Return of the expo

or: How I spent my weekend

So – now that I’m back, rested, exhausted from all the catch up work, stressed from the up coming holiday season and prepping for the next one; I can properly relate the adventures of GDEX/Origins.

I had started prep week with the usual busy work; getting my expo gear out of the closet, gently washing my ‘Booper’ t-shirts, hastily ordering new stickers since my stock was low – and being dismayed to find my new banner had gotten wrinkled from being in a closet for a year and a half. Helpful suggestions included letting it warm up gently in the sun, ironing it or using a hairdryer to warm it up.

I opted for the sun, cause there was no way in hell I’d trust myself with ANY heat source near vinyl.

ah, the good old days, where my $#!+ wasn’t wrinkled

I got my various bits of expo gear gathered in the dining room, commandeering the expansive table to spread it all out and make sure I wasn’t missing any connectors, cables or other important techy bits to demo my game and settled down to a little TV with the missus and check my email.

Finally! The organizer had been apologizing for the lack of load-in info and the few messages in the ‘ol inbox looked like he finally got it. it looked kinda the same as always, where the loading platforms were, check in times and when to show up Thursday.

Wait… Thursday??

Tomorrow? I was expecting a Friday check in as we’d done the past years. $#!+. Panic started creeping in – I was not relieved of parental duties until Friday noon, because the wife had scheduled a little time from work to go pick up the kids after school. Thursday was my eldest 11th birthday. Thursday was a day earlier than my stickers were supposed to arrive,

Just sitting there… waiting for me

So I spent an absolutely panicked Thursday morning grabbing my PC, Laptop, all the aforementioned gear, cramming it in the wife’s car, grabbing the kids from school, having a rushed 11th birthday for my eldest (I always seem to have a expo on his birthday- the guilt over THAT could fill a novel) and drive like a maniac to Columbus and get my booth set up.

Only to discover that I’d left my power cable for my monitor sitting on the desk back home. $#!+.

Quick text to my bro-in-law (whose couch and ale I’d be helping myself to none too soon) and he offered his nice curved 35″ monitor. A lovely piece of equipment that I could see any number of bad things happening to and I would have to reimburse him for – so I asked if he had anything else. Which turned out to be a 19″ ancient flat panel from 2004. So, I spent the rest of the evening driving around some small town Ohio looking for a big box store that might actually carry a VGA to HDMI converter, praying that it’d be open and doubly praying that it would actually *WORK*. Wal-Mart had one, probably over priced – I could only hope that it worked in the morning.

My booth, in all its glory…
…and the view from my side

Friday and I’m running a bit behind because every fast food joint seems to have a line around the block – I get to the expo with 10 minutes before the doors open and wend my way through the throng of eager expo attendees. Quick setup the monitor loaned by the excellent bro-in-law and fire it up- it worked! The gates opened and I raced to set up the rest of my booth; feeling like I was losing precious demo time.

Annnnd it didn’t matter. I got set up, ran a quick playthrough to make certain no glitches were waiting for me, downed a gulp of coffee and stood by my booth ready to show my game proudly. And waited.

No one seemed to be the slightest bit interested in my game.

After a quick consult with y neighboring devs, we all quickly came to the same conclusion: there wasn’t a lot of crossover between tabletop gamers and video gamers. We did get the odd player here and there, but this was nothing like the regular video game expos where I’d have 3 and 4 kids lined up, waiting for a turn to explore my little hand crafted VR adventure. I spent the day mostly people watching, talking with the other VR booths and wandering around, observing the tabletop expo – it was HUGE, like a dozen times bigger than the GDEX or MakerX shows I’ve shown at.

Cousin-in-law and super cool daughter, 2 of my biggest fans

Saturday went a lot better, felt more like the usual crowd, and certainly more families- but still didn’t have the rush and hum of GDEX. I did get some vistors, my bro-in-law and his son used my passes to wander the floor and play some games (and bought some too) and generally geeked out over the offerings of dice, swords, steampunk goggles and many, many boardgames for sale.

I also got a visit fromt he awesome Brian Skeel, a composer who I’ve worked with and who made the epic win / fail fanfares I use in my games, both light and whimsical compositions based on some singing my lil’ art director did; very reminiscent of the old Looney Toons short phrases.

My 1st award. Ever.

The highlight of the day came at the end, when the floor closed and we game devs piled into a small conference room, and announced winners of various game dev categories. I was floored when they called my little game for the Best in Music & Sound. I never got awards, ever – growing up I wasn’t good at academics OR athletics and to actually win something was a triumph I’ll not soon forget.

Sunday was bittersweet. Its a shorter day, so the exhaustion from the previous 3 days was tolerable, knowing I’d be able to sit my butt down for a long drive home. I got to spend a bit more time wandering the floor and wondered what I could do to make my display pop more (and without breaking the bank with huge monitors or banners) I heard of a expo closer to home – the Cleveland Gaming Classic, and I promised myself that I’d look into it – showing my game is thrilling and the more eyes I can get on it the better.

Slowly the day came to an end and I packed up my gear, a bit sad that it was over, but also happy that the pandemic hadn’t completely ended events like this. I drove home to find the kids outside playing, the wife sitting on the glider on the front porch and I showed the family my new trophy. And as my weekend came to an end, I smiled – knowing that I picked up a few new fans.

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