GAMA Trade Show 2010–The Final Post and Some Free Advice for Exhibitors

Well, it is all done. Haaldaar and I squeezed every last bit of content out of the GAMA Trade Show 2010 and I hope you enjoyed the experience. It was a great deal of work, but I think the final product was well worth the effort. We are already scheming to attend next year’s GTS. In the coming weeks we will also get the reviews up for the games we acquired during the show. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the exhibitors that took the time to speak with us and share their new games.

That said, I saw some exhibitors hurting themselves and their games with some easily corrected presentation problems. All of the issues listed below I encountered at several vendors, so I am not singling anyone out. I hope everyone takes this as constructive criticism with no ill intent. I truly do want every game company to succeed!

1. Professionally print your business cards and flyers.

Unless you are passing out games, most visitors at a trade show have only a card or flyer to remember your booth. Using flimsy, cheap cards with poor quality ink is a poor representation of your business. Even worse, do not print your own on perforated sheets you got at the office supply store! That rough edge screams “cheap” without even looking at the card. A very nice set of 500, professionally printed, glossy business cards are less than $30.00 at many online printers.

Flyers are a different matter. They cost. Unless you do a huge print run, professional flyers cost $1.00 each. Possibly more, depending on what you get. I know many smaller publishers see this as an unnecessary expense and print their own flyers on home printers. Trust me, you can tell the difference. It is pinching pennies that costs dollars, in my opinion.

Booth space and travel to Vegas are expensive, I understand. That said,  I consider quality cards and flyers “must have” items and spending a fortune in booth space and travel and overlooking these critical items makes no sense. Spend the money.

2. Work on your elevator pitch in advance

Some exhibitors had great pitches.   The pitch explained the game and its themes succinctly and interested me in learning more, all in less than a couple of minutes. Sadly, there were also unfocused and unclear pitches that required much more effort on my part to gleen any useful information. I was press, so I checked out every game I came across, regardless of the sale pitch’s quality.  The same cannot be said of the retailer attendees. If you did not get their attention in 1 minute or less, they just moved on to find something they might want to stock in their store.

First, write down some key points you want to get across. Then write down how to talk about those points and finally,  remove 80% of what your just wrote down.  Lean and efficient is the goal.  You do not have time for fluff, only pure content, pure knowledge about the game. A catchy opening line helps too.

3. Do no talk about other games, talk about your game!

“It uses Dominion-like rules.”

“Puerto Rico-like mechanics drive this game”

Stop it! If you are trying to sell a game, sell the game. Do not try to sell the game as a “clone” of something more famous. This is actually a correllary to the bad sales pitch entry above, but worthy of its own entry.  If you poured your heart and soul into designing and publishing an product, do not reference some other product that is more notable. I makes you sound like an also-ran, clinging to the coattails of the more famous product.  You will never hear “Here is the latest Honda sports car with Ford-like handling” from a Honda dealer.  I understand that games like “Dominion” are synonymous with the current “deck building” game fad, but do not fall into this trap.  Everyone understands that game mechanics are sometimes similar, so move past that to your design, art or rules tweaks that make your product unique and, critically, sellable in a game store.

4. Run your game at the open gaming sessions after the trade show ends.

GAMA provided open game space after the trade show proper closed.  Many companies took advantage of this, but more than a few did not. I understand that Las Vegas has many distractions for attendees, but the open game sessions were well-attended. I found some fun games that I had never heard of before and will be writing about them in future. I am sure some retailers did as well.  Not setting up a table with your game at these open sessions is truly a missed opportunity.

I hope my tidbits of constructive criticism help past and future attendees. If anyone has any specific questions about GTS, I will do my best to answer them.

GTS was a great time and I would like to thank GAMA for providing myself and Haaldaar with press credentials to attend.

Trask, The Last Tyromancer



Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.