Boothing at PAX West

Grace Bruxner
Sep 9 · 8 min read
that’s me and my friend the detective

Hello! I’m going to be writing a little post-mortem on my booth at PAX West 2019 with the Indie Megabooth. I had a really nice time. This is going to be a super straightforward post and probably uninteresting to most people. I came from Australia to Seattle to booth at PAX, so a lot of this stuff is for people who don’t live near the convention. If you live nearby you are so lucky!!!

My first step: getting a booth. 📧

I didn’t have a booth and I needed a booth. I reached out to Indie Megabooth and PAX itself. Indie Megabooth had closed its applications but I sent a very polite email asking for Frog Detective to be considered. They said I could booth, and I paid some late fees. PAX also said I could likely get a last-minute booth, but I think going with the Megabooth was the right choice as there was lots of foot traffic and support from the staff.

Oh boy now I need to plan my booth! 😱

My first step was asking friends to give me advice. I was pointed to this post by Brendon Chung:
http://blendogames.com/news/post/2012-09-04-on-boothing/
And this post by Kitfox games:
https://medium.com/@kitfoxgames/game-conventions-as-an-indie-a-booth-design-guide-e1d82f560608
Both were very helpful! I took Brendon’s 10x10 booth photo and drew over it to give myself an idea of how I wanted my booth to look. I also made a spreadsheet listing everything I needed to buy for the booth. I’ve blocked out some merch-specific costs that aren’t super relevant, but I’ll be writing a post on how I did merch soon.

Indie Megabooth provided the following:
- (1) Red Booth Carpet
- 500W Electrical Service
- (1) 6’L x 2’W x 30″H Black Skirted Table
- (2) Plastic Side Chairs
- (1) Wastebasket
- Black Pipe and Drape (8ft backwall — 3ft sidewall)

This helped me plan dimensions :-) Our booth was 10x10!

All prices in AUD! Also our flights were from Australia to the USA so your costs will vary.

Everything that I can remember buying is here: 🛒

Tablecloth (1.5m x 3.5m)
Fabric backdrop (1.5m x 3.5m) x 2
Tablecloth for small desk (can’t remember dimensions!)
Small desk from target
Stool from target (x2)
Bulldog clips
Double sided mounting tape
Double sided normal tape
Packing tape
Normal tape
Red duct tape (to hide cables — the carpet is red)
Hanging banner (84cm x 165cm)
Freestanding Banner (84cm x 200cm)
String
String lights
TV Stand
TV (32") with USB input (make sure the TV fits your TV stand!)
Lots of extension cables (3+)
Monitors x 2
Controllers x 2
Headphones x 2
Business cards (I got 600, was not enough! Get 1000+ next time, Grace)
Backing board to display stuff as needed
Money lock box for merch sales
Lockable suitcase to leave things at booth overnight
Big water jug
Hand sanitizer for players
Spray sanitizer for surfaces
Breath mints
Cough drops
Desk lamp to illuminate banner (clip on)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Me, all alone in my booth on setup day. We didn’t have merch to display yet, and I ended up moving the lamp on the desk onto my chair and pointed at the sign / merch and it looked really nice. We had to move the TV stand back a bit too for safety reasons.
We had a looping video of all our trailers and gameplay footage. The booth was this busy at all times! Having my desk in the corner was a good idea because people could come in and talk to me/buy merch if they wanted. Tom (in white) is wearing a sweater I ordered for the both of us to wear to look official!

Because we were coming from Australia we had to buy a lot of this online and ship it to friends in Seattle, or buy it when we got there. I think PAX has options for ordering stuff to the event so you can pick it up when you arrive, but I haven’t done this and I think it has costs involved.

Booth layout 🔨

This is the layout the booth ended up having. Having the desk was the best part, because it meant I could sit (I have chronic fatigue) and also gave me a spot to talk to press privately. When I had press appointments I let Tom or my lovely volunteers know(Thanks Aidan and Ashley!!) and they would shoo people away if they tried to interrupt the interview. We made sure there was enough room for people in wheelchairs to get in and play the game too.

Signage-specific things 🚭

The hanging banner I used was a good size because it had the title and image very high. I don’t think it needed to be any higher. It was 84cm x 200cm. The first one we got came damaged so we ended up ordering a second one and used the damaged one as additional low signage. The banner images had to be vectors and very specific dimensions which was annoying, so check with your printing place what size to make the images. Also, get your hanging banner with eyelets! The first one didn’t have eyelets and it would have been really difficult to hang up. The booth had 2 of these hook things which we hung up the banner with, and our booth neighbour had lots spare so we took like 8 for hanging up merch and other stuff. I don’t know what they’re called but they’re so useful!!!! Pic below.

Hook thing???

**Getting some fabric or a backdrop is important!**
When I was setting up I noticed that the fabric between booths is very thin and you can see through to the booth on the other side. Getting some fabric to cover up worked really well because it blocked out the light and gave our booth a nice colour.

Because our standing banner was very big, getting it to the USA was a bit difficult. We had to check in the bag it came in as oversized luggage. On the way back we took it as carry-on, but part of it got confiscated at TSA. I asked to take a picture of the part that got confiscated, and the TSA lady insisted that I include her nails in the photo because she just had them done.

LEFT: Banner, with me for scale. I’m 5'8. | RIGHT: The TSA lady’s nails and the part she confiscated.

Getting people to notice your game 👀

I’m overconfident and mostly assume people will visit the frog detective booth because the game is cool and rocks ur socks, so I didn’t try to lure people into the booth too much, but we had a few attention-grabbing things to show off the game. The biggest was our TV which played trailers and gameplay on a loop, and also had some business cards and a silly piece of paper with tear-away flyers on it. Lots of people took photos of the sign, which turned out great! We made around 25 of these and stuck them up as the things got ripped off. I honestly made these to stick around the city as a silly stunt, but we needed something for when our business cards ran out. I’d print more next time, it’s a cute and cheap way to get peoples’ attention. Disclaimer: the sign is a joke, and Steam has actually been really helpful and responsive with frog detective stuff!

silly sign

We sold tote bags for $5 and it was so cool when people were wearing them around the convention. I think if I had a higher budget I’d love to give them away because they’re a great promo item, but I can’t really afford that just yet.

Giveaways 🎁

People at PAX like to get something when they finish your demo, even if it’s a small thing. There’s some weird rule that finishing a demo means you deserve a prize!!

If people came by the booth and liked the game a lot but hadn’t played the first one, I would give them a Steam key for FD1. This worked well and I think I’ll print more keys next time. I gave away 100 in total.

Next time I’d also like to get some badges made to give away.

Business cards are perfect for people who are vaguely interested in your game but OMG please get more than 600. I made a huge mistake and ran out very early.

Our business cards were super simple! For some reason people thought they were stickers.

Stickers aren’t allowed at PAX but I secretly had some and would give them to people who played the demo and told them not to stick them anywhere near the convention. 🤫 I think that worked out OK, no big fines in my mailbox yet! Badges and tote bags will work just as well or better, but are more expensive.

Other Notes

  • Volunteers are so good! I paid mine, and you should too. For 2-3 hours work to cover lunch or whatever, I paid my volunteers $50/day and gave them free merch stuff too.

I think that’s it! Thanks for reading. :-) I’ll make a post all about merch soon. If you have any specific questions you can comment on this post or send me an email at grace[at]gracebruxner.com 🐟

💖 Grace

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