(Now, while they had to go and use the Monopoly tie-in as usual, one thing we have to keep in mind is that as designer board game fans, it's hugely old and cliche at this point, but to a newbie, that's an important frame of reference to draw them in. Just saying. :)
This was a really good and lengthy read which captured some of the flavor of the Essen fair. This was one of my favorite parts:
By the third day of the fair, games lovers are sprawled across the floors and into the aisles, playing card games, war games, party games, puzzle games, family games; two-player games, four-player games, six-player games; games set in the Wild West, games set in the Far East, games set in the Caribbean; games set in the Industrial Revolution, games set in the Bronze Age, games set in the Middle Ages (games fans are especially fond of the Middle Ages); games about hospitals and police stations and factories; abstract games, about nothing but the game itself. There's a game that involves one player trying to build a Jenga-like structure from wooden blocks, while their opponent bashes them over the head with an inflatable club. It's called Argh!Tect.
They mentioned how all the local hotels, like the Jung, open up banquet and meeting-type areas during the convention, so that players can come back from a long day of gaming and buying new games and continue to play all night long. I experienced this, and it was one more thing that caused me to think, "This couldn't happen in America in a million years." I was hanging out unsupervised in the hotel's kitchen with Martin Wallace and his wife, Eric Martin, Anthony Gallela, and some other great people just chatting, fine German beers in hand. In the room next door, designers and gamers were playing their new games on into the night. So cool. If there were any strangers in the group, I'm sure they didn't feel like strangers for long.
The article also does a dynamite job of summing up the designer board gaming hobby itself, both the designer's side, and the collector/player's side. BOTH sides are wonderful worlds, and there's a lot of cross-over, not surprisingly, as game enthusiasts hatch ideas for games they haven't seen yet, and go on to be designers themselves. This industry is one of the few where, at least currently, such a dream can be realized.