GeekGold Bonus for All Supporters at year's end: 1000!

10,114 Supporters

$15 min for supporter badge & GeekGold bonus
14 Days Left

Support:

Con in a Box - Resources for boardgaming convention directors

This blog is dedicated to helping boardgaming convention directors run successful cons.

Prev «  1 , 2 , 3  Next »  

Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

Volunteers

Eric Engelmann
United States
Rockville
Maryland
flag msg tools
Congress of Gamers conventions
badge
Eric's actual photo!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Even superman couldn't run a con by himself. You really need lots of talented volunteers to run an affordable and sustainable con. With only a few workhorses, even the most enthusiastic will burn out after a couple of cons. The old saying is that MANY hands make light work. So, how do you recruit and retain LOTS of volunteers? First, make a master list of activities and break them down into the smallest pieces that can be efficiently done by one person.

The con director would ideally have no at-con tasks assigned. He should focus on pre-con and post-con activities. This makes it easier for him to fill in when someone can't fulfill their assignment, needs help, or something unexpected happens.

For example, "Games Library" could be broken down into:
1. Solicit, assemble and share list of available games
2. Pack games for transport (if centrally stored)
3. Transport games and/or transport shelving
4. Set up shelving
5. Unpack and shelve games
6. Straighten games several times per day, during play breaks
7. Pack games (checking inventory for shrinkage)
8. Pack shelving
9. Transport games/shelves

Getting a volunteer to do all of that is much harder than getting someone to volunteer for just one piece. For example, a very local guy might be perfect just for shelf setup and/or takedown. Even the busiest gamer can be begged/praised or shamed into doing 10 minutes of work. Getting a gamer to contribute something will also often build their sense of community, making this a better world!

Marketing could be broken down into:
1. Flier design
2. Flier printing
3. Flier distribution and posting
4. Newspaper press releases
5. BGG
6. Local clubs
7. Meetup.com
8. email direct shots

Snack bar could be broken down into:
1. Creating shopping list (guidelines, really)
2. Shopping and delivery to con
3. Snack bar setup
4. Snack bar shifts (don't leave a lot of cash in the till, or course)
5. Pizza order process
6. Pizza order pickup (if you don't do delivery)
7. Pizza dispensing
8. Remainders selloff/distribution
9. Packup/cleanup

Recruiting volunteers
To find volunteers for your convention, first approach people who already volunteer at gaming events in your community. If they are already spread too thin, they may have suggestions for others you might approach. If it's a non-profit con, check out service opportunities at local high schools. Many states force teens to "volunteer" before they will let them graduate. If you are a parent who already has experience shaping a child into a productive adult, you already know that you definitely do NOT want a forced teen laborer, but a school's service program may make it easy for you to recruit enthusiastic volunteers and do some marketing at the same time More to follow...

Retaining volunteers
Managing volunteers isn't easy. I was told by one gamer that you'd have to be crazy to work for free when you could be having fun playing games. Unless you want your con to be supported by crazy people, you need to turn the work into something rewarding and/or fun. It's much easier to retain volunteers who feel a sense of accomplishment and ownership of their activity. You can do this with a shirt, a special badge or badge holder, perks (free admission, no auction fees, free lunch, etc.), web site commendations, announcements, listings on flier, web site, and program, etc. For some people, a few words of sincere thanks is all that's needed. Take good photos of volunteers helping out, and put them on your con's web site. More to follow...

Registering Volunteers
I'm using http://SignUpGenius.com as an alternative to volunteers emailing me.
See http://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0545aba92c7-congress2 for an example con volunteer form.
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Sun Mar 1, 2015 10:51 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Administrative Supplies

Eric Engelmann
United States
Rockville
Maryland
flag msg tools
Congress of Gamers conventions
badge
Eric's actual photo!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I keep meaning to create a check list I can use to make sure I have assembled and packed all the office materials I need to take to a con.

Here's a start. What have I forgotten?
Distinctive article of clothing so con staff can direct people to you.
Badge Holder (comfortable, attractive model that helps market the con)
Scissors
Tape - Painter's tape (thin and wide) and packing tape are key
Stapler
Folders (best are the ones with enclosed sides and a flap)
Plastic bags (larger, to hold items collected at the con)
Rubber bands - short and long
Index cards - 4"x6"
Flash drive(s)
Portable PC
Semi-portable printer, and paper?
Projector (for larger con program projection)
Literature rack (for con and vendor leaflets)
Easels
Sheet protectors - transparent
Portable white boards
Dry erase markers
Permanent markers
Extension cord(s)
Power strip (Be sure to avoid placement in foot traffic areas, and tape cords to floor, so you don't introduce a hazard you are liable for.)
Dice - cheap, semi-disposable ones
Zip parts bags
Decks of cards (useful for tournament seating)
Card stock (110 pound paper for table tent signs)
Clipboards
Pencils and pens (bring lots of those pencil stubs you have)
Scrap paper (cut used sheets in half with paper cutter)
WiFi password for the facility
Measuring tape
Labels - The pre-printed ones you put on snail mail will work, but a custom, peelable type you print especially for marketing your con is better. Labels improve the chances that equipment finds its way back to you.
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Sun Mar 1, 2015 10:48 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

Feeding the Gamers

Eric Engelmann
United States
Rockville
Maryland
flag msg tools
Congress of Gamers conventions
badge
Eric's actual photo!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Feeding the Gamers
Gamers eat and drink, and sometimes make messes. Make sure you consider food restrictions when selecting your location. A ban on outside food and beverage, or an exclusive on catering contractors can negatively affect attendees and your income. Here are some approaches to feeding the gamers at your convention, with pros and cons for each.

1. Hire a caterer - Unless this is the Board Game Club of Beverly Hills, or your sister is starting a catering company and will do your event at cost, the price will be a non-starter. Forget it, or plan on $30-$50 per person, per meal, and perhaps a lot of space taken away from gaming.
2. Arrange a Food Truck - This could be at no cost to you, but often requires minimum guaranteed sales and an hourly or event fee.
3. Pot Luck - Chips, chips, chips, chips, soda, soda, and cookies?
Actually, the few small cons I've attended with pot luck donations and a contribution jar were really pretty good. Make sure you have a volunteer to handle all aspects of this before considering it. You will be too busy for it, and organizing, setup, maintenance, and cleaning probably aren't a typical con director's strengths.
4. Free range - Let your gamers fend for themselves at nearby Subway, McDonalds, order delivered pizza, brown bag, vending machines, etc. Clearly the easiest way to go, but gamers are at your con to game, not make food runs. If this is your only option, at least create and post a map with local eat spots. A next-door eatery manager will also appreciate a heads-up before you slam them with hungry gamers on a normally slow afternoon. You might also see if you can wheedle one of those fundraising deals, where the con gets 10% if the diner uses a coupon.
5. Run a basic snack bar - Get volunteers or a paid worker to sell staples and perhaps hot dogs and ordered pizza for distribution. This is very convenient, but a lot of work if the hours cover the entire con. This is the model I've used at two of my cons, where I can exploit a family member with solid retail vending experience. WARNING! She keeps telling me "Never again!" With even very modest pricing, a (mainly) Costco supplied snack bar should net a few dollars per day for each attendee, less labor costs. Could be nice "pin" money for a gaming widow. One hint: don't sell snacks that are messy. Cheetos, chicken wings, sloppy subs, oranges, etc. spew residue that will find its way onto your library games. Second hint: buy from a source that accepts returns of unused product and be sensible about not opening sealed packages held in reserve.

I've been trying to put together some stats on consumption.
How many sodas should you stock for 100 gamer hours? (my own guess is 25)
What flavor/brand distribution? (Cherry Coke Zero, Diet Coke with Lime, Coke, and Spring water are my cons top sellers)
How many $2.00 hot dogs per 100 gamer lunch? dinner?
etc.

So far, I've had no luck getting even wild guesstimates from con director veterans. They just say it depends too much on weather, prices, competition, convenience, etc. Not very helpful to the con director trying to assemble a shopping list.

FWIW, here are wholesale pizza orders for three weekend cons I've run with about 300 attendees each. There were other dining options, but delivered pizza was the most popular.
Sat lunch: $212, $213, $351
Sat dinner: $183, $168, $97
Sun lunch: $174, $147, $238
Sun dinner: $49, $66, $60
Twitter Facebook
4 Comments
Sun Mar 1, 2015 10:46 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

Budgeting and Logistics

Eric Engelmann
United States
Rockville
Maryland
flag msg tools
Congress of Gamers conventions
badge
Eric's actual photo!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Budgeting and Logistics
Just read a nice analysis of using Kickstarter to fund a con when you lack starter capital. Check out http://www.tsunamicon.org/


Comment by BillKim99

On budgeting, you need to come up with a realistic budget for what everything (and I mean everything) will cost, then you need to figure out if you can draw enough attendees to cover that cost. Then you also need to be able to write off everything you're spending. Can't speak directly to AdeptiCon's budget, since that's handled by the three executive council members, but it does involve a ridiculous amount of planning. For the Michigan GT, the founders each kicked in seed money, and then planned our budget based on 50% attendence. We've gotten lucky, and done a bit over breaking even both years, which has positioned us well for year 3.

On logistics, a lot of this will be game dependent, but you'll need to figure out what kind of chairs, tables, terrain (if necessary), access to food, lodging, marketing, set-up/teardown, internet presence, registration, PA system, computers, etc. There's a ton of stuff that will be best done by planning early, rather than improvising on the fly. That's the kind of stuff that kills budgets. You also need to determine schedules, timetables, and things like that. That's the stuff that makes everyone else think you've got a smoothly running operation.

That's all mechanics. Essentially, you need to look at it as a business or a military operation, and plan accordingly. During the actual con, its important that the honchos keep calm and friendly at all times. Everyone else is going to take their lead from you, so if you look frazzled/exhausted/burnt out, that's what they're going to feel. This is one of the reasons I think a team is almost necessary for a longer con (e.g. 2+ days). You need time to take breaks, with other people able to step up and take point.

There also might be some use in including a section on forming an LLC for liability purposes (both AdeptiCon and the Michigan GT are organized as such). At least, I'm pretty certain AdeptiCon has done so, and I know the Michigan GT did so as well. It comes with more paperwork/bookkeeping, but it does provide a warm blanket of legal protections. It's usually reasonably cheap.

Unfortunately, you will probably need a local lawyer to help you set it up properly in accordance with your state's laws. (Being one myself, that made it easy for the Michigan GT to do so). The Michigan GT did wait until after we had our first year in the books (to make sure we wanted to do it again) so its not something that necessarilly needs to be done immediately.

Most importantly though, you need to be doing it for the right reasons. Your primary goal should be to cater to your audience, and build the kind of event that you yourself would want to attend (hopefully, those two things are the same thing). The more involved you are in running it, the less actual gaming you'll do, so in a lot of ways, you need to look at running the con itself as your hobby, building the gaming community and providing a venue for like-minded individuals to socialize and celebrate the hobby that they enjoy.
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Sun Mar 1, 2015 10:44 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Bring & Buy and Auctions - Attendee game sales

Eric Engelmann
United States
Rockville
Maryland
flag msg tools
Congress of Gamers conventions
badge
Eric's actual photo!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Many con attendees have at least a small collection of games, some of which are no longer getting played. A con provides a nice opportunity to sell these and buy others with relatively high confidence and without high shipping costs. For many gamers, the buy/sell opportunity can be a key factor when they decide whether to travel and spend time at your con. For some gamers, playing with their local gaming group once a week is all the gaming they really need, but efficient selling and buying isn't something they can do at their local club. For almost all gamers, browsing a collection of new and old games is an interesting way to spend time between games.

There are several options for structuring game sales:
1. Flea market - sellers put their stuff on a table and sell during the market operating hours, perhaps just one hour of the con. On the positive side, there's very little labor and no handling of money by the con director (well, maybe a $1-5 table fee). The negatives are reserving table space (you will need at least one table for each vendor).
2. Bring & Buy / Auction Store - sellers price and label items and leave them with con volunteers to collect money. This is very convenient for sellers, but a lot of work for con volunteers. It can be a significant source of revenue. The cons I've attended charge a nominal listing fee of $.25-$.50, plus a percentage of the sale, often 10%.
3. Auction - a traditional auction process can be entertaining if done in moderation, and with limits on what is auctioned. The focus should be on unusual, high value, and popular items. Probably only practical at larger cons.

Resources:
I created an MS-Word form with a mail-mergable version for BGG merge. See http://emsps.com/wgf/bringandbuy.html for templates you could start with.

Auction store format considerations:
These are many, many ways to run a B&B store. I'll start by stating what worked at my last B&B. We used a spreadsheet with sellers given a block of 100 numbers for lots. Seller A might have 5 lots, 101, 102, 103, 104, and 105. Seller B might have three lots, 201, 202, 203. The advantage of this format is that it's easy to see how many lots each seller has submitted and that inserting a new lot just involves inserting an Excel row and assigning the next number in their block. When it's time to cash out, you can sort by lot number instead of by seller name. Index cards rotated to portrait orientation and labeled "1", "2", etc. for the 100, 200, etc. lot groups makes it easy to keep sales slips sorted in an appropriately shaped box as you go. Larger B&B operations (>1000 lots) typically demand that all submissions be sent well in advance, so fixed lot numbers can be assigned to each user by return email. The downside with this rigidity is that you lose some sales, and their revenue, in addition to disappointing some sellers and depriving buyers of some buying opportunities.

In an effort to provide additional support to shoppers, I've just started placing early submissions (emailed spreadsheets) online with links to BGG entries. Not much work to add links, if the item for sale isn't ambiguous. See http://emsps.com/cog/downloads/bringandbuydraftlist.xls

If you are in a major metro area with its own Craigslist, post a classified ad offering "hundreds of strategy games for sale" and pointing buyers to your con a few weeks in advance of the con, repeating weekly. If you won't be too annoyed by non-gamers who hope to sell their Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly sets, you could even post a "want to buy" ad for board games and point them to your sales event. You might add a sentence discouraging inappropriate game sales.
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Sun Mar 1, 2015 10:39 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Awards, shirts, and swag

Eric Engelmann
United States
Rockville
Maryland
flag msg tools
Congress of Gamers conventions
badge
Eric's actual photo!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Shirts and Awards

Awards aren't really this convention director's interest area, but I'll try to start this off with a few bullet points.

1. It's simple human nature for gamers to want to have their excellence at gaming recognized. It's a good idea to provide some sort of mechanism in your con, of ANY size, to do this.
2. HOW you recognize a gamer's excellence is the problem for con directors.

A large con like WBC offers tiered plaques for each of 100+ events, plus overall awards, GM provided awards, vendor supplied awards, etc.

A very small con might have a modest award for combined performance across many games (a "decathalon award"), or even just for the single event that draws the most players.

Some players get super serious about competitions, even to the point of becoming a bit scary. Be VERY clear and precise about the winner selection process. It may be just friendly competition and a plaque for you, but may have a deep emotional impact for some players.

Awards could be simple name recognition over a PA system, a custom "champ" shirt, a ribbon, a plaque, a trophy, free admission to future events, a game, etc. The tricky part is providing the best value to the winner at the lowest cost to the con. A free shirt emblazoned with the con name could help with marketing when your champ plays elsewhere. A coupon for free registration next year is useful to both the player and to the con, especially if it's transferrable and your champ asks their gaming buddies if they want it (perhaps as an oblique brag). A gift certificate for the next con's Auction Store or vendor table is useful and has an effectively discounted cost to the con.

Custom plaques and trophies have a significant cost for artwork development. What have con directors used recently? I discovered this economy option (great if you make a few year's of plaques at a time), but haven't used them: http://www.plaquemaker.com/6x8-10-sale?sc=2&category=180768. This one might be interesting with a common metal print and custom photo insert http://www.trophykits.com/proddetail.asp?prod=VAL279-SAF1-C
A super-green and frugal con director, like me, could use a framed certificate, with frame (often) recycled when some adults win it.

I've used http://www.cheapestees.com a few times now. If you have LOTS of time, periodically check their web site, buying when they've slashed prices on something acceptable. Some gamers are really fussy about fabric, so may be best to get 100% cotton shirts on your first run. Balance your urge to blare your marketing message against the gamer's desire to buy AND wear the shirt. Make it cool for your target demographic to wear it!
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Sun Mar 1, 2015 10:37 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Vendor/Exhibitor Tables

Eric Engelmann
United States
Rockville
Maryland
flag msg tools
Congress of Gamers conventions
badge
Eric's actual photo!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Vendor/Exhibitor Tables

Vendor presence at a con can be a big plus for attendees, and for the con organizer. In a small con, the vendor can also have a minor role as a partner, perhaps filling in with registration, math trade exchanges, etc. when labor crunches happen. It's typical for vendors to pay an appropriate fee for the space they use. In a very large con, this could be $1000 or more, but small (100-300 attendees) cons will likely charge $50 - $300 for space, depending on the duration, services, and likely revenue stream to the vendor.

One interesting opportunity is to have the vendor offer a set discount for pre-ordered games to be picked up at the con. In any case, be sure to let the vendor know which games are part of any tournament, which games will be demoed, and which games are part of the con lending library, as far in advance as possible. This helps the vendor tailor their on-site inventory to best meet participant demand.

Vendors can often offer a great deal on demo, dinged box, or recent release games for the con library in lieu of, or as partial payment for, space.

For game producers/designers/promoters, you might mention they check out https://convergentgamesblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/convent... to make the most of the table space they rent.

This is the text I'm sending to prospective vendors for a new con I'm running in Tysons Corner, VA.

Hi.
We're introducing a board game convention in Tysons Corner, VA, August 25-27, 2017, and looking for a vendor to join us. It's in a new location and date compared with other cons I've run in the DC and Baltimore areas, but I expect we'll see 150-250 gamers participating. Since it's a first, I'm offering an exclusive vendor spot (no other retail store will be selling) for just $50. If you have any interest in vending at that con, or perhaps the ones we'll be running later in Rockville, check it out at http://congressofgamers.org

Thanks!
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Sun Mar 1, 2015 10:33 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

Venue Selection and Negotiation

Eric Engelmann
United States
Rockville
Maryland
flag msg tools
Congress of Gamers conventions
badge
Eric's actual photo!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Venue Selection and Negotiation

Suggestions for venues:
If you can do a two day con, here are some idle weekend facilities. Be sure you pay attention to tables and chairs. Renting and configuring them is expensive and time consuming work. For your first con, look for sites that have them in place or who will set them up for you.

Schools. The cafeteria and gym areas of high schools and community colleges typically have LOTS of room, with plenty of tables and seating in the cafeteria. Sadly, the ones in my area have zero real interest in rentals. They go through the motions of offering, probably for political reasons, but make it impossible to actually close an affordable contract and just waste your time. This is probably the case in most major metro areas.

Community Colleges in my area can't hold events without expensive security, and will not discriminate between a rap showdown and a board gaming event. Costs become ridiculous. A community college in an area with extremely well behaved populations might be a great opportunity.

Rec centers. While they often have conflicting weekend programs, a recreational board game convention will often help demonstrate fulfillment of their community charter. No, they probably don't even care about your money, which they probably don't get to keep, anyway. That doesn't mean they won't set a non-negotiable rental fee so high that no one would ever pay it. Understand that your con is a bother. They may tolerate it if they need to show that they are providing useful services. If you are political, you may may even get local government to create a "program" to support community engagement (or some such) using boardgaming. Free use! Government controls their funding, so the center will do what they are told. The key to rec centers is to be as little bother as possible and keep repeating how clean, quiet, careful, and respectful gamers are. Make friends with and tip staff. Have your most personable volunteer do the negotiating. It's not about the rental money at all...

Elk, VFW, etc. lodges and centers. I had given up on these in my area, then found one of these near me with a great deal ($300/day) on a space that can handle 100 gamers, more on days when their bar can be closed. Chances are any ones local to you have plenty of tables and chairs, and will welcome even modest income. The experience I had with another leads me to believe they could be more of a handshake and goodwill deal--much different from bottom line, professionally managed hotels. Contracts can be... puzzling, but if you get good vibes, it's likely to be a good match.

Community Library. My area's libraries are like its public schools, with large, expensive buildings that, unfortunately, are closed outside of very short hours, apparently to minimize desk personnel costs. Strictly (arbitrarily?) no possibility of extended hours on Sat/Sun. The situation might be different in a smaller city, but libraries are effectively useless for even very small cons in my area. Here are rooms and hours for Montgomery County, MD: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/CUPF/Resources/Files/libra...

Whoa! Turns out a medium sized city in Texas has a library actually dedicated to serving the community!! Really hard to believe this story, but then it WAS in Texas.

I am Wanda Green--the organizer of the West Texas Table Top Convention in San Angelo, Texas. The convention took place in an 80,000 sf library in a community of about 130,000 in west central Texas. The primary area we used was a 3,000 sf open community room, but we utilized numerous other bits of the building--lobby, rooftop patio, children's story room.

I had to estimate attendance because it was a free event open to the public--no tickets or badges. Best estimate: 300-400 Saturday, 200-300 Sunday. The room capacity is 512, and at times I felt like we were pushing it.

I have the good fortune of working in a library with a healthy programming budget, so we were able to pay travel to bring in a few celebrities and publishers--Sam Healey, Zee Garcia, Scott Morris (Arcane Wonders) Justin and Anne Marie DeWitt (Fireside) and JR Honeycutt (Level 99). This was a big attraction regionally, combine that with an Air Force Intel training base, a healthy growing board game community, some AMTGARD and SCA programming, a few awesome cosplayers--and we got amazing attendance.

I did learn a lot about what did and didn't work--my three biggest lessons:

1. Do not hold a panel discussion in the open play/main event area! Unfortunately, I had to work with what I had, which was one main space suitable for a panel discussion. We were so successful that next year this won't be a problem-- we've secured our convention center, where we have three separate spaces at 4000 sf each.

2. Find a way to assign vendors events that keeps everyone happy. We have three primary game stores, and I need their help to run events--they have knowledge and expertise I don't have. Unfortunately, they do not get along, and they all want to run the same events--it's a bit like playing Resistance, only one person (me) is Switzerland, and everyone else is their own faction who believes the other factions are trying to deliberately sabotage them, and occasionally their minions (customers) jump into the fray and make things worse. In the end, the three were able to mostly work together for the success of the convention--and it did not hurt that they all made money, got free advertising, and perhaps created a new customer or two.

3. Build a website. It just makes the event a bit more legitimate. We used a Facebook page, but had frequent requests for the web site. About to release the web site for next year, but the FB page is https://www.facebook.com/WestTexasTableTop

For 2016, we will hold the convention September 9-10, and I am actively planning next year! Because last year was so successful in numbers and media attention--I even have a bigger budget! Hooray! I also will still keep attendance free, but plan to ask for donations at the door from attendees to help support the library and its fabulous programs, like the convention!

Cheers,
Wanda


Hotels. For small cons, you need to select "dead" dates, when a local hotel is desperate to fill rooms. For example, I scheduled a Summer Session of Congress of Gamers at the Westin Tyson's Corner in August, when there are no weddings and no business meetings, paying just 1/6th the listed rate. If you can't find a hotel desperate to fill empty rooms, a discounted rate will require that you get participants to make lots of room reservations, which means lots of out-of-town participants, which will usually not happen in a small, local con. A small con, such as TetonCon http://www.icarustours.com/teton-con.html, held in a tourist destination can work in a hotel. Note that the financial risk is significant if you don't sell your negotiated block of rooms. Here's a http://traveltips.usatoday.com/book-block-hotel-rooms-2971.h... link you might educational.

Parks. It's possible to do a con in the covered picnic areas in parks. Picking the right season is key, and you will inevitably have a few complaints about it being too cold, hot, windy, or pollinated. GCOM does a family picnic with open gaming each summer that works pretty well for many gamers. You will usually have to rent your area, but rents should be much lower that similarly sized interior spaces. For example, a sheltered space in Montgomery County, MD costs (non-negotiable) $100/day, about 1/5 of what an equivalent indoor space would cost, even if you were a strong negotiator. If you run a sheltered outdoor con, have some plastic sheeting ready to throw over tables and game shelves in case a heavy rain goes sideways and invades the shelter for a few minutes (yeah, learned that from experience).

Churches. Churches, Temples, etc. tend to be busy on either Saturday or Sunday, but often have a large meeting space you could rent for their off day. They generally have plenty of parking, as well. Single day cons have a high work/gaming ratio, but might be perfect for a first time convention. Ideally, one of your management team will already be a member.

Look for Bridge Tourney Sites. Sectional bridge tournaments need space rentals that are very similar to those of small gaming conventions. Bridge tournament facilities in your area are on http://acbl.org. Ask the Bridge facilities about renting to your con. Idea credit to Michael McKibbin (hgman3)

Space Requirements.
How much space do you need? The answer you always hear is, it depends. Will you have only an orderly grid of rectangular tables playing four player games, or will you have a large auction store, extensive vendor areas, a large games library display, a kinetic games area, snack bar/potluck area? I'll try to collect (it will take some time) the number of square feet used by cons that feel full. I'll start with Congress of Gamers, whose 7000 square feet accommodates 350 gamers while offering all those activities. One could squeeze in another 50. For table spacing, one veteran organizer suggested 5-6 feet between table sides and 3 feet between table ends. Another suggested 52" between table sides.
Twitter Facebook
3 Comments
Sun Mar 1, 2015 10:28 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Advertising Your Con on BGG

Eric Engelmann
United States
Rockville
Maryland
flag msg tools
Congress of Gamers conventions
badge
Eric's actual photo!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Board Game Geek advertising and PPT templates you can edit.
BGG offers an easy way to market to just BGG users in your con's area. BGG takes three sizes of ads: 160x600, 300x250, and 728x90
If you aren't an artist, you might just edit these PPT templates I just used for a recent Congress of Gamers campaign. When done, save as JPG files and then use this free, online GIF creator for static or animated GIFs. http://gifmaker.me For static ads, use just one PPT slide.

I order 100,000 impressions for locations within 100 miles of my con (you can get a list of zipcodes using https://www.freemaptools.com/find-zip-codes-inside-radius.ht... or just use states), two months before the con date. Chad
(chad@boardgamegeek.com) usually has ads running the same or next day.

160x600 PPT template, http://emsps.com/cog/marketing/BGGads/RockvilleAds/160x600.p...
300x250 PPT template, http://emsps.com/cog/marketing/BGGads/RockvilleAds/300x250.p...
728x90 PPT template, http://emsps.com/cog/marketing/BGGads/RockvilleAds/728x90.pp...

Or, for a really fancy banner (final GIF file size limit is 500KB) edit http://emsps.com/cog/marketing/BGGads/RockvilleAds/FancyGIFs...

After submission, I saw only one vertical placement, and everything else was banners.

My experience with BGG advertising was great. Take advantage of it!
Send an email to adrates@boardgamegeek.com for current prices and more information.
Twitter Facebook
3 Comments
Sun Mar 1, 2015 10:24 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

Tournaments

Eric Engelmann
United States
Rockville
Maryland
flag msg tools
Congress of Gamers conventions
badge
Eric's actual photo!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dTournaments

I need sections on:

Types of Tournaments - As cons grow in size, the competitions they provide can support a greater number and more and complexity. For a small or new con, focus on the tourneys for which you have enthusiastic volunteers. Start with a single award (perhaps with three places) for best overall performance. You could choose just one popular game for a tournament, or several, or a single set of awards for overall cumulative performance. They key is to keep the process simple enough that the volunteers who lead it don't feel like they are working instead of gaming. A new venue left me without ANY volunteer to run a formal tourney structure, AFTER I advertised and scheduled a tourney. Solution? The decathalon self-propelled tourney. I printed a 24" x 36" poster (see http://emsps.com/cog/downloads/tournamentstandings.pptx) (tiled 8.5"x11" sheets would also work). Then I super-simplified the scoring process and provided score slips (see http://emsps.com/cog/summer/downloads/SimpleResultsForm.docx). Winners updated the standings poster themselves. Here's a picture of the resulting chart behind the winner. http://emsps.com/cog/archives/2017summer/photos/winner.jpg

Game selection process
I've tried sending a poll to previous registrants along with options from the previous year. This strongly favors selection of the previous year's games, even with a write-in vote option. An online voting system would be better. I suspect some existing, free online poll system would work. Suggestions? If you expect to get 100 or fewer responses (quite likely), you might try Survey Monkey. Here's the poll I've created for Congress of Gamers Summer Session, 2017: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TMG3J6H

Scheduling principles and tips
Marcy, who has run many of my con's tournaments, urges running small groups of games (2, 3 or 4) with the same start times (most important) and lengths, when possible, since this minimizes labor for the coordinator. Having one widely-familiar game and one newish game in each block will please two audiences. Here's a simple way to schedule tourney games using a Google sheet. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/10R9leSeOWdMiK4tJPMNm...

Recruiting and managing GMs - Go to any other cons within driving range of your location and recruit GMs of existing tourneys. Being a GM isn't about being GOOD at the game, but about being able to manage players and games to ensure the players have fun while they are competing. A great GM can tone down any over-competitive behavior without having to lecture the misbehaving player. He also has the experience to seat a wide range of players and fairly adjudicate non-standard finishes. Actually, an acceptable GM for your con might just be ANYONE willing to do the job. At most small cons, the GM plays in the tourney, often asking the con director to adjudicate any issues in his own games.

Scoring, reporting, and awards - Assign point values to place finishes in games. Carefully and EXPLICITLY define the determination process.

Sharing the tourney schedule with attendees - I've seen three methods to help attendees get to their tournament events. The best is a smartphone app with schedule, links, maps, alarms, etc. Check the one WBC uses, on https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.boardgamer... for Android and https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/world-boardgaming-championsh... for iPhones. I've asked if it can be generalized for use with other cons, and was told it could be, but hasn't been yet. I'll pursue this more vigorously during WBC 2017. In addition to this, you can use a printed program. This is typically a Kinkos job. Congress of Gamers uses a SINGLE sheet program to save paper, costs (I print them myself, at home), and provide a convenient mini-program for attendees. See an example draft on http://emsps.com/cog/downloads/CoG2015ScheduleGrid.xlsx

Balancing competition with fun - to be written
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Sun Mar 1, 2015 10:22 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

Prev «  1 , 2 , 3  Next »  

Subscribe

Categories

Contributors

Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.