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  • Writer's pictureboardgameoverlord

Organising a game day, it's tiring! And discussing the feedback, A Gathering of Gamers

Updated: Mar 1

Let me take you back to July 2019 when we held our last game day pre covid, we spent weekends organising the layout, curating a library, a day preparing the food and several trips to a venue further, "Amy's Gathering of Gamers" took place and it was a bust. Largely, we undersold tickets, the venue was too far out from the city centre, and we didn't spend long enough building the event up. Then something called Covid-19 happened, and I've spent what feels like many attempts trying tweaking the game day formula to try and make it work. Before Amy's Gathering of Gamers, I've run game day events in a host of venues, either with not enough suitable tables or too dark a venue or somewhere in between.

I've held and organised 6 since March 2022 for Preston's Gamers Guild (a local community group) and have tried 1pm till late, a free event, but you need to reserve a space and buy a ticket in advance for the game day ahead. All with varying success, the worst being the event in April 2022, whereby over 30 people cancelled on the day, nobody had pre purchased a ticket and the event was again a disaster and there was 4 of us left to game all day. Then I think we've landed on a format £5 for a day of gaming, hot drinks, and snacks provided, but the attendance didn’t cover the event. This meant the community group was suffering as a result. The key takeaway is pre purchasing tickets but also finding a wider market.

Lessons learned from those 6 events, the frequency was too much, to ensure the event can potentially break even tickets need to be pre-purchased and fundamentally the group needs to stop buying the raffle prizes.

And that saw A Gathering of Gamers revived, renewed but under a new banner. Me, the boardgameoverlord, why? Well, folks said, "Preston's Gamers Guild wasn't inclusive" and was a bit like an event for mates. So, a renewed marketing approach was needed.

However, I'm forever tweaking for me. Value is key, and offering an effective all-inclusive event where everything is in the price snacks hot drinks. Long term is that viable? I'd hope so! So, taking what I've learned, a platform like project boo offered pretty much everything ticket sales, game planning, event details, and bring and buy if needed. I already had a venue, which offered 120 spaces and was well lit and spacious. What could go wrong?

Well, a week before the event, the venue noted that the vast amount of tables (approx 30) had dropped to 22, meaning we had to knock 40 off the ticket availability.

I felt I'd always been transparent around the number of tickets. However, announcing that tickets were reducing leads to complaints of a panic inducing approach and causing anxiety. I'm not entirely sure what the solution was here, I'd always been running an active tally, and we went from effectively no ticket sales to almost sell out in a few weeks and giving a total of tickets left, although we had spare capacity it was never marketed as such, as I'd planned to add extra capacity if we sold out.

Oh, and the person who said they would come and teach the play to win games, well they suddenly went silent the day before the event and haven't replied to date. Meaning play to win became a bit of a teach yourself!

However, the event was largely an overwhelming success. I want to thank everyone for making the time to attend and support the event.

We managed to get 77 people crammed in. We planned to spread out over multiple rooms, but one room was dusty and stinky due to building work. So it meant we had to improvise to work with what we had. But from the photos, you can see everyone looked to be having a great time? I didn't manage to get around every table or chat to everyone, and trying to manage entry and getting round tables myself didn't quite go to plan, as a sneaky side entrance was opened.

All in all, the event broke even, just! There were so unexpected costs on the day (like cleaning materials), that we hadn't budgetted for and although we'd pre sold some 86 tickets, we didn’t have 86 on the day, 77 in total and 4 people didn't pay an entry fee (because they used a side entrance or ignored me). But for a first event, I've taken away that we need more space, more tables, and a better system to help folks find planned games. Some folks had planned games but then couldn't find the other players who had signed up to the game. I'm also not convinced that an all invlusive style event, e.g., drinks and snacks, are actually worth it. Why? Of the 28 responses to the feedback survey, 16 people said they didn't like the free drinks offering.

I also a bit conflicted on the raffle. At the last event, I think I had 20 or so separate prizes, and folks stated in feedback that the raffle took too long. They were pre determined prizes, and you put your tickets in buckets of games you wanted to win. This year we didn’t buy prizes and unfortunately all the companies who promised prizes, none delivered. Kienda saved the day with a last-minute donation, and without Kienda, we wouldn't have had any raffle. But we still raised £246.25 for Rosemere Cancer Foundation from the prize. Thanks, Kienda. Sadly, in the feedback, folks pointed out that individuals were scopping out tickets from raffle buckets, so we'll need a raffle monitor in future years.

We did begin to pack tables up post raffle, but the feedback suggests folks didn't like that as they then felt pressured to leave. I think next year we'll be clearer and/or have a set pack away time.

I'm also still largely confused by the costing of 28 responses over half, said the event wasn't affordable. Tickets were £5 for early bird or £7 on the day, and that included hot drinks, snacks, and car parking was free and, of course, a space to play games in for 12 hours! I'm not convinced that actual attendees filled in the survey, but as it's anonymous, I'm not sure what to take away from that. One particular piece of feedback spoke largely about how the event was financially exclusive and charging for the event was morally wrong and also meant the event wasn't inclusive. Larger events charge £10-15 per day, and you need to normally pay for car parking, and of course, for snacks and hot drinks. And the food at these events is what I'd call extortionate, but I was seen to be in the minority when talking about that.

Another point from the survey was also the size of the library and ways to find games to join. The latter is an easy fix, bigger signs! The earlier is not. We've offered larger libraries in the past and had no games checked out, so it's going to need to be balanced between size and uptake. And so many games get brought with attendees, it's almost like a double up. We had four vendors on the day (one never paid for a ticket and ignored me), and we asked attendees if they interacted with vendors, a mere 5 of 28 people did. For me, vendors are very much secondary, and the priority is gaming and space for games. But I really appreciate Shirts and Merch sponsoring the event and raffle. So in future, either fewer vendors or more relevant ones e.g. a store, a merchandise vendor, and definitely for me, no duplicates. I find at other events there's often duplicate type stalls, and I find that really unappealing. However, we're talking about an event with 80 people, so I'm not expecting mass amounts of vendors.

For next year? I'm thinking bigger in terms of space so we can sell as many tickets as needed and also not cram people into a small space. Retaining affordability is a must (e.g., I don't want to go above £7 per day for gaming, and if there's no snacks, etc, I'd want to be under £5), and the focus is on gaming. So, bigger "players wanted signs", reframing the raffle to smaller pools so there's more winners. And venue dependent reviewing what we offer in terms of snacks and drinks. I also need to order lanyards earlier they arrived the Monday after the event, but that would help with tackling those who had not paid.

Did I play any games? I managed a very hurried game of Kutna Hora, that felt too rushed. And Foundation of Rome, which I now want to own and I won The game. Oh and the Questfor El Dorado, but I was so tired by that point, that somehow I still managed to get through and finish 2nd!

But as I draw this blog to a close, the takeaways are the great event, the people who attended, and the money we raised for Rosemere Cancer Foundation. And it's a learning experience, so next year..well, watch this space!

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1 Comment

AB Mathematics Tuition
AB Mathematics Tuition
Feb 29

Was a thoroughly enjoyable day. Can’t even get a fish and chips for £7 these days so this was an absolute bargain. Loved every minute of it and incredibly grateful for your organisation and efforts 🥳

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