Why are these WA industry leaders heading to Japan to play games?

Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs (right), seen here at a game night event in February, at the state Capitol in Olympia, will travel to Japan on a trip to promote economic ties between the country and Washington state, including in the tabletop gaming sector. (Courtesy of Secretary of State’s Office)

Secretary of State Steve Hobbs is rolling the dice that an upcoming trade mission to Japan will pay off for Washington’s tabletop gaming and aerospace industries.

Hobbs and a group of game company executives, community business leaders and civic officials will be in Japan from April 24-29.

This will be his second trade-oriented trip to Japan with a focus on tabletop gaming. The first one, he said, was about bringing gaming leaders together and this one is about Washington companies securing sales and distribution agreements.

Washington is home to a growing number of tabletop and role-playing game companies such as Wizards of the Coast in Renton, creators of Dungeons and Dragons.

Joining Hobbs on this trip will be founders and creative designers from Flatout Games, Heart of the Deernicorn, Lone Shark Games, Cherry Picked Games  and Green Ronin Publishing.

Hobbs said his office is partnering with the state Department of Commerce to host a booth at the Game Market in Tokyo, a major convention focused on games that do not require electricity, such as board games and card games. The event attracts thousands of people.

“Tabletop games have long been a passion of mine,” said Hobbs, an ardent Dungeons and Dragons player. “We’ve got to strike while the iron is hot to help these businesses.”

Hobbs, a Democrat and former state senator, supported the extension of tax incentives that helped convince Boeing to build the 777X in Everett. On this trip, he plans to meet with members of the Japan External Trade Organization and officials of Boeing operations in Japan.

“Aerospace is an industry Japan and Washington forged decades ago and is a hugely important driver for our economies,” he said.

Some costs of the trip will be paid for from a $52,000 state budget allocation for trade and cultural missions involving the Secretary of State’s Office.

by Jerry Cornfield, Washington State Standard

Washington State Standard is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Washington State Standard maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Bill Lucia for questions: info@washingtonstatestandard.com. Follow Washington State Standard on Facebook and Twitter.

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