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Spiel Essen 2010 Forge booth

Started by Eero Tuovinen, May 06, 2010, 08:30:35 PM

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Eero Tuovinen

OK, once more with feeling!


Ever since 2005 or so we've been speculating about a Forge booth at Spiel Essen, the largest tabletop gaming convention in the world. The benefits are obvious: the convention has potential for the Forge mission and the individual publishers who participate, and the European indie roleplaying scene could stand to have a semi-stable point of cooperation like the Americans have at Gencon. It'd simply be cool to be able to meet with the Germans, Brits, Italians and whoever on a semi-regular basis and recoup the costs, too. We have the technology, so why not?

We actually did this in 2006, spearheaded by the German rpg association Nexus and Frank Tarcikowski. The event was a modest success then, so by all rights we should have been able to repeat the booth in the following years as well - especially considering how the number of self-reliant, high-level designers has only increased in Europe over these years. However, as it happens, the organisation has consistently failed so far, mostly due to nobody taking the lead on the matter. Last year's discussion is a good example of how it goes every year.

The Plan

Well, this year I'm not going to Gencon, and I happen to have plenty of great games of my own to sell. Therefore I'll make a point of getting a booth for the Spiel, finally returning to the convention after three skipped years. I figure that because we haven't been able to make this thing happen without strong leadership, I'll just go ahead and get a booth, and we'll figure out later who wants to join me. The truth of the matter is that a 10 square meter mini-booth, costing in at 650 euros or so, is not exactly going to bankrupt Arkenstone at this point in the game. I'll still be glad for some company, both for cultural variety and workforce reasons, but it's not such a crucial issue that I would have to build an elaborate consensus on the matter in advance.

I figure that the mini-booth is an appropriate starting point for this sort of thing. Once we get some sense of the convention, its potential and how wide-spread the interest in this thing is, we can make more informed plans for 2011. I'm hoping to build something semi-permanent out of this so that the logistical experience of making this convention presence happen carries over and helps us all cross the borders and travel a bit more over the Europe over the long term. I figure that we could stand to cooperate a bit more on this continent, too.

Get with the program

The convention is on 23rd to 26th of October. The deadline for reserving booth space is next week. I'll take care of the booth reservation at 10 square meters in the rpg section of the convention. (The mini-booth is cheaper per area than larger booths, which is why I'm so enamored of that particular size at this point.) If anybody has some useful pieces for the logistical puzzle, I'd like to hear it: we'll need some shelving and a couple of tables of some sort, as well as half a dozen chairs, and while I could entertain driving them to Essen from Helsinki, that's 2000 kilometers - surely there are alternatives closer at hand?

I'm also interested in booth participants; I'll be happy if we get 3-5 other people aside from myself and my crew (consisting of myself and whichever of my brothers I can talk into this, I imagine), but we'll make it work if there is more or less interest. Booth monkeys (volunteers with no product of their own) are welcome to show interest at this stage; no idea if we'll need you to crew the booth, but at least we should get some gaming going after-hours at the convention if nothing else. Publishers get in at a fair price - likely fixed per product, but we can discuss the financial model and the specific costs here. Because I'm likely bringing some of our retail library as well as my own stuff, I'll probably carry the lion's share of the expense. We'll see.

I'll be contacting some specific people about this later on - ideally we'll get some German native to participate just to take care of the inevitable minority of non-English speaking audience at the booth, for instance. I'll also be talking with other Finnish about their interest in joining us, and I wouldn't look at other Nordics askance either, if there's interest. We'll see who'll come out of their caves for this.

There's no particular hurry about this thing, except if there's a huge number of interested people and we really should be looking at a larger booth. Do let me know if this is the case ;)
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Ben Lehman

Hey, Eero: Given that you already stock my games, is there anything for American publishers who won't be in Germany to add?

Gregor Hutton

This is something that Matt Machell was musing about the other day to some of us in the UK. I'll flag this up with them. It's a con I'd love to go to since I have good friends in Essen (last year I missed Spiel as their wedding was the week before!).

Eero Tuovinen

Good question, Ben. In your specific case I need nothing - I've represented your products in the Finnish scene for years, know them well and will likely have a reasonable stock for Spiel. Especially Polaris is still fat from the stack you left here. Bliss Stage is out, actually, now that I look at the inventory... I think you haven't yet published the new edition? Perhaps we'll remedy that somehow at some point.

In general, any designers whose games I already have on stock won't necessarily need to do anything about this; I'll take what I have with me to Spiel and market the stuff the way I do in Finland, by trying to pick the right game for the right guy. However, I don't have very many copies of most games at any given time, and about a third of all games that I'd like to keep in stock tend to be out at any moment. Currently we have a hundred different indie titles in stock, roughly, but there are some more high-profile designers and titles that are sorely missed, such as the entire Vincent Baker oeuvre and most Luke Crane stuff. I'm hoping that I'll be able to arrange for some sort of a collective shipment from the USA before the Spiel, but that'll depend on talking my accountant around on the need.

In fact, here's the Arkenstone out-of-stock list; if your game is on that or I haven't brought it into the store at any point, then we don't have any of it at the moment. There'll be a couple of Finnish conventions through the summer, so I might run out of something at them, too. I guess that if somebody really wants me to represent their product at the convention they can always ship me some stock or arrange for a printing in Europe, although I expect that the sheer size of the selection I can bring to bear will cause any single title to not find any great purchase unless the designer comes himself to do active sales.

If somebody specific is coming to sell their stuff themselves, I'll obviously leave that guy's products out of my own package, and will likely want to buy a bunch of their stock for our Finnish needs at the end of the convention, just like I've done at Gencon. Easier to not mix stuff up if we don't have the same stock from different sources lying around at the booth.

Also: Matt is definitely one guy I'd like to see at Spiel, and the same goes for the rest of you British collectivists of course. It's not a long trip, and should be educational.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Frank Tarcikowski

Hey Eero, it's good to see you taking a lead on this! You are most certainly the man. 2006 couldn't have been the albeit humble success it was if it hadn't been for you and Maarku. The word is already spreading on the German forums so I'm fairly confident that you won't be short of eager German booth monkeys. Actually, for some years straight now, there has been a booth called "Indie-Insel" (Indie Island) at Role-Play Convention in Cologne, organized by a chap named Stefan Ohrmann and supported by the online RPG store of Sphärenmeisters Spiele who supplied games, and the RPC staff who sponsored the booth space. They had quite a shelf of Forge games, along with some stuff by Evil Hat, Greg Stolze, and other titles. (Didn't have the Ganakagok Card Deck, though, much to my disappointment.) Check out their Wiki site if you like. Contacting Stefan at kontakt/at/indie-insel/dot/de might be a good start.

I for my part will not be able to make it to Essen this year for personal reasons, and seeing as I have chosen to stray from the path of self-publishing, Barbaren will be selling at the Prometheus Games booth anyway. I'd still love to meet up with all you guys at Essen and run some games after hours, which regretfully we failed at last time around. If not this year, then next one!

Good luck,
If you come across a post by a guest called Frank T, that was me. My former Forge account was destroyed in the Spam Wars. Collateral damage.


Hey there! :)

I'm a German native and I'd be happy to hang around your booth!
If any demoplays are considered I'd happily offer myself as an explainer/GM/leading player for that.

I'm sorry I can't make exact promises about my appereance yet, as I will be starting my course at uni in Bonn at around that time, so I might be caught up in either renovating my flat or getting to now my fellow students.

Markku Tuovinen

Quote from: Eero Tuovinen on May 06, 2010, 08:30:35 PM
OK, once more with feeling!

Get with the program

The convention is on 23rd to 26th of October.

It's actually October 21st to 24, Thursday to Sunday.
Arkenstone Publishing. Indie presence in Finland.

Frank Tarcikowski

Ah, curses, I knew one letter was double in Markku, but it was the k! Another funny Finnish double consonant, I suppose.

As an aside, the above mentioned Role-Play Convention might be something to consider for years to come, too. It's not as large as Spiel, but had some 40,000 visitors this year. It's usually in April, in Cologne, which has a bit more going for it as a city to visit than Essen. Unlike Spiel, RPC focuses exclusively on RPGs but adds video games into the bargain. It's less crowded and less of a bazaar than Spiel, but naturally the audience are role-players, whereas at Spiel you have a much broader range of customers (though I think very few people stopped by at our booth in 2006 who weren't role-players.) Lots of LARPers and medieval-ish types add a lot of flair (the Fallout gang was amazing). RPC also is a bit of a real convention with a lot of gaming tables and a blackboard in the far end of the tabletop gaming hall.

- Frank
If you come across a post by a guest called Frank T, that was me. My former Forge account was destroyed in the Spam Wars. Collateral damage.

Eero Tuovinen

You give a good argument for RPC, Frank - 40 000 participants is an impressive number for a RPG-focused convention. If we manage to do this Spiel thing without a massive net loss of money and patience, why not? I should do more marketing for my games, and the Middle-European convention scene certainly seems to have potential. I guess that not knowing anything about the German scene is sort of a hump in the way of my European activities - probably the same goes for everybody else on this continent, we don't usually look too hard outside our own countries.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


Aloha from Germany,

it's great to know that the Forge is putting up an appearance at this fair. I'm looking forward to meeting some of you guys! Those guys of the Indy-Insel need all the support they can get, even if it's "competition".
"Das schwarze Auge" (the dark eye-rpg) is rising again, we have to gather our forces! ;D

see you at the Spiel in Essen,

Eero Tuovinen

Good to hear of your interest, Alex, Teppich. It'll be interesting to meet all new people at a German convention!
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Matt Machell

I'd definitely be up for some kind of involvement. I've enjoyed my previous trips to Spiel immensely!

Possible deal breakers at the moment are the pound to euro rates, which might make it prohibitive, and finding somewhere reasonable to stay. I'll do a bit of investigating on these before confirmation.




there is a very nice hostel in the south of Essen:

if you don't care for walking 8min to the next Busstation and 15 min back (quite a steep hill) this could be a cheap alternative. You'll still have to ride the bus for another 15 minutes and take the subway for another 5 minutes to get to the Fair.
But the surroundings are beautiful. Werden is apart from Magarethenhöhe, which is an old housing project of the Kruppfamily and a very sought-after living area, the nicest part of Essen. It almost seems rural.
There's the Ruhr and the lake Baldeney, which has been digged out pre-war as a way to create jobs, filter the Ruhrwater, to provide recreational opportunities for the workers and to better control the waterlevel. The last aspect came in very handy when the dam of the Möhnestausee was bombed and the floodwave was mitigated by the empty beds of all the Ruhrstauseen, a system of dams along the Ruhr. Atop the Baldeneysee you can see the Villa Hügel which is the former residence of the Krupp dynasty.
As Essen is the Kulturstadt2010 there should be lots of new accomodation avaiable. I heard of a new hotel (Motelone) that is being build/installed(?) right in the center of Essens pedestrian precinct, the Kennedy Platz. As I understand, it will offer beds in the lower price categories.

Ad as the Greek are trying to outlive the consequences of their latest politics, the Euro is as weak as will get. ;)


Eero Tuovinen

Matt's definitely a guy I'd like to see at the Spiel; most excellent.

I've reserved the booth space for the convention, so the most time-critical thing has been taken care of. The sum total of expenses seems to be around 850 euros, tax included. We'll figure out some sensible principles for secondary buy-in later in the summer, I believe; I'll have to focus on my current projects next, myself, but we'll come back to this topic next month or so.

Also, anybody with German language skills might consider helping me improve my Spiel cash flow.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.