Monday, 7 July 2008

An indie summary of Gencon Oz

The first Gencon Oz was, for indie games, a good experience. We had games from Australian designers being launched, we had seminars on indie game play and design, and we had full registrations for all tables of the Indie Games Explosion. Best of all, the organisers are enthusiastic about our contribution and are keen to give us more space for larger events in 2009.

And now for some details.

There were two seminars for indie games across the four days. The first was on Thursday night, with a panel of Nathan Russell, Michael Wenman and Robin Laws (and I got to be MC for this illustrious group) and the topic was "Steal This Trick - The indie games you should play at least once". For an hour the panelists spoke on the topic and took questions from the audience.

The second one was in the last day of the con, and wasn't actually advertised in the programme, but we still managed to get people to come. It was intended to be a session on indie game design, primarily with the guys who were launching games, but we turned it into a Game Design Roundtable as was done at Dreamation. Two games were thrown on the table and dissected by the assembled group. Both of the designers set themselves goals to have ashcans ready in six months, in time for Melbourne's Arcanacon.

Indie Games Launched
Michael Wenman came up from Sydney to launch The Eighth Sea, his game about time-travelling pirates with a penchant for making money from temporal disturbances. He ran two or three sessions every day, and was fully booked (and over booked!) for each one. The pre-orders list grew quite well, I hear.

Nathan Russell decided to only run his game - Space Rat - through the IGE, and was handsomely rewarded. I sat in on an hour of one session and enjoyed it immensely. Due to a delay in printing from Lulu he didn't have any product to sell, but he handed out stacks of postcards and flyers. He generously left me with one of his few pre-release copies to add to my library. Thanks, Nathan!

Indie Games Explosion
According to the registration table, all sessions were fully booked and even though about 10-20% didn't turn up, we had gamer after gamer approaching us and ask about empty spaces at the table. We estimate that about half of them had never heard of any of the games, and were still keen to play. We also estimate that about two-thirds finished the games and asked, "Where can I buy this game?" Unfortunately, the only thing we could do was point them to the IPR online store. We hadn't really expected people to try and buy these games from us, but they were keen. I would have loved to point them towards one of the retailers, but none of them were carrying indie stock either.

In short, the indie gamer crowd had more demand than supply and the organisers noticed. I suspect that we left our mark partially through the registration database and partially through the periodic visits from Robin Laws, Peter Adkison and the Gencon staff. I need to give a big thank you to Scott Vandervalk, Nathan Russell and Michael Wenman for bringing content to the con. I also need to point out the great support from Peter Ball and the rest of the con organisers for squeezing a non-standard event into the programme.

And now... go plan the next one.

Editorial Addition
In my original post, I forgot to thank the folks who came to the round table. Thanks to Scott V, Louise, Lon, Michael (and his wife), Craig and Danica. We'll do it again next year.

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