This past weekend, we attended the MassDigi Game Challenge and had an excellent time! We’ve learned a lot about how to run a table at an event in the past, but the small environment really let us hone in on those lessons and gave us time to reflect on them. Here they are in clickbait-ready Top 10 form:

1. There is always money in the banana stand.

The first day we made enough to pay for parking. The second day, we made nearly the same amount. This was just from codes and leftover posters! People love buying stuff, and if you have goods that are worth selling, they are also worth buying.

2. Advertise everything an attendee can do at your table.

Your primary Call to Action is the most important part of your booth. Play the game? Watch the trailers? Meet the team? Buy stuff? Find some way to get the message out about your call to action. You should have two goals:

  • Your Primary Call to Action is the one thing you want every attendee who visits your booth to do.
  • Your Secondary Call to Action is the thing you want attendees who like your game to do.

Attendees who like your game are likely to want to play it again and/or find out about its updates. Welcome them into your community! Tell them about codes, swag, your forums, newsletter, survey, Kickstarter, and anything else you do. Someone who likes your game is likely to want to support you as a developer, either through spreading the word or monetarily.

3. Make your code cards look significant.

Attendees thought our code cards were free. This may be because they are standard business card size and weight. They look too small to be worth money, and the paper they are printed on is light. The intrinsic value of a tangible good is based on what a person can see and feel, not based on anything in the digital realm it may link to. If you’re going to be selling game codes, either put them on more significantly sized and weighted paper, or protect them in some way. We’ll be putting our current game codes in a protective, though clear, case (my old iPod Shuffle packaging, believe it or not), so they give off a more important vibe, and they can’t just be picked up off the table like a business card.

“10005 zip code” by Brianga – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:10005_zip_code.jpg


4. Swag is super duper important, but have it a month in advance or don’t count on having it at all.

UPS was supposed to get us new posters two days before the show. Due to it blizzarding like crazy in the Boston area, they did not arrive until the day after the show. It took 10 days for 5 day shipping. This is a reminder that if you are going to need swag for an event, have it ready to go long before the event itself.

5. Have a variety of swag, free and paid, and have one piece of swag that people won’t be able to get anywhere else.

Paid swag is great to put a bit more cash into your account, but sometimes people don’t want to pay for swag. In this instance, they should still be willing to take a pin and clip it to their shirt or bag, to help advertise your game to the world. Be ready to also make a kind of swag that no other booth could have. For instance, Riot Games brings League of Legends Teemo hats to PAX, and these are in high demand because they are so unique.

6. Come up with special deals that can only be used at your booth.

The Game Challenge was the first time we implemented a 20% Newsletter Subscriber discount. This discount was a huge incentive for attendees to spend money AND sign up for news about the game! That is absolutely staying. We also included the ability to get swag at half price when you purchase a code. This also worked great! So while attendees of course can get your game on Steam, the App Store, or wherever you’ve uploaded it, getting it with extra stuff they can’t get online, at discount, is huge.

7. Popup banner, popup banner, popup banner.

Popup banners are kind of expensive since they need to be on a banner stand or tripod. There’s not always room to hang up a horizontal banner, for whatever reason. In our case, it’s because Microsoft doesn’t like you taping things to their walls. So sadly we had no way to include some Z-Axis advertisement for our booth. In a small space like the Game Challenge, this isn’t a huge issue, but at a major event like PAX or BostonFIG, it could spell doom. Keep a vertical banner handy to take advantage of your floor space.

8. Vertical orientation is key! 

Like I mentioned before, Z-Axis action is important. If you can’t get a vertical banner, get some stands for flyers or posters to stand up on your table. This is also a good way to post up a “menu” of sorts, to spell out your Primary Call to Action and show the prices of things you have for sale. Don’t make anyone look down at your table to get a sense of what’s going on. Everyone’s eyes are UP at an event, and their eyes should catch what you have going on.

“North by Northwest movie trailer screenshot (33)”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:North_by_Northwest_movie_trailer_screenshot_(33).jpg


9. Make sure all your trailers are at the same or similar volume level.

This was one that slipped our minds the first day of the Game Challenge. We had two news videos on display, and hadn’t checked the volume of them compared to our previous two videos. So we had to either raise and lower the volume all day, or mute the TV. By day two we had leveled out the volume of all videos with quick rerenders (and lucky for us that each video is around 1 minute long or we may not have had time for this). If you have multiple TV’s running, make sure that they are also at the same volume level (particularly say if one is running trailers and one is running the game, you don’t want either to get drowned out).

10. Always be ready to describe your game, your Primary Call To Action, and your latest news in one sentence each.

People’s time is precious is to them, but they as a customer are precious to you. Find that middle ground and be worth their time! First, give them the game pitch in one sentence. Then tell them why you’re at this particular event, also in one sentence. Pause for any questions, and answer them. Ask them if they would be interested in taking part in your primary CTA. If they say yes, you can easily follow up with the secondary CTA. If they say no, thank them for their time, point them toward the swag, and tell them to send their friends over.

Bonus Tip: Buy the most fun office supplies you can find!

There are always unexpected office supplies you never knew existed that can make great additions to any table space! For the Game Challenge, we found Dry Erase Tape. This was great for putting a strip at the top of our TV and writing out swag prices. It can also be used in a pinch for any impromptu sign, label, or really anything you need to write. We’ve put a strip on our new code card container to write the price on there AND be able to change it for sales or different games. This is just the smallest tip of the iceberg though! Get creative and drop a couple extra bucks to make your space your own.