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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 77 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Gen Con post-mortem  (Read 23350 times)
iago
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« Reply #30 on: August 23, 2007, 09:09:48 AM »

Speaking as a guy who didn't know posters were verboten until he'd paid for them, I'm in favor of some kind of clear statement of what is and isn't accepted.

Yep, this is right at the crux of things.  I had absolutely zero problem with the booth babe -- so long as I understood her to be spontaneous rather than arranged. 

Once she moves into the arranged space, she's there serving a directed promotional purpose, which I understand to be verboten under the "no, you can't have posters" clause.  (I'd have brought in posters as well.)

Some folks may be quick to point out that she was only there for a couple hours, rendering it non-verboten.  If that's the case, then surely posters can be afforded the same luxury -- put them up, but you only get two or four hours of time in which to have them up, so choose wisely.

Then again I think the most even-handed solution is "if you want to promote your product identity over and above the others at the Forge booth, the way to do this is to be a primary sponsor, or to get your own booth". 

(I recognize this isn't a policy discussion. By making this post, I'm not suggesting that I think it is.  I am however stating clearly how fairness will be achieved in my eyes, and I suspect in the eyes of others.)

My bigest hurdle was probably my own high expectations.  Didn't sell as much as I'd wanted -- probably should have taken a larger sample on "what to expect of a book that's got buzz but isn't a new release".

For what it's worth, Reign was the #2 seller at the booth.  I believe last year, Burning Empires had its release at GenCon, and sold slightly over 100 copies.  So there's your datapoint for the future.
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #31 on: August 23, 2007, 09:21:46 AM »

For what it's worth Greg I think the sandwich board looked a bit cheap and desperate. I don't have a thousandth (if that) the name value that you have Greg, but I kinda felt that you didn't have to push so much for sales.

You have a hell of a product and a known presence. If people don't want to pick up the game at the booth? That's cool. They've seen it or been given the pitch, or perhaps been in a demo -- they can pick it up later if they want. I think sometimes you were trying too hard to convince one or two people that they really need to pick it up right now.

I think you could have been moving on to the next group or just giving them space, and the impression that you are, indeed, a designer that doesn't need to grapple for every sale.

I don't know if that helps any?
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Jasper the Mimbo
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« Reply #32 on: August 23, 2007, 11:33:55 AM »

I've been thinking about the splintering-off of some of the forges products. Mostely it seems to be a good idea. The math of it makes sense. The more products there are in a given space the less likely any one of them is going to be picked by a browsing Con-goer. I have been thinking for the last two years that the sheer number of games was becomeing counter productive to the purpose of the booth. Having a few splinter booths seemed to work pretty well, except for two signifigant issues.

1) Less people seemed drawn to the main booth where the new games were. With record numbers of attendees, (an estimated 41,000 people) I expected to booth to be even more crowded and exciting, not less. The only conclusion I could come up with is that a couple of the big draw games (Burning Wheel for example) were drawing people elsewhere. In addition, a couple of the demo-ers that draw in passers-by through sheer personality and exited arm waving (Luke and Malcom, for example) were also elsewhere. I feel that, even if it is sometimes hard to deal with, having an excited mob at the booth draws more people in who are wondering what's going on. From what I saw, that excitement was the main difference between this year and previous years.

2) I missed seeing everyone. (Admittedly I was one of the people who was away this year. My mistake. Won't happen again.) Half the reason I come is because I love the Forge group so much. It's like belonging to the coolest social club I can imagine. This year the club was all broken up. The baby Jesus cried about that. In the future, I'd like to see a situation that doesn't spread everyone out. We all feed off of each other's energy, and it's a whole lot more difficult to do when we're spread all over the hall.

The idea of getting a big block is a good one, IMO. The trick would be dividing up product into smaller sections that wouldn't be quite so overwhelming. Could be as simple as putting some space between the shelves so it's not just a giant wall of books. Maybe something that combines the two ideas, like putting the various booth sections as corners around a play space in the middle of the square, or a circular table with a hole in the middle that we can put the cashiers in, so they sit in the center of an island surrounded by product. Something to think about.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2007, 11:45:03 AM by Jasper the Mimbo » Logged

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2. Vincent Baker
3. Ben Lehman
4. Ron Edwards
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If you're on the list, you know why.
Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #33 on: August 23, 2007, 11:53:52 AM »

Jasper, about the less-booth-density, I also like the think that Games On Demand absorbed a number of folks who might otherwise be hanging around, chatting, sitting in demo-after-demo. Instead, they got to play and have fun far from the noisy booth-land! (in the noisy construction-land, as luck would have it)
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #34 on: August 23, 2007, 12:21:51 PM »

Hello,

I think a little clarity has been lost regarding the posters issue. The key point, established over six years, is that there simply is not enough poster space for everyone. This causes discord.

No structural solution seems possible. If we give size standards, people tend not to obey them; if we establish a poster schedule for hanging them, people either need to be policed and/or resent it; if we permit $200 but not $100 people to use posters, people create a two-tier status thing out of it; and more. And then the posters themselves: they fall, they rip (to the aggrievance of the owner), they pull the curtain askew, and they get in the way fiendishly when not hanging.

Trust me on this. If you've only been at the booth for a couple of years, then you haven't seen the truth that posters are the devil's toilet paper at a communal booth, and he gives them to us after he's used them. I have a massive and phenomenally crowd-affecting poster of the Sorcerer cover which gives Significant Others whiplash as they walk past the booth, then drags them, trailing their nervous-looking boyfriend, straight toward the book. I'd love to have it at the booth. I could be an asshole and simply mandate that it has to be there, because I Am Ron and this is My Booth. But I don't, because posters are the devil's TP.

Anything I ever wrote about the posters concerned the posters, as objects relative to the available poster space. It's not an expression of a larger "no individual promotion" rule. I hunted up and down anything I wrote about it, and that's not there.

I do understand that there's an unresolved fairness issue regarding individual promotions, and it's something to attend to for next year. If for no other reason that many people are self-imposing constraints that are maybe too stringent. But the posters ain't part of that, and whatever the rules will be, the posters rule is separate and will remain the way it is for good empirical reasons.

Best, Ron
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JustinB
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« Reply #35 on: August 23, 2007, 12:26:32 PM »

Jasper, about the less-booth-density, I also like the think that Games On Demand absorbed a number of folks who might otherwise be hanging around, chatting, sitting in demo-after-demo. Instead, they got to play and have fun far from the noisy booth-land! (in the noisy construction-land, as luck would have it)

Kids love watching the dumptrucks and such.
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GregStolze
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« Reply #36 on: August 23, 2007, 12:36:08 PM »

On further consideration of my big-booth concept -- if it was an enclosure, might it be possible to put posters on the exterior walls? 

The other suggestion I'd make (and it has nothing to do with posters) concerns the games that are there without representation.  If every publisher could write up a short, 1-2 paragraph description -- not even a demo -- they could be kept in a file folder, in alphabetical order ideally, and when someone asks about "This here 'Devil's Terlit Paper' game" you can look up 'D' and read him a spiel.  Is it ideal?  Hell no.  Is it more manageable than having a grasp of all the games there?  Oh yeah.

-G.
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JasonWalters
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« Reply #37 on: August 23, 2007, 10:21:13 PM »

Just a quick observation from a semi-outsider on convention events: I noticed that a few of the folks posting on this thread weren't pleased with the way their scheduled GenCon games went. I think the commonly repeated phrase was "waste of my time." I agree - running more than a single, after-hours event is a waste of time for any exhibitor working a convention. Given those parameters, the "one roll" demo method you folks have worked out is a vastly superior use of a designer/exhibitor's time. However, I cannot agree that running games at a convention is a waste of someone else's time.

Allow me to explain. It's going to sound like bragging, but hang with me. Counting various games played using the 3rd and 4th editions of our rules, there were 123 Hero System events scheduled at GenCon this year. This means we came in second only to D&D for most RPG events. I was tasked with individually gifting the 99 games being run in 5th edition with either 25% off discount certificates or books, depending on event's scheduling. (Which is one reason why I couldn't devote more time to the Ashcan Front booth). Of those 99 events, I successfully located and gifted 85 games over a four-day period. I would guess that I knew somewhere around 75% of the game masters I encountered during that time on a first name basis. Also, from what I understand, something like 50 of those discount certificates made their way back to our booth. Needless to say, we had extremely strong sales this GenCon. 

Not a single one of these games was run by a Hero Games employee. Darren, Steve, and Tina have worked hard at constructing a grass roots network of game masters who not only run our games at conventions, but push our products to their players as well. They do this mainly out of their love of one of world's great old-school game systems, but also because we're organized and nice to them. They're not only our friends, but also an important part of the company. There are Hero Games GM dinners, discounts, support, and - perhaps most importantly - we respect and admire our GMs. They're not outside looking in, but inside looking out.

Maybe - being that you are a very smart bunch of boys and girls, let me change that to probably - IPR has its own equivalent of our Legion of Heroes program. If not, there is no reason that IPR couldn't have one. Everybody knows that Forge games are the coolest games in town. You guys are so bleeding edge you risk falling off the knife entirely. With a bit of effort it shouldn't be very hard to enlist a small cadre of talented GMs to exclusively push IPR games at every convention it attends. Using similar methods, you could also drive a lot more paying customers into your booth without having to run any games yourselves. When the con is over with, take them out to dinner so that they can regale you with tales of how much fun they had running your games. Believe me, you can't put a price on that sort of thing.       
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Sydsquicious
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« Reply #38 on: August 23, 2007, 10:26:37 PM »

First; out I come from lurker land, but now is as good of a time as any.

On Jasper's big come-back idea:  I think Jasper dressed up as a green fairy booth babe is an outstanding idea.  Where do we vote?

Overall, sans Jake the selling-machine, Matt and I both had a great deal of fun and loved the experience we had at the Forge booth.  It's had us in game design heaven (hell?) ever since we left, and we feel like not only do we have great ideas for our current project(s), but we also have some new ideas ready to be hatched.  This we credit to the warm, social and inviting atmosphere that the Forge booth offers.

The excitement generated by the labors of love that adorn all of the racks seriously seems to create an atmosphere that is a sure win for both designers and fans, and I'd personally suggest trying to maintain the inviting and inclusive feeling that it inspires.  The idea of more space for more collectivity seems like a decent idea to follow up on.

The only frustration that we had (and it wasn't a huge one, just a minor 'darnit') was the placement of books on the shelves.  Since most westerners read top to bottom - left to right, the prime spots are obviously going to be towards the top left center.  Many of those spots seemed to be used for people that weren't present.  Classroom Deathmatch (first year at Gencon) was in the bottom left along with Panty Explosion.  People often times would only make it half way through the top portions before moving on to the next rack -  it lead me to think that perhaps shifting the games around some might give some 'spot lighting', or having racks that maybe were designated to catagories for exampleForge Best Sellers - vetted books that people know and love and are coming in specifically to look for &/or Forge New Releases - non-vetted book introductions that people will be 'meeting' for the first time.  Or perhaps having it seperated into racks that are at the con designers and not.  That said, if this is all old news that has been hashed out and answered before, forgive my faux paus.

On another note:  Brennan and Ron did a fantastic job organizing and helping newbies this year.  Matt and I were discussing how we couldn't have felt more welcomed or comfortable.  Everyone else just reinforced this feeling.  It was like Warm Fuzzy in a can.

And a final thought - it might help to have some laminated place cards for the different demo games to put on the table.  Often times people seemed to be inclined to walk up with an interested but somewhat confused look, doing what almost seemed to be the shy-person play test (one where you don't have to participate but can get a feel just by watching).  Rather than having to interrupt the playtest, this might offer a quiet 'invitation' to those sorts who are buyers as well.

Anyways, those are my initial thoughts after reading through the thread and forcing myself into de-lurk mode.

Warmest Regards,

Kim Baker-Schlotte
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Brennan Taylor
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« Reply #39 on: August 24, 2007, 03:54:36 AM »

Jason - IPR is working on just what you said, and we should have some organized GMs by next year.

Kim - My apologies for placement, but one of the main reasons I put Panty Explosion, Dogs in the Vineyard, and Primetime Adventures and their ilk low on the rack is that these games sell well without a lot of promo, and I wanted people to search the racks and see a lot of the other titles that may not get a lot of love. Rack arranging is an art, and I know I will always disappoint someone. Your games are hot titles that people look for.
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TomTancredi
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I brought my Awesome pants to the party


« Reply #40 on: August 24, 2007, 05:44:42 AM »



Maybe - being that you are a very smart bunch of boys and girls, let me change that to probably - IPR has its own equivalent of our Legion of Heroes program. If not, there is no reason that IPR couldn't have one. Everybody knows that Forge games are the coolest games in town. You guys are so bleeding edge you risk falling off the knife entirely. With a bit of effort it shouldn't be very hard to enlist a small cadre of talented GMs to exclusively push IPR games at every convention it attends. Using similar methods, you could also drive a lot more paying customers into your booth without having to run any games yourselves. When the con is over with, take them out to dinner so that they can regale you with tales of how much fun they had running your games. Believe me, you can't put a price on that sort of thing.       


Jason, I agree 100%. Speaking from my initial experiences, the games I GMed at GenCon for Fae Noir sold about 2 books per 6-player session on average. Overall, about 33% of the sales were netted from customers excited with the sit-down sessions. I think the demos are a crucial part to getting the game exposure and getting a "taste" of what the game is all about, but actually playing 4 hours of the game gives the customer a memorial experience that they leave with. Probably the most-talked about topic when people go back home from gencon is what games they played.

Brennan, if there's a list for GMs IPR is organizing, I'd like to throw my hat in the ring. I'm up for learning whatever games Game Publishers are interested in teaching me. I think there would be minimal allocation of resources for something that has a potentially huge return - a Game Publisher donates a copy of the source manual to the GM for him/her to run the sessions, in exchange for 2-3 sessions to be run; a special night for regaling and dinner; awards to the GM whose sessions sells the most. that's off the top of my head. Basically, having GMs act as an incentivized and energized sales team that works for peanuts (or for the pure joy of GMing. Or A couple of Cokes. Or all three).
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Jasper the Mimbo
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« Reply #41 on: August 24, 2007, 09:17:59 AM »


On Jasper's big come-back idea:  I think Jasper dressed up as a green fairy booth babe is an outstanding idea.  Where do we vote?


I suppose it wouldn't be that different from my Rocky Horror costume. Just add wings and paint. Now where'd I put my man-thong...
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List of people to kill. (So far.)

1. Andy Kitowski
2. Vincent Baker
3. Ben Lehman
4. Ron Edwards
5. Ron Edwards (once isn't enough)

If you're on the list, you know why.
Steve Segedy
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« Reply #42 on: August 24, 2007, 09:23:20 AM »

With a bit of effort it shouldn't be very hard to enlist a small cadre of talented GMs to exclusively push IPR games at every convention it attends. Using similar methods, you could also drive a lot more paying customers into your booth without having to run any games yourselves. When the con is over with, take them out to dinner so that they can regale you with tales of how much fun they had running your games. Believe me, you can't put a price on that sort of thing.       

Thanks, Jason- this is a good insight, and one that we (Bully Pulpit Games, that is) have been mulling over already, since we ran ourselves ragged trying to both run sessions of our games and work at the booth at the same time.   Thanks for bringing this up.

Brennan, if there's a list for GMs IPR is organizing, I'd like to throw my hat in the ring. I'm up for learning whatever games Game Publishers are interested in teaching me. I think there would be minimal allocation of resources for something that has a potentially huge return - a Game Publisher donates a copy of the source manual to the GM for him/her to run the sessions, in exchange for 2-3 sessions to be run; a special night for regaling and dinner; awards to the GM whose sessions sells the most. that's off the top of my head. Basically, having GMs act as an incentivized and energized sales team that works for peanuts (or for the pure joy of GMing. Or A couple of Cokes. Or all three).

Tom, we'd love to encourage folks to GM our games at cons, so if you're interested, drop us a line.  Whether it's as part of an IPR group or separately, we'd be happy to do right by anybody that champions our games.  We had a lot of success last year with Eric and Lisa Provost running the Roach, and this year with Hans Messersmith on Grey Ranks, so we'd like to keep on in that tradition.
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GregStolze
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Posts: 152


« Reply #43 on: August 25, 2007, 06:02:33 AM »

Quote
For what it's worth Greg I think the sandwich board looked a bit cheap and desperate.

Gregor, you appear to have been correct.  I'm pitied as far away as France.  If you want the hilarious translation, I've put it on my forums.

-G.
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Rob Donoghue
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Posts: 146


« Reply #44 on: August 28, 2007, 07:46:21 AM »

I'm thinking about what worked, promotion-wise, and I think I need to plug the power of bookmarks.  Even setting aside how well they work for us with SOTC, there were a handful of other booths handing them out, and they're much easier to accept than a postcard or flier but allow for a bit more promotion than a business card.  And heck, I'm already buying books - a few bookmarks certainly can't hurt.  Notably, in the cases of Pinnacle's Solomon Kane book and Dragons of Kir, both made a positive impression on me (and entered my awareness) through their very nice looking bookmarks.  This particularly stuck in my mind as I was cracking open one of my gencon books and discovered a bookmark I'd put in it at the time -  what other promotion lingers like this?

Now, if you can also have some game utility out of your promotional material, then that's extra awesome, but that's also another discussion.

Anyway, I also recall that they're pretty darn cheap, relatively speaking. Fred can probably suggest the name of the company we used, and I suspect there are others.

Anything to keep Greg out of a sign. Smiley

-Rob D.

PS - Though I'm all for the Reign bookmarks which say on the back: "Buy it. This guy wrote Unknown Fucking Armies." - Leonard Balsera
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Rob Donoghue
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