Game Design Retreats

Join us for a week of playtesting, development, prototyping, and fun. We provide a fun retreat location, food, non-alcoholic drinks, and airport pickup/dropoff to make it easy for you to attend. We provide various supplies so you can create on the fly - and we're all there to test each other's games, together.  

Rates are $1000/week, and we’re happy to have folks come by for just a day or two, or any amount of time in between. Click here to message us for details about upcoming events, prices, or anything else that you’re wondering.

No matter your experience in tabletop gaming, background, or resume, we believe you’ll benefit from a week with other creators working on games, together.

Next events:

St. Louis, August 18-25

st. louis, September 22-29


Always be Testing

Bring every prototype you can fit in your suitcase - you'll have time to test them all. We've got multiple tables going at all times, and enough people for any player count or group size. The schedule is mostly open, though for big games we can block out time to make sure they're played. 

Brad Talton of Level 99 Games (right) is thinking hard about his choices here.

Brad Talton of Level 99 Games (right) is thinking hard about his choices here.

An updated version of Chromium, a gateway tile-laying game from Waitress Games co-founder JR Honeycutt

An updated version of Chromium, a gateway tile-laying game from Waitress Games co-founder JR Honeycutt

Z4X, a 4X game from Zintis that went through heavy development during a retreat. It's rad!

Z4X, a 4X game from Zintis that went through heavy development during a retreat. It's rad!


Diversity of Experience

We’re committed to including designers, developers, publishers, artists, and folks with many other backgrounds in and around tabletop gaming. We believe that the more diverse an event, the more productive the feedback, as it comes from a much wider spectrum of experiences.

An artist, a marketing director, and a game design teacher sit down at a table…

An artist, a marketing director, and a game design teacher sit down at a table…

Every one of these folks has contributed to a published tabletop game in some way.

Every one of these folks has contributed to a published tabletop game in some way.


Previous Events

We’ve hosted retreats across the US since 2016 in Texas, Georgia, and Missouri. Each one had it’s own feeling - a different group, different games, and a different location makes for a unique atmosphere. It’s a little like a summer camp, a convention, and a game jam all mixed into one.

St. Louis, Missouri

A summer week in St. Louis provided a great space to push a bunch of games forward. Highlights included nightly games of “Ten to Win”, the continued development of “Cat-tastrophe”, and a Vampire Room.

A very serious test of Former Ranges

A very serious test of Former Ranges

“Drop Zone Droids” by Tyson Gajewski

“Drop Zone Droids” by Tyson Gajewski

An impromptu group feedback session

An impromptu group feedback session

Early prototyping of a new card game!

Early prototyping of a new card game!

Real-time fun on the center table while Coalition Games’ Mike Mihealsick works on effects-level design for Wombo Combo.

Real-time fun on the center table while Coalition Games’ Mike Mihealsick works on effects-level design for Wombo Combo.


lake of the ozarks, Missouri

We took a trip to a lake house near St. Louis for a long weekend of game development.

This was an especially fun event, since John Brieger showed off his mastery in the kitchen in-between running his games.

This is what fun looks like.

This is what fun looks like.

Here there be Dragons!

Here there be Dragons!

Kathleen Mercury (top) running a playtest of one of her personal projects.

Kathleen Mercury (top) running a playtest of one of her personal projects.

A later version of Zintis’ “Z4X game.

A later version of Zintis’ “Z4X game.

The second table at the retreat had just as much going on as the main one.

The second table at the retreat had just as much going on as the main one.


fort worth, Texas

We’ve hosted multiple events in the Dallas/Fort Worth area - the original home of Waitress Games. We’ve seen multiple games improved (and eventually published!) through time at our retreats.

Waitress Games co-founders JR Honeycutt (left) and Brian Neff (right) duel over a game of Gruff at the appropriately-named “Gruff Table”

Waitress Games co-founders JR Honeycutt (left) and Brian Neff (right) duel over a game of Gruff at the appropriately-named “Gruff Table”

John Brieger (right), at the retreat place working hard placing workers on a worker placement game

John Brieger (right), at the retreat place working hard placing workers on a worker placement game


Get out and get to know each other

When possible, we take a couple hours to explore the area around the retreat. In the past we’ve scheduled events like sponsored dinners and escape rooms.

We were extremely grateful to have Foxtrot Games, Floodgate Games, and Today in Board Games sponsor dinners in previous retreats, and we hope to have similar arrangements in future events! If you’re a publisher interested in sponsoring a dinner for an upcoming retreat (about $300), please contact us here: waitressgames.net/connect

Dinner at Rodeo Goat in Fort Worth, TX

Dinner at Rodeo Goat in Fort Worth, TX


Sponsors

Panda Game Manufacturing generously provides beautiful magnetic “designer boxes” filled with various components, perfect for coming up with new ideas on the fly.

Panda Game Manufacturing generously provides beautiful magnetic “designer boxes” filled with various components, perfect for coming up with new ideas on the fly.

Gabe Barrett of Board Game Design Lab has been a consistent supporter of our design retreats, and his podcast is best-in-class for new designers working to improve their knowledge of game design.

Gabe Barrett of Board Game Design Lab has been a consistent supporter of our design retreats, and his podcast is best-in-class for new designers working to improve their knowledge of game design.

Coalition Game Studios regularly sends their developers to our retreats, and offer insightful feedback in line with their reputation for excellence.

Coalition Game Studios regularly sends their developers to our retreats, and offer insightful feedback in line with their reputation for excellence.