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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4 thoughts on “Getting the Word Out at a Game Convention”

  1. My friend Jay and I gave it a try yesterday at milwaukee protospiel. The game worked well until we pulled two cards in a row that yielded about 8 wild hives on the board. A few from our own actions but lots from the cards. Unfortunately resolving all of the hive attacks took a long time and kept us from interacting with each other (which we were keen to do). I think one thing that let it get out of hand is that new players need to know that they must treat their bees as temps. They simply are not going to be around for more than a few months at most. I think some basic strategy tips would be useful. I think we all figured it out after our first game but at a protospiel that is all we would be doing. I think we could have handled the wild hives better if we had played before. Still, so many of them did slow things down quite a bit with all of the attacks. We finished only 4 turns I think in 2 hours. Maybe 5. A second thing that seemed to be an issue was after a swarm, you could not produce any new bees for one turn. In a nine turn game that could leave you with few bees for 3 or 4 turns. The new rival then kicks your butt with the bees you lost while you cannot replace them. i was told this is reality but from a gamer perspective this is seems like a losing strategy. A turn in which you have to defend and forage only while others are going about their expansion….
    Anyway a couple of thoughts on the play yesterday. With a second game we would have done much better I am sure. And I think the important take-away is that we would probably all have been interested in doing just that if we didn’t have to go around and try other games.
    Components were spiffy. We really maxed out all of the little who attacked whom tokens though. If there is a way to simplify that whole wild hive attacking etc thing, you might want to do that. Maybe a more automatic resolution, a 4 vs 2 means this result. And then only start rolling dice etc when the attacks hit players’ hives. I think that one turn took over 45 minutes.
    Anyway, enjoyed the game. Maybe I’ll see it at another protospiel and give it another go.

    1. Thank you for the comments, Jeff, and for trying out the game! This is great feedback and really does help. We’ll be at Origins, Dice Tower Con and Gen Con this summer if you’re around, and if you live in the Milwaukee area let us know and we can always meet you and some friends up for another run through if you want to give it a go. Thanks for following!

    1. Hi Krista! Thanks for the interest! We’ll be at room c171 and c172 from 4pm on Friday and Saturday evenings. If you want to schedule a run through some other time during the con just let me know and we’ll set it up!

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