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[GenCon 2010] Forge booth, first thread

Started by Ron Edwards, January 22, 2010, 09:36:17 PM

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Ron Edwards


Last year's booth showed me some things.

1. The popular interest in the Forge and whatever might be at the booth is undiminished. People showed up, bought stuff, participated, and so on. Most importantly, a number of people arrived and wondered what "this" was all about, which is an important part of the booth's purpose.

2. Economically, the original mission of the booth has been accomplished - which is to render itself economically unnecessary. There are now multiple entry-points for new publishers to show off their stuff at GenCon, whether themed booths of allied publishers or IPR. The "big bang" has banged. I saw this in the small gross take for the booth last year, and also in the fact that the number of new publishers who genuinely needed the booth is decreasing.

3. My own inclination is to try to ensure that the newcomer presence in design and publishing is not lost. The worst feature of the current independent RPG publishing scene is stagnation - people marketing mainly to each other, and commerce limited to a community defined by participation at a few websites or just one (Story Games). That means my preferred mission is the Ashcan Front, which itself was an attempt to keep the spirit of the 2002-2003 Forge booths alive.**

4. So this year, Lumpley Games and Adept Press are getting a small booth, promoting our stuff with activities and demos, and also doing the Ashcan Front. The rules for the latter are easy: if you have an ashcan you want promoted, then let me know, and pay a $75 fee to help us with the booth cost, and that's all you have to do. Anyone can do it. Doesn't matter if you're there, not there, at another booth, whatever. Former participants at the Forge booth are eligible like anyone else.

5. No exhibitor badges. If you have an ashcan at the booth, you are perfectly free to attend GenCon in any way (regular attendee e.g.) and be present at the booth for hard-core participation if you'd like to. Anyone who's interested in helping to promote my or Vincent's games is also welcome.

6. I'm hoping for dedicated coordination with Games on Demand as well as similar among-booth promotion as we did last year - the indie map for instance.

7. Some slight modifications of this plan are still possible. I'm happy to discuss them in general here, or in particular to you if you want, via email.

Best, Ron

* The more you design your game for an ever-more-limited market, the more you limit its success. It's a practical concern, of interest to publishers who care about practical matters like sales.

** For a very good perspective on the history of the Forge booth, see Forge Booth Retrospective at Fair Game.

Eero Tuovinen

That sounds to me like a good plan (for you, for Forge, etc.).

I won't be coming to Gencon this year myself, it seems, but do keep us up to date on the proceedings - I should by reason have time to help with graphic design or whatever a bit now that I'm not pushing a project over a deadline in the weeks before the convention.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


I would love to have more coordination, communication, and information available.  Anything you need to get to Games on Demand or any help you can provide to Games on Demand would be most appreciated. 

Ben Lehman

What sort of product qualifies as an Ashcan for your purposes? Anything you're seeking feedback on with the intention to revise?

What sort of promotion do the Ashcans get? A rack of them? Demoed? Promoted?

Ron Edwards

Let's do some Games on Demand discussion here, at least as it pertains to the Forge booth.

1. I'd love to be able to alert a person, either at Games on Demand or 'on call' at the con for desigated times, about a person or (especially) a small group currently on their way there. Here's a possible scenario.

Two people at the booth get jazzed about a given game there, for argument's sake, say it's Sorcerer. I call my hotline for Amazing Play Guy, who's let me know he or she is available during this particular afternoon. Extra-ideally, that person arrives at the booth, and then all of the people go over to Games on Demand and play. Or they could meet there.

Obviously this couldn't be an active policy every minute of every day for every game at the booth, but even a few hours for each day of the con - given four or five ready participants to lead play for whatever games they state themselves - would be excellent.

2. I would love to put a medium-sized and very forthright advert for Games on Demand in a visible position, as well as a handout that lists games and schedules, as well as maybe a more general and less structured list of games. Not to mention an absolutely-clear map from the exhibit hall to the location.

3. If the Games on Demand location included any promotional material for the booth (as well as for any other independent booths, I'm not angling for exclusivity), I'd appreciate that most gratefully.

Ben, good questions.

1. I'm pretty laid-back about ashcan formatting and appearance. The thing should be both usable and identifiable, that's all I care about. Paul's points in the past about how the item itself should indicate something about the creator's love for the project are sound advice, but I leave that to the individual publisher.

2. I want to rack the ashcans in a very visible, distinctive way - a shelf of their own, probably 5' or 6' high. A person should be able to know he or she is standing in Ashcan Front territory. I'd like to promote them with a summary handout and informative display, but that might depend on someone donating their time to produce those items, especially the latter.

3. I also want to see if I can find game designers - some kind of recruitment factor, or sign-up, "I could put one of these together myself with my game" type activity. H'mmm. That gets me thinking. More about that after I've thought more. This was a goal of the Forge booth that was successful in 2001-2003, but not so much after that, and it's a big part of what Paul was aiming for with the Ashcan Front in the first place.

4. As far as demos for ashcans go, I can only do so much considering that many will arrive as last-minute items (going by past experience). I can say this: if the author designates anyone (themselves or otherwise) to demo an ashcan that's being displayed, table space will be made for them. I'll also do the ones that I can do, and so will Vincent - but that relies heavily on the author making sure that we are ready in good time; we can't be your nannies from the start.

Best, Ron



Is there a deadline for any of the things you've outlined for the booth this year?  It seems pretty loosey-goosey and maybe that's the way you want it.  I'm just asking, so if I choose to participate, and I set a timeline for getting things done.



Ron Edwards

I've generally found that it's a good idea to set strict boundaries on when to start and when to stop signing up. I suppose I'll do that again this year. Ummm ... OK, the latest one can sign up is June 15. The earliest one can sign up is ... um ... March 15.

By "sign up," basically, I mean send me an email to confirm and then money by Paypal. The reason I'm not opening it up immediately is because in my experience, early sign-ups are more likely to flake out and change their minds, which is aggravating. Oh yeah, no refunds. That's another anti-flake-out detail.

Some folks get nervous at this point because all their friends are registering and they feel like they're GenCon-naked if they can't lock it down with me earlier. If that's the case for you (anyone reading this), then get in touch by email and we'll overlook the March 15 thing for you personally.

Best, Ron