Friday, March 22, 2013

Readers' Requests - Running An Event

Phil and the Usual Suspects, in 1987.
Just about all of these people were the models for the 'character archetypes' in "Gadsasiyal", by the way.
This is the start of a new series I'll be doing for all of you, "Readers' Requests"; ask me a question, and I'll try to answer it.

From The Malcontent, on March 6, 2013 at 7:54 PM:
I know this may sound silly, but could you tell some more about what's needed to run an event? My local scene is nearly non-existent and I was thinking about running some small events to try and create a community of gamers. But I have no idea about any of it and the project just seems overwhelming at this point.

Right! Let me try to give you an idea of what you can do that's both fun and 'doable'!

First off, doing a game event is really no different - or difficult!!! - then doing a kids' birthday party. Yes, you have to have a venue, you have to do some planning, and you have to do some 'advertising'. My advice is to take it in small bites, be sensible, and be realistic. Do what you can do, based on your available resources, and you'll do just fine.

First off, half your work is already done; from your question, you already have a good idea of what you want to do. It'll sound bizarre, but an amazing number of people don't do this before they hold an event, and everyone suffers as a result.

Second, a place to run the event. Think realistically, here. If you think you will only get a few people, try a local library's community room or other meeting room. I run smaller events here at the house, as The Missus lets me have half the basement as a game room and game lounge for guests. About all you need is a room with a table, and many local libraries will be happy to have you run a meeting there. Likewise, see if you have local game shops, or comics shops that sell games; see if they might have a table in the store that you could run a game on. If they do, this is probably your best possible venue. If not, then look at the library or even your living room.

The worst thing you can do is try to book a meeting room at a local hotel for your first time out; it's expensive, as the hotel will give you the room space for very little and then charge you big bucks for everything else - including coffee and brownies!

Third, a game or games. Think about what you hear from people; what do they like to play? Plan on that, as a 'hook' to get people's attention, and make sure you have a good person to run it for you. Do not plan on running both the event and the game yourself; speaking from my forty-some years of doing things like this, it just doesn't work. If you do want to run a game, have a second person who can fill in as the event host - you will need somebody to answer questions, at the very least.

When I run games, the game is always being interrupted by on-lookers asking me where I got the figures or about Tekumel; it's no fun for the players, and no fun for me either, as the game usually really suffers from this. Get a spare person.

Fourth, ADVERTISE. If people don't know you are having an event, they won't show up. Do a simple flyer, an ordinary one-sided single page; computers, these days, have plenty of stock images and such. One word of warning - emphasis 'games' over 'war'. Talk about fun and games, not dismemberment and killing; you will turn more of your intended audience off by doing the latter, even if your proposed game is based on something like "WarYouKnowWhat Forty K". Keep it simple! Give the date, the place, the time, and that there will be fun. Think positive, and think like a movie mogul trying to sell a film.

Your flyers should get put up on notice boards all over your local area; colleges, game / hobby shops, comics and bookstores, even local supermarkets and retail outlets. Do a web page or blog, and make sure that URL is on the flyer. Update with solid news regularly; blogs with 'smoke and mirrors' masquerading as 'content' don't help you.

Fifth, have everything ready for the event before the event. Plan on being ready one week out from the day, and have everything packed and ready to go. Make lists, and check things off on the lists. Games? Dice? Miniatures? List everything, and have it in boxes ready to go.

Nametags! Your name, with 'Host' on it, will help everyone a lot. Have 'Host' tags for anyone doing the job, and you will have a much smoother time of it at the event.

Sixth, get there early. Don't even think of being late to your own party; you will look like an idiot, and people will leave. make sure that people have fun playing, even if you have to 'bend' the rules of the game - as I normally expect to do in running miniatures games - to see that the game runs quickly and smoothly. The people at the event are not experts, or experienced gamers!!! Make sure that they have a basic understanding of basic rules, and then be prepared to be flexible. If you are doing an RPG, don't have the players roll up characters; provide pre-generated ones, and then let them 'shop' for their equipment.

Be flexible, and be patient. Stay calm, enjoy watching people discover a wonderful hobby!

So, that's my introduction; feel free to ask more questions!!!

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