In Part 1, Kelsey Domeny introduced the publisher speed dating event at GenCon and had great advice for designers pitching their games. It also included video interviews with designers and publishers at the event. In this post, I provide tips for publishers attending the event.



1. Separate the game from the presentation
When listening to nearly 50 pitches during three days of speed dating, it becomes very clear who is prepared and who is not. Some designers will actually start their pitch in the middle of the game without providing any frame of reference whatsoever, which obviously makes it a challenge to fairly evaluate the game being presented. However, a game is more than just its presentation: someone can give a great, dynamic presentation on a horrible game, or give a poor, monotonous presentation on a great game. Granted, these two scenarios are extremes, but the point is to evaluate the game based on its own merits (or lack thereof) regardless of the person or method of presentation.

However, it should be noted that it is not always possible to fully separate the two, as a poor presentation will of course give very little pertinent information with which to make an evaluation. Additionally, at Cosmic Wombat Games, we not only assess the game, but we also look for designers who will be easy and fun to work with. So that must be taken into account while listening to the pitch.

2. Be professional
This tip applies to both publishers and designers, and for the most part goes without saying. I have found that within the gaming community, people are generally very kind and courteous and there is very much a spirit of helping each other out – as is evidenced by the League of Gamemakers blog and James Mathe hosting the speed dating.

That being said, as a publisher, keep in mind you are representing your company. Thus, how you act and what you say, affect how others see your company. This includes giving respect to the designers by being attentive during their pitch (whether you like the game or not), as well as being completely honest and realistic about timeframes and other aspects when meeting with them separately.

3. Get some rest (and food)
Yeah, I know – crazy talk! Who actually sleeps during GenCon?

As the publisher speed dating event occurs in the late evening, after a long, full day of GenCon, it is very likely you will be exhausted by that time. Due to the nature of the event, it is already challenging to glean all the information necessary to have a grasp on a particular game. If you are overly tired, it simply compounds the issue, making it nearly impossible. If you want to maximize the potential benefit of the event, it is a good idea to get adequate rest (and bring along some protein/energy bars to help keep you going).

At this point, I must confess that I did not follow this rule – in part because having a booth at GenCon this year involved a lot more prep beforehand than anticipated. One night I caught myself dozing off during a few presentations, which essentially breaks #2 above. But hey, we’re only human! You learn from it, adapt, and move on.

4. Have a partner
This tip directly ties into #3 above. It’s been our experience (during both years) that when one of us is drowsy, the other is not. Thus having someone with you during the event means that the things one person misses during a pitch, the other will likely get and vice versa. In a similar vein, it is not very likely that a single individual will fully understand every different mechanic and/or genre that will be presented. We all have different experiences and preferences, so having a partner that complements your weaknesses (and vice versa) is an essential part to getting the most out of the publisher speed dating process. Lastly, having a partner is also very helpful during those times when one must step away for a restroom break or to check on your volunteers demoing in the event hall.

Overall, it was a great experience and we are glad we had the opportunity to participate and see what designers have been working on. If you have been on the publisher side of this type of event, what suggestions would you give?