GDC

5 Tips For Standing Out At Your Next Game Fair

Tokyo Game Show

The Penny Arcade Expo, Game Developers Conference, and Gamescom are a few of the many huge trade fairs small developers dream of attending. Who wouldn’t want thousands of people checking out their game, especially as it’s preparing for release? There are plenty of gamers out there who would probably love your game, but they may never know it exists unless you exhibit it.

If you’ve been to a trade fair before and have seen all the different booths, you probably didn’t notice all the hard work that went into attracting your attention. We’ve offered advice before on preparing for an event like this so everything goes smoothly. The following are a few more tips to help you get the most out of your next trade fair:

1. Make Your Booth Easy To See

If you’re at a massive event like the Tokyo Game Show (more than 268,000 attended in 2015), it means lots and lots of people are going to be walking by your booth. Knowing this, the biggest mistake you can make is designing your booth so that they can’t see easily see it. This includes making walls around your space so that it feels more enclosed and personal. The problem is that some people will see walls and not your game.

Rex Rocket at game convention

It’s also a good idea to face your booth toward where you think (or know) the most people will walk by. This of course doesn’t apply if your booth is against a wall, which means there’s really only one direction you can face your booth. But if you’re somewhere in the middle, try setting up your booth so that the “back” of it is facing an area where the least amount of people will walk by. This way, more attendees will catch a glimpse of what you’re showing off.

2. Be Unique

As we’ve mentioned already, the biggest challenge that comes with exhibiting at a big event is getting the attention you know your game deserves. But with so many booths surrounding yours, how is this possible? One thing you can do is refrain from doing what all the other booths are doing, even if it looks like it’s working for them.

Instead, try making your booth unique and appealing. If everyone else has neon lights and bright colors, go for something darker yet intriguing. This might be tough since trying to put something together at the last minute is a very bad idea, so it’s hard to react to what other booths near yours are doing. Use your brain and come up with designs, shapes, and colors that you think no one else will also try pulling off.

3. Make Your Booth Approachable

Your game should of course be the biggest reason why anyone approaches your booth. However, there are small things you can do to entice walker byers to spend time in your “area.” The longer they hang around there, the more likely they are to finally pick up your controller and play the game you’ve worked so hard on.

Indiecade exhibitors lounge in a booth

One small tip is to have some kind of seats, even if they’re metal folding chairs that no one finds comfortable. But to someone who’s been walking around for several hours, they’ll look very inviting. Sometimes it’s also a turn-off seeing a dev standing next to their setup with the same “please try it” look as the people giving samples at Costco. There are those who like talking to devs, but some people will only approach a game if they don’t think someone’s going to distract them by talking.

4. Prepare for Problems and Exhaustion

We touched on this before on our last five tips. Exhibiting at shows means staying active for more hours in a row than you’re probably used to. This means you need to make sure you get plenty of rest when the doors are closed and stay well nourished during the event. Bring snacks you can munch on whenever you get the chance, such as when there’s a big event elsewhere and so there aren’t a lot of people in your area.

It also helps to go in knowing that something can (and probably will) go wrong. This way, you won’t panic when a disastrous bug that renders your game playless pops up precisely when you have a line of people waiting to play. If you stay calm and tackle one issue at a time, you’ll eventually sort things out and get back to demonstrating your game.

5. Set Up An Event Or Two

The truth is, video game trade shows often boil down to a competition for attention. Perhaps this is why Nintendo has reduced their presence at E3 each year and instead focused on their own Nintendo Direct presentations. To get people to look your booth’s way and not the one nearby, setting up fun events might do the trick.

cosplay contest at convention

Since people love free stuff, frequently contests where the winner gets swag. This can include your game, such as seeing who can get the highest score out of X amount of participants, or something random and silly like a pie-eating competition or who can twirl a hula hoop the longest. People show up cosplaying so you can even set up a cosplay contest. The goal is to capture their attention and hopefully engrave your game’s name in their minds.

Game Developers: What Not To Miss At GDC 2016

GDC 2016 Banner

It’s amazing to think that the Game Developers Conference started out in a small living room back in the 1980s. The annual event now takes place in the biggest convention and exhibition complex in San Francisco, California. Thousands of developers from across the globe do whatever it takes to attend and soak in the knowledge from the multitude of sessions. The time spent networking with other devs and talking about games alone is worth the trip.

To say that there’s a ton of things to do at GDC is an understatement. Whether GDC 2016 will be your first time attending or you’ve already been there before, below are some of the show’s highlights we’re sure you won’t want to miss.

Virtual Reality Developers Conference

This year a two-day summit will take place at GDC focusing entirely on the next big thing—VR. Experts from not just video games but also from the entertainment and tech industries will be there to talk about creating virtual and augmented reality content with today’s advanced tools. They may even touch on the biggest challenges facing VR.

User testing out Playstation VR at Madrid Games Week 2015

If you’re interested in what the PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and other companies are bringing to the table, you won’t want to miss talks by people from Crytek and Epic Games. The conference will also cover how VR can be used in other fields such as retail, product design, sports, and more.

Indie MEGABOOTH

The independent video game scene continues to thrive as more and more developers work with what little they can to make something amazing. This year’s Indie Megabooth will showcase more than a dozen games, allowing developers to exhibit their projects to people from around the world. If you can, be sure to also attend the 16th annual Independent Games Festival Awards.

The featured Megabooth games are Altered State, C-Wars, Elsinore, Fort Triumph, In The Shadows, Long Story, Metareal, Oneshot, Semispheres, Sentree, Sneaky Ninja, Streets of Rogue, sU, Sumer, and We Are Chicago. For a better look at these titles, check out the official site at http://indiemegabooth.com.

The Perfect Session For You

It’s easy to get overwhelmed looking at all the incredible sessions going on during the event. But since we can’t be in more than one place at a time, you’ll have to decide which will be the most beneficial to you. We recommend you look online and start planning your days so you don’t miss the sessions that can help you become a better game creator.

Screenshot from Fallout 4

Interested in level design? Check out the “Fallout 4‘s Modular Level Design” session by two Bethesda veterans. Are you involved in the art side of game development? Perhaps the “Art Direction: Graphic Design is Key” by Ubisoft Montreal’s Liam Wong is your best choice. You can also view them later online on the GDC website, so don’t sweat it if you miss one.

16th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards

Just like in other entertainment industries, the best video games and developers deserve to be recognized. The annual choice awards is where developers come together to celebrate how far games have come and choose who they think deserves attention for their work.

This event takes place on Wednesday, March 16 and will feature awards in thirteen categories. The categories include the illustrious Game of the Year awards as well as awards for Innovation, Best Debut, Best Design, Best Narrative, and more. To take a peek at all of the finalists and honorable mentions here, see the official website: http://www.gamechoiceawards.com/.

Learn the skills you need to succeed as a game designer at the Game Design School at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.