Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How I went about setting up South Bend Games Day

I thought I would share some of the experience thus far...

Several friends and I have been tossing around the idea of running a convention or games day for years. We've had several conventions in town over the years, but nothing recently. All of us have participate in conventions at different levels, whether helping to organize, running booths, advertising, setting up, or run events at the convention.

A few months ago, I said, "Fuck it, let's do this." I contacted close friends that I knew would help, if they had the time available. All of them immediately agreed to help out. The first two steps were accomplished: mission decided and accomplices engaged.

We immediately began strategizing for location, date, and most importantly...cost. You see, my goal was to set up a games day and run it as a free or nearly free event. We scouted out several cost locations and then took the idea of how to do it for free to the next level. We could contact the local libraries and YWCA, but their hours would limit availability of the space. We looked into club houses at apartment complexes, swimming pools, empty property, and restaurants with back rooms. Local game shops were the next target. The group is on good terms with both local shops. We simply asked the first location we happened to be in after deciding to run with this idea. The answer was a resounding yes. What about the other location? I have plans for that and I'll discuss them later in this post.

While we were beginning to brainstorm and research the whens, wheres, and how muches, we began to toss around names for game masters at this event. We knew we wanted to have 3-5 tables available for two different sessions of play. Of the group helping to organize this event, all four of us are capable of running games. If it came down to it, we agreed to run anything or everything needed to make this happen.

So, we had our location and date hammered out, we had a targeted list of potential game masters, now all we needed to do was get the word out.

I started a blog on Wordpress to function as a website. I began dropping ideas there as reminders for myself and the others. I would later delete these ideas as they were executed upon. Everything goes back to the site or the email being used as the primary contact (mine).

I Tweeted about it, blogged about it on my personal rpg blog, set up a FaceBook event, and blasted it out on Google Plus. Thus, it grew. Within a few weeks, other game masters were beginning to sign up and invitees were confirming attendance on the FaceBook page.

At this stage of planning, it is down to managing the GM sign up process, then setting up pre-registration for players, coordinating any last minute details with the shop owner, and making it happen. I'm really looking forward to the event, because I have plans for what comes next.

My ultimate goal was to successfully run a games day event, bring together people who don't know each other and could make new friends (or players!), start building interest in an actual convention in the future, and begin providing a road map for others to follow on what to do or not do, when organizing such an event.

I've never organized something like this before. I've helped George Vasilakos (Eden Studios) run his booth at GenCon and Origins, I've run it alone or with help at smaller conventions, I've organized and coordinated 20+ GMs running 84+ games at GenCon for Eden Studios, I've written con/one-shot scenarios and implemented them out to a team of people I've never met, I've playtested rules for rpg books, written for rpg books, edited and helped produce rpg books utlizing remote freelancers, choreographed stunts and fight scenes for feature-length and short films, performed stunts and fight scenes for said films, and even served as second unit director for said films. But this? Nothing like this.

This is close to home. This is people I know and respect. This is for people I could see any day at any time, because we live in the same community. This is new. The only thing that comes close to it in my life right now is my wedding...which is occurring two weeks prior to this event. It's a big month for me and mine. We aim high, we aim big, and we plan to bring it all in successfully.

All along this road, Steve, Lowell, and Jason have helped with brainstorming, leg work, and everything you'd want from a great team. My wonderful fiance' has been patient and offers to help when she thinks I need it. I couldn't ask for better partners in crime.

As to future events, well, I hope to do something like this nearly every six months. Unless, of course, someone starts up a local convention. I would like to coordinate it with "free rpg day" and have it occur at both game stores at the same time. Much like the fact that everyone has their favorite game, most have their favorite game shop, and I would like to see everyone benefit from this experience.

I am sure I have left out bits. Feel free to ask questions, if you have them.

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