Why Isn’t Whose Turn Open To The Public?

Why Isn’t Whose Turn Open To The Public? (Detailed)

It’s important to keep in mind, as you read this, that Whose Turn is a not for profit event run by volunteers, with the financial burden and risks borne by one individual and his family.

Whose Turn has always had the goal of promoting an atmosphere like that of a friendly, inclusive game day at someone’s house. So, it’s natural that it began as an invitational like most game days. As the event grows and more hear about it, however, we regularly are asked, “Why not open it to the public?”  (A – Aren’t you practically open to the public already?)**See Below**

There are several reasons for this:

  1. The Attendees Want It – We survey attendees after every Whose Turn event. Several times, we have asked if they would like to retain the invitational format or change to a public event. The last time we asked (in 2017), a full 90% of respondents asked that it remain invitational. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to make a change that 90% are not in favor of. Why do they want this? Well, there are a number of reasons, but the two that come up most in survey results and comments are:
    1. Atmosphere – People like the cozy, friendly atmosphere that comes with the slow growth of an invitational, where everyone knows at least one person.
    2. Responsibility – Whose Turn attendees bring HUNDREDS of games to the event, including rare, out of print, and heavily upgraded copies. Most of them have clearly said that they would not feel comfortable doing so if this were a public event. If you’ve ever talked to a board game café owner, you’d be hard pressed to level an argument against their point! (i.e. board game cafés have a significant challenge addressing lost/damaged game pieces and games). B) But don’t you have a standing library of games at Whose Turn? **See Below**
  2. Logistic Challenges – With a public event a disproportionately large number of people would want to attend on Saturday and Sunday. We would have to book a larger space on Saturday/Sunday than Thursday/Friday to accommodate the influx on the weekend. Which leads to:
  3. Financial Risks – The chances of making mistakes in projecting probably attendance numbers go up significantly the more factors you add. We’ve already seen this with the addition of 2Day passes. It would get even more complex when changing the venue size from day to day. Not to mention the risk of going against what 90% of current attendees want.
  4. People Getting Locked Out – If we try to play it safe and only book space we are confident we’ll be able to afford, the event could fill up quickly, disallowing many from attending. Events like BGG.con and DiceTower Con, that can afford to book huge spaces, are open to the public and sell out almost immediately, excluding those who can’t commit to them months in advance. Granted, they are premier board gaming events, but the same scenario would likely play out for us on a smaller scale. I hope it also doesn’t go unnoticed that both of those events also have a substantially successful financial entity backing them up that can cover any potential losses and/or additional risk. (i.e. we don’t have anywhere near the kind of funds that they do).

There are certainly many benefits that could come from an open to the public event. I personally would love for there to be such an event in our area. For now, however, it is not what most attendees are asking Whose Turn to be. This does not mean it will never happen.  We re-evaluate this decision each year, and welcome constructive feedback on how we might be able to make such a change, while addressing the concerns addressed above.

It’s important to note that Whose Turn, as an event, does not restrict who invitees can invite.  We simply suggest that people invite those they are willing to invite to a game day at their home.

At Whose Turn, it is important to us to promote an inclusive atmosphere for all attendees and we prohibit discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, or affiliation. We may, however, look at you a bit funny if you suggest we play Uno.



  1. A) Aren’t you practically open to the public already?

Some have expressed that they aren’t sure what the difference is between our current invitational model and “open to the public”. Their point being that once someone hears about Whose Turn, they just have to get someone to invite them. The current model emphasizes that invitations be extended to someone you would invite to a game day at your house. This generally leads to people inviting people once they’ve already gamed with them at a Meetup, game store, their house, etc. This has historically lead to the welcoming, homey, community feel of the event. This isn’t just the organizers talking. This is what we’ve heard consistently in the results and comments of the survey. It has been stressed repeatedly by attendees when asked about what aspects of the “feel” and “atmosphere” we should be sure to keep.


  1. B) But don’t you have a standing library of games at Whose Turn?

While Whose Turn has a standing library, it is only about 125 games. That’s not enough to satisfy 300 avid gamers, especially since they are always interested in the new hotness that is difficult (i.e. prohibitively expensive) for our library to keep up with.

B1) Can’t you get publishers to donate games to your library?

Most publishers are reticent to donate games to a library where they might sit and not get much attention. They’re more likely to donate to things like our Play To Win table where games are given to someone that plays them during the event.