Sumo fights Yoga Master…and other Hooks

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Image found at: http://images.bit-tech.net/content_images/2009/09/the-ten-best-gaming-moves-ever/harpoon.jpg
Image found at: http://images.bit-tech.net/content_images/2009/09/the-ten-best-gaming-moves-ever/harpoon.jpg

Game conventions are great! Seeing so much passion for games in one place is enough to make your head spin. Of course, some conventions have more to offer than others, but generally the mood is overwhelmingly positive with attendees excited about anything and everything! As a game designer, conventions represent a golden opportunity to  build new relationships and showcase your game to an already energized public!

It pains me than, when I see game designers who have great games to share, but failing to grab the attention of energized convention goers. So today lets talk about the opening line, the HOOK that captures a passerby’s attention.

A good hook should…

  1. Be short (aim for 2-3 seconds to deliver verbally)
  2. Be relevant (Don’t make a joke about neutron stars to an 8 year old…or a Liberal Arts major)
  3. Be engaging (be more interesting than whatever else is around you)

For your enjoyment, I present a case study:

Let’s pretend you are living the dream and working for Capcom. Dressed like Ryu from Street Fighter with your co-worker dressed like Ken, you stand in a room surrounded by gamers. The only problem is that when you approach people, your opening line is very different from your co-worker.

Ryu’s (you) Line:

“uhh…I have uhh…this game about fighting on the street uhh…and there is fire and uhh…yoga and stuff”

v.s

Ken’s (co-worker) Line:

“Have you ever seen a sumo fight a fire-breathing yoga instructor?”

WINNER: Ken

A typical day at the office Image found at: http://anymaytion.com/2014/07/19/ryu-and-ken-epic-team-street-fighter-wallpaper-hd/
A typical day at the office! (Image found at: http://anymaytion.com/2014/07/19/ryu-and-ken-epic-team-street-fighter-wallpaper-hd/)

You need a reason to attract convention goers to your game and if you lack a hook, people will pass you up for the body building supplements booth because SWEET MOTHER OF GOD, THAT MAN LOOKS LIKE THOR AND SAYS I CAN TOO!

For another example, I like to think that if I can generate interest in my farming game Crop Cycle in a convention filled with dragons, space marines and everything in between, anything is possible.

The trick is not starting the conversation with: “hey uhhh….I have this game…about farming and uhh…stuff”

No, I start of conversation with something like:

“you’ve played Cards Against Humanity, now try Cards Against Agronomy”

Or

“come play Crop Cycle, it’s like Munchkin, only nothing like it” (there are a fair number of game mechanic parallels in all honesty)

Or

“Come play Crop Cycle, PRAIRIE PRIDE and possibly THE FATE OF THE WORLD DEPENDS ON IT!!!”

Any of these alternatives is better than “farming and stuff”.

In fact, come to the convention with multiple hooks depending on the type of attendant you encounter. The hook for a Mother of three V.S an attendee dressed as a space marine are going to be different and your hook should reflect that!

To conclude, remember:

  1. Be short
  2. Be relevant
  3. Be engaging

Write down, brainstorm, mind map; do whatever you have to in order to get the creative juices flowing, but make sure you come to the convention with at least one strong hook that meets the above criteria!

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7 thoughts on “Sumo fights Yoga Master…and other Hooks

    Convention Coach « Convergent Games Blog said:
    March 17, 2015 at 4:39 am

    […] 2. Sumo Fights Yoga Instructors…and other hooks to engage with […]

    Like

    […] If you haven’t guessed, my preference is to leave the candy dish open for convention attendees to help themselves. Aside from the occasional young child (or adult with the mind of small child) that will take candy and run away, most people won’t destroy your food stuffs without at least making small-talk. If you are unsure of what to do when someone asks what your booth is showcasing, a good place to start is to read my article on conversational hooks. […]

    Like

    […] The first thing you need to do is engage the Third Wheel. If the game just started and you have space available, the solution is simple. Encourage the newcomer to stop being a Third-Wheel and join in. Keep the discussion brief (lest you annoy your current players) and remember your hook line! […]

    Like

    […] Anyone who comes to the table will exposed to your game. That is not to say you should be trying to pester players to try your game while they are in the middle of the other designer’s game, but the moment they are done, they are open for hook lines. […]

    Like

    […] I always bring a notepad to conventions. Nothing fancy; purely the Dollar Store variety. This notepad is to record feedback from gamers who stop at my booth (perhaps attracted by a candy dish or hook line). […]

    Like

    Simple Thoughts on Signs « Convergent Games Blog said:
    August 16, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    […] 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. […]

    Like

    Simple Thoughts on Signs – Convergent Games said:
    June 24, 2016 at 2:26 am

    […] 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. […]

    Like

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