With that in mind, here are some tips for showing at an event that *does not* feature recently-made video games as the main attraction!
|My lovely wife showing our iOS game "Finger Derpy" at the KY Science Center|
Free PlayThe games are free to try out! You're offering free demos!
You know that, but for the general public tugging their kids through the busy show, everything else is vendor tables. And vendor tables means *things cost money*. It's weird in their minds to come across a booth that let's you play games for free. Some people don't know this. The easiest thing we've found, in addition to simply saying the games are free play, is putting up a simple 'FREE PLAY" sign on a sheet of paper. Obviously, you can get fancier than that if you want.
(If your expo is organized enough to have all the indie games together, clearly marked, you may not need this, so that's cool! )
Non-GamersBe nice when showing your game, and understand lots of people there are probably not 'hardcore' and may possibly be put off by your game. Don't take it personally about your game--you are simply getting a very large slice of the general public at non-gaming shows.
Don't be surprised if you get some kids playing, but the Mom or Dad does not want to play. If you have chairs, offer them a seat while the kids play and they may be more interested in your game!
|A family getting into our Steam game "Shoot 1UP" at the Louisville Mini-Maker Fair|
Xbox 360 guide buttonIf you use Xbox 360 controllers and have Steam running, and a user accidentally holds the Guide button it will stop your game and bring up Big Picture mode. This is really annoying.
Users are having a blast with your game, but may be so enamored that they don't notice they are holding the wrong button to do something. It may seem obvious "Just don't hold that button" but for some reason Valve has not released a simple option to disable BP mode for the Guide button.
The easiest fix is to not have Steam running. Have a DRM-free version of your game without running Steam. There are also Steam community threads in which people are trying to figure out workarounds to it.
Locally-Made, Recently-MadeA lot of regular folks are still coming around to the idea that video games are being made in their own backyard! They may be pretty surprised to learn that you are developing games there. Take some time to explain the cool thing to them and if they express interest in game development, mention your local development support group! Here in Louisville, it's Louisville Makes Games.
The other thing we've noticed is a lot of these shows will have Super Smash Bros or Mario Kart or some other tournament running at the event. That's some tough competition to show your game against! The important thing is to communicate that you are personally making the game they are playing now, and it was made recently--not by a huge, well-funded company (such as Nintendo).
|The MBG booth at the Louisville Arcade Expo 2015, with our upcoming "Pig Eat Ball".|
Expo ExperienceMost of the regular expo moves still apply here. For example, if you want people to remember your game's name tomorrow, print cards and hand them out! You can get 500 custom cards for under $20 at GotPrint, or basically for free if you print them on a 8.5"x11" sheet and cut out a few dozen by hand (or on stock paper). Remember to mention your release date and platform if you have one. And of course take extra cords, connectors, monitors, tape, sanitizer, drinks, signs, snacks, and controllers for backup and any other booths that need help!
Developer Farbs, of "Captain Forever" fame had another good point from the comments section:
"I showed Journey of 1000 Stars at a comic expo recently, and found a great way to build interest: Free Crap!
I gathered up all the random gaming merch that I'd accumulated over the years and spread it out on the table with a sign reading "WIN MY STUFF". I then set the high score pretty low, and let every new high scorer pick a prize.
Like you said, these events are filled with vendors asking $ for things, so offering something tangible for free is a big deal. And it's not like we don't all have huge piles of crap cluttering up our workspaces."