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Author Topic: [GenCon 2004] The look & feel  (Read 5266 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: May 24, 2004, 12:12:08 PM »

Hello,

This thread is related to [GenCon 2004] Booth design and logistics, but mainly focused on atmosphere, comportment, and other intangibles which, in practice, are actually quite tangible. I figure the two threads will inform one another, but this way we can focus on furniture and layout over there, and how we act and do stuff over here.

Basically, the philosophy of the 2002 booth was simple: (a) walk into this area and out of the generalized exhibition hall area, and even if this area is smaller, it should feel like a whole new world; (b) have a seat and chill for a minute, feel some relaxation and a sense of curiosity, meet a nice person; (c) play a game for 20-25 minutes with some people (including newcomers such as yourself) and have a great time, and realize that all 'round you are people doing the same thing; and (d) buy some games out of sheer enjoyment.

I can't over-emphasize how important short demos are. I am convinced that the habitual tendency to run hour-plus experiences led to a hell of a lot of lost sales, as people got "full" and didn't feel the need to buy anything in order to experience it. Longer demos, needless to say, also contribute to bottlenecks and eat up sales-folks' time.

I also think that the most important interaction people should receive is their initial meeting: a person who asks something they didn't expect, mainly, "What do you like most in role-playing," and who supplies information or an insight that really responds to the answer.

In 2002, I think we had a pretty good "enter & feel, then experience, then buy" process going on, almost continuously. It wasn't ideal; the real problems were certain non-mutual participants, major noise pollution from next door (cool as it was), and various financial confusions. In 2003, I think the space of the booth became a bit of an uneasy compromise between bookstore-browse and play + discussion.

So what's the issue? I am 100% committed to making money at GenCon. Sales are top priority. But I think I'd like to promote more of the coffee-shop, experiential, even CCG-style "play a hand or two" atmosphere, and to reduce the flea-market, wall o'games, rummage atmosphere. I think the former leads to more and better sales than the latter. So, I want to talk about how we act.

1. The first person someone meets should help them get what they need out of the booth. Most especially, these people should be startlingly non-GenCon, and promote a sense of "new atmosphere" in this space.

One thing that's a little tricky is discovering what that person wants to do. "I'm here to buy Burning Wheel" basically means to point the person in the right direction ("that manic wiry guy, with the NY twang? go see him," or hell, just point at the section of the bookshelf). "Um, I dunno" is your cue to launch into the what-do-you-like cycle, and maybe get the guy into a demo ASAP. "Leave me the fuck alone, I'm looking at books," is another response, and how you discover this one without provoking resentment is left up to your own skills. My own take is that people who stand and flip through pages, replace game, pick out other game, stand and flip, are actually pretty low-yield customers, but that's just my impression.

So clearly some of the B'monkeys are, as they have in the past, going to be on reconaissance and subvert missions - just meeting people, promoting the atmosphere, getting them into the cycle of "relax, experience, buy," or discovering that they're in "buy" already and pointing'em along fast.

2. People who are selling their games should remember the mutualistic nature of the booth. If someone expresses dismay that Sorcerer does not have a logical progression of skills, I'm definitely going to point them to EABA post-haste. If they say "But can you play the demons?" and look bummed when I say no, then it's off to My Life with Master they go, and so on.

Certainly, no one needs to know every last nuance of every other game being sold at the booth. But do try to get a sense of what role-playing features each one offers, and know the faces that go with the games, for directing-purposes. Greg Porter especially should be recommended for his efforts in this field last year.

But the big thing is to organize play, play, play! This is what I'm hoping the B'monkeys will be best at: say I run a Sorcerer or Elfs demo on Thursday, with one potential customer and two Monkeys. Then the next day, each one of them, when present, is available for running the same demo. That means that they will have to be specially attentive to GM stuff and rules during the first round, and with any luck by their second demo-GM-run, will be expert. When people come to me and say, "But how does combat work," I should be able, sometimes, to shout Demo and have Monkeys at my beck and call.

3. I strongly suggest thinking a lot about what sort of language, general interactions, and body movements we make. I can come off awfully strong face-to-face, and it scares people, so I have to remember that this year. Other people need to consider that the "we're all geeks together" Social Fallacy behaviors are exactly what the booth doesn't need (not that that's ever been a big issue at the booth, just food for thought). Still others - like YOU, Harnish! - should consider that genuine-underground obnoxiousness is scary to most people, no matter how cool it is.* Anyway, remember - the point is coffee-house, intellectual curiosity, blow-your-mind inspiration, and try-it-you'll-like it. A whole take the red pill, Neo, sort of situation.

Thoughts, suggestions, examples, points, ideas for encouragement, etc?

Best,
Ron

* Dav is one of those people who scares the crap out of gamers because he's not a poser. He is quite possibly unique at an environment like GenCon.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2004, 01:20:20 PM »

Quote
That means that they will have to be specially attentive to GM stuff and rules during the first round, and with any luck by their second demo-GM-run, will be expert. When people come to me and say, "But how does combat work," I should be able, sometimes, to shout Demo and have Monkeys at my beck and call.
I'm thinking that this takes too much effort to get people up to speed. That is, by the time you've been in two demos there may not be a need for the third of that sort (or, when there is, that guy is out to lunch). In many cases monkeys won't be ready to run particular games, not because they don't know how, but because they haven't read the demo scenario. So if we could post the scenarios somewhere for people to read up on, that would be cool. Each monkey could read through whatever scenarios for whatever games he knows how to run, and be relatively ready from the start to run the game.

Some games, like InSpectres (Universalis, of course), don't need more than a minute to prep. But even that minute for InSpectres may be long enough to balk someone from running the game on the spot.

Anywhere we can post a good set of demos? The other thing is that maybe we can work on em here to get them down to the point where they're so distilled that they get everything done that needs to be displayed in the fifteen minute time period desired.

Mike
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2004, 02:09:19 PM »

I'm very glad to see this, Ron. I think this thread will be very useful to organizing the booth this year. You've nailed several of the key issues that concern me.

Some thoughts

* When people are saying "fuck off, I'm just looking" hand them a booth menu (which Luke's making, I believe). Smile, say that's great! Tell them that if they want to play a demo, you can set them up.

* In creating your demos, oh game designers, essentially make then one-scene situations and rearing to go. I demonstrated Dust Devils with The Hanged Man in 2002. That was a good scenario, but far too long (45-60 min. or more). This year, with Dust Devils, I'll likely be doing the train robbery idea. Payroll's on the train. Everyone's Devil's will be front-loaded to need to get or protect the money. Robbery happens right now (one PC's the robber on horseback outside the caboose). Shoot!

* Arrange for more than one person to be able to run a demo you've prepared. Mike Holmes ran Dust Devils last year, I understand. (No, I have video proof! I owe him a beer.) Sounds like he's all but offering to do something similar this year. Publishers, you may want to start talking with fellow publishers and monkeys to get others to run your games should you be absent or busy.

* Publishers, what things about your game that you want everyone at the booth to understand so they can best help direct people to you/your game?


-- From Matt, who recalls a story from GenCon 2002. When someone who had not yet met me asked Ron (who had just met me the day before) what I looked like, he apparently said, "He's the most normal looking guy at the con."

That still makes me laugh. Now, however, I'm the most normal looking guy at the con with a little less hair. Put that in your pieced body part, Harnish!
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2004, 02:23:29 PM »

I'll throw in my 2, since I'm gonna help this year- I've been to some four GenCons, this being the first on the Other Side of the booth.

Quote from: Ron Edwards

I can't over-emphasize how important short demos are. I am convinced that the habitual tendency to run hour-plus experiences led to a hell of a lot of lost sales, as people got "full" and didn't feel the need to buy anything in order to experience it. Longer demos, needless to say, also contribute to bottlenecks and eat up sales-folks' time.


I agree here.  Question, though; I'm thinking that in some cases, a 10-20 minute (no more) "full scenario" may be helpful, while at other times depending on the clientele and game (getting a feel for both) a quick "system demo" ("So you're interested, then, and just want an overview? Well, here's how kickers work- here's how the die rolling works - here's how you summon/bind demons and this - (Charnel Gods) - is what you can do with it", etc) might be more appropriate.  Again, while considering the customer, and not to rush them.

In any case, I think we'll have to act a lot like "consultants".  But about RPGs instead of Finance, etc.
...but I'm not gonna be suggestion that we say, "Hi, I'm Andy, I'll be your Gaming Consultant today.  How can I help you?" ;-)

Quote
I also think that the most important interaction people should receive is their initial meeting: a person who asks something they didn't expect, mainly, "What do you like most in role-playing," and who supplies information or an insight that really responds to the answer.


Great idea.  I'd like to hear more ideas for questions we can ask.
"What kinds of games do you like to play now?"
"What was, say, the best moment you're experienced in roleplaying?" (a surefire way of telling what kind of gamer they are)
"What do you like to run with your group, and what kinds of games do they like?"

NOTE: Important, important, important in my years of consulting and the like (and limited experience with selling things to gamers and anime folks at local cons): GET THEM TO THE POINT.  The question above, "What kinds of games do you like to play now" is meant to see if they like Fantasy, "crunchy games", "light games", comedy games, etc.  It's not meant to be a segue into A Diatribe On Why I Think That Game Rocks, or Let Me Tell You About My Character, etc. So politely shuffle them to the point though "polite interruptions":

If you've got enough info, in your mind- say something like "Oh, actually," and lead them to a game. You want to walk the fine line between cutting them off, focusing their questions to produce results, and letting them blather on about something or other while having no interest in what's going on at the Forge booth anyway.

Quote
In 2002, I think we had a pretty good "enter & feel, then experience, then buy" process going on, almost continuously. It wasn't ideal; the real problems were certain non-mutual participants...


What does "non-mutual participants" refer to?

Quote
1. The first person someone meets should help them get what they need out of the booth. Most especially, these people should be startlingly non-GenCon, and promote a sense of "new atmosphere" in this space.


Highlight, underline, bold and color the above sentence, IMO.  The best I felt spending money at GenCon were from people who maintained a certain distance, answered my directed questions, maybe suggested a few things, etc.  As soon as someone turned on the "Game Nerd Switch" while speaking to me, I was outta there like... something that goes out of something else really fast.

Now, this might have been an otherwise cool-looking or dorky-looking person, but having people talk like the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, or in that gamertalk which features pointed stops midsentence (ex below), it really turned me off:

"So it was me and my elven companion.
Just finished raiding a temple.
5th. Level. Weapons.
Anyway, we come over the ridge and look around.
Fires. Everywhere.
And in the center of it all?
Purple. Dragon.
The elf pulls out a spellbook.
FIRE BALL."

I know it sounds like a minor behavior, but I just went to a local convention in Raleigh 2 weeks back, and ran into no fewer than 6 people that talked to me like that. Drove me up a goddamn wall. So please, for the love of God, I know most of you probably don't, but please don't do that. :)

Quote
One thing that's a little tricky is discovering what that person wants to do.

I think here the directed questions and the like, as well as the ability to immediately throw down a gaming session, will really help out.

Quote
My own take is that people who stand and flip through pages, replace game, pick out other game, stand and flip, are actually pretty low-yield customers, but that's just my impression.


"Can I help you?"  "No, just looking." (trained response)
I'm thinking that to be more engaging with this kind of person, if they ARE planning on buying anything (I too wander with no intention of buying- I love putting Hand to Book), may work a little more.  Instead of a "can I help yhou", catch them off guard with the "What kind of games do you like"-> That might shake someone up enough to get them interested.

Quote
2. People who are selling their games should remember the mutualistic nature of the booth. If someone expresses dismay that Sorcerer does not have a logical progression of skills, I'm definitely going to point them to EABA post-haste. If they say "But can you play the demons?" and look bummed when I say no, then it's off to My Life with Master they go, and so on.


I think, to this end, that maybe we should get a full list of the people whose games will be featured, so that we can at least get a little familiar with them beforehand.

Quote
Say I run a Sorcerer or Elfs demo on Thursday, with one potential customer and two Monkeys. Then the next day, each one of them, when present, is available for running the same demo. That means that they will have to be specially attentive to GM stuff and rules during the first round, and with any luck by their second demo-GM-run, will be expert.


I agree here- And also suggest that perhaps some Forge Booth Ninjas can get together on Wednesday (those that will be there), and mornings/afternoons before and after the Dealer's Booth is open (other than Setup Morning and Take-Down Evening) to get some directed, hard and fast playtesting with the creators featuring their games.

Maybe we can also assemble a list of the Booth Ninjas and what games they're comfortable with running or explaining in detail, so that we know where to direct training (for people who don't know a particular game) or who to rely on to run a throw-down demo (rather than saying "The Riddle of Steel? Oh, see Jake Norwood there" when Jake is surrounded by 10 people answering questions).  In fact, I'll submit what I'm talking about below just as an idea:

Great= You either wrote the game, or played it enough that you can throw down a session with total strangers at the top of a hat. Any rules /play questions you can answer without blinking.
Good= You can answer pretty much any major question related to rules or background. You have no problem running demos.
Sorta= Own it but never played or really read it cover-to-cover, heard enough about it that you could present its qualities to strangers without screaming for the author to step in to field basic quesitons. Demos might be a little hard without more training.
Unfamiliar= Not really comfortable with presenting it to a stranger

Andy Kitkowski
Booth Ninja
(note: I don't know what's gonna be at the booth, these are just a few Indie Games that are around here)
Sorcerer= Good
The Riddle of Steel= Sorta
Universalis= Good
My Life With Master= Unfamiliar
Dust Devils= Sorta
EABA= Unfamiliar
Donjon= Sorta
etc

For the above, we can see that I'd be good to run Sorcerer or Universalis play sessions; That I can field basic questions about TROS or Dust Devils, and either have to direct people for MLWM questions (else request more training in it so that I'm familiar, which is what I'll be doing).

Maybe we could create a new topic for these, else submit them privately?  In any case, we'd need a list of what's gonna be there.

-Andy
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2004, 02:32:39 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes

So if we could post the scenarios somewhere for people to read up on, that would be cool. Each monkey could read through whatever scenarios for whatever games he knows how to run, and be relatively ready from the start to run the game.


It just so happens that I'm looking for some demo material to use in Ropecon. Thus, if the demo scenarios are prepared beforehand and made public, I'm more than happy to field test them with my crew in Ropecon, which is 23th of July. The games I'll be representing are listed in the thread, so those are the ones I'm intending to demonstrate.
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Luke
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« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2004, 03:24:33 PM »

aaron and don are much better salesmen than I am, but let me see if I can remember some lessons learned:

Be direct and enthusiastic, but do not shout at or make demands of your customer.
I've had to change my method from: "You should try my game!" to "Can I answer any questions you have about these games?"

Shoving something in someone's face gave them the easy opportunity to shrug it off or push it aside. Presenting something and allowing someone to form an impression and then offering to help aid them in their decision has been much more fruitful for me.

I cannot stress how important enthusiasm is. People really want to like what you're selling. It bums them out when it's not for them. Even if someone is standoff-ish, they still want to like what you have to offer. I'm not asking everyone to be overbearing cheer-bots with plastic smiles, but the surly game designer thing never worked for me.

That said, I am a terrible salesman. Don and Aaron can literally put product in people's hands and say, "You'll love it." and have them buy it. Aaron also has the uncanny ability to redirect: "We don't have that, but if you're into that kind of thing, you want this.  Just some pointers to think about.


Crowding was the major detriment to look and feel that I experienced last time. So just remember to spread out. If the booth is full of demos in progress, take a 5-minute walk. Leave room for folks to stop by and see what all the shouting is about.

Also, crowding is often caused by us simply lingering and waiting for a target. I've watched so many potential customers walk away because they couldn't get through the wall of booth monkey bodies (who aren't paying attention). So stay loose and stay aware. DO NOT stand in front of the displays or the cash table. Don't. Do. It.

Lastly, an almost unavoidable form of crowding is the "Pitch Knot" that forms as one or two ninja-monkeys are pitching a customer right where they found him -- at the front of the booth. Suddenly, we have a wall of people. We all need to gentlely but firmly cycle new customers into the booth and to a demo table, while walking satisfied customers out into the aisle. This is really important. If someone doesn't want to sit down with you, then step to the side. But for the love of Pete, don't stand in front of the display rack and block the view to BW or the NPA.

As far as BW demos go: MELEE, MELEE, MELEE. The system can be explained in thirty seconds and with one or two rolls of the dice. After that, "What kind of character do you like to play?" I have dozens of Orcs, Elves, Dwarves and Men prepared. Once the characters are in hand, it's a one minute pitch of the scripting. Then the set up: "It's the end of a long day of fighting. The sun is rising over the bloody soaked snow and you've got one last obstacle to overcome. That Orc is the only thing that stands between you and victory, and he's going to crack your skull open with that axe. What do you do?"

That's my basic pitch. We then run through two exchanges and end with, "That's just the beginning, what did you think of the game?" Usually leaves people wanting more. Via the melee demo we show how task resolution works, compettive tests, wounding, Steel, Helping, weapons mechanics, armor and even social skills (lots of intimidation). It's a great way to get a glimpse of the system.

I have an alternate melee demo planned for GenCon that starts with one player unarmed being throttled by an Orc: "What do you do?!"

Hope that helps,
-Luke
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« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2004, 05:04:24 PM »

Luke (without explicitly pointing it out) made the most important point about making a demo work in a short time frame.

Jake also does it well, Ron a bit less well in my experience from last year:

Start In The Middle.

Present the character with a problem, an obstacle and a clock that requires immediate decision making.  

You are writing the mid-episode cliff-hanger for an action adventure TV drama.  You have 7 minutes before the commercial comes on, and they get up to grab a snack.  What situation are you going to leave them in to make them come back?

Ron, in watching your demos from across the corridor, you actually seemed to get more interaction from the customer when someone surprised you in a demo.  When you weren't getting that jolt of surprise, you slipped into "these are the things that make this cool..." talk, which will sell things to me, but not many other folks.

Mike Holmes and Ralph Mazza also slip into "Showcase my mastery of designer-fu!"  So do I with my boardgames....

Every game has a high concept -- AV:T is "3-D Space Combat, No Scary Math!" (in tandem with "Wanna blow up a chocolate?")

Riddle of Steel's is "Want to see the coolest FRP combat engine ever written?"

Sorcerer's seems to be "If you could bind demons to your will, what parts of your life would you sacrifice for this ability, and why?"

....

and so on.

When doing the menu, I recommend listing each game's high concept under it's title.

I also recommend that you actually get the high concept from someone OTHER than the game designer, who, in my experience, wants to tell you every Cool Thing about the title.

I recommended (and don't know if it was followed) setting up an IRC chat session where everyone is asked to pitch two games they didn't design to people roleplaying assorted customer-types.
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Nev the Deranged
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« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2004, 06:48:39 PM »

Whew. That's all kind of intimidating. It's been a while since I've worked in retail, which is the closest thing to this I can think of... hope I haven't lost the knack.

One thing that has been noted, and that I know from experience is important to selling- product knowledge. Unfortunately, I don't know that much about alot of the games that will be at the con... or even which ones. If someone could throw together that list, it would be helpful, so I could at least check out the websites or whatever and learn what they are about, and as you mentioned, what the "Coolest Thing" (aka selling point) about each one is.

I will have run at least one Sorcerer game by the con (even if I have to tie some people to chairs to do it). I own and have read Charnel Gods but haven't played it. I just ordered My Life With Master, so I will have at least read that thoroughly before the con, and if I'm lucky, played at least once.

That's about it. I know there's a copy of Universalis at my FLGS, which I have flipped through a few times... I suppose I can pick that up too and read it cover to cover.

What else should I, as a complete booth-monkeying-virgin, be doing to prepare to be as useful as possible to you guys? The absolute last thing I want to do is come to the con and be in the way.

Basically, whenever I'm not at the booth, I plan to be playing something. I'm hoping that I can play as many of the games that are being sold at the booth as possible, which will in turn increase my ability to reccommend them. If I'm not mistaken, someone suggested possibly crash-coursing 'monkeys at some point? I'm up for that, even if it's before the Con, I have the two days before off, and I can take more if need be, I have a whole week of vacation days laying around and nothing better to do with them.

I'm psyched. Hopefully what I lack in prowess I can make up for in enthusiasm. *fingers crossed*

Also, I assume at some point there will be intructions on where and when to meet, where to pick up badges, that kind of thing... I read back through the GC'04 entries and if it was in there, I missed it.

Thanks!
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2004, 07:17:12 AM »

Quote from: Nev the Deranged
One thing that has been noted, and that I know from experience is important to selling- product knowledge. Unfortunately, I don't know that much about alot of the games that will be at the con... or even which ones.


You make an important point, Nav- I think it will be imperitive to know, and soon:

1) Which games will be displayed at the Forge Booth?
2) Which designers will be there pimping their own games?
3) Which other booth ninjas are going to be there?

From what I've been hearing of folks critival of the Forge booth from last year, there was a lot of talk of people just kinda standing around, waiting for direction...

...It's my theory that perhaps part of the reason for this is that maybe the booth ninjas didn't have a lot of in-depth knowledge about the games laying around the Forge booth? Maybe Sorcerer and one or two others?

I'm thinking that this year, we can be really successful if we get a list of the games that are going to be there, and if the booth ninjas then make it a goal to learn, say 50% of them COMPLETELY.  Like, "Back and Forth", "Be able to run demos", etc.  Then maybe basic familiarity (a read through, etc) of 30% more.

In any case, my first game of TROS is tomorrow. Part of the impetus of learning this game so quickly was to help pimp it, or at least steer the appropriate folks toward it, at the Forge booth.  That's also why I'm trying to "relearn" Sorcerer and Universalis.  Unfortunately, aside from My Life With Master (which I probably won't have until I get to GenCon), I don't know what else will be featured, so I have to wait here for a master list to see what I need to bone up on.

On that tip, I also see a responsibility of the designers who will have their games at the Forge Booth to perhaps help educate the booth monkeys/ninjas to their game- Providing demo docs, or even perhaps copies of the game itself, to the people running the Forge booth. That way we'll be equipped to confidently pimp their games at the big day- Rather than standing there with a nervous grin, waiting for people to tell them what to do, since they only really know how to play Sorcerer or Kill Puppies or whatever.

-Andy
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2004, 09:30:53 AM »

Hey,

Quote
From what I've been hearing of folks critival of the Forge booth from last year, there was a lot of talk of people just kinda standing around, waiting for direction...


I'm so fucking sick of hearing this that I'll eviscerate the next person, I swear.

THE BOOTH LAST YEAR WENT REALLY WELL. Can you guys grasp that?

Nev and Andy, both of you will be there this year for the first time. You'll learn a lot about how it's run, how it's done, and what the games are.

And! Anyone who paid attention knows that the deadline for company sign-up is July 1. I'm not posting who's gonna be there until that deadline has come and gone, for all sorts of reasons. When it does, then the info goes up. Until then, don't bug me. To make this work, I and a few others are inundated right now with a lot of work that you guys aren't seeing.

Best,
Ron
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LordSmerf
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« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2004, 10:46:09 AM »

Here's an idea, i don't know if it's a good one, but i thought someone might be interested.

In order to keep the appearance of "things happening," whenever traffic is slow run some demos with other booth monkeys.  This would be especially good if you can match monkeys to games they don't know or don't know well as it would further their knowledge of the game and make them better monkeys.

You'll want someone assigned to watch for new people and you'll want to be able to pull booth monkeys from monkey-only demos if traffic picks up, but for those lulls it means that you don't have people standing around with nothing to do and you get to increase everyone's knowledge and experience with the games.

Thomas
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2004, 05:57:13 AM »

All right, that does it. LordSmerf, your comments are a waste of our time.

If there is one problem the Forge booth does not have, it's people standing around with nothing to do.

Nor is there any issue with lulls. The only thing even resembling one came last year on Saturday when the entire exhibit hall experienced a slowdown.

The last few posts are entirely off-topic. If you want to post here, please read the first post in order to understand what the thread is about.

Best,
Ron
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« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2004, 04:11:29 AM »

I'm seconding the idea that any handout, booth map etc. should have one or both or the following:

1) A one/two sentence description of each product, e.g. "My Life with Master - Play the evil minions, overthrow your dark lord. Save your soul, or take his place?"

2) A category list, with available titles below it, like "Freeform RPG's: title 1, title 2, etc."

Something that at a glance, can remind someone of what they're looking for, whether now at the booth, or later.

I'm not sure we're going to ever get a "different world" atmosphere at the booth. Anything done to visually or thematically separate us from the convention is likely to discourage traffic into the booth, IMO. But, I think we -can- be eclectic, interesting and not "more of the same".

Personal observation: Since we as a whole are largely "unknowns", we can have what someone wants or needs and yet -they won't know it-. You can't just wait for them to come into the booth. You've got to engage them as they walk by, sometimes as a subjective thing based on their look and what they're carrying. Someone who is just eyeing booths as they walk around is a much better candidate to try and "pull" into the booth than someone who is say carrying two shopping bags full of Games Workshop stuff. Having a flyer to hand to someone (even if they toss it at the next trash can) also is an excuse for that initial interaction. Things like "hey, cool T-shirt! Let me see it.", or similar strategies also work as a non-salesman conversation starter.

It's not a high return strategy, but it is a low investment of time. If only one out of a hundred people you actively draw into the booth buys something, that's an extra 80-100 sales for the booth for the show.

Greg Porter
BTRC
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