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Author Topic: GenCon 2003: thread #1  (Read 10219 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: February 01, 2003, 04:56:55 PM »

Hello,

OK! I am now reserving the Adept Press booth for GenCon. At least two other companies have agreed to share this booth on an equal basis, paying for the base cost.

This post is for everyone else. Here's what I'm offering.

#1: You pay me $55, and you get a full Exhibitor pass. (This is what an Exhibitor pass costs; I make no money on this.) If you do this, you are expected to put in a significant amount of time actually playing games at the booth and being nice to people, explaining what the Forge is about, and otherwise promoting everyone there. You may also distribute, play, and promote a free game, if you have one.

#2: If you also pay me (us) $100, you can sell, play, and promote a game you have self-published. This is what Ralph, Mike, Jake, Matt, Matt, and several other people did last year.

#2 is a subset of #3; you cannot pay GenCon $55 and then pay us $100 to have your game sold at the booth.

Everyone at the booth, whether someone who helped pay for the base cost, a badge-only person, or a badge-plus-game person, is expected to promote and help out with every game at the booth. That means directing people who might be interested toward them and being willing to sit in on a demo if an extra person is needed.

For people who joined the Forge since last August, the whole point of the Forge booth is something new for GenCon - actual play at the booth, in demos that are ideally a half hour or less. Pre-prepped characters are a must. The point of this play is to generate sales and also to promote the idea that role-playing is fun, accessible, and social. The whole booth area should have a "feel" that differs from GenCon as a whole - it should feel welcoming, intellectual, and actively engaged in the hobby itself.

The space is a three-booth "end cap," and there will be no partitions - it's a flat, open area. Lots of small tables will be set up, with chairs, seating three (or squeezed, four) people each.

There's a lot more to talk about, but this is the startup. It's happening, again, people - let's go.

Best,
Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2003, 05:14:37 PM »

Oh yeah.

I'm also reserving two hotel rooms, and will be happy to host Forge people there on a first-come, first-served basis. Two people have already spoken up. I'm looking for at least four, hopefully six to eight people per room (they're pricey). This also is a subset of the $100 thing.

Some things that will be different from last year include:

- a formal cash box for all the games (not Adept, not the other "main" ones)
- a hell of a Forge banner
- an explicit policy about promotion & sales for demo people
- plenty of food runs and other support activities
- quite likely a formal Forge Party of some kind or another

I'd prefer not to turn this thread into a bitch-session, but if anyone has any concerns or suggestions about the booth-plan this year, based on last year's experiences, please let me know.

Best,
Ron
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Matt Gwinn
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2003, 09:42:54 PM »

Just a couple questions.  I may be nit picking here, but I'm kind of confused on the size of the booth.  It's my understanding that end caps consist of two 10' booths, so wouldn't our both be a four booth endcap?  or will it be "L" shaped?

Also, what will the explicit policy about promotion and sales be?

Everything else sounds great.  I like the idea of a Forge party and I think having a banner will give us a little more credibility.

,Matt G.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2003, 10:18:58 PM »

Hi Matt,

No nitpicking there; those are good questions.

The endcap space is ... damn, have to look at the folder. It comes to less than four booth spaces and more than two. I really shouldn't be answering this without the folder in front of me. Anyway, since we won't be using the partition between the two sides, it's actually a fair hunk of floor space, more usable than last year's squeezed-linear space. People will be able to walk among the tables.

The explicit policy is going to be a topic for a new thread. I have some ideas, but I'd like the Body Politic to debate them before I decide on the final format. Basically, it goes like this: pull your weight for the group. Every person is there to pump his or her own game, granted, but also make sure to direct people to other publishers/games. I'll lay it out in a thread of its own pretty soon, once the actual folks in question get partly established.

There's a social element there too. Some of us are great "greeters," we can draw people from the aisle into the Forge space and get them curious. Others are very good "minglers," they can get people involved in a conversation about themselves and their game preferences. Others are great "sellers," they can move and close sales almost without fail. Still others are at their best at the tables of play. We need to learn who is best at what and set up a farming-system to keep some "flow" going, so that the tables are full, people are chatting excitedly, and money is going cha-ching the whole time.

You, Matt, are a freakin' great demo-er and closer. If we farm people to you, Kayfabe gets played and gets moved. Hence, we work toward your strengths and get you set up to do these things, but set people like (say) Jared, who's an engaging sort who makes people comfortable and forthcoming in his presence, more at the crowd-interface area.

Best,
Ron
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Matt Gwinn
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« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2003, 10:44:13 PM »

One thing that I would really like to see this year is an official list of what is definetly for sale.  Seeing it well in advance (like May or June) would be useful too.  One of thing I noticed last year was that people were not familiar with all the games that were for sale.  I think it created a confusing atmosphere at times when we had to hunt down a game designer while the potential buyer was forced to stand around.  If I knew more about TRS I could have talked it up a bit while looking for Jake thereby holding the customers interest.

Maybe I was just lazy last year , but I think it would really help me prep if I had a list in front of me and I could tell myself "Ok, THESE are the games I need to help sell."  I think I would be more motivated to learn how to play them ahead of time that way.  

,Matt G.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2003, 06:51:25 AM »

Hi Matt,

Way ahead of ya. I agree, and that's something that needs to be compiled, summarized, and made public here. In fact, I did have a "games for sale here" sheet at the booth last year, but no one seemed to use it. Perhaps you can think up some medium or flyer or something that would work better.

Plus, I'm going to require a good deal more chatting among the various designers - for instance, no one at the booth should be unaware that Kayfabe is there and that you are Matt, and people need to be directed to you if they perk up upon hearing the word "wrestling."

I still do not think that everyone needs to know how to play every game at the booth, nor do they need to sell it in full. Just being able to identify others' interests and to farm them to the right person is enough.

This brings up another point that I forgot to mention - the importance of developing "chat" skill with convention goers. It's a big deal: people go to these conventions to be validated in their hobby. I think there are healthy and unhealthy versions of this, but that's not the point. The point is that if person X, for instance, determines that this GenCon-attendee he's talking to is a good Sorcerer customer-candidate, and if I happen to be demo-ing or talking a blue streak with a bunch of people already, then person X should keep the person busy, or farm them to a friendly Forge person who will engage them, perhaps someone who knows stuff about Sorcerer.

It's kind of a triage thing - phase 1, the person shows up at the booth and may or may not have a game in mind to check out; phase 2, the person is farmed to a friendly face who can either clarify stuff about that game or help determine what he or she might be interested in; phase 3, the person's talking to the main guy or a direct assistant who can sell them that game. We should all be doing this for one another, and it can work very well, with the proviso that some people's skills are better in different phases, and we all know who prefers what.

Best,
Ron
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2003, 07:31:13 AM »

Kind of a weird idea (from me? naaaah...) but what about a catalog of games? Just a double-sided or multi-page handout that lists the games, descriptions, prices and website information...

- J
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2003, 08:36:23 AM »

First off, I rather like Jared's idea -- a flyer or small booklet as promo for Indie games. Consider this me volunteering to put it together / design it. I can likely help pay for printing, but maybe we can get folks to chip in a couple bucks, even get it glossy-ized.

Second, a question for Ron. What will be the policy for NOT being at GenCon and having one's games still sold/played? I believe there was some way to handle this last year, correct? I am extremely, extremely bummed to say I can't make it this year. But, I'd still like Dust Devils and ... other stuff ... to be available at the booth. I'm sure other folks may be in the same boat.
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Matt Snyder
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2003, 08:57:07 AM »

Hi there,

Matt & Jared, that kind of a pamphlet or flyer is exactly what I'm talking about. Someone volunteer - thanks.

As for people who won't be there, but still get their games sold at the booth ... the thing to do is to have someone there specifically committed to your sales - a rep. Then it's handled just as before, with the $100 to the booth and the $55 for the person's badge. We can't commit to repping and selling your game without this person there.

Nuance #1: if the rep is already a person who's there for their own game, then the extra $55 isn't an issue and doesn't have to be paid, and (frankly) the whole $100 shouldn't be either. Perhaps a lower rate to help with booth costs: $50 seems reasonable.

Nuance #2: if you have a free game that you'd like to be distributed at the booth, and if you aren't going to be there, get me a copy or a file well ahead of time (do not mail it to me the week before or to the hotel; it won't work). The game will be passed out enthusiastically at the booth, often with purchases. No fee is charged at all, although if I end up printing it and copying it for you, I'll bill ya.

Final point: everyone has an opinion, and everyone, everyone has suggestions about what I should do or the way "it" should be ... please, if you have suggestions, that's great, but bear in mind that if you don't volunteer to help bring them to light, I probably won't have time to do anything but the basics.

Best,
Ron
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Michael Hopcroft
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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2003, 05:45:01 AM »

Having just sent Ron my first check, it's safe to say that Seraphim Guard will be represented at the Forge booth.

I'm waiting to hear how much the hotel share will be before I send Ron that share of the money. I'm also waiting on a tax refund. Depending on how many people volunteer for the space, Ron may not even know at this point how much each share is.

One other question that comes to mind -- the guy who is helping me write HeartQuest D20 runs his own small press, and it ios very rare for him to do conventions. He wanted to know if I could represent his products at GenCon.

I'm looking forward to seeing you all and doing some good gaming and game promoting and selling.
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Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2003, 07:15:48 AM »

Iím in. Ron, when do you need the money? And how--check or PayPal? Iíll be representing Incarnadine (if itís done), and possibly FVLMINATA. I definitely like the game handout idea, but I was also thinking of a ďdemo menuĒ sort of thing ... possibly a big poster at the back of the booth. It would list the games that are available for demos, a brief blurb about each, and a list of which individuals at the booth have demoes prepped to run for said game. That way if somebodyís interested in InSpectres but Jaredís busy, one of the greeter/chatter folks can look at the Demo Menu, see that Mike Miller has an InSpectres demo ready, that heís just taking up space at the moment, and match interested party with demo-person.

As far as emphasizing talents, I think itís a great idea. My strong suit is sitting at the tables and running games. (Did I ever mention that I once scared off someone who came to the convention interested in FVLMINATA through my sales pitch alone? A salesman I ainít). Besides my games, Iím aiming to have demos prepped for Sorcerer, Trollbabe, Paladin, Donjon, Dust Devils, InSpectres, and possibly octaNe & Universalis. Possibly more to come.

Oh, if we think the Demo Menu is a good idea, I volunteer to get it together, lay it out, and possibly spring for printing it up as well.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2003, 08:14:07 AM »

Hi there,

Let's see ...

Phil, you may not know that we ran a Forge booth like this last year at GenCon which was very successful, especially for the small-press folks who brought small print runs. It was like an old-style play-centered mini-convention nestled within GenCon for four days.

Michael H, all the hotel finances will be handled after the con. I'll pay for two rooms up front, and afterwards I'll bill everyone for his or her share based on the days they shared the room. Worked fine last year.

Michael S. M., I'm confused - you're one of the people I approached about sharing primary costs for the booth. That's a whole different animal. Please contact me privately.

Best,
Ron
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Michael Hopcroft
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2003, 08:39:04 PM »

I hope there will be enough companies at the Forge endcap that Ron doesn;t have to pay more than hois fair share for either the dealers space or the hotel rooms.

I was at the GPA booth last year and had a lot less fun than you guys did. On the other hand, I made quite a bit of money. I want to do both this year.

Turns out that I am also making transportation plans (although I can't actually buy my tickets until I get my expected tax refund). The current plan has me flying in on the Red-Eye from Portland and flying out VERY early Monday morning. This should be very interesting, as I am not sure I can sleep on an airplane and will have to go right to work setting up a booth (not to mention trying to figure out a way to get my merchandise there).

How many people do they expect to have to cram into those two hotel rooms? Which hotel will they be in and how close is it to the Convention Center? Can I get a 3AM wake-up call Monday morning without annoying everyone else? Or would I be better off just not sleeping that night?

Expiring minds want to know!
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Nathan
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« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2003, 06:43:06 AM »

I'd say tentatively count me in.

The only issue is that the purchase of an engagement ring looms over my head this summer.... So, money may be tighter than I realize...

Ron, if we bring our own posters and so on -- will there be a place to put those up? How much freebies/promotional stuff is too much? And would it be a good idea to have a general booth mailing list sign-up to those who might want info sent through email after the con?

Thanks,
Nathan Hill
nathanh@cameron.edu
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« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2003, 09:26:22 AM »

I'm planning on being there, whether or not my stuff is ready for sale.

I'm the trade show guy where I work, so I'll be glad to help out with whatever stuff is necessary. Ron, if you want some assistance dealing with all the show stuff that inevitably goes wrong, let me know. I'm hereby volunteering.

A suggestion from a trade show perspective, just to mull around, is to have people working the booth get and wear Forge T-shirts from cafe press, so booth visitors know who they can ask about stuff.

And maybe order a few of those to sell at the show.
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