Geek Girls Rule! #628 – Running Demos of Games

Hey, on a slightly unrelated note, I will be at OrcaCon, but I’m not sure who covered my membership.  Green Ronin said they hadn’t.  I’m still trying to figure it out.  So, I don’t think I’m running demos this weekend, but I will likely run one or two pick up games.

Maybe some Guns and Glamour.

Which brings me to Demo-ing games.

Now, Demo-ing your own game is pretty simple.  It’s yours, you run it. And I do have some tips for that in a bit.  But if you want to know how to demo games for other game designers there are a couple of routes you can take.

One is to be friends with other game designers and offer to demo their games.

Another is to get a reputation as a good GM, and be friends with people who are friends with game designers.

Now some of the bigger publishers have websites where you can sign up, like Green Ronin or Privateer.  So, go sign up.

There are a couple of groups out there who are trying to monetize GM-ing.  And I wish them well, but I don’t think that’s going to be a winning proposition.

Basically, I am going to use that most hated of words: network.  Meet people, game with people, talk about your interests in gaming.  If you design games yourself, offer to trade off demos with other designers.  If you see other people demo-ing games for bigger companies you want to demo for, ask them how they got to do it.

Now, tips for demo-ing:

1. For most games, bring pre-gen characters that have a few things unfilled so that players can do at least a little customization.  If you have a playbook/skin style chargen system, you don’t need to worry about this.  But make sure. you have enough skins/playbooks.

2. Outline your boundaries, and ask your players what theirs are. Is there anybody who doesn’t want to deal with violence to animals? Doesn’t want to deal with any violence towards children?  I don’t usually allow sexual violence.  Explain where the limits are, and how they will be enforced.  You can explain the use of tools like the X-card, or however you want to handle that.

3. Have a go to scenario. I have one that is kind of a one size fits all.  They already know each other, or mostly, I’ll usually allow one or two to join the adventuring group shortly into the adventure.  The bulk of the group are getting back to the person who is training them after being sent on a quest.  The tower is on fire, there are troll and wagon tracks, and no sign of your master.  What do you do?

4.  Make sure you shine the spotlight on all players equally.  You will have players who are more outgoing than others, and this can be difficult.  But do your best.

5. Try to spotlight the things that make that game special, if you can.  Sadly, that is not always possible as sometimes those things are more suited to campaign play.  But at the very least, talk about those aspects of the game, while explaining it.

6. Be patient. No matter how exasperated or bothered you may be, do not show it.  So, you’ll need a poker face.

7. End up by telling the players where they can buy the game, and if the publishing company or designer gave you discount coupons, pass those out.

One thing to remember is that when you are demo-ing games you are going to run for all sorts of players.  Be prepared to carry the storyline for folks, and spoon-feed them clues and plot-points.

Now, this is up to company policy and personal taste, but if the company doesn’t have a policy against it, go ahead and shill your own stuff, too.  Tell them where they can find you, and how.

Ok, so that’s my quick guide to demo-ing games.

See some of you at OrcaCon.

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