Conventions and Events - Short(ish) demos - do people actually play them?

Posted by: Tim Gray On: Nov 13th 2011

The specific case I'm looking at is Dragonmeet. Somebody's offered to run some one-hour demos of Jaws of the Six Serpents, which is very good of them, BUT I have the sense that very few people sign up for this sort of thing as opposed to full slots.

What does collective experience say?

I know it's been hard to get people into *really* short demos at previous events. What difference would an hour make? Would it be better to just run a slot?

Posted by: Rich Stokes On: Nov 14th 2011

From my own (limited) experience demoing Umläut and playing other people's demos, I found the short (15-20 min) demo very effective. But this is with the caveat that they only really work if the game has a strong central mechanic or two which can easily be showcased in that time.

For example, I had a demo setup ready for Umläut where I more-or-less gave the players some bands and told them what actions to take so they could experience the cool things about the setting (ie, make up some cool, crazy stuff that at metal band might do) and the system ("this is how a conflict works and this is how you manage your resources").

I found it fairly easy to get people into the 15 minute demos. Because people can generally spare 15 mins if they're hanging around. Getting people to sign up for one in advance probably wouldn't work, but that's not a problem with the milling crowds at Dragonmeet: you catch the people not doing anything else, or who're actively looking to buy games.

Slotted (4 hour) games are great and all, but work better at non-sales conventions because they build buzz about a game rather than generating numerous sales immediately. If you can run 4 hours for 6 people, that's great, but in the same time you might run several 15 minute demos for a total of 15 players and speak to 15 more while hanging around your stall.

Posted by: Matt On: Nov 15th 2011

We specifically did hour slots at an early Conpulsion Indie game track. Works well as a taster, less commitment required for an unknown quantity. That was as part of a longer overall event though...

At Dragonmeet, well, last year I nearly didn't get a game due to the scrum at signup, so having alternatives after browsing the hall a bit is nice. As Rich says, there's a milling crowd!

Posted by: Claus On: Dec 6th 2011

I found it fun and effective to do an 1/2 demo of Crimson Exodus at IndieCon (in addition to running a couple of 4 hour games). I was prepared to do demos at Dragonmeet, but I never got any requests and I wasn't sure if there was somewhere impromptu to run it so I never offered (i.e. small table or equivalent).

I suppose you need to plan a location and advertise drop in games of a fixed length to passers by. I'm sure there are plenty of people who wouldn't mind to do a quick demo of something new while having a coffee or something like that. You might find yourself running for only one or two people much of the time, but that is perfect for an intense 15 minute scenario that shows off where your game shines.

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