23 May 2016
The vast majority of my job is spent at my computer. From this position I can communicate and interact with thousands of people every day.
However, I’ve grown to appreciate the value of playing games in person with the people I usually only interact with online. There’s a special bond that forms when you play a game with someone. That’s why people play golf.
It was with that bonding experience in mind that I went to Geekway to the West this past weekend. Geekway is local convention for me (it’s in St. Louis), and nearly every table there is devoted to playing games. There are very few structured events–it’s just open open gaming and play-and-win gaming.
This is my fourth Geekway, and I did a few things differently this time:
- I shared my wish list in advance. A week before the convention, I posted a list of the new-to-me games I wanted to try at Geekway. There were several Stonemaier ambassadors who read the list and volunteered to teach me some of those games, which was awesome. Huge thanks to Chris, Thomas, Sam, Dave, Miles, and Jason.
- I had absolutely nothing scheduled. This was huge. It meant that at any time, if I happened to be talking to someone, I could suggest that we sit down and play a game. I wasn’t beholden to a previous commitment.
- I avoided my friends. I’m an introvert, so it’s easy for me to gravitate to my friends at gaming events. So I really had to fight that urge throughout the convention. I did an okay job of it, but there were times that I ended up playing games with friends. At least they were new-to-me games.
- I made myself available to teach. Whenever I saw one of my games being played, I tried to make sure to check in to see if they had any rules questions. Sometimes that resulted in a quick exchange; other times I’d sit down and teach them the game.
Overall, I think this strategy paid off. I was able to spend time with a lot of different people. I feel closer to them now, and hopefully they feel closer to Stonemaier Games through me. As business strategies go, it’s warm and relational–that’s my kind of marketing. It’s not about selling my products, at least not directly–rather, I’m representing my brand. (Note that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with actually selling your products at a convention. People value that service too.)
Also, I’m incredibly grateful to Geekway itself. They do an incredible job of fostering a warm, welcoming environment for all types of people.
Next year, the only thing I think I’d do significantly different is to eat much faster meals. 90 minutes spent each lunch with friends could just as easily be a 15-minute burger by myself, and then I’m back into the fray. I’d also probably stay away from games that take longer than 90 minutes for that same reason.
One of the ancillary benefits of playing a lot of new-to-me games is that they help me grow as a designer. Just for fun, here’s a list of the games I played for the first time at Geekway. I’ll be talking about each of these in the coming weeks on my YouTube channel about game design.
- Isle of Skye
- Steam Time
- A Castle for All Seasons
- Above and Below
- Merchants and Marauders
- Glen More
- Rhino Hero
- Dice Heist
- Doctor Panic
- Billionaire Banshee
- The Phantom Society
- a prototype from a game-design class
Every crowdfunder has different strategies and objectives when they spend time with customers and potential customers at conventions. What’s your goal at those types of events?
Also read: Conventions and Face Time