Friday, January 18, 2013

Running a Convention in the Philippines

Running a Table-Top RPG convention in the philippines is a labor of love, and a charity. It will never make money, even to break even and requires charitable donations from the main sponsors.

In around 1999-2001, my brothers and I were very active in AEGIS. Our president was the main sponsor of the largest event we hosted Gamers Eyeball Manila in around 2000. Our president sunk his own money, got sponsors and was able to get at two floor area of about 800sqm made up of about 16 rooms (8 on each floor) where every 4 was linked by modular partitions. Despite being the one who networked, paid, and talked to the shop owners he didn't get any of the credit for it. Infact it is pretty much forgotten except for those of us who helped him set it up. 

At the time I was around 19 and my brother was 15 running games for guys who were much older than us: 25 and up. I have to look back at admire what my boss did, because I can't afford to make that sacrifice and I don't have the networking ability he had.  Note that I was a very awkward then, and improved little in the last 14 years. 

The market has stagnated since, and about 2 gaming store start ups opened and closed since. The only one left is Neutral Grounds, whose misunderstood business decision gave it some negative opinions amongst the circles I deal with. 

Right now, there are no place to sell dead tree books. We order from amazon here in the Philippines. 

Why am I trying to start a con, or a movement to bring in new gamers? 
I like gaming, and I can't wait for my son to grow up to game with... and the hobby may not be there anymore if I don't do anything about it. I am curious and interested in meeting new people, and have a high capacity to take crap if you knew my background. 

Note that I don't plan to make money, I will be efficient, pragmatic and not wasteful but I don't expect to get any return on investment here. I just want the hobby to thrive, so I can continue to find people to play with, and the freedom to be able to continue when life gets in the way of playing. 

I have been able to record and journalize my continuous failing  to recruit new gamers sine 2003 in my original and private blog. I've learned much since, and really can better Identify what are my serious challenges and weaknesses.  In fact, the disciplines I've learned requires me to at least state clearly my goals and dictate how much I'm willing to spend to achieve it. 

Lessons Learned. 
Face and Name. I'm not a face-man (duh), although I have a friend who is more than happy to play the role and has the same objectives as I do. So at least that part is covered. 
Someone Interesting. Ideally we have a Person of Interest. It is a sausauge fest and we really need a woman to facilitate discussion and the attention. Unlike the faceman, who interfaces the crowd and disseminates information, the PoI captures attention. 
Network and Influence.  I'll have to reach out more and follow up my friends who are going to help me find gamers. Follow up is the key word, but not to burn out my contacts. 
Medium of Discussion. Convention and opportunities to interact have to be easily available, and skillfully facilitated. There is a growing curve, and we have to accept those cost while things gather momentum. 
Wine and Dine. it is a social occasion  and  we need to make things comfortable and add value to the experience. 

More people available. What I have going for me is the higher density of english because of the BPO industry. Right now everyone is expanding, almost every company I've talked with is adding an average mode of 500 seats. Some is as high as 2000, others about 200.  
More demand for the ancillary benefits. A hobby and exposure to other accent neutralized speakers will help, and I'm sure some friends in Training will recommend us some people who can use the hobby to sharpen their interactive and language skills. Since I have a recruitment firm, i'll have the trainer, who is a fellow gamer, see if he can find some players when we pool for free training. 
We have a facility. I can put an Ad in one of the highest traffic areas in Eastwood, infront of our building for gamers.  I have the canteen, the 7th floor, free to allow 2-3 gaming groups to run simultaneously. If we can get an event before March, I can offer 200sqm area to host 6 groups of about 6 gamers each. We have another facility, that has about 500sqm and host about 10 groups of the same size. But before all that, we have to generate marketing, awareness, and a good grass roots movement going. Of course I have to use these all in a manner that it will not cost anything to the business... or at least break even.

Prizes. Dice and Open Source stuff.
I need a prizes so I hope to finish Assembling the D20 3.5 SRD into a statement sized digest by the time things get rolling. To keep content Down, I plan to edit it so that it is capped at level 10. Once that is assembled I plan to have it printed and bound. I can probably have it done at about $10 a hard bound ($4 to get it bound). If I can get cheap enough dice, I'll make it my donation prizes to newbies.

Funny is I have to convert ALL big tables to Formulas, so that it will fit digest mode. F*ck Tables LOL


Nick de Vera said...

I played one session of D&D (4th Ed) with some people from Filipino Freethinkers. Seems the #1 problem is trying to organize a consistent time when everyone will be available. Added difficulty is callcenter people have variable working hours and days off, so weekends aren't always free.

I keep thinking much of the game experience could just be done online, via email, chat, forum thread, etc. Post your char stats, there are dice-roll apps, all doable.

justin aquino said...

Face to Face is important for me, and online is pretty hard given that no everyone has great internet. If the TTRPG community is big enough, people can always find a table to play. Hopefully.

was it with Mars? I'm asking him to refer me some players :D

Nick de Vera said...

Yeah we played at Mars's place. My girlfriend and I liked it, I torrented a bunch of sourcebooks. We talked about keeping the campaign going, but yun nga, it's a big time investment and hard to coordinate a chunk of time when 5 people will be available. I think our Dragonborn Paladin's been gone for months.

justin aquino said...

Do the guys still want to play? Maybe I can find them a group, or I can DM or GM. Want to go offline and talk about logistics?

Douglas Cole said...

"I don't plan to make money."

Plan on it. Making a profit, even if you don't keep it personally, is the bottom line that you and others will look for in terms of making your gaming convention more than a one-off. Plan it to be be a commercial and social success. It sets the stage for the following year, which you'll be able to market better due to money left over from, you guessed it, profits from the previous year.

It will allow you to call Whil Wheaton or Felicia Day or Steve Jackson and say "Hey, we're going to have a rocking game convention in the Phillipenes, and your airfare is covered if you accept.

Nick de Vera said...

Ey, I dunno, tabletop gaming's fun, but takes a big chunk of time. That's why I thought D&D 4th ed making the 4-man party the default is a mistake. Maybe casual gaming, small groups, like 3 people (2 players, 1 dm) fast pick up and play mechanics, for when people have 2-3 hours to spare.

You can contact me at zone42@gmail, but availability might be erratic.

justin aquino said...

Thanks nick. I'm targeting quick pick up games.