You’ve slaved hours and hours on what many would consider a masterpiece. Now, it’s time to draw in all the well-deserved attention in front of the gaming industry.
The best place to show off your game? Major national events. And what’s the problem with this? You will be surrounded by hundreds of others games equally demanding all of the attention.
Being part of a small team, it can be tough to come up with the materials to make your booth resemble blackpool illuminations.
After delving through the depths of incredible indie games, we found some developers who truly embraced all that was great about their creation and managed to make their personalities stand out. Today we will be exploring:
How to make your game stand out at events
In this article, you will discover:
- The most interesting ways we’ve seen developers make their game stand out.
- The best tips for engaging players and potentially creating fans at your booth.
- The importance of making your game stand out at a trade show.
To start off with, some great examples of inventive booths.
From some of the creative minds behind Ratchet and Clank, LittleBigPlanet, and one of the DoubleUpGaming’s favourite’s Tearaway: Unfolded, the quirky team of two have introduced yet another fun game: Knights and Bikes.
This particular game is all about the heroic journey two small girls take in order to save their local community. On their bikes, they will defeat enemies with the power of puddles, water balloons, and more.
The game art alone is one to grab attention of enthusiasts as the featured characters are so goddamn adorable but the main attraction were the bikes.
In order to enjoy the game, players were forced to place themselves on these awesome kids bikes decorated with stickers of knights; the perfect seating for this game.
The bikes were ideal for drawing in attention simply because no one else had anything quite as unique.
Even we couldn’t help but steal one and cycle it around Tobacco Dock.
Another game that couldn’t help but stand out at events:
On the other side of indie games, Playstack have just published the game “Dick Wilde”: a VR experience that isn’t one to be missed.
Players live the life of Dick Wilde, the extreme exterminator with an arsenal of weapons behind him. Your job is to shoot and take down the lurking wildlife that lives in the waters.
What playstack did to advertise their game was simple but effective.
Using props such as blow up snakes, blow up palm trees and more, they decorated their booth so that it effectively relayed the character of the game to the audience. The bright, neon lights that lined the booth acted as great eye catchers.
So, let’s think about what we can learn from these guys.
I interviewed Rex Crowle, developer at Foam Sword and Kiron Ramdewar, community manager at Playstack on how they made their creations stand out at events and they gave some great advice:
What are the best tips for engaging players and potentially creating fans at your booth?
Rex made the excellent point that having a typical setup that replicates every other booth isn’t the way forward:
“Unfortunately it doesn’t matter how imaginative and unique your game is, you’re going to find it hard to stand out if [your game] is presented in exactly the same way as everyone else at a show: Vinyl banner, TV, Controllers.”
He continued to share a few simple ways that can spruce up your display:
“It’s good to think about ways that you can extend what’s happening inside the game out into the space, that could be anything from dressing up as a game character to having a model of something from the game on display.
And if the game is more of a competitive experience, having a real chalkboard leaderboard in the booth is a lot more engaging for potential players wandering past, than any in-game leaderboard hidden away inside the TV.”
And once you’ve intrigued your new fan, and they’ve played the game, make sure there’s a way they can remember it at the end of the day, whether that’s by having a stand that they will feel compelled to photograph, or give them some stickers to jog their memories with.”
Kiron explained a number of great ways that some developers would never consider were behind the success of a display:
“I would say the biggest tip is to be passionate about your game. People can quickly distinguish legitimate enthusiasm from a pseudo fan racking off a sales checklist of items to discuss.
I think it is really important to have played the game a good amount too. I know this sounds stupid, but you would be surprised how many people working on booths have barely touched the games they represent.
Most people won’t directly approach you to talk, so you need to be forthcoming with people attending. Everyone there likes games, so rustling up a conversation about what they’ve played so far, their favourite title at the show or whether they’ve played VR yet is a good place to start.”
What is the importance of making your game stand out at a trade show?
Rex shares that the hours of labour you’ve spent on your game should be projected into your stand in order to make the most of your time:
“If you’ve put months into getting your demo ready, and stressing about every element inside the game, its a missed opportunity if you’ve not put a lot of effort into how it’s presented externally.
You don’t necessarily have to build a life-sized pirate ship manned by a team of actors but its good to have something that takes the atmosphere of the game out into the booth that surrounds it, as it acclimatizes players.”
Before they pick up the controller they have some idea of what they are getting into.
Kiron explained how having a fun and unique booth means most have the work has been done for you. Rather than trying to draw people in, people are coming over themselves as they are incredibly intrigued:
“If you can grab people’s attention without talking to them, it gives us a bigger chance of them playing our game and having a chat with us. People want to have fun and that is the vibe we wanted to give off – a fun and exciting game.
On top of awesome game experiences, these kinds of touches are what people will recall and they are more inclined to take photos and videos of the stand. Best of all, they will most likely play your game. I think this was really reflected in the overwhelming queue size for Dick Wilde at Rezzed.
Your game can be the most fun thing in the world, but if your booth looks drab and dull, it reflects poorly on even the best titles out there!
What other ways have you used to gain attention at expos?
As game developers will have a number of games they will want to promote at various events, discovering unique ways to draw attention to each game can be difficult. Here is some ways that Rex and Kiron both advertised their games at a variety of events:
Rex: “Back when I was leading the Tearaway team at Media Molecule we would fill an entire suitcase with paper and scissors when travelling to events (Which led to some interesting conversations at airport security!) and once we’d arrived at our booth, we’d cover the entire booth with paper and papercraft.
One of my happiest memories was being at PAX Australia, where Gemma from MM and Spaff (Former MM Community Manager) and myself had not only built a papercraft kingdom, but also set up a craft table and we had some of the events biggest queues of players wanting a break from staring at games, so they could sit down at the craft table and make some papercraft mice with everyone else that was doing it.
It just creates a great atmosphere that people want to hang out in. Getting attention isn’t just about playing dubstep louder than everyone else!”
Kiron: “At both PAX and Rezzed we had a large list of inflatable animals, LED strips around the display, a huge piece of artwork and banners. There are hundreds of other games companies that want face time with attendees and press, so making your booth loud and exciting is really important.
I think when running a booth there is a tendency to worry about being over the top, but I’d prefer to be too loud than our booth quietly sitting there.
I’m also a big fan of competitions and giveaways. It gives an incentive for people to talk to you and play the game. At PAX we had a Dick Wilde leaderboard for the day and the whole weekend.
Every day the top five players with the highest scores won t-shirts, the player with the top score for the weekend won the TV we were using at the expo. At Rezzed we went for the PSVR competition.”
The key element to a successful booth at an event or expo: be passionate.
Players want to see how emotionally involved developers are with their game and how much time they have put into it. And all of this can be reflected in their booth.
Here is a list of all the things mentioned and more that teams can do to spice up their booths at events:
- Big decorations that reflect the game
- Unique ways to interact with the game (unusual seating like children’s bikes)
- Other interactive activities to promote the game (papercraft tables for Tearaway Unfolded). Create live demonstrations of your game. If your game is about defusing bombs. Make a physical (fake) bomb that attendees can play with and try diffuse.
- Leaderboards with small and big prizes (from t-shirts to TVs with Dick Wilde)
- Cosplay (attendees always want a picture with great cosplay)
- Giveaways (who doesn’t love free swag).