For publishers, self-publishers, energetic designers
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY A “LIVE EVENT”?
Well, for starters, here’s what I don’t mean. I don’t mean a tournament. For some inspiring advice on how to run a tournament for your game, please check out Stephen’s article here. (In fact, after reading this, if you are seriously considering hosting a live event, go read his article anyway for details on the logistics). I also don’t mean a jumbo or mammoth version of a game, although the live event will likely have some jumbo components.
I consider a live event one that allows the players to get physically immersed in a playable recreation of the game. Basically, what differentiates a live game event from a regular playing of the game is the magnification of the scale and the environment.
MAGNIFYING THE SCALE MAKES IT PLAYABLE, WHILE MAGNIFYING THE ENVIRONMENT MAKES IT MEMORABLE.
(Note: In writing this article, I originally went into great detail about printing large cards, buying props, renting costumes, reserving space, etc. If you read this and still want to pursue that, we can chat privately. The purpose of this article to to hopefully open your eyes to a powerful, rarely-implemented method of creating a dedicated following of fans of your game.)
Now I’ll be honest, not every game is a prime candidate for becoming a live playing event. However, if you can say yes to the following qualifying questions, a live event may be a viable and highly effective way to promote your game and create a culture around it.
DOES YOUR GAME HAVE A BOARD OR MAP?
You know how having a board does wonders for a game in establishing an environment and context. Imagine how much more immersive it is to have a board that is big enough for people to walk! If your game is played only with cards, even if you print jumbo cards, it will still be a card game. A board, however, can become an entire room full of in-your-face strategy.
DOES A PLAYER’S PIECE REPRESENT ONE PERSON?
This is the most significant factor in translating your game into an immersive live event. Ultimately, if your game has any degree of role-playing, that experience will be heightened by increasing the scale of the game. Otherwise, it will feel more like a jumbo version of the game (which is cool! Don’t get me wrong). This is what will help players forget that they are playing a board game; they are having an adventure.
IS THE PLAYER RESPONSIBLE FOR HANDLING RELATIVELY FEW COMPONENTS?
If, in order to play the game, you have to not only move pieces or armies around a board, but also handle cards or move tracker tokens, then players will struggle on a large-scale version of the game. It’s one thing to have to reach across the board at a table. It’s a completely different (and not great) experience when your responsibilities lie fifteen feet away from each other and your attention is split three or four ways. If you can let the players focus on just one or two things to play the game, they will have a more enjoyable experience.
Hosting a live event adaptation of your game is a lot of work. And I understand it’s not for everyone. But if your game is a candidate, consider the power that a live event has to create a tight following of players who create real, visceral memories through your game.
So, Designer or Publisher, does your game qualify to be transformed into a live, immersive experience? What board games do you enjoy playing that you would enjoy even more if you got to live them? Share your vision in the comments below!
The photos throughout this article are from The Amberden Affair Live at Gen Con 2014. It looks like a blast because it is. Kelsey and I are excited to host another Amberden Live at this year’s Gen Con, and we’d love for you to join us. For more information, check out Two Penny Games’ website here. Find the events through Gen Con registration by searching “The Amberden Affair Live.” (Or click that link.)