BostonFIG 2017 was my first board game festival ever and I absolutely loved it. I met tons of great people, saw a lot of amazing booths, and got to introduce the Boston gaming community to the latest Gut Instinct prototype. All in all, it was an incredible experience and I have every intention of bringing Best Coast Games being back to it next year.
While I never expected everything to go smoothly for the event, I also hoped to not have a disastrous first show. While we certainly had a few hiccups, we still had a relatively good debut. After reflecting a lot about what went well and what...could have been better, I have come up with my Top 5 Lessons Learned from Boston FIG 2017. Below I will briefly summarize each lesson and expand on them in later posts.
5. Preparation X 3
Two weeks prior to Boston FIG I was slightly stressed about having enough time to prepare everything. Two days prior, I felt like the world was going to explode. However long you think you need to prepare for your first board game festival, triple it. Had I built in 3X the amount of prep time, the experience would have been dramatically less stressful and we would have had an even better booth.
4. Ten Minute Tour
While I enjoyed many aspects of Boston FIG, one of my personal favorites was around 5:10PM. Things were finally starting to wind down, but most of the booths were still up and running. I had been running playtests of Gut Instinct almost non-stop and was completely exhausted. However, this was my first chance to walk around the festival floor and check out the other games. This brief ten minute stroll was refreshing and inspiring to see the diversity and passion of so many other tabletop game designers at the festival.
3. Less Is More
I had drawn various floor plans of my 10'x10' booth to make sure I used the space optimally and so I could answer such exciting questions as: How many chairs? How many tables? How many storage cubes? The answers: 14, 3, 11. Aka: wrong, wrong, wrong. You can draw floor plans all day, but if you have never been to a convention before or physically recreated your actual booth space, you will probably be off. We ended up using 12 chairs, 2 tables, and 2 storages cubes....and even that felt crowded at times. Floor plans help, but they are not a substitute for the real thing.
2. Less Is More, Unless It Isn’t -
In preparation for Boston FIG, I talked to friends who had attended the festival in previous years. One of the best suggestions I received was to have a dedicated team member running each playtest session. My team consisted my girlfriend, two good friends, and myself, all of whom were (conveniently) expert playtesters of Gut Instinct. Together, the four of us were able to run two simultaneous playtests of Gut Instinct, pitch the game, give interviews, get food, and have restroom breaks. If I had run this solo or with just my girlfriend, my fate would probably be akin to a character in Ten Candles, whose booth was right next to ours (so cool!). I may be a very social and outgoing person, but that energy is still all contained in one person. Figure out how much help you need and plan accordingly.
Funtense - /fəntens/ - adjective
i. Something that is simultaneously extremely fun and extremely intense.
Example: I played Game of Thrones the Board Game 2nd Edition and it was one of the most Funtense experiences I have ever had.
Yes, I know Funtense is not a real word, but that's exactly how I would describe Boston FIG. It is not that I expected to have a boring time at Boston FIG. Rather, I was surprised by how dramatic the epicness of it all was. If my boss told me my job was to explain a game to people, I would describe the experience as pretty fun. If my boss turned out to be a powerful wizard and said I had to explain it all day nonstop, I would call that experience pretty intense. Somehow, Boston FIG combines both of those experiences and amplifies the result. To be fair, I am leaving out a lot of other aspects, but if you are showing a game at Boston FIG, that's its beating heart. If that sounds like something you would enjoy, then I highly recommend showing a game at Boston FIG and I may even see you next year!