Essen, behind the scenes

Day 0 – Wednesday, 8:00 AM. Hulk.
Have you ever been thinking how these all games get to publishers booth? I’ll tell you how – we bring them there. I may not look like Hulk, but this is exactly how it works – transport company like UPS delivers palettes of games to halls and then we need to unpack all these palettes and take all games to out stand.

1500 copies of Robinson. 1000 copies of Convoy. 1000 copies of Winter. 1000 copies of Dancer. 1000 copies of older stuff like Pret-a-Porter, The New Era, 51st State or Steel Police. Nearly 20 palettes all together.

And there are three of us to do that. Rest of the team arrives to Essen in the evening.

I may not look like Hulk but being honest, after day 0 and unpacking few thousands copies of games I am not sure why the hell I don’t look like Hulk. On Wednesday we carried few tons of games. I talked with Petr from CGE – they had nearly 10 tons of games. They don’t resemble Hulk neither.

Well, some publishers look little bit tired in the first day of the show. Try a guess why…

Day 0 – Wednesday, 2:00 PM. Willson.
At 2 PM I have demo of Robinson on BGG live stream. I go to BGG stand. I am a little bit nervous. Did you hear about stage fright? Yes, I did hear about it too. So I am there, but BGG schedule is torn in pieces. They have 30 minutes of delay. I have to wait and trust me, waiting is not helping. Waiting is making me nervous. Waiting is making me think about few things… That English is not my native language. That BGG has delay and I have to shorten my presentation because they want to lower this time problem. That in a few minutes I am going live. Worldwide.

Sophie from Z-Man Games appears at BGG stand. She greets me. She wishes me a good presentation. She will keep her fingers crossed. I tell her that I am prepared. I tell her that demo of Robinson will be great. I tell her to not worry.

There is only one thing I don’t tell her. I don’t tell her about stage fright. Yes, it just got me and hold me tight.

Finally BGG is ready. They give me microphone. We can start. We start. I am no more nervous. No more care about stage fright. I just do what I can do the best. I talk about my beloved Robinson. And this is live. And worldwide. Yes, it is.

30 minutes later we are done. My mobile starts to beep every few seconds. Many friends from Poland send me immediate feedback. They say it was good demo. I am happy. Few days later, when Essen is done I finally can watch it. Robinson’s demo happens to be – as far as I can see – most popular video from Essen 2012. 1800 views. Woow.

Day 0 – Wednesday, 5:00 PM. Z-Man’s crew
That day at 5PM demo guys from Z-Man came to our stand. We did teach them how to demo Robinson and Convoy. You know, doing demo during convention or fair is not a piece of cake. There is no space for improvisation. This something you have to prepare for.

We’ve spent whole week at Portal’s office training how to explain rules of Robinson in the easiest way possible. At the beginning it was taking us 30 minutes. Later that week we were able to explain rules of Robinson in 10 minutes. It was hard work and lots of trainings.

You need to cut off the crap. Cut off all rules that are not important at the very beginning. Cut off all unnecessary details. Be focused. Be clear. Be understandable.

You have to remember about one important thing – in Essen you will meet gamers from Germany, from France, from Italy, from whole damn world, gamers for whom English is not a native language. Your demo has to be simple. Your demo can not involve sophisticated vocabulary. Your demo has to be easy to understand for any one who can barely speak English.

We spent an hour with guys from Z-Man. We did teach them a special, dedicated for Essen set up for the game with the easiest events and cards, set up that makes demo easy. And we were lucky. Z-Mans crew was a bunch of great gamers. They picked up things in a second. I was sure we were in a good hands.

Later on I visited Z-Man’s stand to check if everything is going well and if they need any help. They showed me that they changed a little bit set up of the game. They start demo from second turn so the game speeds up from the very beginning. It was a great idea. They knew what they were doing. No need to worry. I was happy.

Day 0 – Wednesday, 7:00 PM. Everything is set.
At 7PM we were ready to go, 11 hours after leaving hotel, 11 hours of work without lunch break, dinner break, any break. Few thousand games were set at our stand. Demo of Robinson was live on BGG site. Z-Man’s crew was ready to present Robinson and Convoy.

We were tired. We were hungry. And yes, we were damn happy. Man, it’s Essen. We were waiting for that day for whole year!

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