12 May 2013 | 17 Comments
Confession: Prior to this weekend, I had never been to a gaming convention.
I wish I had a good reason for never going to a convention, but to be honest, the main reason is that I’m an introvert. I don’t relish the thought of walking into a room of 500+ strangers. I’m not shy, and I enjoy the company of others (especially if they’re willing to play games with me), but I’m energized by smaller groups of people or by being alone instead of crowds.
Also, up until attending Geekway to the West in St. Louis this weekend, I didn’t really know what I was missing. I’m sure I’m in for a very different (and probably overwhelming) experience at GenCon in a few months, but Geekway has opened my eyes to the amazingness that is a well-run gaming convention. I’m hoping DieCon will echo that experience in late June.
What made Geekway so great? Well, what really surprised me was how nice people were. I’m not talking the standard every day type of nice, which equates to someone not hitting your car with their grocery cart. I’m talking about a level of niceness that you hear about in other countries where people really mean it when they ask, “How are you?” People were just so open to interacting with others and playing games and talking about games. It was refreshing, not just to me as a game publisher, but to me as a human being. Geekway deserves credit for fostering a spirit of fun and camaraderie.
Alan and I spent the weekend showing people how to play Viticulture and Euphoria, as well as playing a few other games along the way. Geekway had something call a “play-to-win” section of their game library where anyone could check out a game, play it, and then enter to win that game in a drawing at the end of the weekend. It’s a great way for gamers to try out a bunch of different games, and it’s also a great way for publishers to expose a number of people to their games in a short amount of time.
We had one of our coveted advance copies of Viticulture in the gaming library, so I spent most of Friday keeping an eye out for people checking out the game and teaching them the rules so they didn’t have to weed through the rulebook. The more people who know how to play Viticulture, the better, so we’re happy to facilitate that process. It also gave us invaluable face time with potential buyers of Viticulture and supporters of Euphoria.
I even taught a group how to play Tzolk’in today–I think that comes back to my philosophy of making it about them, not me. You don’t need to push your project at conventions. Certainly make yourself available to teach your game to others, but also take the time to just hang out. If someone needs a fourth player for a random game, join them. If you see a group struggling through the rules of Tzolk’in, offer to teach them. Conventions–and everything you do during and after Kickstarter–is about forming connections and relationships with people. Hopefully my introversion didn’t get in the way of me doing that this weekend.
One final recommendation: If you’re going to attend a convention to promote your game, make sure you have the inventory to support it. Unfortunately we weren’t able to provide games to the two main sponsors of Geekway, Miniature Market and Game Nite, because…well, because the games aren’t here yet. They’re on their way to Amazon, perhaps even being processed by Amazon now. The timing was simply off by a week or so. In the future, our plan will be to not only have games ready for Geekway, but to also contact in advance the sponsoring retailers to let them know we’ll be there.
I’m sure I’m not the only introvert out there who is hesitant to attend a convention despite the benefits I mentioned above. So my final suggestion is that you don’t do it alone. Bring an extrovert, a friend, or your family with you–it was great to see so many families sharing a love for tabletop games. Especially for an amazing event like Geekway, you won’t regret it.