You think you’re ready for a show like PAX East, especially as we exhibited there last year… but until you’re actually there you forget just how amazing and overwhelming a show like that really is! I’m now back at my computer armed with a stack of business cards and faced with a mountain of emails which I didn’t have time to respond to over the weekend as well as new emails from people that visited the stand.
So how did it go? Well, it totally kicked ass and we had a great response to Gamebook Adentures. Joining me this year were Miellyn Fitzwater Barrows, one of our upcoming writers and all-round GA USA representative, and Dan Maxwell, our awesome GA illustrator, who has worked on all of our titles in one way or another over the last few years. Ben wasn’t able to make it this year as he’s busy working on Judge Dredd and our Android versions, but he was there in spirit as his great knots were still connected to the banners, meaning it was easier to put them up!
Speaking of Android, we made PAX East our big announcement stage and I hastily put together a press release and emailed it around using our dodgy hotel wi-fi as best I could. It did get picked up by a bunch of sites, most notably Pocket Gamer and generated some serious buzz around the stand. Many of our banners show iPads, so it was great to point out to visitors that we were on Android, backed up by Dan showing off GA1 running on a Kindle Fire. Some people were downloading it there and then!
We did a number of things differently this year, one of which was getting in early for booth placement. Around us we had Super Giant Games (Bastion), The Behemoth (Castle Crashers) and fellow iOS RPG indies, SRRN Games. Having some big names around us helped drive traffic and it was great to be sat alongside such distinguished devs. The booth also felt bigger, being on a corner and was very visible as people wandered away from the enormous Xbox stand and towards The Behemoth guys. It also stood out as the herd of people came down the escalators from the north entrance. On Saturday especially, it felt like it was never empty – which is was great!
We also had a bit more information on our banners this year which helped clear up the “What is this?” factor that we’ve had at previous shows. One of the other succesful parts of the booth was our new iPad demo stand which was running Temple of the Spider God and enabled players to come straight up to the booth and start playing immediately. One visitor in particular was stood for 20 mins and unlocked loads of the artwork and achievements!
I still feel that we were lacking the pizzazz of some of the other stands and next year we may go for something a little more audio-visual. Trying to sell a “book” is actually quite hard to a passer-by and our sales tactic was something like: “So have you read Choose Your Own Adventure book before?”, followed by “Do you like RPGs?”. At this point you’re hoping for a yes to both these questions and then you follow up with something like, “Well imagine if both of these wonderful things combined and had children…the offspring would be Gamebook Adventures!”. That is usually enough of a hook to perk the interest and get them to hear more”spiel”. It’s amazing how enthusiastic people are when the penny actually drops and they understand how GA works.
As is usual for these shows we handed out a ton of postcards and bookmarks, which this year had a more Judge Dredd theme to them. For once we didn’t print too many as well, which meant no rush handing outs on the Sunday like we did last year. Most people that took one were genuinely interested in our titles so hopefully they will look us up and may even be reading this now. Hello if you are! We also handed out some postcards of our fantasy covers and it was great to be complimented and then be able to point towards Dan and say “Here’s the artist!”.
There was a slow stream of press over the three days and (I think) I was video interviewed three times and audio recorded a handful of times to. Possibly the most memorable interview was with Machinima, where the host cracked me up a number of times. You can see the video here (3 mins 45 secs in)! Other articles have surfaced since the expo including this one, in which I was likened to a young and kind Russell Crowe. Little do they know that I am actually a native Englishman and Mr. Crowe is actually from New Zealand not Australia! Minor quibbles aside, it’s some great coverage. I also met up and had a very good chat with Brett Nolan and his twin brother from App Addict at the “Made in MA” dev gathering on the Thursday night and saw this a few days later. Finally Miellyn was very excited when the lovely ladies from Team Unicorn made an appearance at the booth and took away some copies of GA – as a huge fan, I think this made her weekend!
So what did we take away from PAX East this year? Well, apart from hardening my arteries from way too much American bacon, I can safely say that people are still really loving Gamebook Adventures and genuinely interested and supportive of our indie endeavours. We made lots of new friends, new fans and caught up with many from last year. After two years at the expo, I can safely say that we feel like a regular fixture in Boston and hopefully every year we’ll continue to grow and bring more interactive fiction awesomeness to the world! If you made time to chat with Dan, Miellyn or myself over the course of the 3 days, then thank you! I look forward to seeing you all again in 12 months, arteries permitting.
- Neil, aka The Tin Man