GAMA’s annual diversity drive opens offering $1,000 grants, convention support to fledgling board game publishers, retailers

Applications for board games trade organisation GAMA’s annual diversity programme are now open for this year, offering $1,000 grants, convention support and mentorship to new board game publishers and retailers from under-represented communities.

The 2024/25 GAMA Horizons Fellowship is eligible for businesses at least 51% owned or operated by people from historically sidelined demographics, which can include race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion and ability, among others.

The programme is open to new or prospective US or Canada-based board game publishers already in the process of creating a game or starting their business, and budding or established retailers who have at least begun the process of opening their store.

As well as the grant, mentoring and peer coaching, successful applicants also receive a one-year complimentary GAMA membership worth $300, free admission and booth opportunities for GAMA Expo and Origins in 2025, with travel stipends and lodging, and access to virtual classes and panels featuring industry experts and leaders.

Retailers also receive a complimentary retailer box following GAMA Expo 2025. This year’s box contained more than $2,000 of tabletop games and accessories.

Kimi Hughes, Golden Lasso Games

Kimi Hughes from publisher Golden Lasso Games, who was selected for the Horizons Fellowship as part of the 2023/24 cohort, said, “The Fellowship opened up a whole new world of knowledge and connections that has helped me take my business to the next level. It was intense, but like many worthwhile things the challenges were more than worth the final results.

“My mentor, Nicole, was incredible and having direct access to some of the most successful individuals in the tabletop games industry was, pardon my bad joke, a game changer.

“The monetary and travel perks are fantastic, but I advise future Fellows to realize that the most valuable aspect of the program is the friends and connections that you make along the way.”

Jesse Stommel, PlayForge

Jesse Stommel from retailer PlayForge, who was selected for the programme in the 2020/21 cohort, said, “Our relationship with our mentor, Rebecca, was the most impactful element of the Fellowship. Because of the pandemic, most of our planning had been happening in isolation.

“Suddenly we found ourselves with a mentor who was so useful to us. When I applied, I thought ‘this is another time when they won’t see me.’

“I’m queer and disabled and used to feeling like my disability and being queer would make it so I wasn’t seen. [The Fellowship] was a series of finding people who were so invaluable. We knew we needed it but didn’t have a way to manifest it.”

GAMA said of the programme, “We welcome as broad a range of publishers and retailers into the tabletop community as possible, but there are some key components that applicants should possess.

“Ideal publisher participants will have an existing title in-market or a late-stage prototype and a strong potential for growth.

“Ideal retailer participants will have an existing brick and mortar retail store established within the past three years or an online retail business with a strong desire to open a brick & mortar retail store.”

Anyone interested in applying to this year’s programme can do so by clicking here.

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