1) If you’re flying to the convention then you need to do whatever you can to ensure your prototypes are in your carry-on! The first convention I went to – guess what happened? They lost my luggage. Fortunately I had most of my prototypes in my carry-on. The luggage came the next day but it could have been a lot worse!
2) Since you’re going to want to have your prototypes with you as you walk the floor, you’ll have to think about how you want to carry them around. A wheeled carry-on works well, while a backpack makes you look unprofessional. It’s also possible that you could just carry a box around – but you’ll find that to be too cumbersome when trying to show your sales sheets and not drop your box.
3) Give some thought to how you want to package each game. The best case scenario would be to have a separate container/box for each game you have. That way when you sit down with a publisher to showcase your game you will have everything you need in one box. Alternatively, if you have too many games and they won’t fit in your carry-on luggage, then you’ll have to opt for a larger box. Take all of your games out of their boxes and squeeze them into one larger box (that still has to fit in your carry-on!).
I always have to pack my games into a larger box since I’m always taking 6-10 games with me to each convention. This does cause some frustration though as you open your large box and have to dig around to find all the baggies/cards/pieces to the game you want to show. If you can separate the games in the large box somehow, then that will make it easier to get everything ready.
When you are pitching your game to a publisher, every second counts – quite literally. You don’t want to waste time fiddling around with your baggies and pieces looking for the right components. This looks very unprofessional.
4) If you opt for the larger box scenario, then you need to consider how you would give your game to a publisher if they do want to take a closer look at it back in their offices. The best solution for this is to pack many smaller boxes that will fit each game separately into your main luggage. At the last convention I was at, I showed Z-Man games our Akrotiri game and when he said he’d like to take it back with him to play after the convention, I had to fumble around for a box that fit everything. I found one – but the rules didn’t fit neatly in the box, so I gave that to him separately – which was not a good idea in hindsight as they could easily be separated and lost from each other. I tried to rectify this by emailing him a new set of rules when I got home.
5) If you are crossing a border to get to a convention, make sure you indicate that you are truthful about your reasons for your visit, but beware of complications if you’re ‘too’ truthful. I decided to check off that the reason for my travel was Business and Personal. When they asked what the business was, I told them that I was a game designer and was going down to pitch my games to publishers. They said that I couldn’t take my prototypes into the country with me. What?! They said that since I’m planning on selling products in the states I would have had to go through the proper channels to get them into the country. I had to explain to him that I wasn’t selling anything at all and that I would retain the prototypes and that I wasn’t ‘taking orders’ for products at all. It took a while, but he eventually let me through. Needless to say, on future trips I say that I’m going for Personal reasons only!
With your bags packed and ready to go, now it really is time to hit the convention! In the next post we’ll talk about what to do when you’re at a convention!