Recruiting new GMs
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Posted by derekguder

There's another post about high-demand games from 2015, but part of trying to figure out how to get more events for attendees to play in is figuring out how to recruit more GMs.

There were some threads about this in the old forums and I wanted to start that fresh in our new ones, with a few questions:

First, there's the general question: What can be done to encourage more people to run games?

The obvious answer is "offer them more incentive," but then we have to get down to what would actually motivate potential GMs and how much it would cost to implement. Getting a complimentary badge is already pretty easy, for example. Hotel rooms are an obvious huge motivator, but no matter what we do supply is going to be extremely limited, and lowering the bar risks setting up a situation where Gen Con would be losing money on events, which is not a tenable long-term solution. You could limit things to specific games, but that breaks up the even palying field we've tried to create and requires constant tweaking to keep up with new game trends.

Another issue often brought up is what I'll broadly call the Intimidation Factor: lots of gamers I know just don't think they can run an event. Some of that we can address with improved documentation and friendly how-to guides, but a lot of it is wrapped up in the confidence to be responsible for the fun of strangers, which takes more work to resolve.

In reaching out to gaming groups that run some of those high-demand games, a more specific question has also occurred to me: Would it be useful to have a broad "volunteer drive" for GMs?

Specifically, would it be useful to direct general attendee attention to gaming groups and companies that are specifically looking new members? Not every group event wants to grow, but what if the ones that did had threads in this forum or events at Gen Con where they could meet potential new GMs and help them get used to running events? Would that help fledgling GMs? Would there be enough broad interest to actually help those groups grow? Would it be better for each one to handle it's recruitment completely independently?

Share your thoughts and ideas. Just remember the usual rules of the GM forum: be nice to everyone and understand that not every idea is actually executable. It's likely there are some ramifications you might not have anticipated that complicate things - figuring stuff like that out is exactly why we're having this thread.

Let me know what you think.

- Derek Guder
Event Manager
Gen Con LLC

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Posted by nscott

Derek, I've only been attending for the last two years, but it seems like during the convention I've overheard a lot of misconceptions among attendees about how the convention runs. Along the lines of ...why doesn't Gen Con offer more of event X. I know from some of your twitter posts how much you love excel, especially on the mac, but could you pull together a simple percentage of events that are run by GM's running just an event or two? 

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Posted by [k]goinglast

Perhaps a pre-con DMing clinics led by experienced (invested) DMs? Provides an added benefit to newer volunteers.

Also, if used to create a tiered system, it provides incentive to keep volunteering. You could require a few years voluteering before you could lead clinics. Then offer the different level volunteers different rewards (ex. DM a game = Get a badge. Lead clinics = Get a room).

Lastly, it would create a DMing community of people who have taught and learned from each other and would likely keep in touch. All because of GenCon!

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Posted by alphastream

I think that DMing at Gen Con is a bit of a black box and maybe requires a new approach that showcases it. Maybe an article or web page series where you break it down into 5 parts or so, with each part providing a specific reason why GMing is awesome and also telling people why they want to do it and how easy it is. 

But, I wonder if it shouldn't start with RPG companies. Most maintain forums or other ways they reach fans. Go to any of them and you quickly identify a score of hardcore passionate fans (many of them DMs). That would seem like a great place to recruit DMs and the RPG company is in the best position to talk them into it... I mean, if an RPG company had reached out to me a few years back and asked me to GM... I would have been really honored and interested. I ended up GMing through organized play, which is similar. (I suspect companies with solid organized play programs are using those programs to recruit GMs, which is one reason why they don't show up on the list you made... except for Shadowrun, which I don't quite understand). 

 

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Posted by jsfetzik

Another aspect that has an effect is that the rewards for running events is not granular enough. The amount you need to run to get a reward is too much of a commitment for some people. I know a few people that would be interested in running one or two slots of a 4-6 player game, but they see no benefit to doing it.
 
There is also the burnout issue. I used to run and/or coordinate up to 15 slots of games when I was younger and had more time than money. Now I go to Gen Con as a vacation to enjoy myself. I help out other GM’s for a slot or two, but will not commit to more than that anymore.
 
Maybe give credits in the system for each “X” size block of player hours. Maybe 20% of badge price for each 20 player hour break. This still makes the full badge refund hours a better deal overall if you are willing to commit to it, but you get something even if you can commit to only 1 slot. This would also make it more viable for someone that is only at the con for a day or two to run a couple events.

There are also a number of misperceptions out there about running events. For example...


  • You need to run a minimum of 4 slots to be able to run anything.
  • You need to be part of a group to be able to run anything.
  • You have to run events on all days for you events to get accepted.
  • Gen Con decides when you run your event.

These are all wrong perceptions, but they are out there.

Improved communication of the details is needed. While emails go out about event submission with a link to the event submission rules, they don't have any of these details in the email. Mention the fact that you can run anywhere from 1 to 15 slots of events in the email. For that matter put it on a prominent page in the front of the onsite program book.

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Posted by derekguder nscott

nscott wrote:
Derek, I've only been attending for the last two years, but it seems like during the convention I've overheard a lot of misconceptions among attendees about how the convention runs. Along the lines of ...why doesn't Gen Con offer more of event X. I know from some of your twitter posts how much you love excel, especially on the mac, but could you pull together a simple percentage of events that are run by GM's running just an event or two? 

It's difficult to pull real data about how many GMs run different numbers of events, but I can pretty easily pull who submits how many events.

Looking at 2015, we have 869 accounts that submitted an event.


  • 552 of those submitted 4 events or fewer.

    • 381 of those submitted 1 or 2 events.
    • 171 of those submitted 3 or 4 events.

  • 189 submitted between 5 and 16 events.
  • 127 submitted more than 16.

That's actually a surprising amount of weight on people running just a couple events. Independent events were a huge portion of overall event volume, but I hadn't looked at numbers per person in depth before.

Taking a look at player-hours (since those factor into badge & hotel reimbursement, we get:


  • 149 with 0 player-hours (folks running free events on Wednesday, seminars, etc.)
  • 228 with between 1 and 69 player-hours.
  • 221 with between 70 and 199 player-hours.
  • 163 with between 200 and 799 player-hours.
  • 107 with more than 800 player-hours.

I picked those thresholds based on reimbursement requirements:

  • 70 player-hours for a badge
  • 200 player-hours for 1/4 of a hotel room
  • 800 player-hours for a full room taken care of before the convention
  • Note that since companies are not eligible for hotel reimbursement, those tiers of reimbursement are skewed a bit more when compared to actually usage.

This data suggests that a lot of folks are already running events for basically nothing (assuming they don't add an additional fee to their events), which puts in doubt the idea that we need to offer more piecemeal reimbursement to attract more GMs. I certainly think that would help on some scale, but I really do think that the bigger hurdles to more GMs are interest & confidence/experience.

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Derek Guder
Event Manager
Gen Con LLC

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Posted by derekguder [k]goinglast

[k]goinglast wrote:
Perhaps a pre-con DMing clinics led by experienced (invested) DMs? Provides an added benefit to newer volunteers.
Also, if used to create a tiered system, it provides incentive to keep volunteering. You could require a few years voluteering before you could lead clinics. Then offer the different level volunteers different rewards (ex. DM a game = Get a badge. Lead clinics = Get a room).
Lastly, it would create a DMing community of people who have taught and learned from each other and would likely keep in touch. All because of GenCon!

Yeah, I'd mentioned in another thread that I've been stewing over a "GM bootcamp" idea for a while, and I think there would be a lot of value in it. Just haven't had a chance to put together something robust enough to plug real events and partners into.

I wouldn't want to tie involvement to X number of years at Gen Con for a couple reasons: we don't track that particularly well, but there are also plenty of amazing GMs that have never attended Gen Con that I wouldn't want to exclude, or even suggest that they weren't welcome.

How to judge who should be involved is tough, but I've been thinking the plan would be to lean on the companies, in many cases, like Alphastream suggested. Get thsoe companies to run workshops on their specific games, since they should be able to identify experts better than Gen Con.

You do raise the question of when to do it, though. Is pre-con a good time? How many GMs have time on Wednesday? Pre-con would be competing with setup, but during the con would be competing with actual event schedules. Not sure there is a good option there, so we should probably schedule based on when those potential GMs (the audience) would be available. My gut is we'd get much better attendance during the normal run of the weekend.

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Derek Guder
Event Manager
Gen Con LLC

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Posted by krazed

I DM in my local area, and I generally don't see myself ever DMing for events at Gencon.  I'm lucky enough that getting a comped badge/hotel room is not a big issue for me; the problem for me is time.  I could spend every hour of each convention day on the floor and still not see/demo everything I wanted to.  As it is now signing up for a D&D/Pathfinder game as a player is such a time commitment that I only do it for the games I really want to play.

So really the only thing that would ever convince me to DM at gencon is if it came with additional hours on the convention floor, like with what you get with a VIP pass.  I don't know how feasable that is, but it's the only suggestion I have for getting more DMs to volunteer for games.

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Posted by derekguder

Yeah, VIG passes or early exhibit hall access is not something that's ever really going to be feasible, but you point out something important to remember: some folks are just never gonna run games at Gen Con, no matter where else they might run games. It's just not part of why they're coming to the convention.

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Derek Guder
Event Manager
Gen Con LLC

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Posted by parody derekguder

First off, I'd like to thank you for sharing numbers with us!  It's neat to see the spreads.

Last year I was 2 events for 56 player-hours; this year it'll probably just be 1 for 24.  But that one will still be Paranoia, keeping up variety in a desired system.

Derek Guder wrote:

That's actually a surprising amount of weight on people running just a couple events. Independent events were a huge portion of overall event volume, but I hadn't looked at numbers per person in depth before.
 

Which is why I've been confused as to why your main focus with independents is trying to get them to form groups.  As you said later:

Derek Guder wrote:

This data suggests that a lot of folks are already running events for basically nothing (assuming they don't add an additional fee to their events), which puts in doubt the idea that we need to offer more piecemeal reimbursement to attract more GMs. I certainly think that would help on some scale, but I really do think that the bigger hurdles to more GMs are interest & confidence/experience.
 

Grouping up isn't any more incentive than anything else the community has come up with over the years.  (Unfortunately, as I'd like to see more GMs for my favorite games as much as any other player!)

This might be a stupid question, but: you say there's a good chunk of volume from independents.  Do they also provide a larger relative portion of (system/world) variety?  Perhaps only in RPGs?  I've long assumed that independents run the majority of things you don't see that often, but I have no proof of that.

Derek Guder wrote:

You do raise the question of when to do [bootcamps - MJM], though. Is pre-con a good time? How many GMs have time on Wednesday?
 

Bootcamps might be helpful, but at the convention might also the worst time to have them.  You're trying to convince folks to run events at next year's Gen Con at that point.  August to January is plenty of time to lose enthusiasm.  But when else can you have things?  It's a lose-lose. :(

I wish I had good answers for this stuff; many solutions could apply to the local game conventions that I feel are better places to learn GMing for the public than Gen Con.

Here's to GMing at Gen Con 2016!

--
Michael Miller
http://www.esglabs.com/

PS: I tried to use the normal quoting feature of this "forum", but found it impossible to edit posts down to something reasonable.  My apologies.

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Posted by derekguder

I actually think that grouping up provide one of the strongest incentives to run (more) games: colleagues & peers.

If you're running on your own, it's a lot of work and you sacrifice your time to do it. In some ways, you isolate yourself from much of the show, especialyl depending on the nature of the game you're running.

When you're part of a group, you have other people who are right there with you in the trenches, as it were. I assume a certain level of actual friendship and socialization among the members of a group that helps make the convention special, and it really reinforces the idea that you're part of something at the show, which can be hugely motivating.

And then on top of that there are a number of key benefits from being in a group:


  • Pooling player-hours to make it easier to qualify for badges & housing
  • Less of a planning burden by general members (balanced against a higher burden for one person)
  • Ability to sort out GM badges pre-show, quite possibly before any attendee badge has been purchased
  • More likely to have events in consistent location
  • Possibility of having enough events to justify getting dedicated event space and/or an HQ, both of which might be able to be used as onsite storage space, which is a major issue for many types of games that have significant supplies

Broadly, it's better for everyone when GMs group up. Explaining how & why to do that is something I want to include in a newbie guide.

As for variety, I don't think your assumption is far off, but I'd have to do a fair amount of digging to really pull that up, and I'm not sure of it's ultimate utility, except to answer curiosity.

With regards to bootcamps, that's definitely the long-term, talkes-years-to-come-to-fruition kind of plan. Doing bootcamps this year wouldn't help anything in 2016, but would potentially help in 2017 and beyond, both in making independent GMs more confident in running but also in helping to identify potential volunteer GMs for established companies and groups.

Running them elsewhere would be great, but we don't really have the capacity to do so. Origins would be too late in the year to have an impact on that year's show, and there aren't other big conventions with a lot of attendee cross-over. We could look at more, smaller conventions, but that still raises the question of how they would be managed - Gen Con certainly isn't in the position to run a significant volume of them at other conventions, that's for sure.

I supposed the best-case scenario in my mind is we run some at Gen Con and then companies, groups, and other conventions take the idea and run off with it to do something similar at other events, and then everyone sees the benefit of more GMs.

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Derek Guder
Event Manager
Gen Con LLC

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Posted by parody derekguder

derekguder wrote:
I actually think that grouping up provide one of the strongest incentives to run (more) games: colleagues & peers.
If you're running on your own, it's a lot of work and you sacrifice your time to do it. In some ways, you isolate yourself from much of the show, especialyl depending on the nature of the game you're running.
When you're part of a group, you have other people who are right there with you in the trenches, as it were. I assume a certain level of actual friendship and socialization among the members of a group that helps make the convention special, and it really reinforces the idea that you're part of something at the show, which can be hugely motivating.

You're not isolating yourself from the show if you're running a low number of event-hours.  Choosing to run for four hours vs. play is a small slice of the Gen Con weekend and a way to get some variety or (perhaps) play a game you don't get to play at home.  Isolating yourself from the show would be a single independent GM running enough 6-person RPGs or 4-person board/card games to get partial hotel room reimbursement.  I don't know how many folks are doing that, but my guess would be relatively few from your posted numbers.

In my case, I already have a group of friends with whom I've been going to Gen Con for almost 20 years.  I've always thought the best way to attend Gen Con is to go with a group, but don't spend the weekend with them.  Do your own thing during the day, then come back and share stories.  Here I don't have any idea what others do; while a GMing group could be a social improvement for a GM attending by themselves, any group of people they like would work.

derekguder wrote:
And then on top of that there are a number of key benefits from being in a group:

  • Pooling player-hours to make it easier to qualify for badges & housing
  • Less of a planning burden by general members
  • (balanced against a higher burden for one person)
  • Ability to sort out GM badges pre-show, quite possibly before any attendee badge has been purchased
  • More likely to have events in consistent location
  • Possibility of having enough events to justify getting dedicated event space and/or an HQ, both of which might be able to be used as onsite storage space, which is a major issue for many types of games that have significant supplies


If you're already running a low number of events and expect nothing from Gen Con's end, I don't think anything here is enough of a change to matter.  Maybe you combine to split the cost of a badge, but is that worth the time you spent outside the con to set it up?  The only planning time you save is actually entering the data, as you still have to provide all of the same information to the EO.

Agree to disagree, I guess. :)

Re: bootcamps, while not ideal due to timing I don't think there's much else you can do.  I always suggest folks go to and/or run at their local conventions to learn how game conventions work and what running for random people is like, because I think it's easier to learn in a smaller venue with (likely) less work and money to attend.  You can't force someone to want to run, though. :/

--
Michael Miller
http://www.esglabs.com/cons/

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Posted by atomreid

Our gaming group has been hosting events for the last 5+ years. Last year, we had 8 GMs host just under 600 player hours worth of events. We are always trying to encourage more of our friends to host events with us. The ONLY reason we ever get for why people don't want to host events with us is "Because it's not worth their time."

Not one person said they didn't want yo GM because they "didn't have the experience or confidence to host an event." Not one. Maybe part of that is because we tend to run more Board games and Miniature Events than RPGs (which do tend to require more time and effort to prepare and run). Or maybe it's because we do take the time to clearly explain to each individual what GMing realistically involves.

Either way, the attendees we know and talk with don't want to sacrifice part of a day or two of GenCon because there is too much to do and they don't want to sacrifice 25-40% of their fun time to save $70-80. Even those who do GM with us really have no interest in hosting mpre events once they reach their free badge.

However, the suggestion of more incentives for hosting a smaller number events is absolutely the primary way that we would be able to recruit more GMs - whether its System Credit, discounts in the dealer hall or even early entry into the dealer Hall - more incentives = more GMs. Even some of us who stop GMing once we've earned our GM Badge would be persuaded to host an extra event or two if we got something extra to do so.

I understand that more incentives would cost more money, though, and GenCon LLC is not a charity. They are in business to turn a profit, so they can keep putting on GenCon. However, in our experience, More Incentives WILL equal more GMs.

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Posted by cornlime

Maybe I'm a bit late to this discussion, but I suspect a big reason why there aren't more people stepping forward to being a GM is the perception that GMs are some sort of special group. What do I mean by that? Let me give you a couple examples.

Think about your local gaming group/club. I attend one here in Indy once a month - a club that happens to have a large presence at GenCon. Anyway, when I go to the club each month, it's not like there's an official group of people who run the games, and then there's all the rest of us. Most people bring a few games from home. We come to some sort of consensus about what we want to play, and then whoever brought the game that was selected teaches the rules. Why does GenCon have to be any different? I suspect that most people who attend GenCon do so with the mentality that they are just coming to play, and that if they were to GM, that would require some sort of switch into "GM mode". I don't think that way with my club, and I doubt people reading this do either. In that environment, playing a game and "running" a game is the same thing.

Another example: The majority of games I run at GenCon, I run as a pure GM. This includes games that pretty much require a non-participating GM (such as an RPG). However, occasionally I will participate in the game I run. I register the event with a maximum number of players one less than what the game's rules state is the max number of players, thus reserving a spot for myself. I've asked before on the forums if people consider this is bad form, and got a consensus of "no", assuming a few basic rules are followed. If it is a heavy strategy game, I mark it as Experts Only. (Teaching a game to newbies and then proceeding to wipe the floor with them is childish.) Or I'll run a cooperative game, where experience only helps the team. Another rule: if someone shows up with a generic, I'll step aside. Sometimes I'll not set out with the intention of participating in a game, but if there's still a spot after explaining the rules, I'll ask if it is okay if I play. Sometimes I have to join in because we didn't meet the minimum number of players, and the game won't work without me!

My point in all of this is that the less attendees think about GMing as something special, and just part of the culture of gaming, the more GMs you'd have. Consider the statistic that Derek shared showing 63% of GMs run 4 events or less. Obviously these people aren't treating GenCon as some sort of 4-day-long tour of duty. They go to play games, and bring a game or two along of their own to share. (My own scenario: Cities & Knights of Catan is one of my all-time favorites. But I rarely see it in the GenCon events listing, or it is always sold out. So, I register it as a 3-player Experts Only event, and get the guarantee of playing it.)

This culture of "citizen soldiers" is pretty much the norm in micro-cons. You have a registration table with a large libray of games behind it, and it's pretty much open gaming.

I don't know how to translate this into specific suggestions, but I think targeting the average attendee is key. Perhaps modifying the badge registration form to ask "what games (if any) would you like to run?" to imply that running a game is just as natural as playing in them. (Though this probably wouldn't work because event registration occurs so early in the year.) Maybe a follow-up email after the con suggesting to an attendee that they might want to run one game the next year. Maybe you could create a category of events that are marked as "experience required" but that players will be running their own game (no official GMs provided). I guess you'd still have the problem of who's supplying the game though.

Maybe you could give a bit of priority in the wish list processing on the Sunday event registration opens, if you've registered to host at least one event. Or maybe you'd want to make the priority be if you ran at least one game the previous year (to avoid people registering to host an event they have no intention of running, simply to get the benefit). Whatever the case, giving some minor incentive and targeting people who would be willing to bring just one of their games and run it once, would probably make a big difference.

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Posted by garhkal derekguder

derekguder wrote:
I actually think that grouping up provide one of the strongest incentives to run (more) games: colleagues & peers.
If you're running on your own, it's a lot of work and you sacrifice your time to do it. In some ways, you isolate yourself from much of the show, especialyl depending on the nature of the game you're running.
When you're part of a group, you have other people who are right there with you in the trenches, as it were. I assume a certain level of actual friendship and socialization among the members of a group that helps make the convention special, and it really reinforces the idea that you're part of something at the show, which can be hugely motivating.
And then on top of that there are a number of key benefits from being in a group:

  • Pooling player-hours to make it easier to qualify for badges & housing
  • Less of a planning burden by general members
  • (balanced against a higher burden for one person)
  • Ability to sort out GM badges pre-show, quite possibly before any attendee badge has been purchased
  • More likely to have events in consistent location
  • Possibility of having enough events to justify getting dedicated event space and/or an HQ, both of which might be able to be used as onsite storage space, which is a major issue for many types of games that have significant supplies

Broadly, it's better for everyone when GMs group up. Explaining how & why to do that is something I want to include in a newbie guide.As for variety, I don't think your assumption is far off, but I'd have to do a fair amount of digging to really pull that up, and I'm not sure of it's ultimate utility, except to answer curiosity.
With regards to bootcamps, that's definitely the long-term, talkes-years-to-come-to-fruition kind of plan. Doing bootcamps this year wouldn't help anything in 2016, but would potentially help in 2017 and beyond, both in making independent GMs more confident in running but also in helping to identify potential volunteer GMs for established companies and groups.
Running them elsewhere would be great, but we don't really have the capacity to do so. Origins would be too late in the year to have an impact on that year's show, and there aren't other big conventions with a lot of attendee cross-over. We could look at more, smaller conventions, but that still raises the question of how they would be managed - Gen Con certainly isn't in the position to run a significant volume of them at other conventions, that's for sure.
I supposed the best-case scenario in my mind is we run some at Gen Con and then companies, groups, and other conventions take the idea and run off with it to do something similar at other events, and then everyone sees the benefit of more GMs.
-
Derek Guder
Event Manager
Gen Con LLC


Additionally with having a group to game with (such as sparks) can be a boon when you have strange situations crop up.
Such as say you are running a moduled event, and the person who wrote that module is a fellow in your group.  You can pause to go over and ask him/her for a suggestion on how to handle XYZ.

 

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Posted by derekguder

I definitely agree that there is a large segment of the Gen Con population that simply isn't interested in running events at the con - even if they might at home or other conventions. We've had a survey question for a while about who runs events, and "I just come to Gen Con to relax and play games" was big for a lot of people. I'd have to dig for the exact numbers.

That means that there aren't any (reasonable) incentives we can provide to lure some folks to run events. Either it won't work, won't be sustainable, or won't result in the kind of games we want.

It's the other group of folks I'm curious about ways to reach. The ones interested in running games, either a couple or a bunch. What stops them from running games, and what might incentivise them to?

I don't buy the argument that it's entirely incentive-based, particualry because the lowest tier of rewards is relativley easy to qualify for: 3 games for 6 players lasting 4 hours each. If you're not in the "I'm just here to play" camp, that's not a huge investment.

Anyway, to look at it from the incentive side, I'm not sure how many incentives we could actually provide that would be both reasonable and effective. Anything like priority on hotel or event registration is just never going to happen, nor will early access to the exhibit hall, or money to spend there, or at local restaurants. Most of the ideas of incentives would either be functionally impossible or would require such a high commitment as to not really accomplish what we want, anyway.

The "easy from the outside" solution is always "just add system credit," but how much system credit is really going to sway someone who otherwise wouldn't run an event to do so? To implement an incentive like that, we would need to either add it all manually (for potentially thousands of GMs) or spend precious development time to automate it. And, again, ultimately I'm skeptical about how effective system creidt would be as a motivator.

Another idea that I think would actually be fairly effective would be to try to work with exhibitors and local businesses to get some kind of discount for GMs, but how would that be administered? How would each partner authenticate GMs? We can't just use GM badges, since not everyone running games will have one. A ribbon or sticker at GM HQ? That might be feasible, but has some logisitcal challenges. How do we police the program - and do we even worry about that? There's also the same question again: how much of a discount is enought to be worthwhile? Any discount at all would make existing GMs feel appreciated, sure, but how big would it need to be to entice new GMs?

There are a lot of challenges with just focusing on the incentive side of things, and I ultimately don't think that's the only answer to getting more GMs.

To go into it in more detail, though, does anyone have idea for incentives that would be effective at either recruiting new GMs or encouraging existsing GMs to run more - and would actually be feasible to implement, both from a budgetary and logistical standpoint?

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Derek Guder
Event Manager
Gen Con LLC

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Posted by rsdean

Following on to cornlime's post about groups, I agree that running games is easier as part of a group effort.

BLUF: Is there any way to encourage the formation of ad hoc groups (like setting up a New GM space with a volunteer staffer to help with new GM issues), or is reaching out specifically to groups that already exist an easier/better solution? 

Background: My main hobby interest is miniatures gaming, mostly historical with some fantasy as well.  I have been attending the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society conventions on the east coast regularly since 1988, and running games regularly since 1995.  I'm a member of a local group, the HAWKs, and we were having problems with the conventions in our early GM period (mid-90s).  Guys were being scheduled to run two games nearly back to back on the opposite ends of the convention, and so forth.  We decided, as a group, to negotiate with the con staffs and see if we could improve the situation.  We eventually got them to agree to assign us a room (originally of four tables) in return for us doing the scheduling and submitting the entire room schedule as a block, and undertaking to ensure that the tables were kept generally full.  Once we got that concession from them, it became ever easier to actually run the games.  We could schedule them locally to make maximum use of shared game resources (so that troops and/or terrain weren't committed to two different games at once), negotiations within the group were always easier, games could be left set up with some sort of security coverage from other members, the room acted as a base for the club members, and the club members on site meant that we had a ready supply of ringers to drop into a game if it would not have played because it was short-handed.  The number of games we submitted increased year over year, until, at our peak, we were running 50 or more events out of 500 or so at Historicon, which wasn't bad compared to our 20 members out of the 3000 in the Society.  Twenty years into this, our numbers are dropping off a bit, partly because we are older and more tired, but partly also because the conventions are making the registration process more difficult.  That's a different story, though...

Anyway, the available support group and the assurance that nothing too zany would happen with your schedule when you submitted games, made it much easier to run games (and miniatures games are a logistics challenge) and the group members responded by running more games.

This suggests two possible lines of thought:

1) If new GMs could sign up to be grouped for mutual support, it might take a staffer to run a help desk in the room of tables, but it might make things easier.  Schedule assurance might also help.

2) Our group, once organized, starting doing Expeditionary Force road trips, so some way to publicize the availability of GM benefits (scheduling, grouped space, etc.) to groups already running games might be helpful.

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Posted by rutherfordr

I think that logistics is one of the big barriers for individual people running events.

For example, if I wanted to run one of my favorite games, I'd be committed to spending 4-5 hours to set up and run the game, but what do I do with all the material beforehand and afterwards?

Do I put it in my backpack and carry it around with me all day? That sounds like a real pain in the a**, especially for a miniatures game.

Do I carry it back and forth from my hotel room? That could work, but it will take another hour or so out of my day, if I get lucky enough to get a hotel room in walking distance. If not, then we're talking about a couple of hours to arrange transportation, go back and forth, and pay the cab fares.

It would be nice if there were a safe place to store the game material -- that would make it much easier for individuals to manage the time and effort that it takes to run an event.
 

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Posted by unglitteringold

I ran a game my first year, did not last year, and plan to run a few this year. 


  1. The free badge is very appealing, but I have not run enough games to get it because the process is kind of complicated. I am on the forums right now trying to take notes on what all I need to do. 
  2. Loot is also good. Maybe people who run Pathfinder have a chance to win some Pathfinder swag, or you get one entry into a GM prize drawing for every player hour?
  3. I like the idea of a GM bag check where you can drop off your GM stuff between sessions.

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Posted by miked unglitteringold

unglitteringold wrote:
I ran a game my first year, did not last year, and plan to run a few this year. 

  1. The free badge is very appealing, but I have not run enough games to get it because the process is kind of complicated. I am on the forums right now trying to take notes on what all I need to do. 
  2. Loot is also good. Maybe people who run Pathfinder have a chance to win some Pathfinder swag, or you get one entry into a GM prize drawing for every player hour?
  3. I like the idea of a GM bag check where you can drop off your GM stuff between sessions.

While I like the bag check I'm not sure the logistics of how one works would work.  I'm a vig and the vig lounge has a bag check.  It started because behind were the lounge volunteers sit has racks.  The racks were origanal used to store the swag before pickup (and they still are) in the first years there was no bag check then people asked about keeping their bags on the empty shelves.  Slowly a processed was worked out.  The vig program is small (600 total people), has a dedicated room and the racks are secure behind the volunteers desk with both the room and rack area having limited access, has the racks to store bags already, has 3 to 4 people meaning it (with other duties), and has worked out a process.

now the process can easily be copied.  But having racks, having them in a limited acces area, and the man power to operate it are not so easily fixed.

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