How do I maximize my presence at small local game conventions as a new game designer? Local conventions are such a great place to get your feet wet as a game designer before you invest in larger conventions like Gen Con or Origins.
One of the greatest things we’ve discovered about attending local conventions is the connections you can make and things you can learn from other people in the board gaming industry. Get out there and talk to people.
We’ve attended Strategicon in Los Angeles several times and the first time we went we had been planning to launch a Kickstarter for our first game that was in progress at the time. We ended up meeting and talking to several other game designers, including one who had just completed a very successful Kickstarter campaign. I had previously talked to him online and knew how well his campaign had gone. It felt like meeting a celebrity in the game design/Kickstarter industry. I thought it would be great to talk to him and get some advice and encouragement for our Kickstarter campaign. What we actually got from him was about an hour long conversation about how much work a Kickstarter campaign is and all the many reasons we shouldn’t do it!
It was a pretty eye-opening experience for us and really made us think about our own plans. Ultimately, we decided that launching a Kickstarter campaign was not for us, thanks in large part to that conversation at Strategicon. And we’re actually very thankful for that. It would have been a huge mistake for us to do a Kickstarter. This one conversation saved us from Kickstarter hell.
We’ve also played games with other designers at the convention and they’ve played our games and given feedback and publishing advice. It’s fun to see what other designers are doing and give feedback on their games as well.
Our advice for local game conventions: meet as many people as you can. Ask people to play your game and give you feedback. Collect email addresses or business cards so you can follow up later and let them know what’s happening with your game. And also play other people’s games, give other people feedback, and have fun!
What have you learned at local game conventions? Have you met anyone that gave you some great advice? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments.