Game Universe Demo Report
by Kenneth Johnson
On October 13th we held our first Afternoon Saturday Spoils event at our local game store, Game Universe in the Milwaukee area. We had seven players participate in the event and because of it we now have a good core of eight to twelve players in the Milwaukee area. This group is really going to allow us to build the community of Spoils players.
Building the community, in retrospect, happened because a couple of us just started showing up and playing the game. This past summer, I posted on the official forums in a thread for Wisconsin Spoils player and I met Jason Erb (OneOne on the forum) and we met at our FLGS and just started playing. Ken then set us up with a Facebook group that we could use to organize the Wisconsin Spoils players and set up events. This was really helpful with getting us into a centralized place to talk with each other. We then signed up to become ambassadors and whenever we would play we had our demo materials to show people The Spoils when they checked to see what game we were playing.
We also benefited because our local game shop opened a brand new location which allowed us to slip in and show the game to a lot of new people that haven’t already committed to a game. The new store is having problems getting eight people to show up for Friday Night Magic and other events, so we thought this would be a good opportunity for the Spoils to shine.
I started bringing demo materials anytime I showed up at the game store, even if I was going to be playing another game. We held our first A.S.S. event on a Saturday that was supposed to be a Magic event, but we had seven people and the Magic event had two.
When people see a group of people playing a game they become interested in what everyone is playing. It is important to play in public even if it is just a few people playing. I think the biggest obstacle to growing the player-base isn’t the quality of the game but having people to play with.
Now that we have a good and committed group of players, we are very well positioned within the new year to really make the game grow. After our event the shop owner asked about what we would need for him to stock to help support us. He committed to ordering any product we needed and to carry the new expansion so we could host a pre-release.
Getting the shop owner to support us was also a big help in growing the game. We did that by holding demos for the employees of all three of our local stores, including the regional manager. The employees now know what the Spoils is, how it plays, and which sort of gamers will enjoy it. They are trained on when to suggest it to players who ask about card games.
Another thing that has helped generate interest and get players to sit down and demo is the game itself. I am now carrying a three-ring binder with my cards in sleeves that passersby can peruse through and see the fantastic art and read the clever card text. I bring the binder with me when I approach a new shop about doing a demo. I want the owner to see what the game looks like and I offer to give them a demo so they’ll know what the game is. Doing this has really allowed us access to the shops in the area.
Getting new players is just a game of numbers. If we show up, play, and offer to teach the game to anyone who walks up and asks “Hi! What game are you playing?” some number of those players are going to like the game and want to join the community. It’s all about showing people we are here and want to play with them. Everyone won’t play but it just takes a few new players to get a game to go from zero to a hundred very quickly.