Pros and Cons of Representing your Larp at a Convention

Have you ever considered getting a booth or display space for your larp at a convention? After all, it’s a great place to meet local gamers who might be interested in attending your game. It can be an opportunity to work with other larpers in your game to present a positive impression of your game in particular and larp as a hobby in general. However, attending a convention isn’t without challenges for larpers. After you find one that permits larps, there are several pros and cons to consider:

 

Pro: Vendor Pass – When you attend a convention as a vendor, you usually get a vendor pass. While this might not mean much at a large con, at small or mid-size cons this comes with extra perks, like after-party invites or hanging out with some of the well-known guests. Take advantage of this. Networking with the right person can really pay off. If just one person says something positive about your game to her 700 fellow geeks on Facebook and she brings two of her friends to your game every month for the next three years at $40/game, it represents $4,320 for your game in admission costs.

Con: Not cost-effective – Many larps find that vending at conventions isn’t necessarily cost-effective. Depending on the convention you go to, your booth can cost $25-$5,000 – yes, some of the larger shows do charge that much. The investment of your booth, vending space, transportation, and other expenses can be a gamble. However, if you attract just one player who returns to your monthly game consistently, it may pay off in the long run.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPro: Exposure – Your larp will get some exposure by being at the convention. You’ll meet other gamers, vendors, guests, and members of the press, all of whom can generate buzz about your game. Additionally, you may have the opportunity to do a live demo at the event. Always offer this when you sign up to vend at an event.

Con: Another obligation – If you are one of the people in charge of running a larp, you know how easy it is to experience burnout. Adding another weekend event to your calendar can add to that problem. You can make some more money by selling physical items or tickets to your game at the event, but you must allocate time and resources to manage the finances in the convention environment.

Pro: Out-of-game bonding – Heading to a convention can be a major bonding experience for your group, especially if you share transportation and lodgings. This camaraderie encourages your staff to work together more effectively and can promote player retention. This is a great way to break up the cliques that usually exist in larps and allows new and old players to form friendships out-of-game.

Additionally, meeting others at conventions gives you the opportunity to hear what people are saying about the games and larping in general. It also gives you the opportunity to correct any misconceptions people have about your game or about larping overall. If it’s in the game’s budget, vending at a convention is definitely worth a try.

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3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Ivan Žalac May 21, 2013 Contributor

    Two months ago I wrote an article on larps and conventions (and larp conventions): http://www.crolarper.com/2013/03/whats-larp-convention-anyway.html

    I represented a larp group on our booth several times and worked on it, and from my experience (and the experience of others from that group) it was usually not worth to do it that way. However, it’s possible that your conventions work differently than ours.

    What I found more effective is to do some content on the con (such as do a short presentation, demo, a workshop or do a chamber larp) where your larp series (or a group) gets represented. There is less visibility that way, but you get more interested people, can deliver a short, focused and powerful presentation instead of being in a loud hall, and over here it’s so far shown itself to be more effective, because you can invest the rest of your time in networking, which is the biggest value of any con.

    Also, over here those who do program (but have no booths) usually get free entrance, but this might be a local thing (vendor pass perks are unknown here).

  2. Tara C. May 24, 2013 Subscriber

    Running a demo is an excellent way to market your game at a convention, definitely.

    The vendor passes (at least at the cons near me) are usually limited to 2-4 per booth. Sometimes there are perks, sometimes there aren’t. Sometimes the perks are better than what I’ve gotten with press passes – other times, not so much.

    I would love the opportunity to go to a larp convention. The few that I’ve heard of are a bit far, although some are doable. I hope to get to one in the future!

    Thank you for reading my article.

  3. Johnnie Williams August 28, 2013 Subscriber

    An easy way to cheaply advertise your LARP is to print off a stack of flyers and leave them on the flyer table if the con has one. Some do. Some do not.

    Failing that. See if any friendly vendor will host your flyers on some corner of their table.

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