Post-op: IGoD at PAX

Hey, did you visit Indie Games on Demand at PAX this year? If so, what did you think? What did you play? How was the space & people?

(I have my own opinions, but I'd rather start with others talking.)

- Ryan
«1

Comments

  • edited September 2012
    I did!

    My girlfriend and I stopped by on Saturday. We only had one day to take in the entire con, but playing at Games on Demand was one of the items under the "definite" column of the to-do list.

    I lobbied to play Monster Hearts, since there's been talk of it online lately. There wasn't a sign-up sheet or a formal start time. The first time we stopped by, there weren't any openings and we were told to come back later. We walked around for a while, returned before the time we were told, and were immediately paired with Orion Canning.

    Orion offered to run Monsterhearts for us as soon as his friend returned with the character sheets. After about ten minutes of waiting and talking, we decided to play Orion's game, Dragon + Warrior, instead. If I had my heart set on playing a specific game, this delay may have bothered me. I'm pretty easygoing though, and sitting around discussing games is hardly time wasted. By this time, the group had swelled to four players and the Monster Heart materials had arrived.

    Dragon + Warrior is a 4-player game, so Orion sat out and talked everyone else through play. Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun creating a DragonQuest-style adventure--especially the monster creation and tying seemingly unrelated story threads into one another. I would have appreciated more monster-creation guidelines, and play mats would have sped up the teaching portion of the demo. Overall, the game was one of those convention encounters where you don't get what you expected, but end up having a lot of fun.

    The Motobushi posted that Nathanael Cole gave me will go far in selling a friend on the game.

    TL;DR: Enthusiastic and fun, but it required navigation.
  • Last year I ran two games of AW and a game of Mouse Guard for people. This year I only ran one Sunday playtest for other indie game designers, mostly. I played in two games: The Regiment and Serpent's Tooth, also mostly with other indie game designers, but they were both on Friday while things were still slow. I hung around a bit, and was asked to run Mouse Guard once, but it was right before I was planning to run my playtest, so Morgan gallantly stepped in.

    The GoD stuff at PAX has always been fairly low-key and play-by-ear, but with the larger space I was wishing for a bit more organization, since we were usually active but not really jumping. There theoretically was a sign-up board, but it was hidden behind the table out front and I got the feeling that nobody except the person manning the table was supposed to write on it, so there was nowhere that I could post that I was willing to run games or what games I was running. I didn't even ask the person up front if I could post stuff, because nobody could see it. I did try to tell the organizers that I was around and was willing to run certain games.

    At least one of our tables seemed constantly taken up by folks running 13th Age, which was fine during the slow times but less awesome when we could have filled it with something else. Also, folks seemed to sit non-ideally, in ways that meant a single group took up more than one table. I guess this helped with noise and spacing groups apart, but it meant there were lots of times when there was play space that was not being optimally used.

    Having Gamma Ray in the room worried me at the beginning, for their sake, but in the end they seemed to do pretty well on sales and it brought a fair amount of traffic through the room. I wish we had better coordinated with them to ask the people who were buying stuff if they wanted to play some games.

    Overall, wrangling groups of interested players seemed a bit inconsistent. I wasn't sure if it was my job to pitch the games I had to run to them, if the people at the front desk were supposed to do it, or what. Often it seemed like the front desk folks would be talking to someone and then other people would just wander into the room, without anyone engaging them. Overall, I think we needed at least 3 folks managing the flow of people and games at any given time, when often it seemed like we had 1.

    So yeah, overall, I think PAX will continue to be something we need to organize in a more flexible and low-key way than what John and co. did at GenCon, but maybe a slightly higher level of organization that happened this year. As somebody willing to run games, I wasn't at all sure what I was supposed to do or how best to be helpful, despite regularly checking in.
  • The 13th Age thing was pre-arranged. The only reasonable way to set the bar for the room is "indie games" means "creator-owned" and we're already bending that with Mouse Guard, so they got the same deal as anyone else: if there's a GM there who can run it and people want to play it, they get space.

    This year I tried to spend less time at Games on Demand, since last year it completely wiped me out. I thought I had left enough of a structure behind that it could work, but that may not have been true.

    What I did when manning the front table was mostly talk to people. If they were up for a game, I'd try to match them with a GM who could run the game they were interested in (if that was a possibility) or a GM who was running something cool otherwise. GMs are welcome to pitch what they want to run, or they can hang out and wait for a group to come up. Either way.

    It pains me to say this, but I think if we want to keep improving then scheduling may have to come into it more. Not in terms of games—too few PAXers plan their con around RPGs to make scheduled slots an option. I think we may have to start scheduling faciltators/GMs to make sure we have the right people at the right time.

    Over the course of the con we tried a few things as far as making games happen: scheduling, regular start times, and ad-hoc. The only one of those to reliably work was ad-hoc. Scheduling games was near-impossible without a clear idea of what GMs would be around, so I nixed that after Friday. Regular start times never really gave is critical mass of people to start games, so it never helped. The only way we consistently got games started was by just talking to people until a large enough crowd formed.
  • Yup, scheduling GMs into slots (though not necessarily specific games) is the way I'd lean too.
  • I lucked out and managed to get in to games of Burning Wheel Gold's The Sword and Microscope by showing up at the right time and volunteering to play while recruiting was going on. But those two games were all I managed despite checking in five or six times a day.

    It's the uncertainty that makes it problematic. Frankly, at an event as jam-packed with content as PAX, I have better things to do than wait around in IGoD for a game I actually want to play to materialize. If I have no idea what's going on and when, I'm best served by scheduling a full day without any gaming, then showing up at IGoD whenever I can for a few minutes at a time and hoping for the best. This is, ah, non-optimal at best. I would happily have dropped all sorts of panels and events from my schedule to get in on some of the games I saw running there, but I wouldn't have sat around for an hour or more waiting for them without some assurance they would actually happen.
  • I had a blast running games of Microscope, Burning Wheel, and MouseGuard. I'm open for changes in GM scheduling to help with our coverage issues. Did we run enough games and have enough turnout to warrant more space/badges for next time? I saw several games where folks dragged tables into the hall for to get away from the noise.
  • Yup, scheduling GMs into slots (though not necessarily specific games) is the way I'd lean too.
    This is what we did at Gen Con.
  • Did we run enough games and have enough turnout to warrant more space/badges for next time?
    Badges shouldn't be an issue, so long as people can sign up far enough in advance. This year it was partially limited by how close we were to the con by the time we got our name list in. I can do better next year.

    As for a bigger space, I'd be nervous about asking for that. Except for peak times I'm not sure we could really fill a larger space. Unlike Boston, in Seattle space is at a premium and every table they give us is less freeplay space. I think the only way I'd feel comfortable making it bigger is also making it more formal, so we could make sure we would have people on hand at the right times.

  • edited September 2012
    Sage, on Friday and Saturday there was a sheet going around that listed all the games, GMs, start times and number of participants. Any interesting metrics there? From a glance at those papers it looked like we served an awful lot of people.

    I ran games for a bunch of strangers and didn't find a griefer in the bunch. The demand for Mouse Guard was very strong. Xander and Lily did heroic work in feeding me pre-assembled player groups. I had a ton of fun and am very grateful to the organizers and to PAX for hosting this thing. It's gratifying when strangers clamour to play a game you love!

    The space was loud, but what can you do? I did drag a table out in the hall a couple times on Sunday, my voice was pretty wrecked by then.

    Thinking back to what Jason said about things going smoother when GMs were talking directly to people who showed up -- what if GMs who are scheduled but who are not playing a game are required to be in the reception area so some harried host/ess doesn't have to race around to find a GM after getting critical mass on a game. When I hung around reception I managed to put a couple groups together without a host intervening. I should have done more of this.
  • edited September 2012
    Hmm.

    Just snowballing on johnzo here, but:

    I'm not sure the space this year was the best for Gamma Ray. I don't know if it was a good place for actually selling games, and it certainly didn't do much for any of their non-indie-rpg business.

    So if they wanted a different space, and assuming we had the same rooms, what if we rearranged the space to have a "lounge" area where Gamma Ray was? Instead of spreading out books we could play on a standard table, spread them out on something more like a coffee table. Put a half-circle of chairs around it to the GMs on hand can hang out, but people can still walk up.

    The accomplishes a lot of goals. It eases things on the greeter (maybe we wouldn't need them at all?), it gives a more welcoming feel, and it builds GM community. Now when someone walks up instead of a greeter having to go rangle a GM, the GM will already be in place. If people just want to ask about games we've got more than one knowlegdable person on hand.

    Might work?
  • I was thinking about a similar lounge idea for Gen Con- a place for people to gather and talk when they need a break or when they're too early or too late to get into a game. I think it would mostly serve the regular indie crowd (meeting the "community" part of the mission) so I think a host is still necessary to tell new people how things work. I'm definitely keeping this in mind for PAX East as well.

    Do you think Gamma Ray Games might have been better served with a booth in the hall outside of the room? They would get the GoD visitors but also everyone walking by. Maybe PAX won't do that though.
  • The space would be tough. There was only space for maybe a few tables setup across the hall, since we were actually on the promenade around the escalators. If they moved us a bit further down it might work, though.

    I agree that someone would still need to host, but I think it could be a lot easier, especially at non-peak times. At PAX we're still only half full during the early parts of each day, with only a trickle of people. As long as that's the case the host can probably just say "hey, come join us, we're talking about games. Got any questions or anything you want to play?"
  • I tried to supply the room with BW/MG/FM GM's on Saturday and Sunday. We had a loose schedule of what GMs would be the room at certain hours.
    Colin 12-4, Devin 4-8, frex. It seemed to work for us as all four of our GMs reported playing multiple games.
  • I didn't like the tables at all. Pushing two thing tables together that are uneven, so they make for awkward play spaces, was sad. And the rows element meant climbing past people to get to your section of the table. I can see how in theory they look like it's better space than last year, but I think last year's circular tables were a better space for what we do.

    I heard some women say that the panties at Gamma Ray was yet another touchstone that PAX isn't for them. Which is a bummer.

    - Ryan
  • Since PAX is coming to Australia, we might have to set up another Indie Games on Demand like we ran a few years back at GenCon Oz. It'll be good to learn from our experiences and combine them with what we can learn from everyone else.
  • As one of the people running the door and matching games/GMs, I can say I'm happy GoD happened at PAX. I'm excited a lot of players had a great time and that we had so many wonderful GMs. I'm going to work outside-in on the stuff I saw as needing some attention.

    Outside the GoD:
    -Being behind a table in a corner felt really weird while running the booth, and it honestly made me feel cornered when dealing with guys who were upset they didn't get in a game/that a girl was running the door/etc. On the plus side, no sexual harassment while on the door this year?
    -I didn't see a lot of Enforcers, which means the person working the door is depending on GMs to check on them to make sure they're okay.
    -I had an easier time grabbing a guy from the Gamma Ray Games table to cover me so I could do things like eat/find water/walk away before I throttled the next angry geek than I did finding a GoD volunteer to cover me for breaks.
    -The Gamma Ray Games panties outside the door were like a giant "Women are not welcome here sign." I felt some pretty powerful guilt every day of PAX because of them. I bit my tongue at the time because I'm the only woman (that I know of) volunteering with Seattle GoD, and I was already trying to process feeling unwelcome personally because of them.
    -I had to project a very warm/happy geek vibe twice as hard for the women who approached the door, and I can tell you we had less women than men in that room, all weekend. And I don't think "more men than women at PAX" reasoning is the sole reason that numbers mix occurred. (See above item for another reason.)

    Inside GoD
    -I don't think Gamma Ray Games having a booth inside was appropriate. At all. It took away space we could have had for games, it added a weird element to the room, and it put people in the room who were there to shop, not play games. It made a mess of door traffic. The disembodied female mannequins that were wearing tight shirts and panties? Not the most welcoming thing for a woman to see the moment she walks into the room. It felt like I was volunteering for a frat house.
    -I think more women as GMs and more women working door would make the whole space less intimidating for women. I know I'm not the only woman in Seattle who can facilitate a game or explain how GoD works. Has anyone tried reaching out to female GMs and gamers in Seattle to see if they were interested in volunteering?

    GoD Organization

    -We need to agree to schedule ourselves for actual shifts. I'm going to admit I didn't set my hours before PAX, but I also spent my days doing my six hours in one go, aside from dashing for the ladies. The GMs did a better job of taking breaks than I did.
    -This year didn't work on the door. The sign up sheets, now we don't do sheets, and having no idea what GMs were there or when they'd be back meant I got to deal with pissed off would be players every shift. I remember it working better last year, so maybe we can evaluate last year's PAX GoD and the past few GenCon GoDs to figure out a better system? I felt frustrated and largely unable to help potential players.

  • Lilly, thanks for your work at the door and especially thanks for your comment here. You're telling us about stuff that was totally invisible to me while I was there but is setting off light bulbs for me now.
  • edited September 2012
    One of the reasons we organized Gen Con the way we did was because of the issues Lily's brings up above and because we saw similar things at Pax East.

    That said, I would approach Pax East and Gen Con differently next year in a few ways. Different approach for different spaces / people.
  • edited September 2012
    Thanks for all your time Lily.

    I agree the door was a mess this year. Much of that was the space, which we have next-to-no control over.

    I didn't know we'd be sharing space with Gamma Ray until literally the day before. I would have advocated against it, but I didn't get that chance.

    I think the door worked better last year because it was a) inside and b) there was only one room to worry about. When I was on door I constantly had to search through the rooms to find GMs.

    Next year we'll make sure that the door feels like part of the area. I'll be fighting hard to put Gamma Ray somewhere else, as making GoD as bastion of gender-sanity at PAX is something I feel strongly about.

    Round tables were requested way ahead of time, but the convention center didn't have anymore. That's something we may have to live with, with the PAX structure.
  • I didn't know we'd be sharing space with Gamma Ray until literally the day before. I would have advocated against it, but I didn't get that chance.
    How is that possible? I'm looking at a July email sent to you and which you replied to talking about Gamma Ray being in the same room as the demos.
  • Lily, was someone really upset about the fact that a woman was running the door? Geez.

    I honestly never imagined the underwear being offensive. I wish more companies would make nerdy underwear for me to buy! I could very well be biased, having seen them in Gamma Ray for a while now... I was comfortable with Gamma Ray long before they starting selling nerdy underclothes, so maybe that's why it doesn't bother me. I can see how it might seem odd to women who are not familiar with the company or their welcoming attitude towards minorities. Especially in an environment where they may have already experienced some sexism.

    Having Gamma Ray in the GoD room didn't bother me at the time, but in retrospect it did create odd traffic and may have been distracting to those looking for/playing in games.

    I don't think scheduling slots for games would be a bad idea. Don't the WoTC guys do that for D&D at the con? It seems unreasonable to expect to find a random GM to run a 4-hour game at any given moment. Scheduling games seems like the best way to optimize everyone's time.

    Having someone in charge at certain points throughout the day might take some of the pressure off Sage and also make sure door people and facilitators get breaks.



  • edited September 2012
    Lily, that sucks. I'm sorry you felt like you had to deal with that stuff.

    The folks at Gamma Ray are, IME, really responsive to feedback and open to doing things differently in ways that help promote the kind of environment and vibe that is productive for our games. You shouldn't necessarily be the one who has to talk to them about it, but I'm happy to start that dialog and help make sure that -- one way or another -- you don't feel put in that position again.
  • I didn't know we'd be sharing space with Gamma Ray until literally the day before. I would have advocated against it, but I didn't get that chance.
    How is that possible? I'm looking at a July email sent to you and which you replied to talking about Gamma Ray being in the same room as the demos.
    Really? Well, I guess I didn't read very well then. PAX fell at an unfortunate time this year and I probably should have just not been the one to organize it, I had too much other stuff to deal with.

    I think the main disadvantage is to them. There was no way for them to get foot traffic.

    The panties they were selling were unfortunate. I'll admit that it hadn't even clicked for me at the time, but yeah, that's not something that's probably a good idea to have hanging in the room. Other than that, they were entirely great, very supportive, and generally awesome. I love Gamma Ray! But I don't think the space was beneficial to them.

  • Lily, that sucks. I'm sorry you felt like you had to deal with that stuff.

    The folks at Gamma Ray are, IME, really responsive to feedback and open to doing things differently in ways that help promote the kind of environment and vibe that is productive for our games. You shouldn't necessarily be the one who has to talk to them about it, but I'm happy to start that dialog and help make sure that -- one way or another -- you don't feel put in that position again.
    Yes, this, exactly!
  • I played Monsterhearts and Fiasco on Saturday with Mark and had fun in both games. I sought out the area and planned to play, so it all worked out well for me. I hadn't necessarily planned to play those particular two games, but as it turns out they were both high on my "to play" list. Mark did a great job running both games.

    To me, PAX doesn't seem like a great con to play board games or RPGs at. I think it's too crowded, loud, unfocused and chaotic. But, it obviously can be done. I agree with some of the other comments about the space, and round tables would have been better.

    I wish there were more copies of Monsterhearts to buy. (First world problems.) I like being able to buy the games that are being played in the room, and Gamma Ray are among the best for stocking indie games, so it would be great for them to at least be nearby the room.

    -Dan


  • I honestly never imagined the underwear being offensive. I wish more companies would make nerdy underwear for me to buy! I could very well be biased, having seen them in Gamma Ray for a while now... I was comfortable with Gamma Ray long before they starting selling nerdy underclothes, so maybe that's why it doesn't bother me. I can see how it might seem odd to women who are not familiar with the company or their welcoming attitude towards minorities. Especially in an environment where they may have already experienced some sexism.
    I LOVE nerdy underwear, and I'm totally cool with it being sold. It was the way it was visually presented that made me wince. I saw a lot of people (male and female) stop, look at the underwear on the sign, and leave the door area as quickly as possible.

    And sadly, yes, some people acted very impolitely because a woman was running the door. I had a lot of guys do the "prove you're geek" aggressive speech, every day of PAX.

  • So here's my proposal for next year so far. I plan on sending it or something like it to Eric from Gamma Ray and the Tabletop Enforcers:

    This year was a big step for Indie Games on Demand. We had way more space, a dedicated stable of GMs, and hopefully a bit more delegation of responsibility.

    Some things worked, some didn't. Here's some of those things, and how we can address them or improve them in the future.

    The space was just about the right size, I think, but round tables would have been much better. I know this isn't always possible, but it would be a great way to improve on this year.

    Having Gamma Ray in the room was great for steering people straight to an awesome vendor with many of the games, but less good for Gamma Ray (I think). They were out of the way from foot traffic and I'm sure we managed to scare off some people who just wanted to browse by asking them if they wanted to play. An ideal solution might be to move Games on Demand elsewhere on the second or third floor to a space where Gamma Ray can sit outside but nearby. This year there were some vendors beside the escalators from the third to fourth floors, maybe if Gamma Ray could grab one of those spots and Games on Demand could move to the room across from it (where paint-and-take was this year, maybe)? I know there's lots of considerations in space planning and that space is at a premium, but I think the dream is to have someplace where Gamma Ray doesn't feel restricted to being just the indie games vendor and gets some passersby too.

    With the space this year we attempted to have a greeter outside to pull people in. That didn't work the best. Speaking from experience, the greeter was too far separated from the rest of the room and too much on the spot with people walking by. An idea I'm considering for next year, depending on the space, is making the greeter area more of a hangout area. Instead of one greeter, all the GM/volunteers not currently in games will hang out there and be on hand to answer questions and form games. Often the best person to pitch something is the one running it. That also helps create a more inviting atmosphere and less of a hard-sell on playing games.

    On my end it's time to bite the bullet and really schedule everything out. This year was only loosely scheduled: GMs would say what times they would be there and I would push people towards what times we'd need more people, but I didn't really centralize anything except making sure each person getting a badge did their 6 hours. Next year I think it'll be time to make an actual schedule with how many GMs are needed at each time slot and put names on the line. All the GMs were great this year, but even with some pre-planning we weren't always able to get games at the right times. Realistically that will always happen—we'll run out of GMs or space sooner or later—but we can do better with what we have.

    That will also mean adjusting the schedule as soon as we know when tabletop panels are happening. We saw a definite correlation between tabletop panels finishing and rushes at Games on Demand, we need to be ready for that. This will be tough, since panels are only announced a few weeks ahead, but it should be possible.

  • I am a big fan of having a pitch circle and a "3 things about story games" talk, that convenes at regular scheduled times throughout the day. Its fun, its fast, people discover new games and everyone has a chance to feel included.

    For those that don't know, the pitch circle works like this...
    -Someone gives a 2 minute "3 things about story games" talk.*
    My three things are "It's cool to be obvious", "Story games are a team sport" and "respect people's boundaries".

    -People pitch games they want to run, or want other people to run.

    -We shuffle folks around until all of the players have games.

    *(In the past 3 Things About Story Games was referred to as, "The Spiel" or "The Talk". It is a point of contention, perhaps worthy of a fresh thread. You can read that old threadover here)
  • Hi All,

    Eric from Gamma Ray Here. First off, I totally apologize for the signage but, going forward, I'm a really nice guy and I'm in the room like 12, sometimes 16 hours a day. If Dom and I do something dumb to pass the time and doesn't work, LET US KNOW, ASAP, preferably right to our face, but to any organizer will do, as soon as you can, and we will fix it. Immediately. We are deadly ninjas of good taste and discretion and we are exceedingly pro gay and pro women so if we're coding wrong to our convention audience, we count on you to help us get it right.

    As far as selling underwear overall goes... that's an interesting one. At comicon, a number of our facilitators were women, we've never sold our underwear to anyone but women, and we only carry them because women asked for them in the first place so that may have to be a larger discussion for the future.

    As for the room itself and our presence in it goes, we did fine overall. Pretty comparable to what we did in 6 last year with a much easier set up and breakdown, so I'm certainly satisfied. We were in 3 this year at the request of PAX's tabletop organizer because so many people last year asked if they could have product support closer to the room next time. We tested the in-room layout at ECCC this year (which, I gather is more like PAX East's "big room" layout) and it worked great so we agreed to try it at PAX.

    The in-room/out-of-room question is a very good one. Both options have pluses and minuses for us. I don't have a strong feeling either way, really. Just so long as I get a little warning so that I can plan my product mix accordingly. Either way, we'll continue to bulk up on our supplies of, and focus our convention product mix on, indie rpgs and story games (including carrying guest creators games on commission) in an effort to support the community that we're so proud to be a part of.

    Thanks for including us in the discussion. I already look forward to next year,

    -Eric

  • edited September 2012
    I got a chance to play 4 games at PAX IGoD this year - I GM'd a short session of Dungeon World for strangers which seemed well-received, then got to play Apocalypse World, Serpent's Tooth, and Temporally Excellent Adventures. All games were huge fun, but none were games I was specifically looking to play - I just lucked out and was in the room when they got started.

    I like the idea of scheduling GMs to ensure that organizers/greeters know who is available at any given time w/o having to do a lap of the room. The hangout area sounds like a really good idea, too, if we have the space.

    Kind of corollary to those points, it seemed to me that the white-board sign-ups we did at PAX 2011 worked pretty well, in that it handled both GMs who were scheduled (and whose names/games could be placed on the board by an organizer), and those who walked up ready to run something for strangers (like I did with DW this year). Also, it seemed to give a quick visual way for organizers and players to assess who/what was available or when the game they want to play was starting.

    Otherwise, I'll just agree with the points above - round tables please; the space was a bit loud (but c'est la vie); Gamma Ray in the room doesn't seem optimal for them or for IGoD.

    Big thanks to everyone who worked the room!
  • I am a big fan of having a pitch circle and a "3 things about story games" talk, that convenes at regular scheduled times throughout the day. Its fun, its fast, people discover new games and everyone has a chance to feel included.

    For those that don't know, the pitch circle works like this...
    -Someone gives a 2 minute "3 things about story games" talk.*
    My three things are "It's cool to be obvious", "Story games are a team sport" and "respect people's boundaries".

    -People pitch games they want to run, or want other people to run.

    -We shuffle folks around until all of the players have games.
    At Gen Con I'd like to try a variation of this where the schedule GMs pitch the games they want to run to people lined up to sign up to play. This allows us to educate players about games that they may have never heard of by people who are best suited to discuss the game's merits (which sometimes the host isn't prepared or able to do). This also allows GMs to switch up which games they want to run based on input. If no one seems to care about the game they are running, they can offer something else.

    A circle would be better in terms of everyone being able to hear the GMs but the number of people and space wouldn't allow for that. But that doesn't mean we can try to incorporate some elements of this.
  • A circle would be better in terms of everyone being able to hear the GMs but the number of people and space wouldn't allow for that. But that doesn't mean we can try to incorporate some elements of this.
    yeah, in practice it is more of a line of facilitators pitching to a mob of onlookers. At FabReal, the practical limit of effectiveness seemed to be about 70 people. But damn, it totally worked with 70 people which was amazing to be a part of. Mike Sugarbaker recorded one of our "pitch mobs" maybe he could post it??
  • Oh one more trick. It only worked well with 70 people, when I went around before hand and surveyed the crowd as to what they wanted to play / pitch. At gamestorm we seeded the pitch mob with scheduled GMs, kind of like what you are talking about. It worked like a charm.
    Story Gaming is an oratory art, it makes sense that the sign up process be oratory. It also helps to break up the cliques.
  • As far as selling underwear overall goes... that's an interesting one. At comicon, a number of our facilitators were women, we've never sold our underwear to anyone but women, and we only carry them because women asked for them in the first place so that may have to be a larger discussion for the future.
    Part of that will have to do with the show's tone & culture. PAX has its rep for being a hotbed of harassment, for instance. And there's a difference between that in a purely sale space and that also in a play space.

    - Ryan

  • Yo Eric,

    Do you carry cute little boxer-briefs for the boys and the men? Because if so, I will totally buy a pair when I'm next in Seattle. If not, totally lost opportunity there.
  • Oh one more trick. It only worked well with 70 people, when I went around before hand and surveyed the crowd as to what they wanted to play / pitch. At gamestorm we seeded the pitch mob with scheduled GMs, kind of like what you are talking about. It worked like a charm.
    I would love to hear more about this when you get a chance. How did you survey the crowd? Did you note anything down? What happened when multiple people wanted to play the same game (past the game's capacity). Graham had a cool idea where players who have never played a game before get first priority. How did you convey the survey info back to the GMs? Were they with you when you surveyed the crowd?

    I suspect we would need to adapt this to 100+ people but maybe there is a way. One idea we had was slit the line into two. One line for 2 hour games and one line for 4 hour games. This way we have break things down into more manageable groups.
  • Yo Eric,

    Do you carry cute little boxer-briefs for the boys and the men? Because if so, I will totally buy a pair when I'm next in Seattle. If not, totally lost opportunity there.
    You can see the man-ikin in the top picture. That particular boy is all codpiece'd up with stars.
  • It was pretty simple, I just walked around and asked people, "what are you excited about playing or pitching?"
    I wrote down games with tally marks next to them for interested players and stars for games interested facilitators. This provided a tool for facilitators to gauge interest. This was different then a sign up sheet though. It was just a conversation starter to get people thinking about the pitch circle.
    There was a lot of "Carl people really want to play monsterhearts will you run it?" and "what are people pitching? ... cool, I think I'll pitch..." kinda stuff going on.

    After the pitches are done, facilitators hold up fingers for how many slots they have left. That makes it easy to see who still has space. When your game is full you just go find a table and play. I would then make sure everyone had a game. So sometimes you didn't get into the game you wanted but we made sure everyone had a game to play.


  • Joe, our locally custom made mens briefs are spectacular.

    Ryan, I bring GRG to PAX to achieve numerous goals. One of them is to support story games. Another is to represent Capitol Hill culture and lifestyle and our place in it. In the future, we may have multiple booths, each with a unique focus. In the meantime, I bring the punk, the gay and the party with me wherever I go. I support IGoD because I was asked to. Next year I'll go to wherever tabletop wants me and sell whatever suits the room, but I'm bringing my freak flag with me and from time to time, I'm letting it fly. I'm not opening a cafe up the street, I'm opening a lounge.
  • The move to put Gamma Ray in the room with you may have been a reflection of the feedback we gave to the Tabletop organizers at PAX East. There we were somewhat distant from the sales booths, and all but lost in the sea of open gaming tables. We suggested having our tables moved into the space right behind all the sales booths, letting us join their quick demos and our longer play tables in the same area. Of course, that's Boston, and the space is (as I understand it) very different.
  • Hi there SG, haven't seen you in a while.

    GoD was cool. Here are some bites of my experience:

    1) didn't understand what the person outside the door was doing. Were they selling things? They looked uncomfortable, though later i recognized them from an internet icon they use. (hi Lily!) retrospectively makes sense that they were a greeter, but i wasn't really ever introduced to how the space was to be used. Fairly, people probably assumed i already knew b/c many of my friends were on-demand GMs.

    2) a couple times people asked me to run things. I either didn't know how to facilitate the game in question or had a playtest upcoming (woo woo Jonathan's Fingers on the Firmament).

    3) One time someone said he had twenty minutes to introduce his friend to story games (in general?) so i ran Kaleidoscope. They liked it so much that they skipped the thing they were planning on attending. Hilarious fun all around.

    4) played some games! Also walked around dazed. PAX is great for that. Very few games played, but i enjoyed the ones i played very much.

    5) Really glad Gamma Ray was in the room with us. I'm terrible at choosing from lists (play World of Darkness with me sometime. Actually, don't.) & so it was great to be able to hover, thing about buying a thing, go back to the tables, play, back to the GRay & flip through the books more, etc.

    6) The panties on the sign were a bit weird, but i do this thing in my head where, (sometimes) i see things & say to myself, "oh, that's how that is. Must be ok it's like that, then; clearly everyone besides me has already talked about this & this is the best conclusion they've come to. I can sit out this conversation, since everyone else is already in accord." HA. Clearly, ANY OF US should've mentioned to Eric or Dominic & they would've taken 'em down right away.

    7) If the round tables are big that would suck for me. I have this hearing thing wherein i can't differentiate between sounds well (like words, f'rex) when there's a lot of background noise (like other voices, f'rex.) It was great to be literally face to face with my co-players. Also it was easier to move 1/2 a table to play in the hall.

    Thank you Sage, Lily, Eric, Dominic; all the on-demand GMs (Logan & Jonathan espesh) & Liam, Elizabeth & Eero - whose games i finally got at the Gamma Ray booth!

    Huzzah!

    8) double thanks to the enforcers. In my double bubble of raised-male & kind-indie-scene obliviousness, i just now realized that THEY ARE THERE TO STOP PEOPLE FROM CREEPING ON ONE ANOTHER. FROM ASSAULTING ONE ANOTHER. RIGHT!? THAT IS INSANE. WHAT THE FUCK.

    whew. Last one to the party.

    Shitty party you got here.*


    *rape culture, not IGoD.
  • This is Ashley of Seattle, by the way, who many of you know. I've been lurking on here for a while :D Hi!


    -I think more women as GMs and more women working door would make the whole space less intimidating for women. I know I'm not the only woman in Seattle who can facilitate a game or explain how GoD works. Has anyone tried reaching out to female GMs and gamers in Seattle to see if they were interested in volunteering?

    We have quite a few Seattle women story gamers, who regularly volunteer at local conventions. I know of at least 2 who didn't have PAX tickets and were doing nothing over the weekend. I'm not sure why they weren't asked to run games at PAX, but I bet they would have gladly helped equal the odds.


    -I had an easier time grabbing a guy from the Gamma Ray Games table to cover me so I could do things like eat/find water/walk away before I throttled the next angry geek than I did finding a GoD volunteer to cover me for breaks.

    -We need to agree to schedule ourselves for actual shifts. I'm going to admit I didn't set my hours before PAX, but I also spent my days doing my six hours in one go, aside from dashing for the ladies. The GMs did a better job of taking breaks than I did.
    -This year didn't work on the door. The sign up sheets, now we don't do sheets, and having no idea what GMs were there or when they'd be back meant I got to deal with pissed off would be players every shift. I remember it working better last year, so maybe we can evaluate last year's PAX GoD and the past few GenCon GoDs to figure out a better system? I felt frustrated and largely unable to help potential players.

    The story gamers were at Emerald City Comicon this year, and I'm not sure exactly how the scheduling was done, but the whole thing ran really well. It was definitely a better space; gamma ray was right next to us, but it didn't interfere with traffic because we were in a bigger room. As far as facilitator shifts and organization, whatever they did it went really smoothly; I think there were people in charge of each shift, and everyone was made to take breaks, eat, etc whether they wanted to or not. I think they started games on the hour, which may have helped keep things organized.

    From what I've heard from this year, it wasn't clear what games were available to play, for example facilitators were asked to run games they were not prepared for (as Jackson said above), leading to frustrated potential players. This could have been fixed by simply having better communication between a greeter and the facilitators. I think at ECCC there wasn't a dedicated greeter/door person, but any volunteer not in a game acted as such. (When I was hanging out there I tried to chat people up about games, although I didn't run any.) They also had picked specific games to put out that everyone, or most facilitators, were comfortable running.

    Judging from the absence of facilitators Saturday night, it sounds like some facilitators either weren't scheduled at specific times, or weren't aware that the were supposed to available.
  • I've been mostly staying out of this thread but for everyone trying to follow this at home, here's some back story:

    In March this year Emerald City Comic Con added a tabletop track for the first time. They got Christian (who runs tabletop for PAX and PAX East) to run it. He asked me to run the indie game section in partnership with Gamma Ray, who were set up right next to us. I tapped the mighty power of Story Games Seattle and we crafted a careful system of teams, shifts and captains.

    It was a smashing success. So much so that Christian asked me about repeating the plan at PAX but I felt Sage had first dibs since he had run PAX indie games previous years, so I waited to see if Sage wanted to do it. In July we (meaning Sage, me, Eric from Gamma Ray and Christian from PAX) talked about the plan for this year and Sage said he wanted to run PAX following the model I set up at Emerald City Comic Con. Which sounded great to me so I stepped out and left it to Sage.

    So fast forward to now. I didn't spend much time in the indie game area but looking at this thread I'm guessing a lot of that didn't happen. The stuff that seems to have been missing (scheduled volunteers, designated shift captains) were all things I thought were part of the plan. But wasn't there a Doodle schedule with times people were going to volunteer? Were there shift captains?

    As I mentioned above, same with Gamma Ray being in the room: that worked great at Emerald City Comic Con and it was part of the plan since at least July. It may have been far less cozy in the cramped rooms at PAX, but it should not have been a surprise to anyone.
  • They also had picked specific games to put out that everyone, or most facilitators, were comfortable running.
    Yeah, during ECCC we intentionally hid games if there was no one ready or willing to run that game during this shift.
  • We have quite a few Seattle women story gamers, who regularly volunteer at local conventions. I know of at least 2 who didn't have PAX tickets and were doing nothing over the weekend. I'm not sure why they weren't asked to run games at PAX, but I bet they would have gladly helped equal the odds.
    The only person I actually asked to help out was Lily, because she is awesome. Everyone else volunteered to help out via outreach to Story Games Seattle, posts on this forum, tweets, or public G+ threads. So there was no intentional "in list" or anything, I just got badges for the people who offered to run games far enough ahead of time that I could get the badge count in.

    I didn't run as tight a ship as Ben did at ECCC, this is true. I was trying to keep the mojo of past PAXes where this was a little informal thing that just kind of sprung up. We've obviously outgrown that.

    I'm happy to help out with PAX, but I'm not at all attached to it. I asked Ben to be equally involved, but he wanted to just do PAX for fun (completely reasonable) so I took the helm and did what I could. It worked enough, but it could have been better!

    Looking forward, if I'm still one of the organizers, I'd like to get others involved earlier on. First off, that will make it better, I'm sure. It also helps spread responsibility, which was one of my main goals this year. Having one person on the line totally sucks. When we had more gamers than GMs late Saturday night I had to take time from hanging out with my friends to deal with it. I have to keep reminding myself that nothing in this thread is about me. Having a few people in the lead will help with all of those.

    Ben, I didn't know the whole history. If Christian asked you to repeat it that's what you should have done! I was trying to follow your model while keeping the free-flow of previous years, which apparently isn't what people want. I'm all for making this more organized, but in past years that hasn't worked. This year I think we found the critical mass where the games on demand room can have a dedicated schedule, GMs, etc.

    ECCC was certainly a smashing success, but frankly, so was PAX. As far as gamers fit into games, we had record-breaking numbers of players and GMs. I'm all for improving in the future, but let's not undersell the fact that we worked at a scale beyond what's happened at PAX or ECCC before and got lots of people into lots of games.
  • We have quite a few Seattle women story gamers, who regularly volunteer at local conventions. I know of at least 2 who didn't have PAX tickets and were doing nothing over the weekend. I'm not sure why they weren't asked to run games at PAX, but I bet they would have gladly helped equal the odds.
    The only person I actually asked to help out was Lily, because she is awesome. Everyone else volunteered to help out via outreach to Story Games Seattle, posts on this forum, tweets, or public G+ threads. So there was no intentional "in list" or anything, I just got badges for the people who offered to run games far enough ahead of time that I could get the badge count in.

    Sage, are you sure you reached out to Story Games Seattle? The group has at least two women, Shuo and Caroline, who run their own regular gaming meetups. They often volunteer at cons, I'm sure they would have agreed to help if they knew about it. There is also Sev, Jess, and Adrienne, who were at ECCC.

    I know finding volunteers is not an easy task; I commend you on your army of GMs and facilitators. Despite the few mishaps mentioned by others, you make a good point that many games were played. I saw people talking in the hall outside GoD about their awesome experiences playing games they'd never heard of. While I wasn't involved in GoD, it's still my community, so that's always a nice thing to see.

    But, If we really want to make GoD at PAX a bastion of gender sanity, finding women to facilitate games should be a priority. Especially when very capable women are nearby and available. It might make a big difference to women who would otherwise feel intimidated.
  • Sage, are you sure you reached out to Story Games Seattle?
    Well, technically I asked Ben to do that, but he said he would! Unfortunately I'm East Side so I don't get to go to the regular meetups, so I didn't ask in person.

    I did get a few last-minute requests for badges, at least one was from somebody at SGSeattle I think (since Ben was the person who got them in touch with me), but it was too late to alter the count.

    Is there a better way to reach out to SGSeattle? I get this weird feeling sometimes that, despite being a gamer in the Seattle area, I have very little connection to SGSeattle.
  • I know they have a solid meetup site:http://www.storygamesseattle.com/ where they organize said gaming events. I hear about them on facebook or directly from organizers, so I haven't joined the site. I actually have never been to an official Seattle Story Games meetup, but I game with the members other places.

    You should come game with the crew some Saturday. I think some East side peeps come out sometimes.

    There's a regular meetup on the East side that I've heard about; I'm going to check it out in a few weeks and bring Erik Mona and Wolfgang Baur; Ben and I have convinced them to try story games! That should be interesting.

  • edited September 2012
    Well, technically I asked Ben to do that, but he said he would!
    Dude, you're killing me with this stuff. You asked me to spread the word to SGS, I said send me the volunteer info and I would pass it on, but you never did.
    Ben, I didn't know the whole history. If Christian asked you to repeat it that's what you should have done!
    Like I said, it was your baby. I'm not going to take it away from you just because someone else thinks I should.
  • Hey, Ben, I was going to quote my email reply to you from Aug 2 at 10:19 AM, but that just doesn't seem productive.

    I know the Indie Games room could have been better. It can always be better.

    I never wanted to be the sole person responsible for this, or have it be my baby. Especially after this year I don't want it to be my baby, because no matter how much I try to shrug it off I'm starting to feel like this is about me, not about how we can make this room more awesome. From my side, when you bowed out, it seemed like you were saying you didn't want to be a part of it. I found that sad but understandable—it's nice to have a con where you're not responsible for stuff. I guess I got that wrong, so sorry.

    Right now PAX Indie Games on Demand has a Bus Number of 1: it would only take one person (me) getting hit by a bus to really screw it up possibly to the point of not happening. That's a bad metric of community strength. I thought this year I had addressed that by giving everyone all the information, but that appears to have not happened. People still looked for permission from someone to step up and do things that I thought they had the information for. So it looks like some organizational leadership is needed, but it still shouldn't be just one person.

    My goal is really to make myself unimportant to this process, so let's turn this into a list of what should be done better about next year. I see the timeline like this:

    Right Now (while people are still interested)
    -Get a few people tentatively signed up as organizers
    -Get back to the PAX organizers with our awesome numbers

    Now-April 2013
    -Collect ideas
    -Try not to think about this too much and get burned out on it

    May 2013 (after the PAX folks are done with PAX East)
    -Contact the PAX folks with a concrete plan
    -Request spaces (with Gamma Ray in mind)

    June 2013
    -Once we have a space, find out how many volunteer badges we can get
    -Pitch PAX to SGSeattle, this site, everyone involved's social networks, etc.

    August 2013 (when PAX schedule is posted)
    -Put together a detailed estimate of demand by time slot based on PAX schedule
    -Schedule people into timeslots


    I've got some ideas on how to handle scheduling people. I'd like to build out a visual schedule of what games we expect to be available in each slot, so that if someone isn't there to run a game but will be later we can tell folks when to come back.

    I like the idea of the greeter area being in the space and more hangout-ish.

    Of course these are the kind of things I'd like to talk over with other people, which is the reason for getting a few other interested folks together now to take the lead.
Sign In or Register to comment.