This is Part 3 of our PAX East post-mortem-ish series aimed to help developers get the most attention from conventions such as PAX and more. While some of this may seem like common sense, it never fails that we see the complete opposite behavior or idea take place each show. Be sure to visit again tomorrow as we point out more ways to make the most out visits to the booth and provide a few clever ways to acquire customers.
Throughout my years of attending PAX, whether it be to cover games for various media outlets or working PR for Developers and friends, I’ve always walked away from the convention with a list of do’s and don’t for next year. This year, since I focused largely on game development and discoverability, I thought it would be useful to share a few things I’ve learned in an effort to help developers get the most out of their time, and game, at such conventions (notably the various PAX events).
5. Have Personality
Being personable, funny, or just plain social will go a long way at a convention when it comes to inviting convention goers into your booth and more importantly, playing your game. I know it may be somewhat startling to know that not every developer has the personal skills, or desire to interact with large groups of strangers, but generally they know someone who does. That’s the person you convince with free lunch and beers to come and demo for a few days.
For example, the crew at Action Button Entertainment (VIDEOBALL) did a terrific job of putting on a show and turning themselves into a pair of self-deprecating, 80’s inspired coaches that spouted absurdities at both the team they were coaching and onlookers in an effort to get them to play their game. As entertaining as the game was to play, the personality of the Devs made it an experience and a spectacle to behold. I never saw them without a line of players.
Every year I see someone do an incredible job of pulling in players, and every year I see another Dev, sulking behind their booth, jealous of the attention others receive. Step out from behind the booth and be inviting, it’ll go a long way. Interact with people and pull them in, don’t wait for them to come to you.
6. A Little Friendly Competition Does A Developer Good.
There’s also ways to create challenges or gamify the playing of your game demo, in a way that’s not Inception, and gets others playing against each other. Keep a leader board for fastest times completing the demo, highest score, tournaments, most bugs found… convention goers tend to flock towards what others are playing, and more so when it gets competitive. There’s a reason why people crowd around booths like Die Gute Fabrik (Sportsfriends) or The Men Who Wear Many Hats (MaxGentleman), friendly and fun competitions put forth by the game’s presenters (and it helps that the games are entertaining).
7. Keep it Clean.
Since I’m not your mother, we’ll keep this short. Chances are, if your booth looks like the desk you spend hours coding at, or the Starbucks table you’ve made a home out of, people will not be eager to check out your game. Who wants to sit for a demo and only to push aside food, drinks, and other trash just for a chance to play?
It’s a sad but true fact that I’ve skipped booths because their demo space looked like a post-party college dorm room.
Keep it clean and keep it professional, probably the easiest tip you’ll read.
Check back soon for more semi-common sense logic cleverly disguised as oracle-like, mystical advice.