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Eric Engelmann
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I'm writing a "how-to" manual with resources for small board game con directors who want to include a game design event. I'm definitely NOT an expert at this, and could use some help.

Here's what I've written so far:
https://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/57184/game-design-worksho...

Suggestions? I'm in a bit of a hurry because I'll be following my own advice for the Sept 24-25 Congress of Gamers Convention.
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Bob West
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I think the list you've come up with is very good, though I disagree with your points on Recognition and have an addendum for your points on Playtesters.

Recognition - Your document implies a convention/event where games in all stages of development (from first prototype to "please buy all these copies I brought with me") are included. Judging these games against each other seems almost nonsensical, particularly if the public is doing the voting.

Playtesters - You make the very good point that con organizers should make sure attendees know about the new design area. But what the designers really want is a guarantee that players will actually play their game. Given that a guarantee is very difficult, organizers could at least incentivize player participation in play tests with raffles, free food, admission discounts, or who knows what else.
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Geoffrey Greer
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Hi, Eric. I'd suggest one thing to be added, which is that somewhat nebulous concept of "networking." You do have "peer support" and "recognition," but as you have them written, they don't quite describe what I'm suggesting. Essentially one of the reasons I go to a con is to simply meet people, not having any clear plan about who I'll meet or why I'll meet them, but simply by becoming known, you never know what chance opportunities, ideas, collaborations, offers, etc., might organically occur. And these meetings might not bear fruit for some time, but if you are consistently in their thoughts, you stand a much better chance of something--anything--coming from it down the line.

You also have written that you don't know how to arrange a face-to-face with a publisher. This can be difficult. At larger cons, these people are extremely busy and already being accosted by everybody and their mother with the next great game idea. At the smaller cons, they might not even be present, or at least not the ones who might be interested in the particular design you have. Best practice seems to be to get an advance knowledge of what publishers will be at an upcoming con (mainly by looking in the schedule and keep tabs ahead of time), then e-mailing them in advance to request a brief, scheduled meeting. Then you bring your pitch and materials, and have both the elevator version and the long version ready to demonstrate. And if they can't meet with you by schedule, have some handout materials ready, like a sell sheet and business card, in case they can at least breeze by your table for a quick meet and greet.

My two cents. Good luck with the project!

GG
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Eric Engelmann
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CaptainBob wrote:
I think the list you've come up with is very good

Thanks!

CaptainBob wrote:
I disagree with your points on Recognition and have an addendum for your points on Playtesters.

Recognition - Your document implies a convention/event where games in all stages of development (from first prototype to "please buy all these copies I brought with me") are included. Judging these games against each other seems almost nonsensical, particularly if the public is doing the voting.

Agreed. In a small con (200-400 gamers), there might be six to eight designers at different stages of design. Awards will necessarily be pretty subjective. Really more of an "I got an award" participation thing.

CaptainBob wrote:
Playtesters - You make the very good point that con organizers should make sure attendees know about the new design area. But what the designers really want is a guarantee that players will actually play their game. Given that a guarantee is very difficult, organizers could at least incentivize player participation in play tests with raffles, free food, admission discounts, or who knows what else.


Yes, it's impossible to force gamers to do anything, and even advance signups are no guarantee the gamer will actually appear, and reduces the opportunity for drop-in play. I do like the incentive part. Have to think through how to ensure they don't just go through the motions to get the prize. How about each designer gets five $1 gift certificates usable at the snack bar, Auction Store, or con Vendor? He can dispense them to one tester in each game. Could be for the winner, best feedback, etc. Could also raffle a copy of Splendor or some such.

 
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Eric Engelmann
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designer78 wrote:
Hi, Eric. I'd suggest one thing to be added, which is that somewhat nebulous concept of "networking." You do have "peer support" and "recognition," but as you have them written, they don't quite describe what I'm suggesting. Essentially one of the reasons I go to a con is to simply meet people, not having any clear plan about who I'll meet or why I'll meet them, but simply by becoming known, you never know what chance opportunities, ideas, collaborations, offers, etc., might organically occur. And these meetings might not bear fruit for some time, but if you are consistently in their thoughts, you stand a much better chance of something--anything--coming from it down the line.

Thanks! This seems obvious to a "mature" business owner, such as myself, but many designers aren't that. I'll include a paragraph on the benefits of "bumping".

designer78 wrote:
You also have written that you don't know how to arrange a face-to-face with a publisher. This can be difficult. At larger cons, these people are extremely busy and already being accosted by everybody and their mother with the next great game idea. At the smaller cons, they might not even be present, or at least not the ones who might be interested in the particular design you have. Best practice seems to be to get an advance knowledge of what publishers will be at an upcoming con (mainly by looking in the schedule and keep tabs ahead of time), then e-mailing them in advance to request a brief, scheduled meeting. Then you bring your pitch and materials, and have both the elevator version and the long version ready to demonstrate. And if they can't meet with you by schedule, have some handout materials ready, like a sell sheet and business card, in case they can at least breeze by your table for a quick meet and greet.

I doubt publishers even go to small cons, except perhaps to give their staff a chance to "practice" showing their product line prior to a big con. I can't see how it makes business sense for them to spend time with six to eight unproven designers.

designer78 wrote:
My two cents. Good luck with the project!
GG:D

Thanks for the feedback!
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Peer Sylvester
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It depends a bit what type of designers you plan to attract.
Playtesting is always welcome - It was handled perfectly at the UK Games Expo, where Playtest.uk organised a very helpful event. They organised tables and set a time limit and shedule and recruited playtestes (and gave an incentive by raffling vouchers). Technicly publishers could have also check the designs out, but to my knowledge no publishers used that opportunity.

Having a publishers and authors vis-a-vis is more helpful for new designers. This could be made like a dragon dn - type thing or a panel - the emphasis should be more of having a dialogue and help new authors see how to approavh a publihers and learn about the Dos and Donts and such.
Seasoned authors dont necessary need a third party organising talks with publishers.

 
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Eric Engelmann
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Peerchen wrote:
It depends a bit what type of designers you plan to attract.
Playtesting is always welcome - It was handled perfectly at the UK Games Expo, where Playtest.uk organised a very helpful event. They organised tables and set a time limit and shedule and recruited playtestes (and gave an incentive by raffling vouchers). Technicly publishers could have also check the designs out, but to my knowledge no publishers used that opportunity.

Having a publishers and authors vis-a-vis is more helpful for new designers. This could be made like a dragon dn - type thing or a panel - the emphasis should be more of having a dialogue and help new authors see how to approavh a publihers and learn about the Dos and Donts and such.
Seasoned authors dont necessary need a third party organising talks with publishers.

Thanks!
 
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Freelance Police
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Are you familiar with Protospiel? It's an event for game designers and gamers to meet to test out prototypes. Hasbro showed up as a publisher. Do a search and see where the nearest one is, then contact them for information!
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Eric Engelmann
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Sam and Max wrote:
Are you familiar with Protospiel? It's an event for game designers and gamers to meet to test out prototypes. Hasbro showed up as a publisher. Do a search and see where the nearest one is, then contact them for information!


Thanks for the the reply!
Looked up Protospiel and read their web site (like reading through a peep hole), which had some good tips for designers prepping for play tests.

I just settled (tonight) on having "Break My Game!" run the event, which is now also listed with UnPub. Really too much for a con director to do in prepping a con to also set up and manage a designer event, so the first solid volunteer got it! I'm just blessed to get what appears to be an experienced and talented hand on such short notice.
 
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Eric Engelmann
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Update:
We have over ten designers already.
I've settled on a free soda from the con snack bar (I'll give each designer six tickets they can dispense to game winners, best feedback providers, etc.)
 
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