[Gamestorm Feedback 1] How did play space work for you?

edited March 2012 in Meetups / Conventions
Hi! Now that Indie Hurricane at Gamestorm is done and still fresh in our minds, I as convention organizer wanted to ask you all for feedback: What worked, what did you struggle with, and what was missing?

This will likely be several threads. We already talked about the games themselves (please continue this trend!), so what I want to know next is: how did the play space work for you?

To reiterate what the space was like: Indie Hurricane games were scheduled in Room Birch and the "Upper Lobby" surrounding Birch. There were three big round tables in the Upper Lobby, as well as three (I think) couch-and-coffee-table setups of various designs. Inside Birch were 8 rectangular tables pushed together to make 4 large square tables. I noticed there wasn't space to walk through the room, so on Friday afternoon I asked hotel staff to remove two tables, making two large squares and two small rectangles.

The Gamestorm office and swag room was operating out of Ash, tucked into a corner behind all this. The room was open at various times a day for people to turn in the Gamestorm Bucks they had earned by running games, in exchange for products donated by retailers, organizations, publishers, etc.

Indie Hurricane also held panels in room Alder downstairs by the main lobby and registration tables, some games in Children's programming in Discovery B, one game in the LARP room in Discovery DE, and Sea Dracula upstairs in Oak (way down the hall and tucked away around a corner). And we had an Indie Hurricane booth in the Dealers' Room, with tables nearby for demoing games.

So, what worked, what did you struggle with, and what was missing? Did the tables work well? Which tables sizes and shapes were most convenient? Was there some seating arrangement you found yourself wishing for?

Was the space itself pleasing? Were games crowded together or did you have plenty of elbow room? Was it a relaxing environment to play in? How was noise?

Did you have an ok time finding your way around? What could've been clearer?

(next topic: game scheduling!)

Peace,
-Joel

PS. I'm crossposting this to the Go Play PDX forums since that's online homebase for the Portland indie gaming community. Feel free to participate in either conversation as is convenient and desirable for you!

Comments

  • Okay, a lot of questions. I won't answer any, just yet, and instead will speculate on something else entirely:

    Did having the Gamestorm office at the back of the IH space seem to bring in new people? I didn't think of that until just now, so I wasn't paying attention at the convention.
  • I liked having games in the upper lobby, as there was sufficient space to move about, and conversations from other tables didn't always filter in to other games. That small room was pretty rough, though. I only played one game in there, but it was pretty tough to move, and you couldn't hear your own thoughts sometimes, what with all the other voices all going simultaneously. Too bad there weren't more open spaces available, but I understand that we're not exactly the highest priority.
    I actually kind of liked the space that was made available for children's gaming. Yeah, kind of noisy with the children and overflow board gamers, but because the ceiling was so high, and the tables spaced far enough apart, I could still hear my players pretty clearly.
    In my explorations, it always seemed like some of the other groups upstairs had more than enough room to play in, if not having tons of unused space (seems like it would've been better if we had the space the CCG gamers were using).
    I think we should've had a posted schedule of all Indie Hurricane games for the whole convention, so it'd be easier to see what was coming up. The white board Hans brought was a good resource, too.

    As for the booth, I think it could've stood to have a bit more visability. While this was my first game con, I had to work booths at anime cons before, and I thought it certainly could use some spicing up. Next year, assuming I'm still working at a print shop, I may donate a bunch of small (12x18 inch) poster-prints of the various games for sale that can be posted. I can also source some good table-top display units, if anyone thinks that'd help. On the plus side, the booth had a very friendly atmosphere in comparison to many of the others (at least in my opinion).
  • edited March 2012
    Posted By: stupidgremlinI can also source some good table-top display units, if anyone thinks that'd help.
    We thought we were going to have those from a previous person who ran the booth, but at the last minute he told us he didn't have them. Next year we'll definitely get them, some way or other.
  • As far as tables were concerned, i played in two games in birch, and both weren't adversely affected by neighbor noise.
    I played... what, four games in the hallway,
    and one game in the lobby.
    And then i attended the larp game too, as discussed elsewhere.

    Each space that i played in felt great. I preferred playing in the hallway (as is clear), and will probably seek to continue doing so.
    Also i'll try to entice some groups to the park next year - though i said that last year, too.

    The booth was great, though i didn't demo any games at the table there.


    When the open story circle was getting going & Ross was attempting to gather folks' attention there was some frustrating cross-walkers heading to the store-thing. Also some frustrating side-talkers, but that's just how that's gonna be. So, if the store-thing could instead be set up in the farmer's market, that would be a) funnier and b) out of my way.

    What was missing: a recycled-air-free-area. Which is to say, why didn't i go to the park?

    Also, i like the upper zone because it's mostly free from the terrible smells of down below. Yikes.
  • The circular tables in the open area were my favorite. Good size/shape, noise not a problem. I didn't play in the small room.
  • I prefer the hall, too.
  • edited March 2012
    I had a couple games in the small, cramped room, but luckily they were short pick-up games and the noise and limited space didn't feel too oppressive. I can't really imagine running anything heavy or serious in there. All the games in the big tables in the hall were super great. It was hard to do horror in the daytime under the neon lights, but we made a good effort at it.

    P.S. I thought the booth was just fine. Had a very indie vibe, especially with all the pamplet-style games on the front of the table facing the rest of the sales space. We were also right across from IPR, which made for decent synergy. It went from "indie" to "really frickin' indie."
  • I thought we had some great visible play space, posters with artwork would be awesome both at the booth and at out game tables. also having game specific postcards at the table while playing was good for me. Everyone who wants to know what your doing but does not want to interrupt can just take them and have their curiosity satisfied.

    we had two small rooms last year and i liked the combo this year better. perhaps schedule fewer/quieter games in the room and louder games in the hallway? we had the room to ourselves for motobushido and it was great.

    the booth was fine, more verticallity would be good.

    To that end. if you liked my little display they can be bought at tap plastics for about 6-20 bucks depending on their size and configuration , i have had that one i used for YEARS so it's worth the tiny investment to buy your own stand.

    I think it would be great to fully partner up with gamelab and share a booth next year (maybe a slightly larger booth? gamelab has some pull)

    thanks for putting it together joel!
  • Posted By: TylerT
    I think it would be great to fully partner up with gamelab and share a booth next year (maybe a slightly larger booth? gamelab has some pull)
    That would be cool. From our talks with the Gamelab dude (K.C. Humphries, I believe), it seemed like there was going to be a lot more Gamelab stuff rotating in and out of the booth. I was sad to see that didn't happen, because I wanted to check out indie boardgames and stuff.
  • yeah K.C. is a great guy and there are some really good board game designers in our area.
  • Posted By: stupidgremlinThat small room was pretty rough, though. I only played one game in there, but it was pretty tough to move, and you couldn't hear your own thoughts sometimes, what with all the other voices all going simultaneously.
    Yeah, last year we had Ash as well as Birch, plus the Upper Lobby tables. Our game schedule was so sparse that I was able to spread the games thinly across the tables, like only a couple in any one room at any given time. Often you'd walk into Ash or Birch and see only one game running there.

    Unfortunately the rest of the Gamestorm committee noticed this too, so when they needed a room for their Operations center, they said "Heyyyy Jooooellll, it looks you didn't really use all your table space this year." and there wasn't much I could say to rebut that, so the room got cut. Before this, I had talked with the ConCom room coordinator about getting rid of one of the Birhc squares because it was so crowded, but after we lost Ash I thought better of it.

    This year, we had less assigned tablespace, but MANY more people playing games, which means those funky couch spaces got used more, which is super-great. I also saw people dragging a rectangular table from Birch out into the hall, which is also way cool in my book.

    So the big question is, what can we do for next year to help the space serve us? This year's space was, I feel, exactly right for the needs of the crew that attended. If we grow, we need to accommodate that. A simple solution would be to ask for Ash back, and I think we've got good grounds for needing it based on this convo. But then how do we deal with the crowding/noise issue in the two rooms? I'm inclined to only run two games in there at a time, but that wouldn't actually give us more tables overall, and I doubt ConCom could find that a good use of the space.

    The one thing I'm clear on, is that the Upper Lobby space rocks and I want to continue using that as Indie Hurricane home base forever.

    Peace,
    -Joel
  • Posted By: Joel
    The one thing I'm clear on, is that the Upper Lobby space rocks and I want to continue using that as Indie Hurricane home base forever.
    Yep. I have no solutions on the noisy rooms. That's kinda just part of the deal, I think, and people should be encouraged to drag tables into other spaces if at all possible and helpful.
  • Joel, would it be possible to set up a ton of stuff in the hall? I liked hanging out in the hall, and it is good advertising. Is there anyway we could get Birch, Ash, and All Over the Hall?
  • edited March 2012
    I would take a table out of each room, so there were only 2-3 games in each, then maybe hang some drapey things on the walls and do something cool with the lighting. Think shop lights with gels taped on, or in a pinch, shop lights shining on colored fabric.
    you can't hang shit on the walls so you would have to set up a curtain rod thing, use some cash from your budget to buy dowels and curtain rod hangers with clips on the end.
  • I am totally open to doing any of that kind of shit that the concom is comfortable with!

    The only thing I can predict them possibly not being comfortable with is letting the Hurricane take over the hall space TOO audaciously and extensively, since this is also the pathway for people to get to and from other events in other rooms.
  • Posted By: JoelI am totally open to doing any of that kind of shit that the concom is comfortable with!

    The only thing I can predict them possibly not being comfortable with is letting the Hurricane take over the hall space TOO audaciously and extensively, since this is also the pathway for people to get to and from other events in other rooms.
    Right, we'll be real respectable about taking over the hallway. Okay, new LARP idea, called Goomba. We "extort" the "money" from anyone who has to walk through the indie hurricane area. Key phrase, "You gotta come through me first."

    Used in an example, "You wanna play Magic Cards? You gotta come through me first."

    We'll pay a "percentage" to the office to make sure they are "comfortable".
  • You forgot the Key Phrase "Be a shame if anything happened to those nice miniatures."
  • I played on tables already in the hall or moved to the hall and it worked great. We were well to the side and did not obstruct the hallway.

    In cases like these I will always prefer to ask for forgiveness above permission. ;)

    The big round tables worked well for my PSI*RUN, Danger Patrol and Dungeon World sessions. I was grateful for the smaller rectangular table for my Monsterhearts game - more intimate. Might have preferred that for Metrofinal as well.

    There is a table with comfy chairs in the corner of the main lobby opposite the bar that we commandeered for a game of BSG. That was super cozy. I'm going to try to grab that spot again next year. Don't tell *anyone*.
  • I played a few games in Birch, but it would get pretty noisy, and I strongly preferred playing in the hallway or the lobby, which was much cozier and more intimate. In fact, one of my favorite Gamestorm games was from a couple of years ago, when Michael P. and Hans and I played Fuck Youth in the little nook by the elevator upstairs. Like Jackson, I'd love to play in the park sometime, but I feel like the weather's never quite warm enough for that to work. As far as the other spaces I used, Mouse Guard in Discovery B was fine (the high ceilings helped), and Shelter In Place in Discovery DE was, as was mentioned in the SIP thread, a little too crowded, though I don't think there was another space that would have worked better.

    I actually really liked having the office right by the IH stuff. There was a lot of foot traffic, which helped make it feel like the stuff we were playing had a lot of visibility, and very little of it was particularly disruptive.
  • I didn't venture into the crowded noisy Birch, but ran five pickup games (Technoir, Umbra, 3 x Monsterhearts) and played one (Mustang) on the lovely round tables outside it, which I liked a lot. I was very happy with how Indie Hurricane Games on Demand worked, and i liked the game schedule 10-1 (sleep late, ignore the 3 hour slot), 2-6 (run!), 7-12 (run more!).

    It'd be great if we collected enough badge numbers on the signup sheets to make a case for 3 tables in each of Birch and Ash, and keep the 3 round tables outside.
  • The Gamestorm after-con feedback meeting is tomorrow, and I think I've got a lot of good info here, so thanks!

    If there's any final thoughts about the arrangement of space, particularly that the general committee (as opposed to just me and Hans) might do well to hear, then comment while the commenting's good!
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