Let's start with a couple baseline statements:
- First, this is not an immediate issue, it's more of a long-term consideration, so don't worry about any initial impact. I wanted to start this discussion about any possible changes well before they would need to be made.
- Second, I don't expect a final decision to be made from this thread. This isn't a vote, it's a discussion - a chance for folks to bring a perspective that might otherwise be missed if it wasn't open or public.
- Third, be nice & respectful. Not only is this a question for which there isn't really any objectively true answer (and thus no one is strictly right or wrong) but it's also not worth getting mad about or insulting anyone over. So be nice.
Here's the broad question: Is there a better way to divide up event types? If we were to change how events are divided up, what would be some good ways to do it?
Again, this isn't anything even being considered for 2016, but more of a question that has tickled the back of my mind for a while and when I started pondering some "obvious" adjustments, it led me down a rabbit hole that I thought I'd invite y'all into.
So, if we were to change up event types, what would be some good ways to do it, both big and small?
In some cases, simply renaming a category might be useful or sufficient. In others, categories could be merged or broken up into smaller categories.
And, just to be clear, I don't think we will ever get to a 100% rigid event type list. Some unique events will always pop up that straddle the lines between event type categories, so I'm not worried about getting a perfect taxonomy.
To my mind, the point of event type categories are to help attendees find the events they want to attend - and to discover new events they might be interested in. Event types help players to know what to expect and to trim the list of possible events down into more manageable chunks, so it's not quite so overwhelming.
With that in mind:
- How many event types should there be? How many are useful, overall? Specificlaly, how many categories would be too many?
- How many individual events should be in a given event type? Is there a minimum or a maximum? When does an event type get too big to really be useful as a filter?
For reference, here are the final event numbers from 2015:
- ANI - Anime Activities: 136
- BGM - Board Game: 4241
- CGM - Non-Collectible / Tradable Card Game: 1094
- EGM - Electronic Games: 1047
- ENT - Entertainment Events: 72
- FLM - Film Fest: 81
- HMN - Historical Miniatures: 123
- KID - Kids Activities: 78
- LRP - LARP: 278
- MHE - Miniature Hobby Events: 126
- NMN - Non-Historical Miniatures: 749
- RPG - Role Playing Game: 2833
- RPGA - Role Playing Gamers Association: 128
- SEM - Seminar: 410
- SPA - Spouse Activities: 265
- TCG - Tradable Card Game: 1264
- TDA - True Dungeon Adventures: 813
- WKS - Workshop: 174
- ZED - Isle of Misfit Events: 378
Seems like there are a couple bands: a "couple hundred" (80-200), "several hundred" (700-1200), and a "few thousand" (2800-4200).
There are a number of specific questions or potential changes, and I'd love to hear everyonee's thoughts on other possible ideas or approaches. I really want to know how people use event types, and what changes they think might be useful to general attendees.
What even is an event type?
- Some event types refer to the format of the game (BGM vs RPG vs LRP). Others are themes (HMN vs NMN). Some are really event programs, as opposed to actually types of events (ANI, SPA). EGM is really just a big bucket meaning you need an electronic device of some kind to play, not what the gameplay itself it like - Hearthstone players just like a TCG, but it doesn't really fit there - does it?
- How useful is a distinction between an event type and a "program/track"? Are there examples of other conventions that have both that work particularly well?
Event types that mighht too big:
- BGM & RPG both have thousands and thousands of events. Is that too many? It feels like it might be difficult to find something in either unless you know what you're looking for.
- If BGM were to be broken up, what would be the criteria? Mechanics? Theme? Complication?
- For RPGs, it's even harder to draw lines between many games. There are some lines between OSR, "traditional RPGs," and "story games," possibly, but plenty of examples that break through those lines. How useful would those distinctions be, in the end?
Do you need a board to be a board game? Are collectible games different enough to require their own category?:
- Do BGM, CGM, and TCG need to be three separate categories? Specifically, do BGM & CGM really need to be separate? Seems like most CGM events would fit just as naturally into either BGM or TCG.
- On that note, is "tradeable" really the best identifier for TCG, particularly with the rise of the LCG model? Magic: The Gathering is the majority of the TCG category, with nearly 800 events. Is there a better way to group these instead of their product release format? Is there an elegant way to say "construct a deck of cards in some way, then play"? It could also be made into a general "collectible game" category, but is that too narrow?
RPGA vs RPG - and game-specific event types in general:
- Is a distinction between RPGA and RPG useful? For that matter, when should a game have it's own event type, basically? TDA is an example of this. Magic: The Gathering had almost 800 events - should it have it's own event type?
- For RPGs & RPGA, do many players use that to decide what to play in? Wouldn't the company name be sufficient to accomplish the same filtering? What about an event type highlighting organized play for RPGs in general? That might incorporate Pathfinder Society, Shadowrun Missions, 13th Age, the new Call of Cthulhu OP, independent gaming group "living campaigns," etc.
HMN & NMN vs general "wargames":
- is it useful to keep historical miniatures separate from non-historical ones? How much of a crossover do y'all feel there is in the fandom? They seem pretty distinct, but the nature of eac event is also pretty clear in context - do they need a completely separate event type? What if there was a general "wargame" category?
- What is the line between "miniatures game that uses a standard board" and "board game that uses detailed miniatures"? It's obvious in most cases, but some games definitely blur the lines a bit.
- There aren't a lot of events in the category, nor a lot of ticket sales to wristbands (one of the features of the event type). How important is it as a separate category, especially when there is an age required field that could be used to filter for kid-suitable or even kid-focused events?
ANI vs FLM
- There's a lot of crossover here, too, technically, particularly for simple screenings. If we need to cut down on the total number of event types, could these be combined without creating too much confusion?
The Isle of Misfit Events - ZED:
- This is explicitly a catch-all for events that don't fit anywhere else, but are there any events here that would do better with their own event type? Some notable things that live here currently include:
- Playtest hall events
- Escape/puzzle room
- Are You A Werewolf?
- basically any "we're gonna play some games, but not one specific title, or we don't know which specific games yet"
- Playtest hall events
- Should any of those have their own event type? Social/Deducation games in particular - what if there was a category for the Werewolf family of games? It could include party games as well, to encompass Cards Against Humanity, Telestrations, FUNemployment, and similar titles.
Out-of-the-Blue Event Types:
- Is there some category we've never considered that would be really great to add? Other than a personalized, curated, hand-picked "events just for you" category?
So these are thoughts and questions, not necessarily agendas or decisions. I'm very curious how valuable everyone finds the current event types, and how they might remix them to be a bit more useful - particularly which ones might be easily combined or ones that need to be broken up.
Remember: nothing is going to change in 2016 and ultimately maybe nothing will change at all, but I wanted to have the discussion to get some other perspectives and see if there is something worth digging into further. I fully expect some ideas may not be feasible, but some things might be relatively easy to implement and others could be set up as goals a year or two down the road.
So. Now that I've finally gotten that out of my brain - anyone have any thoughts?
Thanks in advance for the input & contributions.
Gen Con LLC