Thoughts by Bez

I am a full-time designer/artist/self-publisher and I am available for freelance work. I go to cons as a trader and help run the all-day Friday playtest sessions in London. I left my last 'real' job in 2014. I was getting benefits for a few years. I'm currently writing sporadically, but getting back into the habit of daily posts. If you have any questions/topics you'd like me to address, send me a geekmail and I'll probably address the topic within a week.
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Tabletop Scotland 2018 convention overview

Bez Shahriari
United Kingdom
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Edit: Changed some numbers, which I forgot.

As a trader, I need to consider whether it's worth going to a convention. I need to decide whether it's worth going again.

There are, essentially, 2 dimensions to this equation: happiness/emotional and business.

It's notable that there is some intersection between these 2 categories. I enjoy a successful 2pm event, or simply showing off a whole bunch of games, and that probably helps my business.

I mean, it's kinda inevitable that there would be crossover in this way. Although I hope to earn a livable wage, I certainly don't do it for the money. If I stopped working altogether and signed onto Job Seeker's Allowance & sorted out housing benefit, I'd be earning more than I currently am.

SOME EMOTIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

the 2pm tournaments
Through a combination of folk who happened to be around, and a number of folk who turned up specifically, I think I ran some fun events.

On Saturday, there was a Wibbell++ 'triathlon' that featured Wibbell, Grabbell and Alphabetickell. 8 folk were playing and I split everyone into 2 groups for the latter 2 rounds, mixing in between. Points were added together and the top 2 folk played in an untitled head-to-head game that I won't name. Because I can't.

On Sunday, 3 groups were laughing as they tried to contort and obey an escalating number of challenges for Yogi 2. I let it run a lot longer than I expected (75 minutes; 4 games) as everyone was having so much fun.

a personal story
One person was excited to meet me after having been unable to track down In A Bind years ago. After having a game of Yogi, we spent a good amount of time playing a variety of Wibbell++ games. Eventually, they shared with me that they'd been having a rough time recently, had been on the fence about coming, but after spending a bit of time at the stand were feeling a lot more confident about life.

a fan
Someone had bought IAB from their local FLGS 3 years ago. They seemed to be super-excited to meet, excited to buy the waterproof version and eventually shyly asked if they could take a selfie.

For the record, the answer will always be yes.

Both this and the above encounter were immensely validating.

a well attended 'BG Design 101 seminar'

Given that few folk in the audience had played my stuff, I think that this was a result of the timing/subject rather than anything to do with me specifically.

But it was nice to be considered a good speaker by the organisers, glad a few folk were interested enough to take notes and a few folk even gave unprompted kind remarks afterwards, which was lovely!

seeing a little girl return to play Wibbell
Nicola was excellent and took the initiative to get a chair for the little girl to stand on, so she could probably see everything and engage with everyone else.

She had a lot of fun and returned later on.

Since kids are super-honest, this was fantastic to see.

Wibbell being visually accessible
Someone came to play and after a few turns told us that they were only partially sighted and were having trouble - they said that they would need tarot-sized cards to play easily. After discussing with their friend/partner, they decided to play on.

After a couple of rounds, they suddenly started doing better and exclaimed that they had started getting used to the cards and could now read them quickly enough! They won a round and went on to do phenomenally well, which was immensely emotional to watch. They thanked me for the starkness of the shades (and the relative brightness of the secondary elements) and it was super-gratifying.

It might sound like some of these things are boasts or things about me saying how awesome I am, and maybe that's a tiny part of it. Validation that I am doing something right.

BUSINESS
Financial
(spoiler tag to avoid making some folk uncomfortable)
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Spoiler (click to reveal)

Saturday: 15 things sold (£150)
Sunday: 12 things sold to punters (£120)
12 things sold to shops. (£72)
£342 gross profit.

costs (rounded to nearest £):
119 - Stock sold
30 - demo copies/prizes/volunteer rewards (not counting costs of IAB/IABE/IABJr)
4 - random snacks/noodle dinners
38 - celebratory post-con dinner
92 - air bnb in Perth
6 - London underground (going to train/returning)
64 - Train (London to Glasgow return)
9 - Train (Glasgow to Perth)
10 - taxi (Perth to Perth bus station) (it was 50 min walk away...)
11 - bus (Perth to Glasgow)
2 - bus home
105 - stand space

profit = 342-490 = £148 loss.

I am discounting the £120 I had to pay for missing my London-Glasgow train (reminder to self: next time, try to get to Euston 30 min before departure) as that doesn't represent the analysis of whether I'd go again.


So, overall, it was a fairly substantial loss for the size of con. I think that I'd still go again, given that it's the first year.


There were a few benefits.

I got Wibbell++ into a new shop.
There were enough new folk buying my games to consider this a marketing benefit.
I got to test my favourite 2 of the Wibbell++ competition entries and a few folk played both and gave their opinion. (Spoiler: some people prefer 1 and some prefer the other.) That's good to know...
I got to watch a few games of Yogi 2 being enjoyed. Whilst I don't think I'll make any immediate changes, I'm 'red-flagging' the ones involving touching the card holders. If you have only 2 card holders, it's too disruptive for a card holder to be essentially taken out of the game. That's useful info.

WOULD I GO AGAIN

Assuming the 2019 details were the same (nothing else clashing; costs/general organisation remaining similar; able to get help) I'd go again.

WAYS TO IMPROVE
Some organisational stuff. Double-checking departure locations and times before and avoiding mad scrambles. Remembering that at Euston, they remove trains from the board a few minutes before departure, and so aiming for 30 min ahead.

leaving less room for new cats Again, a tiny detail, but I was too optimistic. And it meant that the new cats were spread across a larger area, mainly at the edges. I was expecting folk to put cats in the big empty space but instead most folk simply worked from the edges inwards. Given boardgamers' tendency for making neat lines, I shouldn't have been surprised.

seated playing space? Longer, more involved games? For UKGE/Essen, I think that having quick games is ideal. And even for TTS, it was fantastic to be able to have some folk playing Wibbell and then tell others that they could join in mid-game if they want. They wouldn't get as many points, but they would get the experience.

Looking at a couple of stands around me, I felt like I'd like to actually work on a game that folk start playing, then sit down for a while to explore. Maybe with a bit more discovery mid-game, whether than comes from emergent possibilities that you discover, or - in a crude way - from text on cards that are uncovered (e.g. an event deck). Essentially, all my current games are short by design, which is great for accessibility and courting newcomers, but it'd be nice to have something a bit more involved. There were a few minutes here are there where I felt a bit lonely and having people at the stand often encourages others to also come, I think.

On the other end, having a few more seats would have maybe made it a more comfortable place to spend time - both for myself and others.

If anyone is interested, I'll do a less personal overall analysis of the con at some point in the future. It'll almost certainly be far shorter.
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