RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Jun 15th 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (Crabmaster2000)
Posted under Game Quest, Game Store, Convention, Retail, Events, Celebrities Guests, Community

If you've been following my game store blogs since around this time last year, you may remember me writing about a local fan convention that we held in my city, the first we'd ever done. This year I got to play a bigger role in our second annual Northern Fan Convention. I thought I'd break my discussion of the event into two parts, since I got to participate as both a vendor/organizer and as a patron. For this entry, I'm going to talk about the business side of the event and then follow up with a discussion of the con as an attendee in my next blog.

Our gaming area at last year's event was quite well received, so we were contacted early on to run a similar type of area again this year. Last year, we had about 3 weeks to throw something together, but this time we had more like 10 months and somewhat knew what to expect.   We had a big advantage and didn't want to blow it. With that in mind, I recruited a couple colleagues to help expand the offerings beyond what I could. One of them runs a computer business and builds custom PCs, provides tech support, and does a lot of web and graphic design. The other guy runs gaming events in town and could help us run any events during the weekend and help with sign ups for those events. With this brain trust in place, we sat down to figure out how to execute a fun weekend.

Seeing this huge empty space was a bit jarring. We were not 100% confident we could fill it and make it as impressive as it needed to be

We decided that since the event ran for three days, we needed to limit the amount of events to only two very different events each day, and squeeze in a third one on Saturday, as it was the longest day with the biggest expected attendance. After narrowing down our options, we settled on: Smash Bros 4, Settlers of Catan, Gamer's Gauntlet, Pokemon TCG Draft, PC Show n Shine, Street Figther V, and Star Wars X-Wing. We originally included some Magic the Gathering events, but due to a deal made with another local vendor that was also attending the event, unfortunately, we had to scrap those. This definitely wasn't ideal, but we figured if we could knock it out the park without Magic this year, we'd have a little more muscle to flex for next year's event and hopefully turn the tables.

Once we got most of the stuff organized it was starting to look much better. It still seemed like it was missing something though....

We've done a lot of video game events and tournaments in the past, so we wanted to figure out a way to make this particular event special. We found out who was supplying certain items to the venue and got permission to use some of their services in our area. This included stuff like tables and chairs for our tabletop stuff, tables with skirting for our vendor area, projector screens for our tournaments, a sound system to make announcements and run commentary, and a dedicated Internet connection in our area. Fortunately, we got the green light on every single request! This made us happy of course, but also meant that we had to 100% deliver what we were saying we could because the organizers were putting a significantly amount of cash into us now.

We got the rulesets for each game locked down early and started an online pre-registration about 6 weeks prior to the event. A few months before go time as the organizer was getting the final layout in order, we finally got to see how much space we would have to use...... half of an arena! This was yet another big vote of confidence in our abilities and more pressure to deliver a great experience to the guests attending the convention.

The tournament center turned out great and was a big hit over the weekend! We were getting registrants in the 50s for some games on top of the hoards of spectators. Those are record breaking numbers for Prince George!!

With this new floor space information, we started assembling the layout for everything we planned to have that needed a dedicated area. Before long, we had a layout for something all three of us were quite happy with. We were also able to convince someone to bring their Occulus Rift out for the weekend to let us run demos on it. We started recruiting volunteers that were hand-picked knowing they would benefit our area far more than us being assigned random ones. A couple months out, we had that weird feeling where it felt like we were pretty much ready and had very little left to do. That's an uncomfortable feeling, almost like you're forgetting something big and obvious.

As we got closer to the day, my PC-minded colleague had come up with graphics for our area, we had labelled it the Gamer's Waypoint and he had information packets made up to promote our charity event in the winter. We also had some voluteer posters made up for the tabletop convention (of which I find myself part of the inner organizing circle this year Smiley ) in the Fall to promote and recruit for it. The only real squeeze was finding time during the day to try and get as many arcade and pinball machines running as possible, especially a few newly acquired machines.

The day before the event finally arrived and the movers had just shown up to help me move all the arcade and pinball stuff, as well as the many boxes of product I was bringing to peddle. After a long day of moving, we had it all in the arena and were just hoping to get connected to some power in order to make sure everything arrived safely. Unfortunately, we were told there would be no power until the morning, so we called it a night after getting the tables and machines arranged as best we could without knowing where the power was going to be setup.

We needed some goods to sell to make the overall experience financially worthwhile too!

The next morning was a bit stressful as we arrived right at 8 a.m. assuming the power would be run shortly after that. The con opened to the pubic at 3 p.m. and we didn't get our power run setup until 11 a.m. This left us with not much more than three hours to test 26 arcade/pinball machines, make sure we had six TVs all equipped with consoles running, two large scale projects and sound systems working, setup multiple PCs running demos (including the Occulus Rift), and have our modem operational. It was a bit of a mess and one of the guys in our vendor area had heated words with the guy responsible for getting us our power. When he came back, I apologized for my friends behavior and we had a quick discussion about how stretched everyone's resources were. He apologized in turn and we started getting things hooked up. In fact, he was so appreciative for the conversation that he had a couple of his guys help us check out arcades and fixed a few cords that got cut up during the move. He even came back during the con to play some games with his family and share a few laughs with us Smiley

We had a few bumps in the road with our events, such as starting Smash 4 late because of the lack of power to our area that morning, technical issues with some of the Gamer's Gauntlet titles, one projector wasn't functioning on day 1, we had to cancel the PC Show n Shine due to lack of entries, and low attendance for the Star Wars X-Wing event. None of these were crippling and we were able to overcome each problem as it arose.

As for the financial side, we had our work cut out for us. We knew what we made the previous year, when there were about 60-70 vendors to compete with. This year we had to fight with nearly 200 vendors for people's money and ticket sales were expected to increase 30-60%, not a 300% increase like with our competition. Having our area setup as a spectacle seemed to draw us a lot of interest though and we had a constant flow of traffic that translated into a slight increase in sales over last year despite the stiff competition. It's completely anecdotal, but after speaking with some of the other vendors, it seems like we did fairly good in comparison. Good news for us, but overall, you want all of the vendors happy. My hope is that the small slice of information I received was merely based on an unfortunate group and that overall, the vendors made enough profit to consider returning next year.

Turns out the thing I felt was missing from our area was people!! It really looked awesome and came together visually when it was full of gamers really enjoying themselves. Images like this really make it worthwhile for me Smiley

After a long, exhausting weekend, we had tear-down to do on Monday. And to top it off, I caught a rough cold at the con on Sunday and was moving rather sluggish (to the point where I fell asleep in the car waiting for the movers).  My friend let me sleep for a while before waking me up to help, what a great guy!  After a long day of moving things back to Game Quest and an even longer following day re-organizing everything, we finally had the store looking back to it's former glory.

Keep an eye out for the next entry in a couple weeks where I'll discuss being able to take in some of the convention. I'll talk about getting some cool souvenirs, having some games signed, and getting a few cool encounters with our special celebrity guests!!!

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Looks awesome Crabby, wish I could have been there.  Is that a roller hockey rink?  Looks like hockey boards in your tabletop games pic.  We are just starting to plan the tournaments for our show.  Maybe we can chat about some specifics.
It's a legit hockey arena. Just drained. Happy to help any way I can Bil
Looks like a fun convention!. I'm glad everything worked out, and I hope you're feeling better. What were your biggest selling items?
I just got to the first picture and I most say the fact that it is on a hockey rink is perfect!!!!!! LMAO Now back to reading.
@Addicted - Pokemon cards were a big mover over the weekend. Lots of kids with their families in attendance and they are relatively in expensive. Other than that board games in the $20-$35 range moved quite well.

@Tynstar - Apparently some of the celebrities were concerned about coming when finding out the event was being held in hockey rinks :p
Well done sir! That looks like a blast. I know from personal experience that going to a convention as a vendor is a stressful mess, but it looks like you executed perfectly (or as perfect as these things go).
Looks like another successful year Crabby. Congrats to you and your community!

...And oh yeah, I'll take my Laser War back as soon as you're done with it. Wink

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