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Preparing an indie booth for Nancy, France

Started by Christoph Boeckle, September 19, 2009, 12:28:21 AM

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Christoph Boeckle

Hi there

On November 7th and 8th, a couple of friends and I are going to the game festival Les Joutes du Téméraire, in Nancy (that's a city, please), France. We consider ourselves indie authors and wish to present our cool stuff as such.
One guy has a published game (and a second one well under way), and three others have at least one ashcan to be released for that time. We'll be having help from at least two other guys (one of which might end up doing demos of his own game too). I'll be demoing Eero's Zombie Cinema too, since the French rules should be available soon.

Now, here's the tricky bit: how do we set up when we have no experience in such things?

The organizers are going to give us a good bit of room in the main hall. It's not clear yet what we'll be having, but on average a booth at that con is about 30m².
Our initial idea is to have a display table with at least one person to talk to curious passer-bys and pitch the games. We will also have at least one, perhaps two, tables for demo games, because we consider that our best argument is that our games are playable and fun. We want to show that.
Some longer sessions could be played in a different place.
As far as I know, but that point is still to be discussed in more detail, we are not allowed to sell our games ourselves, but there will be a retailer which could carry our games.
We've got an artist preparing a banner and some visual stuff.

I've checked a discussion about demoing. It's not quite clear to me if we should focus essentially on short demos or allow for a wider variety of time spans (say, up to 2h), so I'd love some ideas from regular indie boothists on that topic. People at this festival come with all sorts of backgrounds: lots of roleplayers, a good number of board- and wargamers, and even some random families just checking out games with their children.
Also, any references to threads on how demos can be made would be welcome.

We'll all be preparing a short textual presentation of the game so that all boothists may at the very least be trained beforehand at pitching games they haven't played.

So, the idea is not so much to sell lots of books, but to establish a vibrant image, a number of lasting contacts and move some copies of our ashcans.

Eero Tuovinen

When I started from similar beginnings in 2004, my main argument was two-fold: on the one hand I was emphasizing the importance of independence as a cultural value, on the other hand I wanted to attack against the accepted uniculture of mainstream roleplaying game design as I saw it, opening up new venues of investigation for my peers. You're in a much better position in that you already have a clear network of local independent designers working with you; we started with merely translated and imported material here in Finland.

I suggest that taking the time to think about your core message in a similar manner might help you offer a cohesive experience to your audience. What does the thing you do mean and why are you excited about it yourself? Is it because the games you have on offer have the whole Forge-style design school going for them, and that reflects positively against the dominant scene in your country? Or is it that you believe in creative freedom and creator independence as methodical principles that lead to more rewarding roleplaying? Or are you interested in working to improve your national rpg scene, using independent publishing and other grassroots techniques towards the goal of revitalizing national dialogue mired in stagnation? Whatever it is that you believe in (whatever it is that motivates you to run a booth, that is) needs to be put front and center in the message you provide for your audience; furthermore, the same message can also help you determine the sort of programming you provide at your booth. Matters like high sales, networking with similarly minded individuals and causing high-profile publicity should be judged against your goals and beliefs.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Nathan P.

As a purely logistical manner, have some kind of literature that people can take with them. Business cards, nice glossy promo cards with the website of everyone involved, a "booth menu" with websites - something. People who are interested in what you're doing but not interested in spending money will want something to take with them to look up later. If you're really organized and will actually use it, have a mailing list signup sheet or something of the like.

Especially if you can't sell the games yourself right there, having something to enable a long-tail contact is very important.

Demos are a tricky question. There was a really good recent discussion over at Story Games about it, if you're interested in checking that out. I'm willing to bet that some games will be suitable to short demos, some to longer ones, and you'll get a sense of how much time you should be taking demoing by the end of the first day. Which probably isn't too helpful as advice, but I'd say just be flexible and willing to adjust your demo approach in response to what seems to really be getting people fired up.

Hope that helps!
Nathan P.
Find Annalise
My Games | ndp design
Also | carry. a game about war.
I think Design Matters

Christoph Boeckle


Thanks for your input!

Eero, I'll definitely put an effort into proposing a clear message, I appreciate your pointing out the importance of that aspect. For the while being it's a bit fuzzy, we're just going to show our cool independently created games. I'll be doing a panel on Forge theory as well on the Saturday afternoon, with the aim to use our booth as a showcase for what the Big Model & Co. can lead to concretely. The current orientation is clearly more "ideological" than commercial.

Nathan, those are very good logistical suggestions. I'll bring them back to the booth team and they will be discussed. Also, thanks for the link!