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[Origins] Booth Report

Started by Iskander, July 03, 2006, 01:38:13 PM

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I was monkeying for Brennan at the IPR booth this past few days. Here's my thoughts on stuff. I am sure this is mostly old hat, but I figure it's worth re-iterating as we tool up for GenCon. As ever, my thoughts are my own, and have nothing to do with IPR.

The Booth
We had a good corner spot. It was in the aisle directly opposite the most popular entrance, at the far end, but near the people clouting eachother with foam weapons which was entertaining. Opposite Luke Ski, alas, but you can't have everything. Otherwise, some really nice neighbours - the peeps from Wolfhome Adventuring Outfitters were cool (and only didn't get a Mountain Witch because we were interrupted, and then it sold out), and the Troll Lord guys very friendly. The CCG neighbours not so interactive, but wholly pleasant. More importantly, plenty of traffic came by. We had a demo table in the exterior corner, and books arrayed for maximum visibility to passers-by, with space to draw punters into the booth for in-depth discussion. The IPR banner (on heavy paper) took a bit of a beating at Ubercon (?), and was a bit tired - I gave it a once-over with an iron, but that didn't help a lot. A cloth banner would be more resilient and more responsive to steam ironing. The racks look great. The array of great designs with varied colours at easy-to-handle sizes is eye-catching, interesting and enticing. System matters for play, design matters for sale. A lot. The wire racks have space for quite a lot of stock, and show it all off nicely.

We kept the booth tidy, nobody stank, and I had a good time. On balance, the booth itself - as a sales venue and place to be - was very successful.

Sales Technique
I have had a few interesting jobs in my day, but it has been a while since I sold anything from a booth. The last time was at the Sydney Home Show, 1990, flogging Formplex Vinyl Weatherboarding. If you can shill vinyl siding to Aussies... well, it all came back pretty quickly. It is, of course, slightly different with Indie RPGs: we want people to play the games, not just buy them. Here's a summary pf what I did to pitch, and sell, games (Brennan has the numbers, but I think we sold better than last year for many games):
- Spot a punter who is looking to be engaged; not bustling past with a fixed stare, nor talking eagerly to a companion. Sometimes a break in a conversation can be exploited to good effect, but usually it comes across as rude and pushy, and will get you a dirty look or ignored.
- Ask a leading question, or a (borderline) stupid one, like: "Do you play games?", "Do you roleplay?", or "Can I show you some games?". Be very clear that "No" is an acceptable response. If necessary, say so. It is far, far better to let someone go about their mini-gaming business than to spend ten minutes pitching half-a-dozen games to them that they will never buy.
- If you get a bite, reel in a little, by continuing with a leading question: "What are you playing at the moment?", "Why did you stop?", "What kind do you mostly play?", and I had some good results from some people with "What is it that's frustrating you about the game?", mostly when I detected some sighing/angsty vibe from them.
- Listen to what they tell you. This is the part where you find out which games they are most likely to be enthused by. If you don't listen, and routinely only pitch your game, or your game-du-jour, you have lost sales of both books, and you are a dick.
- Also, take cues from what they're wearing. There is a lot of self-identification going on at a convention, where tribe members seek each other out by showing off their true colours. If you know what game's artwork is all over someone's chest, you may know what to pitch.
- Pick the book you think they'll like most, and hand it to them, talking all the while: "Ah!" I say, with a wide grin or knowing smile, "I think you should take a look at <game>," as I put it into their eager hands. I can't tell you how important it is to put a book in their hands, and put your hands back at your side (or wave them around excitedly). Get them comfortable with having the exciting and good-looking game you just gave them.
- If you know that someone who can pitch the right game to them way better than you can is standing nearby, and is free, then give the punter the book, grab the better-pitcher, and bow out. Let them take over.
- Let them flip pages while you explain the single thing that excites you most about the game. Be excited for real. If there are games on the shelf you don't like, or don't know, find something about them to be keen on, be it genre, style, a specific mechanic, a cool campaign you want to run, a great session or moment of play you have had.
- If they're still interested, step back to draw them into the booth, past even more attractive and enticing games. This clears the rack area for more people to see the beautiful games. It's a purely practical thing. If you are still engaging in conversation with them, they will follow you. Remember that most men like to talk to people at an angle, most women like to talk to people head-on (you can use this to push and pull people around at boring parties; it's fun). Body language can be your friend.
- Continue with a second thing that really excites you about that game, or a run-down of neat mechanics, and let them pick. Again, the more information you elicit from them about their play to date, the more you have to go on. Beware, however, getting trapped in game group tale-telling. Cut that shit off at the knees.
- If they look interested and engaged, move on to another game. More often than not, pitching a third feature of a book is self-defeating: TMI. (It's more like a fourth: the fact that they can hold your book without working out, and it looks so pretty is a feature).
- You will find that sometimes the next suggestion is obvious; others it isn't, and you can pick a game that's not selling quite as well. This is good. Give that game to them. Now, they're in a position of choosing one of four options: Games A and B, Game A, Game B, or give both back to the heart-broken sales simian. You've gone from fifty-fifty sale to seventy-five:twenty-five. (Not really, but you get the picture).
- If they give them back, don't be a dick. Offer a flyer / card to where they can pick the games up online - and mention any free shipping / sales discount. e.g. IPR ships free to the US for orders over $25. This sells your games in the future, too.
- Let them put the game back on the shelf... or if they're really obviously going to, take it from them and do so yourself, with a smile. Not buying the game right then is not a crime, and doesn't make them a bad person.
- Many people window shop, go talk to their group, and make purchases later in the day or the next day. If a game is selling out, tell them. Do not lie about it. If they come back the next day and there's one copy, they'll buy it... if there are twenty, they probably won't.
- Try to judge when someone is beginning to feel uncomfortable about how much they're going to spend. Remember that Small Press and Indie games sell to the long tail. If you use your greater social nous to make someone spend more than they can afford, they will feel BAD, and they will prefer to blame you - much better than blaming themselves. You are damaging your (and everyone else's) future sales.
- Believe them when they make excuses, smile, and understand their pain. You do, you know: you've been to a con where you spent your budget and then seen that awesome game you really want. Instead of pushing for today's sale, offer IPR flyers or cards (or information on how to buy the game they've looked at when they do have money). That way, there's an even better chance of a cross-sell later, too. Either way, you've sold a game, only this way, they don't think Indie publishers are dicks. Again, remember the long tail.
- Don't be afraid to pitch to people with - gasp - wheelchairs, walking difficulties or weight issues. I saw a lot of vendors shy away from pitching to people with handicaps of one sort or another, or exaggerated body types. Such vendors are fools. You need not be. If you feel uncomfortable, figure it out: it's your problem. Ditto people of colour. Ditto homos like me. For practical reasons, it's sometimes better to pitch to some people in the aisle. Be smart: make life easy for the customer, while trying to leave the rack accessible.
- Find out when the games are actually being played at the con. Tell people interested in the game, when they put it back on the rack. They're not going to buy it now, when they think it will be fun, the will when they know it was.

Take-aways for GenCon
- If you're not working the booth, it is great to see you, and we love you, but do not stand in front of the rack, blocking traffic. Seriously. We can hang out after hours. It's more fun, then, when we're not working.
- If you are working the  booth, do not stand in front of the rack blocking traffic; draw your punters in to the booth to talk in depth, or feed them out to a demo table.
- Cloth / fabric banners may be a better option than paper-based ones.
- Always have more than one copy of every book in the rack. Many punters are reluctant to pick up the last book.
- Depending on GenCon booth layout, one or two more of the tall wire racks for small books might be necessary.
- We need a pocket-sized pricelist for everyone on the booth. Designers: make sure the responsible parties know how much your game costs, so your game is on the list. If it ain't, you will not sell as many books.
- We need lists (and preferably handouts) of when the games for sale are being played at the con.
- Designers (and others) who are running pickup games: get your shit together, decide when and where, and advertise that fact.
- The booth could use a whiteboard to show off when and where games are being played.
- Designers who do not normally sell through IPR need to have information with their books about where reluctant punters can buy them.
- Laminate a cover of your game, in case you sell out.
- Try to find out if you know how to pitch your own game. Ask other designers (or your friends, or your existing players) what they find most exciting about it. That will by why they bought it, and why others will.
- Play your damn game with people you don't know in the mix. I ran a Conspiracy of Shadows game (AP to follow) for four Forgizens and two Forge-curious players, and sold two copies the next day. Brennan can tell you the same story for Mortal Coil, and MSM for With Great Power... - it really works. Do this on the first damn day, so they can tell everyone they meet what a cool game they just bought.
- Have a 2-4 hour pickup game ready to run, or be run by others. Print several copies of the materials you need before you come to GenCon, and make them available. Give Brennan a PDF of same.
- If you demo your game, and you demo it well, make copies of the materials you use, and make them available. Put them up online somewhere. I would have loved to demo a lot more games than I could. I felt sad.

- Remember, above all, your goal is to have people walk away from the booth with a game in their hands that they will feel good about buying, not just today, but tomorrow, when they think about playing it, they do play it, and they tell everyone about their game. Hard selling does none of that.

That's all for now... I will follow up with more specifics on how I was pitching each game, and what I felt worked for me, later. Right now, I'm off to play games. Yay!
Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14


Excellent, it is good to see that Alexander has assimilated many of the lessons of Gencon's past without myself or Ron having to browbeat him. Perhaps, dare I say it, there's a tradition forming?

There's hope for us all yet.



So, as promised, part II of my Booth Report, wherein I cover specific games, and how I pitched them. I fully expect your mileage to vary considerably: this is what I find particularly exciting about the games covered and how I sold them. My excitement about each was better for the sale, I am sure, than the specifics themselves, but these serve as examples of what I meant when I said "Let them flip pages while you explain the single thing that excites you most about the game. Be excited for real." If your game's not listed, it's not because IPR left them at home, it's because I didn't know enough about the game to be excited, or to pitch... that's easily fixed, though! In alphabetical order, then:

A|State and Mire End
A|State got a bit of attention from d20/WW types who are addicted books that size, because it's so damned pretty, and it's that size. I usually asked if the punter was familiar with Miéville, described the setting as a case of convergent evolution, and said I had heard it was a lot of fun to play - I haven't played (or read) it myself, so that was the best I could do... still sold a couple of copies each, one in the bundle, the others were looking for the book.

Breaking the Ice
I like pitching BtI, especially when I'd handed an alpha punter off to Brennan, Michael or Clinton and the alpha's SO was looking bemused or worried. I started off by describing how you pick a difference between the couple, and switch it up, then gushed about how taking suggestions earns you bonus dice and how much that encouraged co-operative, easy play. I would often follow up by showing the character sheet, and describing how that affected the play space. Always mentioned the broken leg trick (comedy is less scary) and if I felt the punter was right, contrasted that with Clark and Bruce. It's a hard game to sell, because it scares the crap out of a lot of gamers, but it is far from impossible!

Burning Wheel and MonBu
If a punter's looking for fantasy, it's this or TSoY; I would make the choice based on how crunchy they said they wanted to be. Since I'm in a weekly(ish) game of BW, it was pretty easy to pitch any one of: Beliefs, Circles and the Enmity Clause, Duel of Wits, Resources, or the "best Tolkein races evar". Also, demos helped. With BW, it was important to know when to stop: too much information overwhelms, and kills the pitch. It helped to have my personal copy around, so the punters could look in the books if they wanted to.

Conspiracy of Shadows
Doom was my number one pitch for selling CoS: just describing how it works, and the tension it creates for a player lit a few punters up. If necessary, I would also outline how Destiny Points work, and that usually hooked 'em. I worked on a quick demo scenario, using characters from Blood Opera, but it needs a bit of refinement. I ran one pickup game of Blood Opera, with six players, two of whom didn't already own it, and they both picked it up the next day. (Hint, hint, Keith. Run your fucking game.)

Dogs in the Vineyard
Hardly needed pitching. DitV flew off the shelves. Nevertheless, I had some success with: "You are a 16-year-old gunslinging virgin Mormon paladin in 1860s Utah. God speaks to you directly, and it's your job to visit towns, root out the sin and judge the sinners. What's so exciting about it, is the terrible choices you have to make when you judge all those people who've done bad things for very good reasons, and good things for very bad ones. It's awesome." (DitV also gave me my fave sales moment of the con, for a later post).

Funny, funny ghostbusters franchise game. Not possible to not laugh. 'Nuff said at that point: it was either sold or unsold!

It Was a Mutual Decision
Not played yet, nor read it (but bought it), so sub-par pitch: "It's about a breakup; the guys play the gal, the gals play the guy, and if the dice come up a certain way, you've got to include rats. I haven't played it, but I saw a bunch of people having a blast with it at ForgeCon. I'm psyched to give it a shot."

Lacuna Part I (2nd attempt)
Not played yet, nor read it (but bought it), so I listend to Clint'n and Brennan pitching and came up with something like: "You're mystery agents policing the collective unconscious to make the world safe from some of its horrors, like, y'know, serial killers. The neat thing is that your body is lying on a slab, and you keep track of your heart rate... as it increases into target range, you get more effective, but if it gets too high - it bursts in your chest. Oops. I so want to play this, and soon." Which is true. I do want to play it, and soon.

Mortal Coil
Whenever possible, I handed it off to Brennan for demos, again because I need to read it. Otherwise, I pitched thus: "It's a game of modern magic, where the players decide what magic is as part of the game. So, I've played a game where everyone is a faded old god, hanging out in a bar - which was one of the funniest evenings' play I've ever had, but Thursday night's game was much more dark, with all the players beholden to Satan. Big fun." The demos that Brennan ran (and the games, too) were very effective at pitching the game.

Mountain Witch
After a brief description of the scenario and dark fates, I focus on the trust mechanic and describe it in more detail: how it starts cooperatively, and sets you up very satisfyingly for heavy-duty betrayal at the climax. Then I would delightedly crow that I survived the last game I played... but Jason Blair gave my eyballs to the witch, so it wasn't all good. That, and the loveliness of the book sell well. Good for pitching to players with L5R t-shirts. Mentioning Kurosawa / Tarantino as the style of the ending gave many people insight into why they had to have the book.

Nine Worlds
It took a while to figure out the pitch for 9W. First, I would describe briefly the setting: "This world is a delusory illusion sustained by Prometheus to protect humanity from the reality of the Nine Worlds: the ancient Greeks were right. You play demigods with the power to alter the reality of the cosmos." Then, a brief gush about how the choices you make as a player define how the character grows, and ultimately whether you champion the gods or challenge them. Finally, I described the campaign I want to run, and that was the clincher: "I want to run a game with a bunch of scandinavian guys who have decided to fuck all that greek noise and re-make the universe the Norse way. Who wouldn't want to get up in the morning and decide to be Odin?"

octaNe, and Against the Reich
So, I only just read octaNe, but it wasn't too tough to pitch: crazy-ass post-apocalyptic road-movie fun with space monkeys, Elvis ninjas and talking cars. See the cover. Recognise that it's just not some people's kind of game. You may have to move on to InSpectres.

A load of folk just made a beeline for Polaris and picked it up, having heard buzz about it. Apart from the pre-sold, I described the mechanism of antagonism, and how well that worked, ending up with a little patter of "OK, say it's my scene, I ride out into the icy wastes and kill a demon. You say 'but only if you are horribly scarred in the process', and I'm like... (hesitating, cautiously) that's OK, I can live with that, the scars are heroic and dashing, but only if I am acclaimed leader of the order of the Knights of the Stars, and you say 'but only if your beloved brother is killed', and I say no way!... and then the dice hit the table. It's cool!" That usually piqued their interest, enough to follow up with a description of how using the key phrases in play affected my subsequent roleplay for the better.

Shab-al-Hiri Roach
Easy to pitch and sound excited, because it's so fun. A brief description of the setup, and how you vie for reputation, then reveal the roach. This works well to pitch to board gamers who are RPG-curious, but will give you the time to pitch one game. Then skip to the

The Shadow of Yesterday
I think that for me, the single best selling point for TSoY was the fact that this game turned me on to Indie RPGs at the beginning. Also, describing the possibility of buying off the Key of Love to be able to take the Key of Bloodlust, mid-action when it's the right time for you... that works. Doesn't hurt to have Clinton on hand to run a quick demo, either.

Sorcerer, Sorcerer and Sword, Sorcerer's Soul and Sex and Sorcery
I still don't have a good pitch for each of these (and they're clearly distinct pitches), and "the grand-daddy of Indie roleplaying games" doesn't really inspire fire. Probably because I'm at a loss to describe how much I've taken from the books, and because I've only really played once. Need more work.

So, it turned out that - although Nathan had been cool and got me demo materials before the fact - during the con, I just didn't get time to review the text or the demo, nor did I recall what I enjoyed from Dreamation (and I did enjoy it... I did remember that much!). So this was, again, hard to pitch.

Under the Bed
Ack. I kept seeing UtB on the table, next to where the racks were - because it falls out of the racks - and thinking to myself "Shit! I must remember to draw people's attention to UtB,", but I kept forgetting: when talking to a punter in front of the rack... the stuff on the rack is inherently more memorable. We nevertheless sold a few, but I can't help but think the size and shape hurt. Also, I can't crack a copy to demo it... because it's got all the cool cards. Joshua, you might want to laminate a demo deck for IPR / booth monkeys everywhere... just a thought.

With Great Power...
I found this easy to pitch: I love how the game pays attention to the ethical and moral choices that comic-book characters should be having to make, and so do a lot of punters; telling them that it doesn't work like "oh, my guy has strength 20, so he can lift trucks", the idiom of your character's powers (if any) are entirely in your narrative control. It's more like "Does Superman save Lois or Metropolis, if he can only save one?" That, plus pointing out that you can always beat the villain... if you're willing to sacrifice enough. Then I made them bugger off and play the game with MSM or Kat (who ran 8 full sessions: that's how you really promote a good game: get people playing it and talking about it). For my money, WGP demos better with less comic-book-cheese: it's about playing the hardcore cool bits of comics that give you goosebumps when you read them. Or make you cry. Awesome!

Still to come... more tidbits from Origins, including my favourite sale, a gratifying game of RIFTS, and other odds and sods from the convention.
Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14


Great and timely, Alexander.

(Plus, OMG, can everyone *please* add their games to this list, so booth monkey-folk can know what to pitch! I'm still weirdly smarting from mis-directing someone last year who should have walked away with Burning Wheel and TSOY, but didn't, 'cause I flubbed it.)


Howdy all,

After all the GEMS on this thread from Iskander, here are two more tips on how to make a lot more $ at the booth, both at the con and afterwards.

1) Lot's of people window shop and everyone wants free stuff.  If you have a drawing for free stuff (NOT just handing it out) where people have to fill out a card, it does several things that will help you.  First, you are able to collect everyone's contact info so you can send them follow up mailings in the future about your games.  Second, if you do the drawing the last day of the con it will cause people to come back to the booth a second time to see if they won anyhting, thus getting them to look at all the pretty games again.  The *real value* here is in the mailing list you will be able to build of PRE QUALIFIED leads for indie games.  Put check boxes on the card with the names of the games so people can select the ones they "most want to win" (ie. they ones they are most interested in) if you want to make the quality of the lead info even better.

2) Make sure to have a free special "post con order form" that people (buyers and non-buyers) can take with them that lists all the games you are selling, the prices, and how to get them easily.  You will be surprised at how many people don't buy something and then experience "non-buyers remorse" when they get home.  If you put a strict time limit on some kind of discount or other special (free bonus scenario) associated with this form (say 7 days after the end of the con) it works *even better* and can make the week after the con a good one for sales as well.

These are both very simple to implement, just some photocopies and a few gratis games, but really are effective for the long term.

Best of all,

Latigo / Pete

Brennan Taylor

I don't have a lot to add to Alexander's excellent post, but I will note some of my own observations from the convention.

First off, our location ended up being pretty good. Even though we were at the back of the hall, the aisle we were on led directly to the front entrance. Traffic was good, and we didn't have a lot of empty booths around us. My vision of the layout, with the table at the rear of the booth, and racks along the short wall, worked great. Our corner booth was inviting and having the carpet laid in the booth paid off. Our booth seemed like it belonged as part of the corridor, rather than having a bare concrete floor which would have marked the edges as separate from the aisle.

Although we only had one demo table, we were close to some open tables elsewhere, and I can only think of one instance where I wanted to give a demo and our little in-booth table was in use. We did run a lot of demos, and it seems to me that most days there was a demo running more often than not. I think it is absolutely true that demos sell games, and next year I would like to organize a more formal indie game schedule at the con. A number of people came by the booth after playing in a session of one of the games and picked it up.

The staff of four that we had was just about the perfect size. We were able to keep at least two people in the booth at all times, which allowed one person to concentrate on running a demo while the other could talk to passers-by. When all four of us were there, the booth wasn't overcrowded, and there were a couple of occasions when all four were talking to different customers. Another advantage of having multiple people working the booth was that even if there were no customers, our booth looked like something was going on, with people talking while keeping an eye out for interested shoppers.

IPR will be returning to Origins next year, and Mark Smylie of Archaia Studios Press expressed interest in sharing an endcap. This con is valuable exposure for all of these games. Many of the people who picked them up are indie games fans already, but a lot of the folks who wander by the booth have never heard of any of these games.


(Thanks for the suggestions, Pete, if I may, I will finish up my thoughts before getting to them!)

I totally agree with Brennan about the carpet. The IPR corner booth was an inviting space, where people could come learn about cool games, and the carpet contributed to the feel of the place significantly.

My Favourite Sale
So one fine Friday morning at the Origins IPR booth, there were a couple of mini gamers who were interested in the games, but even more interested in talking to Brennan about small press publishing. When they were done, one of them, Noel, started asking me about the games. I wanted to know what he was playing (nothing), and want he wanted from his prospective purchase. He wanted to buy one book. Just one. Because he has a load of books, and he loves rules, and he wants to learn about some indie rules. So that was the challenge: pick only one of the array of excellent games to demonstrate to Noel how radically different game rules can be. I settled on Dogs in the Vineyard, for its accessible writing, great mechanics, and mind-opening properties. (Sorry, Luke, Ron, Jared, Michael, Clinton, and everyone else, Vincent's still got it.) So that was nice: Noel trotted off content with his purchase. Skip to after lunch, and mid-pitch, Noel rushed back into the booth, eyes wide, pupils dilated, all a-glow and somewhat a-flutter to thank me for changing his life. Awesome! Also, sorry, Vincent, he thanked me. Sa-weet! OK, I don't really take credit for the effect DitV had on him, but it was enormously satisfying nonetheless.

My Poor Voice
As a classically trained actor (I know, darling!) I should have known better than to spend the day talking in a moderately loud convention center without warming my voice up. I was suffering by Monday, which is just stupid, especially since I have interviews today with some people I really want to work for. So, for GenCon, if folks are interested in a vocal warmup at the start of each day, I will happily lead one in the booth.

My Aching Feet
I have this really awesome new-ish pair of shoes, called Vivo Barefoot, that have 3mm soles laced with Kevlar throughout, and no other padding or crap. They're great - it's like being barefoot, which is my preferred mode of footwear. However, they take a bit of getting used to, and I'm not quite used to them... so my feet ached (no blisters, but aches). So here's my umpteenth obvious hint for GenCon: under no circumstances bring new shoes to the booth. You will hate yourself.

My Favourite Look On Mark Smylie's Face
Thanks to Greg Porter, I got to go to the Origins awards, and make an ass of myself laughing maniacally, rolling my eyes and picking up statuettes. Which meant I had a great view of Mark's face when Artesia's victory was announced. Hanging out and having a few beers with Mark had already been fun... but the looks that chased each other across his phizog when he won Best RPG were priceless.

My Favourite New Thing
Sorry, Clinton, not the D&D board game. No, the most fun I had with a new thing was playing Kat Miller's Everway LARP, despite MSM's pernicious treachery, and Mike Holmes untimely decapitation of me. On balance, I prefer play where the secrets are all out in the open, and the players can drive the action towards them, but the LARP was hella fun, regardless. I might even play another one again.

My Favourite Bit of Synchronicity
On the way to GenCon last year, US Airways' shite airplanes conspired to trap us in La Guardia airport for six hours, where we met Steve, the Vampire LARPer and then shared a ride to the convention hotels. Getting off the plane in Columbus, OH, who should I see, but Steve, the Vampire LARPer, with his fiancée, the non-gamer at her first con, with whom we shared a ride to the convention hotels. I await further encounters at GenCon Indy this year.

My Other Favourite Sale
Last year at GenCon, one of the two scheduled games I played that didn't basically suck was a RIFTS game, run by the most excellent Jason Marker. This year, he was at Origins, and since he wasn't going to be back at GenCon, I couldn't resist the chance to have that much fun again. Bear in mind that I think the system is - for my creative agenda - concentrated ass: my enjoyment of the game was all about the GM. This year's game was, alas, only so-so: pretty good, but not as much fun as last year. I guess there's no going back. (Oh, how I wish Jason would turn his talents to a system that wasn't ass.) The next day, though, one of the players - and they were all hardcore Rifters - came by the booth. I don't believe he would have stopped (or listened) if we hadn't played. He was instantly taken by one of the IPR d20 products (that I wot so little of, I didn't list them above), and again asked - after a run-down of the games - if I were to recommend one of them to him, which would it be. Here, again, my choice was heavily influenced by what I'd seen of his play style, and I was adamant that I would sell him a game I thought he would actually go home and play... it was a tossup between The Mountain Witch and The Shab-al-Hiri Roach, but The Mountain Witch pipped the Roach to the post based on what I knew of his play. This was satisfying because it may have introduced Indie games to a devotee of the Rifts crack pipe. I'm sure Jim will play the game, and I'm sure he'll enjoy it.

My Other Favourite Bit of Synchronicity
Brennan and I both snore, so we both slept like lambs.
Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14


Oh, also...

My Loot!(grumble, grumble, most important bit)
It Was a Mutual Decision
Mortal Coil
No Press Anthology
Artesia, Artesia Afield, Artesia Afire - the graphic novels
Oriente - an Origins nominee card game
Fist of Dragonstones (cheap! and we like the equally horribly-named The Queen's Necklace)
A custom block of Mechaton Dice - all four of us at the booth split up blocks of red, green, blue and yellow dice. Sweet.
Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14


Quote from: Latigo on July 06, 2006, 02:07:51 AM
1) Lot's of people window shop and everyone wants free stuff... have a drawing for free stuff... The *real value* here is in the mailing list you will be able to build. (snipped by me - Alexander)

2) Make sure to have a free special "post con order form" (snip)

These are both good ideas, Pete, and are certainly part of regular marketing techniques; ones that work pretty well for single companies with product lines, supplements and all that jazz. There are a couple of practical difficulties with them for the Forge booth at GenCon, though, and I don't think they work well with the idea of small press games.

1) Free stuff drawing! On the face of it, a great way to get more traffic. But the GenCon booth gets lots of traffic already, and doesn't necessarily need the free-swag-hunter traffic. Further, there's the instantiation and maintenance of said mailing list once it's been set up. Mailing lists are all very well if they're properly maintained and judiciously used, but they're also a surefire way to piss off your punters if you spam them with every new release. The deliciously varied nature of the games that come out of the minds of people who are selling through the Forge booth is also going to work against a mailing list: the reality is that not every customer of Burning Wheel gives a shit about Breaking the Ice, and vice versa (I count myself a happy exception there). Finally, I think most indie / small press game authors would rather their small print runs find their way into the hands of people who want to play the game. While the idea of a giant stack of Indie games appeals greatly to me, Murphy's Law would suggest that any free swag would end up gathering dust on a groaning shelf somewhere, unread, and that would make me sad.

2) Post-con order form. This is a great idea - although I would adapt it to be a post-con order information sheet, and again devolve the responsibility to authors (not that I speak for Brennan, or am in any concrete way associated with IPR except as a monkey). Many of the games at the Forge booth this year are carried by IPR, but far from all; there are some notable exceptions (My Life with Master and Primetime Adventures spring to mind). I think it's marginally more practical for authors to make damn sure that they have a flyer or card to give out to folk who remain on the fence about making the purchase there and then. IMO, far better for the long term than pushing a hard sell. Likewise, IPR needs to have handouts. It might not be a bad idea to have a small press vendor webring, either.

I'm pretty much done with what I remember of the con, so I'd like to open the floor to anyone who stopped by the booth and has feedback for us:
- Did we shill you?
- Did we hard sell you?
- Was I stinky? (oh, please, no!)
- How could we have made your experience more fun?
Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14

Lisa Padol

Quote from: Iskander on July 06, 2006, 05:20:49 PM- Did we shill you?


Quote- Did we hard sell you?

Absolutely not.

Quote- Was I stinky? (oh, please, no!)

Don't think so. If you mean that literally, I have year-round allergies, and wouldn't necessarily be able to tell.

Quote- How could we have made your experience more fun?

Um... Having free cookies or brownies at the booth? On second thought, just as well you didn't.

Having a list of what Indie games were being played where and when (and which officially had open slots?)
Maybe sign-up sheets for pick ups? Not sure about that, since, if you're wanting to hand pick your after hours pick up players, then you don't want or need sign up sheets.

I was about to say a catalogue, but I think you had one.



Andy Kitkowski

Quote from: Iskander on July 06, 2006, 08:35:46 AM
My Aching Feet
I have this really awesome new-ish pair of shoes, called Vivo Barefoot, that have 3mm soles laced with Kevlar throughout, and no other padding or crap. They're great - it's like being barefoot, which is my preferred mode of footwear. However, they take a bit of getting used to, and I'm not quite used to them... so my feet ached (no blisters, but aches). So here's my umpteenth obvious hint for GenCon: under no circumstances bring new shoes to the booth. You will hate yourself.

Last year, after my first foot-numbing-pain day of being in Sandals at GenCon, I walked (limped) over that night to the Nordstroms (IIRC) next to the Con, and that night bought a pair of Merrell shoes (which I had been meaning to do for a while anyway, but I did it with a vengence that night) and extra thick socks. They saved my GenCon experience last year.

Merrells, primarily walking shoes, are the most comfortable shoes I've ever purchased. They're meant for walking, but I even wear my pair jogging. I've tried out shoes from other companies and makers recently, and came to the shocking realization that I probably won't buy any non-Merrell shoe again for the rest of my life (unless someone comes out with even more comfortable shoes).

If you're booth monkeying, and looking to get some shoes in the next few months anyway, or are worried about achey feet, seriously go try on a pair between now and the Con.

The Story Games Community - It's like RPGNet for small press games and new play styles.


One more thing...

Water Bottles
MSM and I (and occasionally Brennan and Clinton, too) ran relays to refill water bottles from the water fountain in the exhibition hall. I kept losing my little Poland Complaining Water bottle, though, so I went and got one of these kind of bottles, although in a butch red, not the namby-pamby colours there. What I like about that design is the solid loop on the top, which would make it easy to carry ten or more such bottles at a time, making an efficient water run possible. If you're exhibiting or demo-ing, you're going to need a water bottle. Why not get one that is stylish, has the right curves, and you can easily identify as yours? (I am going to be putting some suitably nerdy identification mark on my bottle.)
Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14


- Did we shill you?
- Did we hard sell you?
- Was I stinky? (oh, please, no!)
- How could we have made your experience more fun?

So I'm a punter, am I? :)

Shill or Hard-sell?  No, you were a very pleasant person to talk to.  I'd already picked up a few of the IPR games (Capes, DitV) on my first pass Thursday, and own a couple others already, so there wasn't much you could have hard-sold me on.  You did point me at a couple of games I haven't thought about before.

You listened (seemingly very intently) while I rattled on about this or that.

Stinky?  I didn't really lean in and sniff ... I have a policy of not invading peoples' space where avoidable. I did have a woman thank me for bathing ... I was a bit taken aback (I assumed she was being sarcastic) but apparently that morning's  hygiene-check was a moderate success.

More fun? Mmmm. Coookies! Really, I think the IPR booth was about the best booth at Origins. Maybe you didn't have a chest of swag, but the folks there were helpful, and willing to "throw down" and demo games on a moment's notice. Even the shape of the booth, with the round table and racks against the walls instead of a straight table forming a barrier between the staff and the *ahem* punters, made it seem more open and inviting.

"The only thing players attempt more often than the impossible is the unintended."


Technically, punter is the one who gets people into a booth, the punted is the one you caught unawares! :)
Guy Shalev.

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