37: Conventions

37: Conventions

How do you prepare for conventions? What advice would you give to designers going for the first time?

 

 

It depends on the convention, but prepare your prototypes, pitches and be ready to make friends. If you’re going to playtest, make sure your prototypes are all ready. Make a checklist so you don’t forget something like the player boards. *ahem* If you’re going to pitch to publishers, get your sell sheets ready and practice your pitch. Finally, be ready to make friends. Making friends is a great way to network. Don’t just talk about yourself, listen to others and get to know them. Be helpful and they’ll remember that. But be genuine about it.

Sarah Reed

There is a temptation for new designers to send hundreds of emails to all publishers attending to a convention, but this is not the way. You need to do your homework. I’d suggest new designers to investigate a publisher’s catalogue to see if your games can match with the type of games they publish. Check out their website to see if they are open to receive new designs. And if it’s appropriate, send an email: introduce yourself, a brief description of your game/s and try to set up an interview with them.

Eloi Pujadas

Most of the time, the lead up to a convention is a weird mix of positive anticipation and gentle panic. This is mainly down to wondering if all the stuff for our booth will arrive, if a new game that we’re launching is going to go down OK, that kind of thing. If you’ve not been to one before, prepare yourself! Get away from the big booths and be sure to explore the smaller, more out there offerings – you never know what you’ll come across. Drink plenty of water and bring some cereal bars – you’ll need them. Oh, and good, supportive trainers. You’re going to be walking a lot, so you’ll need something that won’t kill your feet and back. That’s the most important thing of all.

Michael Fox

I spend the weeks ahead of a convention getting my prototypes ready – I know they’ll hit the table a LOT, and I want to make sure I have plenty of content (in case a game irreparably breaks after two plays, and I need to rebuild it before playing it more). If you’re going to your first con, treat it as a recon mission. Your only goal should be to scope it out; don’t get yourself stressed with unreasonable aspirations.

Peter C. Hayward

Be ready to make friends. Making friends is a great way to network. Don’t just talk about yourself, listen to others and get to know them. Be helpful and they’ll remember that. — Sarah Reed

The most important step in preparing for a convention is taking a hard look at your prototypes and deciding which are ready to pitch and which are not. A game doesn’t typically get a second chance, and games that are close, but not quite there, will raise your hopes when publishers take the proto, but leave you disappointed when they turn the game down. Protos that aren’t ready can still come with you. Play them with other designers and speed their development along.

Isaac Shalev

Speaking from the more mass market perspective, if you’re attending New York Toy Fair as an inventor walking the floor for the first time, my advice is fill your schedule in advance. Most product acquisition reps will be in back to back meetings making them impossible to drop in on or meet on the fly. Also pick out some companies you don’t know to meet while you’re there, while you won’t find the person you really need to talk to you’ll likely be able to score their business card and follow up later.

Kim Vandenbroucke

I practice my teach – covering the basics of how to play each game I’m taking and learn to teach while playing to get publishers/playtesters involved earlier. This allows the intuitive part of the rules to be discovered as well. Advice: be open, be humble, listen and take notes.

Adrienne Ezell

The best advice I can give is to prepare who you will speak to in advance, and where possible to arrange those meetings prior to attending. The chances of randomly bumping into the people you want to speak to AND them having the time to speak to you are fairly slim, so try to arrange those meetings well in advance of attending.

Sam Illingworth

A game doesn’t typically get a second chance, and games that are close, but not quite there, will raise your hopes when publishers take the proto, but leave you disappointed when they turn the game down. — Isaac Shalev

I reach out to publishers fairly early, only sending supplemental information (sell sheets, pitch videos, etc.) if requested. Once we’ve set a date and time, I plan the general order in which I will show the games to each publisher. One of the biggest sins you can commit as a designer who is pitching to a publisher is wasting their time. So get to your meetings on time and lead with the strongest choices.

#Protip Take a screenshot of your con schedule to use as your phone’s lock screen and background so that you can see it all the time.

Sen-Foong Lim

Logistically: At bigger cons, you can’t count on being able to just run into people, and you can’t count on people checking their phones. Make appointments ahead of time.

Professionally: Meet as many other designers as you can, but don’t be transactional about it. Make real connections. Playtest their games. Grab lunch.

Pitching: If you have scheduled pitches, video yourself and watch it, then do it again, until you feel smooth and relaxed. Remember the person you’re pitching to probably started out where you are now.

Physically: Treat it like an endurance sport: sleep well, eat well, and stay hydrated. All three will take more effort at a con than when you’re at home. Bring healthy snacks and a giant water bottle.

Elizabeth Hargrave

Well, just the obvious. Take time to sleep, socialise as much as possible but don’t drink too much. Try to get a few appointments with publishers beforehand, and if you don’t fall on them at the very beginning and the very end of the fair, these are the times where they are a bit more available.

Bruno Faidutti

I make a list, making sure I have my clothing, toiletries, incendiaries, foreign money, whatever non-game related stuff I need is there. I make a habit of making a list of publishers and their booths, doing some research about who is looking for what type of game, and maybe even setting up a meeting via email a month in advance (boy I’m really prepared at this point!). BUT! The most important advice? Have fun and don’t stress out about not being able to do everything you wanted to do. There’s so much to do and see, so many people to meet and hang out with, it can be overwhelming. Also find time to eat and hydrate, cause yours truly had a medical scare one year and that was not fun.

Christopher Chung

One of the biggest sin you can commit as a designer who is pitching to a publisher is wasting their time. So get to your meetings on time and lead with the strongest choices. — Sen-Foong Lim

Conventions are a large part of what I do. But I go to them as a publisher. So this is all from a publisher’s perspective.

1. Have an idea of what you want to show to publishers.

2. Make sure it’s been through enough testing so that it feels polished.

3. Check various websites of publishers to see what they produce and what they are looking for.

4. Contact those publishers that seem to be a good fit for your game. Give them both a sell sheet and a video explanation of your game.

5. In that contact ask for a meeting if they are interested in your game.

6. Bring enough copies of the game to give to the publishers you are meeting with.

Helaina Cappel

If you’re bringing multiple or heavy prototypes, think about how you’re going to be carrying them around all day to your meetings. I have a small hiking backpack, and I know some designers use rolling suitcases. Convention halls can be huge, so wear comfortable clothes and shoes since you’ll probably be on your feet all day and walking a lot. Related to that, try not to schedule any meetings you set in advance too close together. There’s no worse feeling than realising your next pitch is in 2 minutes but the booth is half a mile away through a sea of people.

Alex Cutler

Prioritise small conventions where you can have real time with the few publishers being there. At big conventions like Essen, you will come back very enthusiastic, and transform yourself into a prototype factory…having no answer 6 or 9 months later.

Bruno Cathala

1. Know the games you pitch inside and out. Sometimes I have a few projects running, but I’m pitching only 1 or 2. Be on top of your game. (Haha)

2. Book meetings in advance! At least 2-4 weeks before the con, you must book meetings with the people you want to meet.

3. Don’t overwhelm yourself. It is better to have 5 good meetings than 10 wherein most you are dead tired.

4. Cons are work, but you must enjoy yourself also. That’s why we are all here.

Pini Shekhter

Comments (0)
Join the discussion
Read them all
 

Comment

Hide Comments
Back

This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work!

Please upgrade today!

Share