the Fairgame Archive

2007-01-12: Wings to Fly
by Emily

Recently on the Forge, Ron made an announcement about plans for the Forge Booth at GenCon Indianapolis in 2007. This year the booth will be made up of three tiers: primary sponsors (who invest a hefty amount up front and generally hold a lot of resonsibility), new publishers (or first-timers to the Forge Booth anyway),  and second year publishers who took part last year for the first time. This leaves a fourth category: veteran publishers who have been part of the booth for several years, but who are not taking the role of core organizers.  We are getting the proverbial boot, out the door, out of the nest to go fly on our own this year.

My reaction to this is one of joy and terror.

Joy:  This is so right. I am so grateful to Ron et al. for deciding this because I know deep in my heart this is what should be happening. Last year at the Forge Booth it was so crowded. Even with perhaps double the demo'ing space we'd had in 2005 there were still days and times when the only way I could get space to sample a game was to grab folks and hang roll some dice in a back hallway, or head up to the Games on Delivery room (which was a great thing to have, thanks Michael & Kat!).  The popularity of the booth meant that Brennan, Alexander and the IPR crew were cranking non-stop just to take money for the games that were being sold which meant that they didn't have the same time simply talk to people about games. One or two people were on point for that at all times (notably Tim and Tony), but what this all adds up to is that there are more games and more business than can feasibly fit in one booth.  As Jared has shown, being next door is a great place to be.

Terror: Organizing for GenCon is huge.  Like, who's going to bring the chairs? How the hell do we fit demo'ing in the tiny space we'll be able to afford? Did someone say "credit cards"? Man, was I being lazy by being able to tap in to all that good stuff at the Forge Booth, and man, am I grateful to them what did it. But more than that, how scary is it to think about going it alone(ish) and maybe tanking. Was it really the booth and not my games that made the magic happen?

The funny thing is that we spent most of our time on the caravan to GenCon last year (and a good bit going home) talking about how we could do something like this. But it took the boot to get us there. It's time to take those lessons from the Forge booth and put them into practice. What will really make this possible are emergent properties of the Forge booth: the friendship and community there.

2007-01-12 18:29:34 Brand Robins

My first reaction, on reading the announcement, was "good, this is what should happen."

My second reaction was, "Oh shit, that means Vincent and Emily won't be in the booth and so I'll probably hardly see them at all. This sucks!"

2007-01-12 19:11:09 Emily

I know! There is nothing like being in the trenches together at GC.

But I am looking forward to getting to come over and be a friendly third in a demo for Crime and Punishment for a non-booth customer. And the real deal hanging out is after hours. (Pencil me in for dinner?)

2007-01-12 19:30:56 Brand Robins

You know it. I also have to have dinner with Vincent and buy him beer or something, and Mo wants to meet all the Baker kids.

We can also all ditch Matt Wilson together, that should be a good group-bonding experience.

2007-01-12 19:29:11 PaulCzege

Y'know, any pressure you feel to do a booth is entirely self-imposed. Your games will be for sale at the Forge booth via IPR. (You just won't be able to demo them at the booth.) You could get a non-exhibitor badge and spend your time doing Games on Demand (or running scheduled games). A schedule could be organized for designers being at Games on Demand that could be posted at the Forge booth. And lots of games would benefit. I don't think Ron is saying, "Go and do your own booth." He's saying, "Go and do something worthwhile."

2007-01-12 19:38:36 Emily

I wish Meg and the Baker kids were coming. :(

We can also all ditch Matt Wilson together, that should be a good group-bonding experience.

Poor, sad Matt.

2007-01-12 19:53:41 Emily

A schedule could be organized for designers being at Games on Demand that could be posted at the Forge booth.

Good idea, Paul.

And, yes, the fact that the games will still be available to be purchased at ForgeHome takes a huge amount of the pressure off. There are lots of good options.

For me, having space to demo on the floor and a presence beyond books on a rack makes sense.  Especially if I'm not alone.

2007-01-12 20:22:02 Brand Robins

Wait, Meg isn't coming?


2007-01-12 20:36:22 Mo

I second that Noooooooo!

That sucks! Whyfor not?

2007-01-12 21:17:40 PaulCzege


For me, having space to demo on the floor and a presence beyond books on a rack makes sense. Especially if I'm not alone.

Yes, I think you're right. You're the hobby's most prominent female designer of socio-culturally ambitious games. I think some folks just can't think beyond booth options, but I think you personally having a presence and hand in selling your games in the dealer room is very important.


p.s. I'm very much looking forward to Sign In Stranger.

2007-01-12 22:41:00 Emily

That's one of the issues for me: being a chick and just working on doing that representing thing. What are others weighing? Where does it fall for you, Paul?

(and thanks for the boost, Paul. I'd love to play SiS with you sometime, and get to finish out a session with Danielle :)

2007-01-13 02:18:03 Brand Robins

There is a part of me that would love to see a Chicks with Dice booth that's all Emily, Meg, Mo, Annie Rush, Rebecca, and Jessica Hammer, with some Cynthia Celeste Miller on the side.

Fuck, that'd be one booth full of the shit. I'd even be willing to booth-monkey and demo at it without doing my own thing.

2007-01-13 02:57:33 blankshield

I'm pulling the chicken route because I have the opportunity to stay involved at the forge booth this year.

But otherwise my reaction was much the same.  "That's so right.  That's so... oh shit, but now where am I?"

I imagine fledgling birds feel this way between the nest and the ground.

2007-01-13 15:37:17 Emily

(flutter, flutter)

Being at the Forge booth is so not chicken, James.  The great system and people there are the right place to be when you are establishing yourself or learning the ropes.

You've been on both sides of this fence before though—in '05 you were at the Ad Astra booth, but we had your game. How did it differ for you?

2007-01-13 23:59:31 Meguey

Yep, sad to say, I will not be there this year. Tovey will be 18 mos old, walking, and not old enough to enjoy con-going yet, we think. So for the next two-three years, it'll probably be just Vincent, untill the kids are all old enough to either enjoy the con or stay with Grandma.

Also, I really want to have a couple years to make Young Ladies of Quality properly (is there any other way?), and come back to GenCon with that *and* 1001 Nights.

Also, I totally second Brand's Women Writers (not all of the games use dice, right?)booth. (Hey, we could do a Women of Indie Games calender! Ha ha.)

2007-01-14 02:21:50 blankshield

I call it 'the chicken route' because even though Ron and others have made it clear that 05 doesn't "count" as me being at the forge, it felt like it, so by my own measure, this is year 3 at the forge.

Hmm.  Good question about 05, Em.

Easy half first: 05 forge booth was awesome for Death's Door.  Ron and a couple others went out of their way to pitch it, and it sold 14 copies(incl 4 to retailers).  With a couple of t-sirts and Brick Battles thrown it, return from the forge booth paid for itself ($100 buy-in) and the entire print run for Death's Door.  This was with me only really present and able to demo on Sunday, and so green at the forge style demo that I only did 1 or 2, and in hindsight, those were pretty poor.

The Ad Astra booth was a disaster for Death's Door, through absolutely no fault of Ken or Scott.  It was just a matter of trying to sell a metal press to carpenters.  All of Ad Astra's products are strongly themed, he just had a major coup (and timed publicity wave to drive traffic) in the Honor Harrington license, and there was nowhere for Death's Door to sit naturally.

The lesson I would take away from that was two-fold.  One is that the traditional booth (table on the aisle, guy sitting behind it) only works if you're actually USING the table, and are willing to pitch across it.  Ken does this a lot, and when I'm at his booth, I emulate him 'cause it works.  Hard Sell.  Not hard selling your product per se, just using the Hard Sell to get them to stop and actually look at you and what you've got.  Once you've got them, it reverts to a very forge-like pitch, and if there's no interest from the customer, drop 'em and Hard Sell the next person you see.  All day, all 4 days.  It's exhausting, but it works.  This was made painfully obvious in 04 when Ken split a booth with the Riddle of Steel folks.  Great guys, great game, had a sucky weekend because they didn't pitch across the table.

Grak.  that was long and a little ranty, which wasn't entirely the point.  Point: table on the aisle only works if you're willing to hard sell across it.

The second, and bigger thing, was that there *MUST* be commonality across a booth.  It can be ideology, like the forge, or product theme, as with Ad Astra, but you need to figure out your territory, and stick with it.  If you've got a booth where "one of these things is not like the others" it's pretty much guaranteed that the one thing won't sell.  I suspect this is actually a bigger deal when there's less products in the mix, but that's just a gut feeling, not based on anything real.  Brand's booth idea is *totally* the kind of thing I'm talking about when I say 'commonality across the booth' - when there is that one factor across the board, it doesn't matter if you're selling Snakes on a Game beside Sign In Stranger.

I suspect that the folks who flourish in the booth diaspora will be ones with the common theme (women designers, Paul's ashcan front, etc) and the ones that will suffer will be the folks who are boothing with someone "Because booths are expensive" or "Because you're cool, and we should totally split a booth".


2007-01-14 02:22:02 blankshield

I'll miss seeing you there, Meg.  Raven and I have been stunningly lucky with her mom being retired from work, but still very very active, as she's house-and-baby sat for us every year now.  Looking forward to when you're in that place with Tovey.  (Which should just about be when Kalen is old enough to start coming with us.)


2007-01-14 03:44:39 Gregor

This is an exciting and frightening time for everyone. What if the only reason the booth had the legs was because your games, and Vincent's, Matt's, Tony's, Tim's, Paul's, etc. were on it? What if people say "Hell, the Forge booth. Man, all the good stuff left!" I mean, look at the sales figures.

But, I don't believe that's true. The booth will survive. The people who are leaving will fly. And I firmly believe that the games that were at the Adept Press booth were good games. They will succeed away from that booth for sure. And the new games too.

I'll be at GenCon this year for sure. My intention is to be on the Adept Press booth though and then go elsewhere next year (to make room for new blood the year after). I think I owe it to the rookies to help them up, as everyone helped me up this year. With you guys gone from the booth I really need to step up this year, no?

And we'll all be gaming after hours, and having lunch, etc. as we always do.

It's a shame that you won't be there Meg, but you're doing something more important than I will be doing for sure. :-)

2007-01-15 02:10:12 Meguey

Thanks, y'all. I just strongly feel that Tovey's only got this one year (or these few years) to be really little, and GenCon will be there, y'know?

2007-01-15 04:06:16 Brand Robins


I think you are probably correct in your parental assessment. It just totally blows that we managed to miss you and the kids. I mean Vincents nice and all, but meeting you and the kids was something I was totally hyped about and now just feel all down over.

So I guess I'll have to find a way to meet you someplace or somewhen else.

2007-01-15 05:19:17 Mo

Yeah... Must meet the Meg one of these days.

Women of Indie Games Calendar eh? Y'all are going to stick me with , January or February or December just because I'm Canadian, aren'tcha?

2007-01-15 18:37:29 Meguey

I dunno Mo; I always thought of you as more of a July. Don't ask me why. Maybe it's the rockets.

2007-01-15 19:42:48 blankshield

"Thanks, y'all. I just strongly feel that Tovey's only got this one year (or these few years) to be really little, and GenCon will be there, y'know?"


2007-01-16 14:06:44 NinJ

Hey, Em, let's remember something: it's not like we've been sucking at the teat of the Forge booth for the last few years. We've been mutually supporting. The booth will continue to support us and we'll continue to support it. People will come to us and say, "Yeah, but what I really want is a fantasy game where you have tactical challenges." and we'll say, "Oh! You want Agon, over at the motherbooth!" ... and then we'll take them all the way across the aisle to where they can purchase Agon, or whatever other hot, relevant stuff is happening over there this year. And when someone says, "I want a game about aliens," they'll be pointed over to us.

We'll have our books at IPR; the only difference is, now we'll have tables dedicated to just our games. We're paying a little bit more money to have our books in two booths now.

2007-01-16 15:24:35 Emily

Hey, Em, let's remember something: it's not like we've been sucking at the teat of the Forge booth for the last few years.

Great image. Yeah, I'm looking forward to sending folks over and getting some back, just like we've been doing with Wicked Dead, Ad Astra and Key20. Only closer, like WD last year. I hope we can be close by.

2007-01-16 21:09:03 Mo

July.... Whoot!

Just as long as I don't have to wear a bikini. Nobody wants to see that.

I have a sari though... and it's made of the lovely.

2007-01-16 23:34:26 Emily

My recollection of your first write up of push/pull is somehow steamy and sultry. You as July, Mo, would be awesome. : )

2007-01-17 23:16:11 Judd

My fondest memory of Gen Con '06 was Tony doing a demo of Arabian Nights while Tovey, sitting in a harness on Meg's hip, stroked his hair.

That was great.

We'll miss you both.

2007-01-18 00:40:01 Meguey

:) Thanks, Judd!

Mo, saris are rockin'.

2007-01-18 14:52:28 Mo

Hey Meg and Em...

Posted due to it's synchronicity...

I stumbled across the The Girls of Aberddu today. They've produced all LARP Girl "Calendar Girl" calendar to raise money for Nightline, a youth hotline (suicide support, advocacy, free condom and tampon distribution, a walk home program). The hotline lost it's university funding recently when it refused to hand over wanted confidential information to the administration.

I see on their site that they have a "sitting around and drinking tea" kind of shot. I sincerely hope they to a "sitting around a table playing D&D". A GM screen would make a great conveniently placed prop.

2007-01-18 14:57:57 Meguey

(Further derailing Em's perfectly good GenCon thread :} )

See, I think it sounds like fun. Only, why make it just Women?  Who wouldn't want a calender with, say, Matt W. with a discreetly placed TV Guide (for September's 'season premires', of course)?  Or Kevin with a claw necklace and bunny fur? I dout Luke would pose with a burning tire, though.

2007-01-18 21:35:43 Mo

Does that mean I get handcuffs?

2007-01-19 02:42:01 Meguey

Sure! And I get to be shot mostly from the back, with finger cymbals and a dance veil, doing a killer Turkish bend.

2007-01-19 03:04:35 blankshield

Hmm... If this is the trend, I don't think I want to be in it....



2007-01-19 14:35:28 Meguey

Ha! James, that's funny! I guess you could go with a Brickbattles reference instead of a Death's Door reference. It's just a goofy thought-game, anyway. In order to make it happen, there'd be way, waaaaay too much work involved.

2007-01-20 19:58:46 Emily

Oooooh, it's such a good idea though. Vincent would look so teh awesome in a Dogs coat with a big ass shotgun. And J. already has the superfuture orange shirt.

And James, could you resist posing with hands crossed in a casket? Guess that could be less than tempting...

2007-01-21 18:04:27 Meguey

*chuckle* Em, you know that means you get to be Feburary, with blocks of ice (BtI) and a red bow-and-arrow (StM).

2007-01-22 00:26:38 xenopulse

I'll totally pose as a tribal hunter in loincloth! (I can safely say that, given that this calendar will never actually materialize :)

I wish I could be there at GenCon this year.  I am not even sure if my first game is going to be present; there's still quite a bit to figure out until then. But one of these years...

2007-01-22 02:23:49 blankshield

Heh.  Em, the tricky part for me is that when it eventually comes around for me, I intend to be cremated.  Hmm.  Maybe I could pose with my urn. :)


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