The first board game convention I attended, I did not even think about bringing a sign. After all, the convention had a schedule and numbered tables to indicate where games were being played; why did I need to provide a sign? Admittedly, I was naive thinking that the convention organizers should hold any responsibility in getting my game played. After all, as a game creator you are your game’s salesman and it is up to you to hook people on your game.
From the experience I learned 2 important lessons:
- Not all gamers read the schedule
- An appealing sign pushes browsing gamers into playing your game
Since that lackluster day of sitting alone at my gaming table, I have learned a few important points that are shared below.
Banners and Free-standing Signs
The type of sign you use will depend on the convention you are attending. For conventions where a full-size table is given, a large banner to hang off the edge is an effective option, though they can be expensive. If you choose to go with a banner, shop around at local stores and you may find a better deal than online printer. I found competitive pricing at a local university print-shop and saved even more on not having to pay shipping.
If floor space is in plentiful supply, you may also consider a free-standing sign, though again you will want to shop around for a cost effective solution. Building your own stand to hang the sign on is also a viable strategy. A guide to building a free-standing sign post out of PVC can be found here.
Regardless of the convention specifics, I always bring along small table signs printed on Letter paper. When folded lengthwise, they should have your game on one side and your company (if applicable) on the other. They stand on their own, are portable, and are handy regardless of the table size. I get mine printed on cardstock so they don’t get crushed when I put them in my bag (a crinkled sign does not exude professionalism).
Whether to get them printed on Matte or Glossy card stock is a personal preference. I prefer Matte because it generates less glare from room lights that can obscure the sign
Another lesson I learned the hard way is to always bring more copies of signs than you need.
You can and will lose signs at conventions.
Consider the following scenarios when deciding how many copies of your sign to print:
- You have poor memory and misplace the sign
- Another attendee misplaces the sign for you (i.e. steals it)
- An attendee handles your sign while in the process of consuming Cheetos
- The sign gets soaked by a Blade-runner level downpour on your way to the convention
- A teething toddler gnaws on your tasty (and somewhat toxic) sign
- An ill child decided to reproduce the sum total of the day’s caloric intake on your sign
Any and all of the above can happen so print more signs than you need. That way, when you spot a child happily consuming your sign while the absent-minded parent looks on with pride, you can simply smile and nod, producing a new sign from your bag.
The “Back in 15” Sign
I am bad for having to make last-minute dashes to the bathroom after consuming coffee at regular intervals. During one such experience, I returned to a small note small note stating “WHERE WERE YOU? Creator was not here so we went to another game”. Do yourself a favor and have small sign to throw down when you have to dart away for food, the bathroom, or to argue with your phone provider about last month’s bill. I write mine on the inside of my table signs and then just turn them inside out when I have to leave.
- Signs attract people to your game, even in schedule-heavy conventions
- Banners and free-standing signs are great, but check if your convention will allow them
- Use small table-sized signs at all conventions
- Bring back-up signs in case the first ones become unusable
- Create a “Back in 15 minutes sign” for those moments of inconvenience
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