Last week I wrote about stuff you can do to prepare for a conference like Bitsummit. This week I’m going to talk about things you can do during the event itself to keep your costs down and maximize your networking.
Japan is a wonderful place for pre-packed meals, and one need only step into the ubiquitous “konbini” (convenience store) to see the wide variety of foods they have to go. For less than $5 you can have a complete meal, and if your budget’s really tight an instant ramen can tide you over for at least one meal.
198 yen -- less than $2
However, be on the lookout for a supermarket near your accommodation or train station. Supermarket good will generally be cheaper than konbini food, and in some cases is actually prepared right on the premises for better freshness. I picked up this chirashi for $2 at the Kyoto co-op near Niji station, and it served as lunch for Day 2 of Bitsummit. Make sure to bring food to your table so that you don’t have to waste time looking for food like I did on the first day.
Also, this may seem counterintuitive, but I’d skip the coffee and the red bull. I was rather surprised by this myself since a cup of coffee is a daily habit for me, but I found that for the most part I was able to function on just pure adrenaline for most of the show. Overdosing on caffeine may sound like an attractive option, but once you crash from that caffeine high you’ll be super sluggish the rest of the day.
If you have a free to play mobile game that you’re displaying on the show floor, why not offer a cheap treat to entice people to download the game? Brian Stabile of @AstroCrowGames had some luck with this tactic, and I eventually started doing it too, using the Philippine candies I’d brought to the show. Make sure that whatever you’re offering is much, much cheaper than a dollar (eg each candy probably cost less than 5 cents) since the your game is free and you’re just trying to get a download bump.
Networking at shows like these is always an issue for introverts like me. We can only handle so much facetime with other people, and large crowds tend to faze us. But in a situation like Bitsummit you just need to suck it up and walk up to everyone that you feel you need to talk to and make the case for your game. Do it on the spot, and even in an awkward position if you have to.
Case in point, I noticed a Verge reporter while I was in the bathroom. I stepped outside and weighed my options for a bit, knowing that there is no place more awkward to strike up a conversation other than when you’ve just stepped out of the bathroom. But as soon as he stepped out I first apologized, then introduced myself as a developer and a fan of the Verge, and things went rolling from there.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m assured of coverage on the Verge, mind you, but generally speaking reporters are at the event to do coverage, so you shouldn’t be shy to show off your game. However, you should understand that reporters are in no way obliged to write about your game. After you’ve showed off your game, thank them for their time, and simply hope for the best.
It goes without saying that you should be nice to your fellow developers. There’s a kinship that exists amongst fellow indies so generally speaking this is almost a given, but yeah, be nice! If you’re talking to a reporter, swing them over to your friend’s table after you’ve made your pitch. They’ll most likely reciprocate if the opportunity presents itself down the line. If you’re sharing a table with another dev take the time to get to know your tablemate and arrange to split time manning the table so that you can make the rounds, go to the bathroom, or do a food run.
Looking back, I enjoyed myself immensely at Bitsummit. I got to show off Party Animals a bit, met some old friends and made some awesome new ones. I’m excited to go back next year more prepared and with a better demo!