Getting the Word Out at a Game Convention

Two Bee Lives playtesters enjoying their game

The past few weeks we’ve been focusing on getting the word out on Bee Lives by attending several different conventions in the region.  This has been great because it has allowed us to keep playtesting the game with the public while networking with other designers and gamers.  Each convention is different from the last, so for this post I wanted to share with you all what it has been like attending different events with Bee Lives: We Will Only Know Summer.

The Bee Lives table at the Philadelphia Bee Keepers Symposium

Our first stop was the Philadelphia Bee Keeper’s Symposium held at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.  I wasn’t entirely sure of what to expect at this event in regards of the game since this was an event for bee keepers and not gamers.  I am proud to say that things went very well at this event, however.  One third of the attendees at the event signed up for the Bee Lives mailing list.  I was able to talk about the game with a few dozen people and run brief demos to give them a feel of the game.  It was great seeing people latch on to the theme so much and enjoying what they saw.  The best lesson I learned here is that if your game’s theme fits with a non-gaming audience you should be sure to reach out to them.  You may be surprised by the response!

A table set up for demos of Bee Lives at Dreamation

After the positive reception at the symposium I was excited for my next stop at the Dreamation gaming convention in Morristown, New Jersey.  After talking with the organizers of the convention we decided the best way to do some outreach for the game at this show was to run games for people that had inspired aspects of Bee Lives and give a few after hours demos of the game itself. I packed up my copies of Clans of Caledonia, Caverna, and A Feast for Odin, all of which had provided some inspiration for part of Bee Lives, and taught people how to play those games while talking to them about how it inspired aspects of Bee Lives.  I had a lot of fun at this convention, but I am not sure how well it worked from an outreach perspective.  I handed out a lot of business cards, but I was only able to run a couple of demos of Bee Lives itself.  Though I would definitely attend this convention again to play games, I don’t know if I would use it for game promotion in the future.

Two of the Bee Lives team set up to run demos
Helen, our graphic designer, and Solan set up for some Bee Lives demos

The next convention stop for winter was one of my favorite game conventions of all, Gary Con.  Located in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and primarily a role playing game convention, I wasn’t entirely sure of what to expect in regards to reception.  I had scheduled 8 slots for demos and we had several people give the game a try.  Overall reception was positive and we had more players than I was expecting considering the convention’s primary focus and attendance size.

Two Bee Lives playtesters enjoying their game

Overall I am glad we attended Gary Con and though I wouldn’t go out of my way to attend specifically for board game promotion it was worth our time.

The banner for Unpub 8

Last but far from least on our winter convention tour was Unpub 8!  The is a convention designed specifically for people to playtest unpublished games.  I was able to run 12 playtesting sessions over about 10 hours at this event which was great, but what I benefited the most from this event was the networking.  I was able to meet several other designers and some publishers to discuss the ins and outs of crowdfunding a game based on their experiences.  I made a lot of friends at this event and I hope I can provide them some assistance in return for the help they gave me.  I am definitely planning on attending this convention again in the future as long as I have a game or expansion I am working on at the time.

A playboard set up at Unpub 8

Though Unpub 8 was the last of our winter convention tour its far from our last convention stop between now and the crowdfunding campaign.  Next up is Protospiel Milwaukee, International Tabletop Day and Origins for the spring convention season. I’ll have more art updates soon as we continue to work on laying out the rule book, the solo mode of Bee Lives, and other polish.  We hope to see you at one of these events in the near future!

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