[Story Games Roadshow] A Brainstorm Session

edited June 2010 in Directed Promotion
True facts:

1.) I am unemployed as of late fall.
2.) I am already planning to travel around North America for 3-4 months, exploring. Probably starting in January.
3.) I really like story games, and like bringing them to cool new audiences.

Idea:

Since I'm already going to be touring from city to city, spending a day or two in each, it'd be really cool to set up events with local community centers, libraries, game stores and literary festivals... to set up a table, pitch and demo games, give out "What Is a Story Game?" brochures, and sell a small inventory of stuff.

A roadshow that's designed to:
a.) expose gamers to new games
b.) expose non-gamers to gaming
c.) be a positive, friendly community venue for showcasing games

Now, Brainstorming:

Could this be successful?
If so, what would make it successful?
Who should I be asking for support, and what should the support look like?
How can you help?
What should I do to convince you to help me?

Any other questions are welcome to be answered, too.
Jump in, talk about how this could be a cool thing.

If you think the initial idea is lame, that's not useful feedback yet.
Take five minutes to re-envision it, into something that's positively unlame, and then share that.

Comments

  • Just chiming in to say
    a) I like this idea.
    b) Let me know when it's happening, we'll make sure you absolutely *wreck* Michigan.
  • I think this is all really great, but you gotta focus it down a bit into:

    *What you are willing to do.
    *What you want to do. (Enthusiasm is key)
    *What your overall goal is.

    I'm still trying to wrap my head around the logistics of what you're talking about doing.
  • Posted By: jessecoombsI think this is all really great, but you gotta focus it down a bit into:

    *What you are willing to do.
    *What you want to do. (Enthusiasm is key)
    *What your overall goal is.
    Sure. I think right now, I'm still dealing with a shapeless mass of potential.
    So, before I commit to answering those questions, I'm hoping people will pile some random ideas onto the table.
    And then I can sift, re-organize, and choose from whatever is on that table.

    Or something.

    Do you have any ideas, as far as answering those questions?
    If you had the time and resources, what would YOU do on this trip?
  • Dear Joe:
    Come to Montreal.
    Love and Kisses,
    Orly.
  • I think this is a great idea! Especially if you come to either the DC area or the Triangle in North Carolina. If you do, I will do everything I can to be available to help demo some games!

    Now, the main thing that attracted my attention, as it's an issue near and dear to my heart is:

    "b.) expose non-gamers to gaming"

    I think this would probably be the most difficult thing to do on any large scale. With the others, having an event at a game store or with a game club would be a great way to do it (introduce new games and ways of playing, meet new people, have a good time, et cetera). Getting non-gamers to show up at an event of gamers at a gamery place might be a little more difficult, but I think would be totally worthwhile if we can figure out a way to do more than just "oh you brought your girlfriend/little brother/mom/fellow you met at the bar last night, let's play!" (not that there's anything wrong with that approach too).

    Unfortunately, having identified the issue, I don't have any suggestions to fix it just now!
  • Joe, you should check out this book for inspiration.
  • I think you should definitely start a blog, with a nicely-designed website that you can update from the road. Something that looks clean so people know you're serious, something that shows where you've been, something that shows where you're planning on going, and something where the people who you visit can have a bit of their say.

    I WOULD NOT bother with classifying these games as indie/trad or story/roleplaying. In other words, I think that word politics would only turn off new players or old players from new games. Just pick the games you like and that will work well and talk them up.
  • Posted By: McdaldnoWhat should I do to convince you to help me?
    Just bat your eyes and breathe on my glasses, brohammer.

    OMG so in!

    SO, ideas: I like the library thing. The Central Library in downtown Portland has hip events and shit all the time, but they're usually Q&A sessions with a cool VIP lecturer. We could break that pattern and rock their socks!

    We could have like three tables for different age groups , so like Gun Thief at Adult, Dreaming Crucible at Young Adult, and Wildlings at Children. (I think it's especially important at a library to keep Gun Thief's target age clear.) Man, that makes me want to work on my game idea for a Sonic The Hedgehog-style adventure game!

    It's too bad you're traveling in Winter, 'cuz Story Games at the Park would be grand. I cool big-circle storyjam with rules like Archipelago or whatnot would be wonderful in that setting!

    My big goal in such an endeavor would be that people of all ages would go away from the experience with the ability and drive to DO THIS THEMSELVES, not just "man, that was cool when those storygaming rockstars swept through and helped us tell stories in a way that we can never possibly duplicate because we're not rockstars." This means both materials to help them (sell microgames, give handouts) AND teaching techniques they can internalize and apply on their own.

    Also, by "travel North America exploring" you really mean "hang out in Portland for a month or so, and put in token appearances at other cities," right? Please?

    j/k.

    Peace,
    -Joel
  • Posted By: McdaldnoSince I'm already going to be touring from city to city, spending a day or two in each, it'd be really cool to set up events with local community centers, libraries, ... and literary festivals

    ...

    b.) expose non-gamers to gaming

    ...

    If so, what would make it successful?
    As a piece of general advice, learn to speak their language, don't expect them to learn yours. For example, if you were trying to craft an experience for a book club you could figure out how to set up your post-game discussion to mirror the way they normally discuss stories they've read. You'd also probably want games with hooks that they can understand in their terms, such as recognizable literary genres rather than genres that only make sense to gamers like the traditional "adventuring party" setup. Also, I think there's a strong tendency in the story games community to focus on visual media like film and television when we talk about and play games, so you may want to analyze the way you describe and explain story games to see if there are ways to make them more resonant when you deal with more literary venues.
  • Posted By: jessecoombsI think you should definitely start a blog, with a nicely-designed website that you can update from the road. Something that looks clean so people know you're serious, something that shows where you've been, something that shows where you're planning on going, and something where the people who you visit can have a bit of their say.
    Nice idea. Something with a prominent and attractive calendar, and a tidy little list of links.
    Posted By: jessecoombsI WOULD NOT bother with classifying these games as indie/trad or story/roleplaying. In other words, I think that word politics would only turn off new players or old players from new games. Just pick the games you like and that will work well and talk them up.
    Truth.
    My thought was: bring low-prep/no-prep games that are clearly written and easy to play, designed for 1-3 sessions of play.
    Call them story games, or call them roleplaying games, but just pick a title and call them that.
    Have a flier that says "None of these quite what you're after?" Then proceed to blurb-drop 3-4 distinctly different games, free of jargon or politics.
    Posted By: Dan MaruschakAs a piece of general advice, learn to speak their language, don't expect them to learn yours. For example, if you were trying to craft an experience for a book club you could figure out how to set up your post-game discussion to mirror the way they normally discuss stories they've read.
    Sage advice. Thanks.
    Posted By: JoelIt's too bad you're traveling in Winter, 'cuz Story Games at the Park would be grand. I cool big-circle storyjam with rules like Archipelago or whatnot would be wonderful in that setting!
    I hear you saying "Spring would allow a wider range of venues and activities", right?
    That's worthwhile advice. I'll definitely consider hedging those dates closer to the frost's retreat.
  • Heck, I would recommend doing this in the Winter. That's when LESS things are scheduled and if you have the only game in town (pun intended) you might get more people. Playing fun games inside while it's cold outside is awesome.
  • edited July 2010
    Posted By: McdaldnoCould this be successful?
    If so, what would make it successful?
    Who should I be asking for support, and what should the support look like?
    How can you help?
    What should I do to convince you to help me?
    I think so.

    Find a way to get the word out a couple weeks ahead of your travel schedule. I don't know what that is. Will newspapers donate a bit of ad space for a free event? (Is it a free event?) Get locals to retweet your incoming schedule. Also, tie a Facebook page to your blog -- or just use Facebook as your blog.

    You'll want a place to sleep and shower. You should be asking us all for that.

    At work, I could sneaky-print like a hundred copies of GHOST/ECHO or something similar for you to distribute. I could loan you a guest-room in Jordan, MN (near the twin cities) for a night or two if we're on your route.

    Also, I don't know how much you'll be selling or what kind of vehicle you'll be travelling in, but if you need to have your inventory dropped at several locations that you can pick up along the way so that you don't have to have it all in your car, I'm sure lots of people here could receive and hold a box for you.
  • Posted By: jessecoombsHeck, I would recommend doing this in the Winter. That's when LESS things are scheduled and if you have the only game in town (pun intended) you might get more people. Playing fun games inside while it's cold outside is awesome.
    Fair point. I guess we could go either way.
  • Posted By: Christopher WeeksYou'll want a place to sleep and shower. You should be asking us all for that.

    At work, I could sneaky-print like a hundred copies of GHOST/ECHO or something similar for you to distribute. I could loan you a guest-room in Jordan, MN (near the twin cities) for a night or two if we're on your route.

    Also, I don't know how much you'll be selling or what kind of vehicle you'll be travelling in, but if you need to have your inventory dropped at several locations that you can pick up along the way so that you don't have to have it all in your car, I'm sure lots of people here could receive and hold a box for you.
    Cool.

    If I rock this plan, I'll need to depend on support like this - people lending me crash-space, holding inventory caches for my arrival, sneak-printing free games and products, and generally being lovely.

    In exchange, they'll get: story games promotion in their town, a grateful visitor who can cook a mean eggs benny, me GMing stuff, maybe a gift of one of my products if I can spare it.
  • We could double it up with some musical performance nights.

    Just sayin'.
  • Posted By: jackson teguWe could double it up with some musical performance nights.

    Just sayin'.
    Hah - I sort of like the idea of a weird indie-gamer / musician crossover. Anyone down for some of my patented sound-collage noise-jams? Because, oh boy. I will make you wish you never said "oh, yes please, show me your non-music!"
  • I'd be concerned with having infrastructure available to publicize and host your events. Maybe you could identify local groups that do kinda-similar creative stuff -- improv clubs, writers' clubs, etc -- and piggyback on their infrastructure and membership.

    Also, consider the example of the UW Experimental College, which offers lots of hobby-introduction courses. I learned how to kayak and how to play soccer there. These courses are typically offered by a for-profit business looking for low-friction way to acquire new customers in bulk, so I believe it's entirely honorable for you to have Ribbon Drive fliers there.

    As far as the actual event itself... this is probably just my nerd social damage talking, but learning to kayak in that Experimental College environment was really positive for me. It was nice to be part of a big gaggle of newbies that was constantly asking stupid questions and screwing up instructions. Contrast that with my experience at some dojos or yoga studios, where I've been tossed into the deep end with people of all experience levels and I wasn't sure where to fit in or how to behave or whatever. Being the only student in a roomful of prospective teachers sucked.

    With that in mind, I wonder if you should consider not inviting anyone with a story-games account to participate in actual play at one of these events. If I were a prospective participant, I wouldn't want to feel like I was blundering into a pre-existing social club freighted with opaque and arcane conventions.
  • I'm not sure I can quite manage being lovely, but a place to sleep and shower, and a well-stocked kitchen, are definitely things I can provide, should you find yourself in Boston. Of course, there's already a fairly healthy story-games community here, so this might be bringing coals to Newcastle.

    And johnzo: I think there's a happy balance somewhere in there between inviting no current story-gamers and inviting too many current story-gamers. I've done story-game advocacy at trad cons, and it *really* helps if you have one or two people at the table who know the opaque and arcane conventions and are happy to demonstrate and explain and assist. The difference, I think, is in saying "Joe here has experience with the game, and is going to help me show how it's played," instead of just throwing the newbie in to sink or swim.

    (One of the things I regret about the most recent JiffyCon: I was facilitating Remember Tomorrow, and two of the players at the table had minimal to no experience with story games. They were basically trad gamers who had heard there was a small con in Somerville and had come to check it out. Had I realized that, I probably would have explained some of the conventions we were playing under. Fortunately, they both picked up on what was going on very quickly; unfortunately, that meant I only found out after the fact; fortunately, I do not seem to have destroyed two proto-story-gamers, so all's well that ends well.)
  • There's a million Meetup groups that have to do with gaming and game-related activities. If you establish an itinerary, you could spend some quality time on Meetup tracking down local lists to publicize on (and which may also help you find venues). I know here in Chicago I'm on I think 5 Meetup lists, from a mostly-trad game organization group to a monthly family/casual games group.

    Also, if you come to Chicago you have a place to stay, of course.

    Also, you should come to Chicago because it's awesome.
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