Call to Action – Local Board Game Con!

Whatever thoughts I had for tonight, they have been derailed.

We got emailed today by some board gaming friends in town, and they are working on starting up a Board Game Con here in our community – which currently does not have an annual Con.

As Holly has said before, she has never been to a Con. So that would be exciting in its own right. I went to a number of gaming Cons, mainly to play War Games. I have been tapped to help this aspect, so that is exciting!

So I was hoping for your input – what would you do if you could help plan a Con? What have you liked from Cons you have gone to before – or what have you not liked? I am hoping for some of your stories, so please, reader participation day!

Thanks for helping us start to build a good Con from the beginning!

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13 responses to “Call to Action – Local Board Game Con!

  1. I’ve never been to a Con myself, so I can’t really speak from experience. I’m hoping to make the New Orleans ComicCon this year. I will say, if someone tapped me to help start one, I would not refuse, and I am very excited for you. I have planned a big event or two, so, maybe I can give you a little insight based on that.

    1. All in the planning. You need people to help. I would figure out all the things I wanted to do, break them down into tasks, and get commitments from people about the completion of the tasks.

    2. I’d try and get at least one notable person to attend, make them a guest of honor, and give them event like let them talk about themselves, or whatever. I’d start on that immediately. If I were able to land more than one notable person, even better.

    3. Vendors. Vendors love cons. If you can convince them there will be a crowd, they’ll show up. Some might even promote it a little for you.

    4. Photo opportunities. You need them. Assume it’s going to be small the first year, but also think about how exclusive a club that will be 10 years down the road. Even if you can’t draw a notable person, you need something cool for people to take photos of themselves doing. Those photos will translate into happy memories once the con is over, they’ll generate social media buzz when people share them, and they’ll give you something to use for marketing next year.

    5. And speaking of marketing. Gotta get the word out. Gotta do that as soon as the Con is a go, and do it persistently. I’d try and find a person who had the social media savvy and network to just handle the marketing. And it’s important not to say too much, too soon. Don’t promise anything until you’re absolutely certain you can deliver.

    6. Refreshments. Whether you provide them or have someone selling them, they are a must. Salty snacks, sugary drinks, reasonably-priced bottled water, coffee, and some noshes for health-conscious and vegan guests.

    7. Blog it. Or have someone blog it. Do periodic posts about it for two or three months beforehand. Just little quick hits once every couple of weeks is fine for that. Do at least one real post with photos from the con every day it’s going on, and two if possible. Once it’s over, do reflections and share the photos that weren’t in the daily posts.

    That’s enough for now. I can give pretty sound advice about this part of the project. I play board games, but I know nothing about the eccentricities or etiquette of the board gaming community, but Diana has a contributor who might. I’ll be happy to ask her opinion if you like, and if board game cons are a thing, she probably knows more about them than I do.

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    • Thank ya! Holly and I have been involved in some other event planning and this sounds like sound advice.

      One of the tough things is, like I say that thee is no comic book store here, there aren’t a lot of geeky stores otherwise. And while the bookstore, the main place to buy board games in town, could be great… They are also working on selling the business, and I don’t know where they are in that process, or who then to talk to!

      There are some challenges ahead but it can be a great time, too, so I’m excited!

      Now where will they find someone to blog about it or hit it up on social media?

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  2. Blog posts about starting a con would be very interesting to all us geeks, I think. It seems like it would make for a good story.

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  4. This was my first con “season” (my debut, if you will?). I went to one rather small con, one small one that gets bigger each year, and two huge ones. I think the stuff from Sherlock Seattle might be the most useful since it’s a pretty small (400 people) con for a specific fandom and is fairly new (3 years running).

    While ECCC and Sakuracon have the big-name guests and photo-ops, a small, specific con can focus more on guests who are important in the fandom. For Seattle Sherlock 2013, the special guests were Cara McGee, an artist who makes fandom teas on Adagio; Eric Lee Shackleford, playwright, who had a read-through of his play Holmes and Watson, and talked favorably about queering his own text (this guy is the best); a bunch of fandom artists like Johnnyboo, Daunt, and Reapersun. (There was also some Doyle scholar who was apparently a misogynist asshat but I didn’t see him talk.) Programming included Mystery Science Theate 1895 (a live riff of Asylum Holmes); panels on writing and publishing, gender and sexuality, cosplaying, art, fanworks, meta; a live reading of a play with the writer; a concert with Caitlin Obom; a cosplay contest.

    So how would what we translate that to starting a local convention? You don’t have to be SDCC– you don’t need stars or live shows or whatever. You want to get creators in there–the people who make awesome games, whether that’s small- or large scale. You want to attract people who are passionate about board games and want to meet, interact, and buy from creators. If the creators can give panels on playing, making, and finding games, that’d be fun. A good tumblr and social media plan is necessary, since that’s how newbies tend to find out about cons (that’s how I found Seattle Sherlock). A harassment policy (ECCC’s is good) is necessary even if you don’t expect to have cosplayers. A tournament might be fun. The venue should be near food and be handicapped accessible. SSC uses the performance hall of a community college, whereas Geek Girl rents part of the Convention Center and ECCC and Sakura rent the whole thing.

    I hope this is helpful!

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  5. Hmmm these comments are interesting… My Con experience, by and large, are gaming Cons, where the main events are the games themselves, where you’re there for the tournament of your choice, or the demo or roleplaying session you want to join. There was a show room with local vendors usually. If they had speakers, panels, these sorts of things, I didn’t know about it. I was there to game.

    I haven’t gotten more details, so honestly, I’m not sure which type we’re aiming for. Or whether a blending of the two. They are interested in the idea of a guest, after having read the comments here so far! My wheels are turning, we’ll see what we come up with!

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