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Author Topic: GenCon Booth 2005 - first laws  (Read 6214 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: February 13, 2005, 11:32:46 AM »

Hey,

1. The booth will be an endcap, same size as 2003 and 2004.

2. The booth's purpose is short-term actual play as a form of sales and promotion. No other purpose will be supported.

It will be composed primarily of play tables. Storage and display of games will be minimized, as will counter space.

No demos will be scheduled; they are all to be snap-on-spot. We'll coordinate with Michael's demo plans, i.e., advertise them, etc.

With any luck, at least one of the fulfilment/warehouse companies will consider setting up a bookstore-like venue where people can browse and flip through pages. If they don't, the Forge booth will provide unsaleable reading copies of the games there and shunt people off into an alternate space.

3. Five primary sponsors will pay for the booth up-front, unlike four last year. I have three nailed down. Two have received the invitation and are leaning towards doing so.

4. Buy-in companies may enter at a $200 or $100 level.

a) You can't buy in at $200 unless you've previously bought in, in preceding years.

b) All the $200 gets you, materially, is poster space. The Forge banner, we hope, is going to be lifted off the back curtain to an area above the booth, freeing up some space for this purpose.

c) Buy-in companies are limited to one person per company. Helpers will have to get regular GenCon badges.

5. Booth monkeys are going to be limited to a much smaller number, and each person will have an extremely definite task for their time at the booth. Actual play is to be favored over hangin' out and greeting.

6. Every person with a Forge booth exhibitor badge is expected to bust his or her ass for at least half a day, every day, at the booth. This means a couple of things ...

a) Having your company at the Forge booth means you, the designer/publisher, cannot be running all-day demos at scheduled con events. Nor can your panel schedule, if any, detract from the time you put in at the booth.

b) Maximum promotion of other people's games is expected, just as we've emphasized all along. This time, we're putting more into actually playing in one another's demos.

Contact me privately, not through this forum, to sign up.

Best,
Ron
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timfire
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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2005, 11:49:16 AM »

Here's a general question - when is the cut-off date for signing up?
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--Timothy Walters Kleinert
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2005, 11:55:51 AM »

Hello,

The first issue is nailing down the primaries. This has to be done right now, because we don't have much time to get that early sign-up date for the booth, which saves us all money. The primaries are the people who literally buy the booth with up-front funds.

The second issue is then the buy-in signups, which is what you're talking about, Tim. I'm open to anyone getting in touch whenever they want, but the key is paying. That raises a problem.

If I open up the paying early, then I get a whole bunch of people paying, then that shuts out other people, then most of the first batch pull out because they had their heads up their asses to begin with. That happened a lot in 2002 and 2003.

If I open up the paying later, it works a lot better. Ditto on the "non-refundable" part. Once you pay me, it's gone to serve the Greater Good, and the big GG isn't into refunds.

Um. So I'm going to say that I'll start accepting statements of intent for $100 and $200 buy-ins right now. But your payments are expected to arrive between March 1 and May 1.

If anyone has a better suggestion for how to handle it, let me know. I'm still open to modifying that schedule. Last year, for example, I started the buy-ins very late, with a final pay date of June 1, and it worked out pretty well.

On the other hand, this year, a lot of people seem to want to get an earlier start.

Best,
Ron
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Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2005, 12:41:50 PM »

Hey Ron:

Does the 100 or 200 include a badge? That is, I go 200, does that get me:

a) space to demo

+

b) poster space

+

c) 1 badge?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2005, 01:09:47 PM »

Good question, Matt. I'm not changing it from previous years, so I forgot to outline it.

Booth monkey = badge cost. This will be exactly the same cost as a four-day GenCon guest badge, whatever that is this year.

$100 buy-in = $100 + badge cost as above. You get demo space, shelf space, but no poster space.

$200 buy-in = $200 + badge cost as as above. You get demo space, shelf space, and poster space.

As always, there will be no discrimination between anyone at the booth in terms of shelf space and play space. I'm totally committed to the new people in particular not becoming second-class citizens.

Best,
Ron
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Luke
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« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2005, 10:47:50 PM »

Ok,

Quote
1. The booth will be an endcap, same size as 2003 and 2004.


Quote
Five primary sponsors will pay for the booth up-front, unlike four last year. I have three nailed down. Two have received the invitation and are leaning towards doing so.


Last year was very crowded. Space was a big issue. This year you're proposing an additional primary sponsor. What about numbers of secondary and tertiary? Any numbers appoximating last year will lead to the crunch again. What are your thoughts for this year.

As a primary sponsor, I'd like the demo space issue to be worked out ahead of time. I have a feeling that I'm going to be doing a lot of demos of BW this year, I'd like to be sure there is enough space to accomodate them. I don't want any conflicts getting in the way of us all promoting and selling.

-L
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2005, 05:42:47 AM »

Hello,

The space crunch from last year had nothing to do with the number of companies. Here's where it came from, roughly in order of importance.

1. Stepping up to help a company that was in over its head, with very large, time-consuming, scheduled demos. This was due to the last-minute sale of Driftwood Publishing, which itself led us to have to stretch (actually, break) the creator-owned principle. There's no equivalent situation this year; demos will be short and punchy as they were in previous years, hence everyone will get the space and time.

2. Too many people with badges who were not contributing meaningfully. A very few of these were monkeys who were still finding their feet; others were monkeys who frankly were kind of slackish, and still others simply never should have had badges at all. That's changing severely this year. Monkey roles are getting defined very clearly and badges for buddies aren't happening.

3. Too much browsing, bookstore-style. This year, we'll have non-saleable reader copies available and farm people elsewhere, if they absolutely must browse. Ideally, at least one other booth nearby will literally be set up as a bookstore space and will feature our and similar games.

4. Too much stock storage and most especially purchase storage at the booth. This year, personal purchases are to be cleared during each day, not just at the end, and no purchases are to be kept there throughout the con. Also, stock replenishment will rely on runners to a nearby hotel room.

5. Too much table & counter space. Easy - less of it this year.

6. Two companies' need for ongoing computer support. I'm pretty sure this was only space-invasive because of the above factors, so am not too concerned about it. Greg P is notably mutualistic.

Final point: Ralph's comments in last year's "storm this brain" thread are well taken. The 2004 booth was a stunning success. To treat any of its hassles as some kind of gross or horrible problem is mistaken. All of the above are improvements, aimed mainly at the success of the $100 buy-ins, not corrections for a broken approach. Our approach is the only working one in the business.

Best,
Ron
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Luke
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« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2005, 07:16:08 AM »

Quote
3. Too much browsing, bookstore-style. This year, we'll have non-saleable reader copies available and farm people elsewhere, if they absolutely must browse. Ideally, at least one other booth nearby will literally be set up as a bookstore space and will feature our and similar games.


Ok, so based on what you're saying I feel like you want something to change in the display/shelving method of the booth. What are your plans?  

-L
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2005, 07:24:43 AM »

This is my totally uninformed idea, as I haven't been to the Forge booth at GenCon Indy before.

At GenCon SoCal, there was a large area of free tables directly beside our booth, which went largely unused. They were the perfect opportunity for us to farm demos to (why we didn't is another story.)

Is it possible that at GenCon Indy, there will be islands of tables around the hall, and if so, could we get placed near one? This could easily provide reading or demo space that could alleviate booth crowding.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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Luke
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« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2005, 07:32:55 AM »

Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
Is it possible that at GenCon Indy, there will be islands of tables around the hall, and if so, could we get placed near one? This could easily provide reading or demo space that could alleviate booth crowding.


There are islands o' tables. Last year, we were expressly forbidden from using them for such purposes.

-L
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2005, 07:45:57 AM »

Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
Is it possible that at GenCon Indy, there will be islands of tables around the hall, and if so, could we get placed near one? This could easily provide reading or demo space that could alleviate booth crowding.


There indeed was such a space. Not exactly near us, but not way the hell away either.  Making use of such space might be worthwhile.

However: There may be rules against "using common area to pimp wares", etc.  In that case, we'd have to dance around that issue: "We're not selling anything, really.  It's just the case that these players came up, met a GM, and spontaneously decided to game over in the common area for a few minutes." *

Also, Ron's gonna kill me for adding this here, because it opens the floodgates to "Storm this Brain" style suggestions, but I just wanted to throw it in.
The register was a total success last year.  Money was divided every day with no hassle.
However, having a credit card reader might be worth the hassle. I could easily see 20% more booth sales when people can just spontaneously buy stuff without thinking of consequences. I personally wasn't near the reg that much, but I saw 3 $30+ sales die because the buyer only brought plastic.

I mean, most people come to GenCon to play their d20 or WOD games, to buy the latest items they had circled in their guidebooks... and then get swept off thier feet by Kill Puppies, Burning Wheel or the NPA. This is what we want to happen. These are the people that we're aiming for.  They get interested in the game... but wait, they only brought enough cash for Mage The Whatever and that Doctor Who T-Shirt... Virtual Money is so much more responsive to impulse buys, to the buys that people didn't expect to make before they see the Forge Booth. Since these are the people we're aiming for, we should also aim for the path of least resistance for their wallets as well.

-Andy

* BTW, this is the explanation used that makes prostitution legal in Japan.
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jrs
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« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2005, 08:03:14 AM »

On credit card transactions.  

I know this is a bit of a touchy subject.  I also know that there were some lost sales last year due to the inability to conduct credit card transactions.  (Being able to direct customers to the nearest cash station helps, but sometimes they don't come back with cash.)  Usually customers want to use a credit card to purchase games from more than one creator.  Ideally said customer would be able to use a single credit card transaction to make payment.  What entity will interact with the credit card company, and how will money be distributed to the appropriate people?

Does anyone have ideas on how to make this work?

Julie
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daMoose_Neo
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« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2005, 08:07:17 AM »

Woo hoo! We're equating Indie game playing at GenCon to pickin up hos in Japan- I feel thrilled to be a part of this endevour!

Actually, from my observations last year at Indy the tables weren't hardly used at all. ONCE in a blue moon while walking the floor did I see them used. Otherwise, people crashed, ate, left advertising fliers etc etc. As long as no one is doing anything to draw attention to themselves (IE Big signs that read "DEMO SORCERER WITH CREATOR RON EDWARDS HERE!") it'd be safe to take someone off to the side for an extended demo. Its an open gaming area, so why not see it actually put to use instead of just taking up space they couldn't sell because they're money grubbing so-and-sos?
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Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2005, 08:32:05 AM »

Hiya,

Nate, beware of suggestions which just seem obvious to you. Breaking GenCon rules is not on the radar screen, especially since our whole approach of booth-sharing is already considered almost-against-the-letter but definitely-within-the-spirit, and I've made sure to secure specific GenCon approval for it (even though such approval is not required).

So when anyone gets a bright idea, be sure to raise it with the proviso of checking with the con rules. I'll be looking into the idea of the general-use tables - last year, I think they shot themselves in the foot by packing them so tightly and not letting people use them for demos, and maybe they'll consider an alternate approach.

Also, Nate, put a lid on that wide-swinging slander of GenCon policy. Those tables were placed at the request of many people, including myself, that the exhibit hall needed something besides an exhausting trudge among booths and celebrity-signing lines. I don't think they were quite implemented just right, but (a) I'm not in charge of that policy and (b) it was a first-time try.

Best,
Ron
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Keith Senkowski
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« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2005, 08:44:05 AM »

On Credit Cards: One solution would be internet access.  A lot of us have PayPal accounts and that could easily be a solution (instead of a credit card reader).  Those that don't could easily set one up.  We even could create a single page from which to reach all these different purchases online (I have no problem putting ti together and hosting it).  I'm sure that they have a wireless network at the convention hall.  We would just need to see what the cost would be.

I think this got mentioned in one of the other GenCon threads last year and if I derailed this muther I appologize, but upping our sales in a way this simple is a good thing to me.

Keith
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