representing the hobby game industry. On the surface, it sounds like something only people who manufacture games would be interested in, but it’s far (really, FAR) more than that. It’s comprised of individuals and corporations across the entire spectrum of the industry: from the designers of the games through to the retailers where you shop for games locally. Each year GAMA offers a variety of initiatives designed to support the people and companies behind those games that (hopefully) find their way to your game table. In addition to Origins Game Fair that we’ve mentioned numerous times on this site, GAMA also provides a plethora of resources not just for its membership, but the community as a whole.
One of the premiere events of GAMA is their annual Expo held each spring. If you’ve ever bought a game off the shelves of a local store, it’s events like this that have helped guide the selection. Publishers showcase prototypes to prospective retailers and then orders are placed, oftentimes to fulfill retailers needs through the holiday season. Yes, holiday purchases are made during events such as New York Toy Fair and GAMA Expo in essentially the same timeframe that people are taking down holiday decorations and getting ready for spring break.
What I found amazing about GAMA Expo was the amount of community support between retailers. As an example, I was looking at an assortment of blind bags from Foam Brain Games when a couple of retailers walked up behind me and started telling me how much their customers loved these. They said they always keep one pack on display and if a customer purchases a pack and opens it in front of them, they can opt to swap it out for the contents on display. These types of customer services tips are commonplace as everyone wants to promote the industry and see one another experience success.
During GAMA Expo, a variety of educational sessions are offered that cover subjects such as marketing, diversity/inclusiveness, merchandising, loyalty programs, green initiatives and so much more. This year included one track geared toward retailers and another primarily for industry.
Premier presentations are conducted by suppliers and game publishers. These events showcase each company’s product release calendar, a lot of which is embargoed information, so retailers can create inventory plans. These presentations, coupled with what they see in the exhibit hall, create the basis for the items you’ll be able to purchase throughout the year.
Each night, the ballroom is filled with opportunities for retailers to try out the new games. Some were short demos while others were complete playthroughs. Not only did these presentations offer retailers the chance to try the games first-hand, but also to get a feel for what others thought of it. If a game stopped people in their tracks, chances are you need to give it a second look yourself.
As the organization strives to welcome more people to the game industry, it continues to offer initiatives that focus on those in underrepresented groups. This year, GAMA launched the Horizon Fellowship program that provided education, business development tips, mentorship and grants to a handful of those retailers and publishers who were selected from a pool of applicants. During GAMA Expo, one retailer and one designer/publisher from the Fellowship program were selected to receive additional grant money to help further their business endeavors.
There was so much to see and do, we can only skim the surface in one article. Keep watch of our social channels (Facebook, Instagram Reels, SahmReviews’ TikTok, our game-specific TikTok and YouTube Shorts) as we share a variety of items we were able to preview while at GAMA Expo. Find out more about the organization by visiting the GAMA website or visit them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. So now you should realize what GAMA is and hopefully you also understand that it’s integral to the industry and ultimately what shows up on the shelves at your local game store… with a final destination of your game table.
What do you love most about your local game store?
20 thoughts on “What is GAMA? Why You Should Care.”
I love being able to stop into my FLGS and get a demo of the store’s latest game(s). They also host game nights of various types. Gotta love and support our FLGS!
My FLGS is small but with a lot of games and choice. It also host game nights, but, sadly, I can’t go because I work in the evening.
That sounds like it be a lot of fun.
My FLGS always shows me the right game. I never exit it empty handed.
My local show (Tabletop Game and Hobby) has a giant selection as well as a boardgame restaurant connected to it. Could not ask for a better environment to game.
One of the local stores used to do a “garage sale” where they’d let people sell their old games on consignment every couple months. Unfortunately COVID killed their store…. 🙁
I love that mine is only a couple blocks away!
Love that my LGS provides friendly service as well as great tablespace for BG meetups.
My FLGS is colorful and managed by nice people
it has nice people and a great game night!
Unfortunately I don’t have a local game store 🙁
I like to be able to get accessories for my games as needed. That is why I like my local game store.
I like the selection of games available at my local games store.
I like the variety of games they provide and the fact that they usually make great suggestions
My local game store has a lot of different types of comics, video games and board games.
I love my FLGS for their game nights. Meeting new people and playing new games is one of my favorite things.
My flgs has the best and friendliest regulars.
I like that my gamestore has a great variety of games!
We don’t have a local game store but I always check Goodwill they have some good ones at times .