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Baby's First Convention

This past weekend, three of our team members attended Game Diego, a tabletop game event hosted by Stevenson Strepper of the Puzzalarium in downtown San Diego. And yes, you read the title correctly; it was baby’s first convention!

We trekked it over to San Diego from Las Vegas, a five-and-a-half hour journey filled with team bonding, good candy, and a non-negotiable playlist of country music courtesy of yours truly.

Here are some of the main takeaways from our trip:

#1: The tabletop gaming community is awesome.

As soon as we entered the event, we felt welcome by each and every person we met. People excitedly engaged in conversation with us, asking questions about the game, talking about favorite tabletop games, and even educating us on Russian politics as it related to Proliferation. Fellow game creators were interested to hear about our take on the design and publishing processes, and had games of their own for us to try out.

One constant theme of the day was that people genuinely wanted to help us on our tabletop journey. We had the privilege of setting up a vendor booth at the event, which provided us the opportunity to converse with a local game store owner from San Diego. This gave us critical information on how to move forward getting our game into stores. We also got to pick the brains of plenty of people involved in the industry, and even received the low down on events like Comic Con and Gen Con.

The people we met were quick to agree that the tabletop community was indeed awesome. Our presence at Game Diego allowed our team to connect with a diverse, passionate, and non-judgmental community, a truly priceless experience.

#2: People really enjoyed the game.

Our team ran 4 demo games ranging from 3 to 5 players in each at Game Diego, making for over a dozen new players of Proliferation. The feedback we received was incredible; we had players fill out online feedback forms in the hopes of getting honest answers, and they all talked about how much they genuinely enjoyed it. Three of the four demo games led directly to selling a physical copy of the game, and people who provided feedback received some War Games swag as a token of our gratitude.

People especially appreciated the game mechanics, artwork, and thorough design choices that made it feel cohesive. All the people who played seemed particularly engaged and excited to play, and everyone picked up on gameplay very quickly, which we took as a very positive sign. At one point we even had to create a waiting list, with one group willing to wait almost 5 hours to get the chance to play.

A board game 2 of our team members made in under an hour!

#3: It made things real for us.

This is the moment to get a little sappy on the reader. Game Diego represented a moment for us where everything became a little more real; I saw people thoroughly enjoying a game I personally designed on torn-up index cards three years ago, brought to life by a group of friends I couldn’t be happier to have. Seeing players intuitively understand the game mechanics and immerse themselves in the game had me almost shedding a tear in front of complete strangers, and the other two team members that came with had very similar feelings throughout the day.

Going to Game Diego gave me a burst of positive energy, and raised the ceiling of possibilities for the team as a game design and publishing company. People who were naturally interested in tabletop games got to try ours out, and the positive feedback let us know that one thing is clear: Proliferation is a quality game that people will fall in love with.

Every ounce of effort we put in so far has been well worth it, and Game Diego was able to give us a glimpse of that.

#4: We were invited to showcase our game at Comic Con!

By showing up and meeting some of the awesome people at Game Diego, we were able to learn about tabletop demos at Comic Con San Diego this year. It was an excellent example of just how awesome the people we met there were, and gives us an opportunity to get really excited about the next thing. While this point merely feeds into the other ones regarding community and player enjoyment, we are so excited about it that we thought it deserved to be its own point. We're thrilled at the prospect of introducing Proliferation to a larger audience and we never would have had the opportunity without Game Diego!

#5: We’re really excited (and a little more prepared) to do future events.

We took our fair share of licks and bruises during the trip, too, from spending 30 minutes in a McDonald’s drive-thru before the event, to circling the downtown blocks of San Diego multiple times trying to find a parking spot. Our team comes from Las Vegas, and understands traffic very well (have you seen the I-15 at 5:00?), but the one-way streets were successful in giving me a panic attack before we got obscenely lucky, nabbing a parking spot right in front of the event.

Game Diego gave us the opportunity to refine our operational checklist, test our Point-of-Sales system, manage a booth, and practice conversing with attendees about our game. We also got another taste of running successful demo games, administering feedback forms, and engaging in constructive criticism of the game, even if most of the feedback received was incredibly positive. Game Diego therefore gave us confidence in our ability to do it all over again, calming our worries and fears in the process.

Overall, the experience was amazing, and we want to thank everyone that attended, engaged in conversation with us, and played our debut game.


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