This guide was made with the help of students who have shown their games in expos. They have experienced many easily avoidable problems themselves and this is a concentrated guide of their recommendations to you. Remember also that every expo and game is different.
Make sure the computers can run your game with ease.
Test with big monitors.
Do not shake the computers during transport.
Bigger monitors are better. Transport them gently and make sure nothing scratches them. Small laptop monitors are no good for an expo.
If some of them run on batteries, check that these are full and bring extra.
Clean the peripherals with Cutasept to avoid a germfest.
Check the ports of your monitors and computers. Check that your cables work! When you have a multiplayer game, you may also need a switch or a router.
Bring enough extension cords for all your hardware with a few extra sockets.
Plan the chain of cords so that the sockets are reachable for your hardware.
Not just any tape, but duct tape, masking tape and marking tape. Marking tape can be used to mark a virtual reality play area so that visitors know to stay back.
Double check that you have packed everything you may need. Think about what else you might need. For example Cutasept and paper towels?
After the expo make sure you take with you everything you brought. Especially the things you borrowed from other people.
Key Bindings and Tutorial
If you do not have help messages and a good tutorial in the game, at the very least print out the key bindings. Do keep in mind that people came to play not to read.
You need to attract the people. Print out posters or roll-ups of your game. Flyers with your contact information or game’s website are good. Stickers can be fun.
Print an easy feedback paper for your game. It can be as simple as asking what was good? and what to improve?
Bring a notebook for yourself to write down all the feedback and observations you get. Otherwise you will forget and be sad because of it.
Create a specific build for the expo that highlights the most immersive parts of your game. Expo visitors do not have the same prep time to get into your game as regular players.
Make sure you have thoroughly tested at least the happy path of your game from start to finish. You will not have time to debug and fix the game during the expo if there are game-breaking bugs.
Have a button that restarts the game. You do not want to keep closing and re-launching the game after every visitor.
Code in some developer buttons that allow you to easily switch levels, enable skills or showcase other game mechanics if need be.
Setup the Day Before
Go set up your area the day before. If there are any problems the organizer can easily help you solve them then. They will not have time to help you on the actual expo day!
|Plan the Room
Plan the room well using the actual measurements. Make sure your needed furniture is asked for, there and fits along with you, the visitors and the play area.
Ask if there are volunteers on site to help you out. If not, consider bringing a friend or another student along. So that you would be able to go to the bathroom when you need to.
If your game requires an internet connection, make sure the organizer gives you that (preferably with a cable). Ensure the download and upload speeds match your requirements under load!
Ask the venue or bring along some extra monitors. If there are many visitors then extra monitors with a duplicated screen can show them what is going on in the game. This keeps them from bunching up.
|Avoid Other Speakers
If your area is close to some concert area or loudspeakers, then ask to be relocated. Even with headphones the visitors are not going to hear your game otherwise.
Make sure you know the organizer’s phone number and call them for questions and problems you have.
Keep your own phone charged too.
Make your area pretty with your posters, rollups, info stands etc. If you cannot make your area appealing to people, then some people will avoid it no matter how good your game is.
Drink and Snack
Bring a drink and a snack for yourself. Water is good to drink only when you need to, because then you do not have to visit the bathroom too often. But some energy drink might be good for the later evening.
|Change of Clothes
For longer expos bring an extra T-shirt and socks. People like you more when you wear clean clothes.
The venue temperature can also vary.
Relax and Observe
Let the players play. Let them discover your game by themselves without you tutoring every visitor. Observe how they are playing your game. Help only if you see someone is really stuck.
Do not forget to bring a smile. 😊
Even if something goes wrong, other people do not know that.
We wish you a great expo experience!