Recruiting new GMs
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Posted by steffles

I'm not sure if this is the place to post this, but here goes.  We were hoping to play Shadows of Brimstone last year but there were only 4 slots and it was tournament style.  

We were under the impression that you had to work for Flying Frog to be able to GM their game.  After reading the GMing posts, it seems like you can actually GM any game?  So that is one misconception that may be out there.

Also, my husband said he would be willing to GM one game of Shadows this Gencon (2016), and he would do it just for the fun of it.  My question is, is there any value for one person to GM just one game?   If there is, that may also be a misconception by people willing to GM...that the expectation is minimal and one game is enough.

Also, I assume that the GM needs to bring his own game?  That is the only disincentive for him...he doesn't want to use his own game, but probably still would.  Is there a way for the game publisher to provide the game?

 

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Posted by kruhland

You need to bring your own game and you can run any game you want.  There isn't any incentive to GM one game as far as reimbursement, but if you want to run a game that can be its  own reward.  if you want the pubisher to provide the game he would want to reach out to the publisher now so he knows if they will provide the game before signing up.
 

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Posted by garhkal

Some groups also have games libraries, so you can check OUT a game (often board games though), to play with.

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Posted by derekguder steffles

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone.

Swag and other product support is really not something Gen Con can provide to GMs. There's no way we could gather or coordinate it on a scale to be available to all GMs that might qualify. Individual publishers can certainly do that (and I would encourage them to do so), but individual GMs will want to reach out to them to inquire.

Similarly, a bag check of some kind of just not something we could accommodate at GM HQ, I don't think. It works in the VIG lounge partly due to the small number of VIGs, but there are thousands of GMs - many of whom do not have GM badges or an easy way to authenticate their eligibility for this kind of space.

steffles wrote:
I'm not sure if this is the place to post this, but here goes.  We were hoping to play Shadows of Brimstone last year but there were only 4 slots and it was tournament style.  
We were under the impression that you had to work for Flying Frog to be able to GM their game.  After reading the GMing posts, it seems like you can actually GM any game?  So that is one misconception that may be out there.
Also, my husband said he would be willing to GM one game of Shadows this Gencon (2016), and he would do it just for the fun of it.  My question is, is there any value for one person to GM just one game?   If there is, that may also be a misconception by people willing to GM...that the expectation is minimal and one game is enough.
Also, I assume that the GM needs to bring his own game?  That is the only disincentive for him...he doesn't want to use his own game, but probably still would.  Is there a way for the game publisher to provide the game?
 

You certainly do not need to work for a company to run their game. If you don't mind my asking, what gave you that impression? Have you browsed through the event schedule to see the variety of groups and companies all running different games?

Gen Con provides space to run a game and badges for folks who run enough of them (and possibly hotel rooms as well, but that's a wee bit more complex). That's about it, though. We certainly do not provide the game, scenario, or other supplies required. The GM and event organizer (or in some cases, the players) are responsible for providing those.

It's certainly possible for the pubisher to provide a copy of the game for you to use (many are often eager to do so for folks they trust to run a quality event) but that's not something Gen Con would normally get involved with.

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Derek Guder
Event Manager
Gen Con LLC

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Posted by nscott derekguder

derekguder wrote:
You certainly do not need to work for a company to run their game. If you don't mind my asking, what gave you that impression? 

Well... There is that one line in the EO policy manual that says events can be placed for a variety of reasons including corporate sponsorships. 

It's easy to forget as an individual thinking about submitting events that many of the 'big' in the game world companies are still actually small businesses and that free advertising is for them as the saying goes priceless. 

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Posted by steffles derekguder

derekguder wrote:
You certainly do not need to work for a company to run their game. If you don't mind my asking, what gave you that impression? 

Believe it or not this will be our 6th Gencon and our impression was just an assumption we had - that the GMs work for someone.  I know one of your posts states anyone can GM...we just figured that to run certain games you need to make sure it is okay with the publishers.  He wants to GM Shadows of Brimstone because we love the game and it would be a new way to experience Gencon (no other incentive is necessary).

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Posted by unglitteringold

So, if Gen Con can't offer things that people want, (loot, bag check, etc,) what are the options?

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Posted by bluemax

What about GM t-shirts for running so many player hours, with the amount of volunteer shirts made, the individual cost per shirt should be really cheap.

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Posted by derekguder unglitteringold

unglitteringold wrote:
So, if Gen Con can't offer things that people want, (loot, bag check, etc,) what are the options?

That's much of the point of this thread: what reasonable, feasible things would encourage more people to run games?

Different people want different things, and many requests just aren't possible to fulfill or just aren't really appropriate for Gen Con to provide.

Note that doesn't mean some of these ideas aren't things that companies or gaming groups can capitalize on to try to recruit more players. If swag is really that motivating, that's something companies can more easily offer to recruit more GMs. If bag check or at least event supply storage is a big barrier, then many gaming groups and companies have HQs that can accommodate much of that.

Hopefully some of them are reading the thread and taking notes.

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Posted by tdb

I realize I'm kind of late to this party, but as someone who has considered GM'ing, but has elected not to do so, I thought I should speak up.

First, I must respectfully disagree with the notion that reaching the first tier of rewards (the equivalent of 3 sessions of 6 people for 4 hours each session) doesn't represent much of a commitment.  Perhaps if the game in question is a board game this would be true.  But to create an RPG scenario, playtest it, and possibly (depending on how the playtest goes) revise and re-test it, is really quite a lot of work and quite a lot of time.  Then you have to spend 12 hours of the convention running it.  If you spend 16 hours at the Con on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 8 hours Sunday (56 hours total) that's just over 20% of your convention time. 

Personally, the $80 or so I'd save on a badge doesn't move me given the pre-convention time investment, at least to earn it with RPG's.  Getting that badge with the yellow border that says "GM" would be cool, and a nice souvenir, but again an expensive one time-wise. 

But if you do less than that, you get bupkus.  It seems to me that anyone who runs a game or seminar at Gencon should get some sort of reward.  It doesn't have to be much - a t-shirt, a set of custom dice, even just a button (which are pretty cheap) - but they ought to get a little something that can't be had any other way, as a thank-you for helping make the show a success.  Something they can show their gaming buddies back home.  Something to make their friends say "I want one of those".  Maybe some of those friends will want it bad enough to run a game next year.

The other problem I see is that as far as the convention is concerned a player-hour is a player-hour.  But from the GM's point of view, not all player-hours are created equal.  If I run 4 hours of King of Tokyo for 6 people, my prep time is basically zero.  I already own the game and know how to play.  But if I run 4 hours of CoC for 6 people I have to spend many hours of prep time.  So there's a bit of a built-in incentive to run board games instead of RPG's, but the top items on the unfulfilled demand list seem to be RPG's.  I'm not sure how you would go about changing the incentives to reflect that, but it might be worth considering.

 

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Posted by garhkal tdb

tdb wrote:
I realize I'm kind of late to this party, but as someone who has considered GM'ing, but has elected not to do so, I thought I should speak up.
First, I must respectfully disagree with the notion that reaching the first tier of rewards (the equivalent of 3 sessions of 6 people for 4 hours each session) doesn't represent much of a commitment.  Perhaps if the game in question is a board game this would be true.  But to create an RPG scenario, playtest it, and possibly (depending on how the playtest goes) revise and re-test it, is really quite a lot of work and quite a lot of time.  Then you have to spend 12 hours of the convention running it.  If you spend 16 hours at the Con on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 8 hours Sunday (56 hours total) that's just over 20% of your convention time. 
Personally, the $80 or so I'd save on a badge doesn't move me given the pre-convention time investment, at least to earn it with RPG's.  Getting that badge with the yellow border that says "GM" would be cool, and a nice souvenir, but again an expensive one time-wise. 
But if you do less than that, you get bupkus.  It seems to me that anyone who runs a game or seminar at Gencon should get some sort of reward.  It doesn't have to be much - a t-shirt, a set of custom dice, even just a button (which are pretty cheap) - but they ought to get a little something that can't be had any other way, as a thank-you for helping make the show a success.  Something they can show their gaming buddies back home.  Something to make their friends say "I want one of those".  Maybe some of those friends will want it bad enough to run a game next year.
The other problem I see is that as far as the convention is concerned a player-hour is a player-hour.  But from the GM's point of view, not all player-hours are created equal.  If I run 4 hours of King of Tokyo for 6 people, my prep time is basically zero.  I already own the game and know how to play.  But if I run 4 hours of CoC for 6 people I have to spend many hours of prep time.  So there's a bit of a built-in incentive to run board games instead of RPG's, but the top items on the unfulfilled demand list seem to be RPG's.  I'm not sure how you would go about changing the incentives to reflect that, but it might be worth considering.
 

That is a valid point.  Take our group (Sparks force 7) for instance.  As one of those who has wrote modules for our group, it has sometimes taken 2 months to get a module wrote out, and that's before getting it sent into our council to get assigned someone to help edit for our group.
Then it can take another 2-3 months of going back and forth with the editor, before it gets given the green light to get play tested (or just flat out premiered). 

But as to an hour of play time is different from board games to rpgs, while the pre-con set up time is different, In practice i have seen it Easier and less time consuming to get an RPG set up and played than a board game..

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Posted by parody tdb

tdb wrote:
The other problem I see is that as far as the convention is concerned a player-hour is a player-hour.  But from the GM's point of view, not all player-hours are created equal.  ...  I'm not sure how you would go about changing the incentives to reflect that, but it might be worth considering. 

In 2007, they changed the system from player-hours to badge points, with differing amounts of credit for different event types.  You can read some of the discussion about this change in this thread that has (so far) survived the imploding of the old forums: Qualifying for complimentary GM badges - the badge point system

To summarize: that didn't work out so well and they changed back to player-hours in 2011, lowering the threshold for badges from 96 to 70, and changing the room reimbursement threshold to 200 player-hours instead of 32 hours.

ObTopic: As always, I think aren't many good incentives to give out at thresholds below what they already do that would convince folks to run events.  It's not about free stuff, it's about enjoying GMing as much as playing and/or sharing a game you like with others.

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Posted by tdb garhkal

garhkal wrote:
That is a valid point.  Take our group (Sparks force 7) for instance.  As one of those who has wrote modules for our group, it has sometimes taken 2 months to get a module wrote out, and that's before getting it sent into our council to get assigned someone to help edit for our group.
Then it can take another 2-3 months of going back and forth with the editor, before it gets given the green light to get play tested (or just flat out premiered). But as to an hour of play time is different from board games to rpgs, while the pre-con set up time is different, In practice i have seen it Easier and less time consuming to get an RPG set up and played than a board game..

Yeah, setting up a boardgame takes more time, but it isn't hours.  Plus, you can have the players help! :-)

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Posted by derekguder

Different events can certainly require wildly different investments of time and money, either before or during the convention - but it's impossible to provide blanket rules. We used to have completely different formulas for calculating player-hours for different types of games and I had to spend a lot of time and effort explaining those rules to people (new and old), as well as making judgment calls about what was deserving of an exception. And that's before even considering how the quality of the event itself would factor into anything.

We went to a standard flat model because we simply don't have the time or knowledge to fairly judge one events "effort" against another. Everyone is on the same page, and it has dramatically simplified the reimbursement process and it allowed us to lower the threshold for reimbursement. It's easier to get badge reimbursement than it used to be, remember.

There is, however, a built-in way to deal with investment costs that's totally unrelated to reimbursement: the additional fee for events.

Does your event (whatever the type) require special props, preparation, or other considerations that are hard for you to justify? Add an additional fee to your event to cover that. It's not just for TCGs where you get some boosters, or something, and if your event is compelling, players aren't going to mind they had to pay a few dollars more to play. If you're worried, you can certainly go into detail in the long description, explaining how your event will be extra special.

tl;dr - If you need to justify extra prep or work your events involve, regardless of any reimbursement eligibility, add an additional fee when you submit them.

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Derek Guder
Event Manager
Gen Con LLC

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Posted by ncornelius

From reading the comments, it seems to me it comes down to two important factors: Education & Incentives.

Education: This would not only involve teaching how to run games in a con environment and building confidence (as referenced in another thread), but also in large part would be creating awareness of the need and correcting misconceptions. I think if people knew how open and easy it is to submit an event, it would go a long way in drawing out those who are tentatively interested.

Many of us on here take it for granted, but I would surmise there is a large percentage of the con's population that is completely unaware that anyone can submit and run an event. I also think it would be good to address the concept "cornlime" mentioned regarding being able to play a game while also running it (given the stipulations he also mentioned).

 

Incentives: Having run events for 4 years, with last year being at 11 GMs and just over 800-player-hours, I will say that getting (and coordinating) volunteers/GMs can be a very difficult thing. And as has been stated, I can also attest that covering the cost of the badge is barely (if at all) enough incentive. Like it or not, the reality is that it's simply not worth it to many people to give up 4 hours a day for only a badge.

Many of these people are already spending a fair amount on travel, hotel, meals, events, and product -- the additional $80 isn't really that much more overall. It does tend to make a bigger difference for con newbies however, as they're just getting a feel for everything and thus typically have more available time in their schedule.

As a company we do provide t-shirts and often product, and are working towards some form of loyalty program to eventially include the other expenses referenced above -- but that's certainly not reasonable to expect of Gen Con (nor would they gain much benefit to do so). As far as additional incentives though, there have been several good ideas mentioned, but of course the challenge is in making them feasible and manageable.


  • Bag check - I can see this helping independent GMs quite a bit. The challenge here is in "authenticating" them, as Derek mentioned many GMs do not have GM badges. However, the desire to "encourage existsing GMs to run more" was also mentioned. Thus this fits well, as the eligibility could be based on having a GM badge (making it easier to manage), which creates additional incentive to run enough events to get a badge (because it now comes with perks).

    As far as space is concerned, this could easily be done in the Hall J ticket office (on the corner of Hoosier & Capitol cooridors) as well as the Hall D show office (along Wabash west across from the food court) -- both of which were unused last year and thus are available space. Having two locations splits the load and also makes it even more convenient as they are mostly opposite ends of the convention center from each other.

    [There were 221 accounts with 70-199 plyr-hrs. This tier is the minimum to get a badge, the qualifying factor, and the higher tiers are likely to be larger groups or companies with an HQ and/or booth. Even at the higher value for each it comes out to ~650 GMs, which is approximate to the number of VIPs.]

  • Additional Vendor Hall hours - My understanding behind this idea is to essentially make up for the lost time taken to host an event. I certainly understand and agree with not getting in an hour early with the VIGs; but perhaps being able to stay after an extra hour (or half)? -- though having been an exhibitor 2 years, I'm not sure how fesible this would be either.

    Maybe instead, letting those with a GM badge in to the vendor hall half-an-hour early (instead of the full hour VIGs get)? This may not really make up the "time deficit" but could certainly be a good incentive -- especially if it were for each day [which on a side note, I've never understood why VIGs aren't able to get in an hour early EACH day]. And it wouldn't be much more difficult to manage as there are already trained volunteers/staff watching the doors checking for exhibitor or VIG badges.

  • Exhibitor discounts - The problem here is that a particular exhibitor may not have any reason to give a particular GM a discount as that GM may not be working for them and thus they have no direct benefit. And Gen Con can't really force GMs to work for a certain organization, nor would that account for independent GMs.

    However, since Gen Con DOES get a benefit with more GMs as it means more events, that aspect could be addressed if the exhibitors were to be reimbursed by Gen Con for the related discount given. Perhaps it could be implemented by a some sort of special ticket system, with a limited number given out to each GM (only to those with a badge or proportianate to events run).

  • Swag/Loot - Good idea, but hard to implement. It would take a fair amount of time and effort to coordinate. It could possibly be done in a similar manner to the Cheese Weasal program -- so many hours gets so much value of swag and/or so many entries into a raffle.

    But again, it would be subject to the same issue as above, as companies who donated product may not receive any direct benefit from the particular GMs. Perhaps some sort of "mini sponsorship" or recognition (e.g. social media mention, vendor hall audio announcement, etc.) could be provided in return for the donated items?

  • T-shirt, Custom Dice, Button - This is a great idea as it addresses the issue of providing incentives to those who host a smaller number of events. Also, it is very cheap overall and gamers absolutely LOVE exclusives! T-shirts might be a bit difficult due to obtaining everyone's size though.

  • *NEW IDEA**]  Free library access - 2 years ago, we discovered that having an exhibitor badge provided automatic/free access to the game library (as let's face it, we already paid a lot to have a booth). You could do the same thing for GM badges -- again, making it managable and providing a bit more incentive for running enough to get a badge.

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Posted by derekguder

Education is a big thing, I think, and I want to push on that more in the future.

For your incentives, most of those are not really things Gen Con can (or would want) to get in the middle of. Some things like additional vendor hours are just never going to happen, but many of those ideas like swag or possibly bag check are things better left to companies to directly support and recruit their GMs. One would think that if the GM pool is so small and those incentives are so effective, more companies would be leveraging that to poach quality GMs from each other :)

Library access is an interesting idea. It might not be feasible with the amount of space the library currently has (at least not free access the entire time) and I wonder how many GMs would take advantage of it if part of the concern for GMs is how much of their time is taken up running games, but I'll look into it.

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Derek Guder
Event Manager
Gen Con LLC

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Posted by derekguder

Actually, further thought & question:

As a company, what's the biggest hurdle you've encountered recruiting GMs?

Anecdotally, what I've heard from companies tends to involve some combination of:


  • Don't have the budget to cover hotel rooms.
  • Not sure where/how to recruit GMs.
  • Don't have the time to manage volunteers.
  • Not comfortable relying on volunteers they don't have direct experience with.

I'd love to hear other companies chime in, as well.

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Derek Guder
Event Manager
Gen Con LLC

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Posted by garhkal tdb

tdb wrote:
garhkal wrote:
That is a valid point.  Take our group (Sparks force 7) for instance.  As one of those who has wrote modules for our group, it has sometimes taken 2 months to get a module wrote out, and that's before getting it sent into our council to get assigned someone to help edit for our group.
Then it can take another 2-3 months of going back and forth with the editor, before it gets given the green light to get play tested (or just flat out premiered). But as to an hour of play time is different from board games to rpgs, while the pre-con set up time is different, In practice i have seen it Easier and less time consuming to get an RPG set up and played than a board game..

Yeah, setting up a boardgame takes more time, but it isn't hours.  Plus, you can have the players help! :-)

True, you can have players help.  Heck one of the best 'teach the rules' game i saw for Axis&allies did just that.  Let players put their stuff out so they could see what was what..
ncornelius wrote:

  • Bag check - I can see this helping independent GMs quite a bit. The challenge here is in "authenticating" them, as Derek mentioned many GMs do not have GM badges. However, the desire to "encourage existsing GMs to run more" was also mentioned. Thus this fits well, as the eligibility could be based on having a GM badge


I know our group allows OUR gms to 'bag check' at OUR group HQ..  Perhaps more groups might look into that..

 

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Posted by biffindy

Regarding Education - please consider producing a condensed version of the Event Host Policy to help get the main points about scheduling and running an event out there as easily and as effectively as possible.  The full version of the policy document may be a bit intimitating for a new GM trying to figure out how to schedule one or more events. 

A streamlined document that walks a GM through the registration process and what should they expect before and during the convention would be great.  The tail end of the condensed document could provide a short description of important items discussed in greater detail in the full event host policy (e.g., badge reimbursement, hotel reimbursement, A/V needs, special requests, etc.).

Shooting from the hip, take the current policy's Events section and the Table Sets section of Layout, Event Furnishings, and Special Requests.  Then add in the pointed references to help complete the picture.

I guess I am trying to pitch a "How To" document aimed at the entry level GM who will (hopefully) schedule 1 or 2 events and will need only a default table sized for the game's classification (and will not qualify for any reimbursement).

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Posted by marimaccadmin biffindy

biffindy wrote:
Regarding Education - please consider producing a condensed version of the Event Host Policy to help get the main points about scheduling and running an event out there as easily and as effectively as possible.  The full version of the policy document may be a bit intimitating for a new GM trying to figure out how to schedule one or more events. 
A streamlined document that walks a GM through the registration process and what should they expect before and during the convention would be great.  The tail end of the condensed document could provide a short description of important items discussed in greater detail in the full event host policy (e.g., badge reimbursement, hotel reimbursement, A/V needs, special requests, etc.).
Shooting from the hip, take the current policy's Events section and the Table Sets section of Layout, Event Furnishings, and Special Requests.  Then add in the pointed references to help complete the picture.
I guess I am trying to pitch a "How To" document aimed at the entry level GM who will (hopefully) schedule 1 or 2 events and will need only a default table sized for the game's classification (and will not qualify for any reimbursement).

You mean this?

http://www.gencon.com/host/newgm

Marian McBrine
Event Coordinator
Gen Con LLC

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