Thursday, June 7

UK Games Expo Report

I've already mentioned how well the convention went, here I'll go into a little more detail about what went well and not so well.


My stock levels were fairly poor. There were only a few copies of Border Reivers left and because I didn't get the artwork from the printers until Thursday morning I only had time to make twenty-one copies of It's Alive! Ten of those had been pre-ordered, one was for me, another was to be given to a distributor. That only left me with nine unclaimed copies. Nowhere near enough. I reckon I could have sold two or possibly even three times that many. Still, it was out of my hands, so there's no point grumbling about it.


I supposedly had a square area 2.5m x 2.5m, and was expecting two round tables, one front left for demoing and one back right for stock. I decided fairly last minute to pick up the paper tablecloths I'd bought for the Border Reivers playtesting last year, they are a nice dark green - Reiver Games green as I like to think of it. I wasn't sure whether the convention would provide tablcloths, so I thought it would look btter than bare tables. In the end they did provide white tablcloths, but I think the green ones looked better. As before we piled up the stock, with one box open at the front showing the box lid to better effect, as well as showing the components. Dave had the idea of us going dressed as mad scientists and provided a bunch of knick-knacks to provide some set-dressing: a severed finger, bat, rat and a monster hand glove. These made things a bit more visually interesting. I'd also made some POS displays, an A3 one for the company and two A4 ones - one for each game. I made them from foam-core, with two stands to hold them almost upright and then printed some artwork on my A3 inkjet and glued it on. The company one just consisted of a huge logo and the tagline: 'Hand-made games', the game ones were portrait with the box background pattern, the box artwork at the top, a brief description, the price and the Reiver Games logo and icons at the bottom. I was pleased with these, the text drew people in to read them and they also allowed pople to find something out when we were all too busy to come over and talk to them.


I booked last minute and so I didn't get choice of location. We ended up in a room tucked away in the labyrinth, hidden in a corner, but twenty feet from the bar. On arrival I was disappointed, but to be honest the location was fine. We had a steady stream of people and people were drawn into the room by the lure of food. We were offered a third table early on, but we didn't really have enough staff to man it, and we only had one demo copy of the game. It worked fine for us.


Dave had the inspired idea of dressing as the mad scientists of the game, and so we all went in lab coats and glasses. I had hoped to get wild white wigs, but I didn't have time in the end. The costumes were well received, and I think they definitely stood out more than the wealth of brightly coloured polo shirts which were the standard.

The Game

I think the game was a perfect one to be demoing at the convention. It's short play time meant that whenever someone walking past looked interested we could say: 'Would you like a game? This one will be finished in ten/fifteen minutes'. The winning cry of 'It's Aaallliiivvveee!' drew interest from around the room, especially when done in Dave's best, booming, Hammer Horror voice. The artwork also sucked people in. Having a cheaper price also helped (£15 instead of the £30 for Border Reivers), but having said that Border Reivers sold out quickly too.


I took Dave and The Wife to help out which was definitely a good idea. It meant at the busy point on Saturday morning we had enough people (just!) to cope with the rush, and at quieter times we had enough to have one person playing/explaining, one person floating and dealing with passers-by which allowed the third person to have a wander round, nip to the loo or in my case schmooze the tradehall. I've struggled on my own at smaller events, but there's no way I would have coped at the Expo on my own.

Flyers/Business Cards

Several pople asked for the website address or an email address - and I had nothing to hand out. Flyers would have been one option, but I dislike them for being so wasteful. I would have really benefited from having business cards. I received several from other people and it would have been good to return the favour. Also, they can just be handed out to people who are interested in a web address or contact number. I'm definitely going to get some before my next convention.

The convention was a huge success. It was my first time at a 'trade show' style of convention, and being somewhere where people had come to buy new games rather than just play games with their friends made a big difference - it was much less effort to make a sale. I'm definitely up for attending next year - now all I need is a new game...


Mal said...

Don't give up on the white wigs idea, mind - that's a photo I'd love to see. You could get a real Doc Brown look going on. :)

runehardt said...

Love the lab coats!

Jack said...

Simple, yet effective. I do like the mad wigs idea though - maybe next time...



Juha Linnanen said...

Yehuda just introduced me to your blog, good job publishing your own games!

Jack said...

Thanks, I'm not the only here who does, Luke and Phil have done it too. At the moment it's a game of Yehuda's that I'm publishing :)