Monday, June 6, 2011

Event Organizing 101 - Andrew Sutton

One of the main focuses of the Emperor’s Codex will always be to encourage our community in a positive manner. So any time I feel that the blog can is some way help out the local or online community in a positive manner I will most likely pursue that action. With that in mind I will be doing a series of articles on organizing events. I feel that the event organizers end up with what is sometimes a thankless job. Also that so little light or discussion is put into the behind the scenes aspects of running events. So to kick things off we will be doing some Event Organizing 101 and we will be kicking these off with some basic Q and A (not to be confused with basic T and A) with some fellow gamers from the community that take the time to put together events.
So in keeping this thing going we have done a handful of these so far. I added a nice quick link to the right to be able to jump to them easier since navigating through older blog content can be such a pain. This week we have a Q and A with Andrew Sutton who is better known as Stelek online. 

Stelek resides at if you don't know who he is. He lays out his advice with a direct harsh edge and doesn't ever hold back punches. He is a solid list builder and often does list building advice as well as strategy articles and some ranting that comes from owning a blog. I reached out to him as I have a number of people to do these and he agreed to play along however opted to post the responses on his blog. The point of these are to generate discuss on event organizing, encourage newer people who are thinking about running events, and to offer a little background on the people around us who run the events we attend. By posting it on his site too we get more exposure which unless your a nudest who ran out of sun block isn't a bad thing.So this is still good for our goals. =) I'll be copying and pasting his responses into the post below so that I can catalog it with the others I have been doing. His post went live yesterday but I was busy putting together the Games day pictures from France so I didn't get to post it up at the same time.

His post can be found directly here.. all rights reserved and all that nonsense. =)
Feel free to read it on his site or below.

Please give a brief background on your gaming experience and organizing events background.

Sure, I’ve been gaming since I was 6 (D&D). Sadly, that means for over 30 years now. lol

Organizing events, well, I’ve run lots of RTT’s, quite a different picture from a GT really, but nowhere near large PC and board gaming events which is where I drew my fairness and balance concepts from. When you have first hundreds of players then thousands show up, you really need to be on your toes. Slipping up won’t piss off one person, or three. You could piss off dozens or even hundreds of players. lol
What led you to start organizing events?

Well, back in the 80′s, I was sick and tired of the folks running the show in board gaming circles. In the 90′s, I was sick and tired of bad kids running PC gaming events and f*#& it up. In the 00′s, well, GW and Indy events couldn’t get me a competitive game and after dozens of GT’s and RTT’s, I just said f*&# it.
 If you recall what was the first organized event you ran and how did that go?
 Man, I can’t even remember the name of the event. I doubt it’s even in existence still. It was all about board gaming and D&D, the big geeky things back in the 80′s. The first year I attended, I felt overwhelmed (I was all of 8) and got relegated to playing Connect Four with the other kids. Rather than Third Reich, my intended target. See, nobody would play with a ‘dumb kid’. So the next year, I paid for my own booth at the convention and ran games of Squad Leader, Europa, and Third Reich. I pulled a draw against the champ of Europa, bogging down in Russia but holding the 1942 line until late 43 (the game ended as Europa takes forever to play, even in a 3 day con). Granted he was playing 2 other games, but I was playing 4 skirmish games of squad leader and 2 games of Third Reich–and he crushed his other opponents. ;) Anyway, I realized then that most peoples idea of ‘fair’ was ‘fair to me’ not ‘fair to everyone’, that most peoples idea of ‘inclusive’ meant ‘my friends’, and most peoples idea of ‘fun’ meant ‘fun for me’. I’ve been scarred ever since! Rofl. ;) I think it went well myself, I got lots of compliments on my skill with the usual ‘for your age’ insults thrown in (I didn’t realize they were insults until much later). Which is why when people mention age, I think they are dicks. lol
 What did you take away from running your first event?
 I had a long way to go to convince the established crowd that my way would get us more players and keep the event alive. lol
 Can you offer any tips or advice on working with the store/venue of an event location?
 If it’s a venue, attend an event there before you spend money. Knowing how the staff is, how they handle issues that arise, is very important. Being a customer is one of the best ways to do this. Anytime a venue says ‘well, we can’t do that’ or ‘you will have to pay for X’ or ‘you aren’t our first choice and might get bumped’, just say ‘thanks but I’m here to do business, not do you a f*&#g favor’ and leave.

Stores? Well, if you go there, you should know what the terrain and space is like. Plan for the maximum number of players to show up and claim all the space you can, it’s easy to fold tables up, but it’s a pain in the ass to get them out with people waiting. Oh and make sure the owner knows you are in charge, not him. Favoritism and house rules do not belong in competitive events, period. Store owners love giving their friends prizes. Which is lamesauce.
For you personally what is the hardest part of running an event?
 None really. Once I had someone who didn’t like my ruling call me a bad name, but what can you do? I wasn’t in the mood to throw a dumbass out of the tournament. It’s not like he wasn’t known to me for being a poor sport, bad player, and overall just a piece of crap. lol I have a much thicker skin than most people do, so what people say usually has no effect. Be warned though, like you or not, I rule unbiased, so you might get screwed because you didn’t know a rule. ;)
For you personally what is the most rewarding part of running an event?
Making other people happy.
If you had to give a single piece of advice to someone who was interested in organizing an event for the first time what would you pass on?

Use computers.
Oops, more than a single piece of advice. Well, they can sort it out. lol

Have a large reserve of cash on hand (for venue events only).
Trust, but verify.
Get lots of sleep whenever you can (venue events only).
Be a very public face during ongoing gaming.
Know the rules.
Personal thanks to Stelek for playing along. This is taken directly from his words on his blog the only difference is I have added some symbols to some of his more colorful words. Stelek can always offer some solid insight into game play, and usually will respond to list help via email or on his forums. His site is considered by most to be a pillar of the hardcore gaming community although his site or opinion can polarize sides on different issues.It can be especially helpful for newer players trying to improve on game play, his blog is one of the most linked blogs that you will see when jumping around online and well worth checking out from time to time. 
The goal is to put a little more of the behind the scenes info online for our online community to have access to and inspire discussion or encourage those considering making the jump from player to organizer that the task is doable even though it can seem overbearing. If you run events locally large or small and are interested in doing a Q and A please contact me Drkmorals @ Remember you might encourage the person who could be running the events you enjoy going to in the future.

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