Setting Up an Indie Gaming Convention Booth on a Budget

I love conventions. The feedback is incredible and getting to interact with the people that will eventually be players (once the game is done) is a really really rewarding experience for me. This means setting up a booth and that costs money. All of Undercog thus far is coming out of my pocket which is pretty modest in terms of depth. So finding ways to make a really cool space for people to hang out in and play/talk games is a bit of an issue.

I found some decent ways to make something pretty cool and still be able afford things like food.

I am also not an expert this is just how I did things and hope some of it can help others. No two games should be the same so no two booths should be the same but some of the general thoughts that went into it might be useful.

My goals are:

  • To communicate the feel of Undercog as well as Geek Monster Games
  • To create a space that is cool to hang out in
  • Create a comfortable place to play games in
  • Make sure it is portable
  • Provide as many opportunity to play as possible in a small space

 

1. Sign for Undercog

This steampunk guy's work was amazing! But the convention was not super OK with him bringing his working wrist mounted fireball shooter inside.

This steampunk guy’s work was amazing! But the convention was not super OK with him bringing his working wrist mounted fireball shooter inside.

This was a DIY job because any of the commercially produced things that would accomplish the look I wanted were just way too costly. I got the graphic printed at staples for some where around $25 and a piece of poster board for around $3. The rest was just gluing is down and cutting it out with an Exacto knife. The post that fits into the top of my monitor stand is just a piece of PVC pipe spray pained black and a door handle on the back of the sign to rest in a notch cut in the top of the PVC pipe.

Credit where credit is due. My brother Pete did literally all of the assembly on this and his attention to detail is why it looked as good as it did.

 

 

 

 

 

2.Give Away items

ButtonAndTagFor MAGfest I got a whole bunch of pins and attached tags to them with the website URL as well as a time slot because I was showing in the quick play only for 2 hours at a time so I needed to tell people when that was. For the next round of conventions it will probably just be a kind “Thank You” and the twitter handle.

I got the buttons from purebuttons.com because they were a reasonable price and good quality. Also in the future I would prefer to find some one who attends conventions that makes buttons. I would rather give money to some one within the indie community.

 

 

 

3.Banners

This is just the preview image vista print does.

This is just the preview image vista print does.

I just ordered some really cool banners at vistaprint.com these on there own are pretty pricey (about $100). I did purchase 2 of them (One for Undercog and one for my side project Haberdashery), so that would have cost s pretty penny. But I was able to cut that cost down by using groupon to buy $70 dollars worth the printing for $27. I got 2 of those Groupons and that saved me 86 bucks. They list there coupons here https://www.groupon.com/coupons/stores/vistaprint.com. So keep an eye out for deals.

In hindsight the banners I got might be a bit too big. But we will see.

 

 

 

 

4. The Hoodies

This is a cool cheap way to make promotional clothing or really anything that would traditionally be screen printed.

Careful is the way to go!

Careful is the way to go!

You will need:

  • The thing you are going to print on
  • A print out of the material you want to end up on the item
  • an exacto
  • A couple of blades
  • Wax Paper
  • an iron
  • and some pins
  • Fabric paint
  • makeup sponges

 

Basically you just use the image to cut out a stencil from the wax paper. then Iron the way paper onto the object you want to print on and then dab fabric paint onto the area you want to print. It is cheap but cutting the stencils is time consuming. I had help Lexi (who did the music for Undercog) Sean (a good friend) and once again my brother Pete all helped me out with this.

TIPS

  • Don’t use a brush it will peel up the stencil
  • Go slow and do a bunch of coats
  • pins are for parts not connected to the stencil (like the center of the gear or letters D and G)

5.Places to Play

Oh yes it is loud!

Oh yes it is loud!

I have a 2 monitor stand that is the one I use day to day. So I make use of that for conventions and wanted to have 2 set ups for people to play. In the future I may spring for another set up. But right now this is all that is within budget.

I felt like people having to stand in front of the screens to play wasn’t really that comfortable so I wanted to provide some seating and the base of the monitor stand takes up a good amount of space on a table. So I got some laptop stands and some inexpensive chairs from Ikea for keyboards and controllers. Then I got a bright pink lamp and an obnoxious green shag rug for…um…reasons. The real reason being they are the Geek Monster colors and I love obnoxious.

Also having a seating based set up allows people to set down the items they may have acquired at the convention or brought with them.

the tables are adjustable in height because what works for the 5’3″ individual does not for the 6’3″ and the other way around.

Ikea Stuff also has the advantage of being relatively easy to take apart and is also easily stacked in a compact manner for transport.

 

6. Other Stuff

  1. Zip ties and gaffers tape – To Secure everything. Because people are excited/moving quickly an liability for you and the event are a real thing. I do not want to be the guy where some one fell and broke their wrist in his booth.   (get these at Harbor Freight for a low price)
  2. Extensions for Everything – USB Extensions, standard electrical extensions, Audio extensions – because running cables out of the way looks better and is safer (get these at Monoprice for a low price)
  3. Decent noise canceling headphones – Conventions are loud and people want to hear your game (get these on Amazon  or at Monoprice for a low price)

That is all I have for now but if you have any questions please feel free to comment and I will try and get back to you!

Cheers,

Nate Flynn

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