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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Event Organizing 101 - Brian Seabolt

Hey guys got another Event Organizing 101 to throw at you. The Q and A's have been going well and people seem to be really having positive response to these. Hopefully they will help inspire those around us who also are on the boarder of running events or at the very least they are a interesting read as we get a little back ground on fellow gamers in our community. This week we have a local gamer who did a ton of work with Table Top Gamers and working with Gencon in the past. 










Brian Seabolt is also know as Kain or Kainthedragoonx online. He can be found on a number of websites online including Table Top Gamers (http://www.ttgamers.com), Queen City Guard (http://www.queencityguard.com), of course the Art of War site (http://www.aowcinci.com) and I am a part of Team Porkageddon (http://www.teampork.org) He can be found on several of the larger sites from time to time like Dakka or Warseer but mainly you can find him around the more local boards trying to support the local scene. He was one of the people running CincyCon this year and he was at Adepticon playing in the team tourney. He helps run events in the Cincy area so lets turn it over to Brian

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

 I started gaming somewhere in the early 90s, mostly playing RPGs, slowly branching out into CCGs, and finally, miniature gaming in late 1990s with Mordhiem. I guess technically you could say I started truly running events in with the classic Score CCG, Dragonball Z. I started working at one of the local gaming stores when I was seventeen, running Warhammer Fantasy events for the local group. I'd say my first real miniature event I ran was an official Rogue Trader (where you bought the trophy packs and such.) I've been involved in the local scene since, running leagues and tournaments and such. About five years ago I founded Table Top Gamers, an organization of gamers that supports smaller miniatures games. The primary focus of Table Top Gamers has always been Gencon and GAMA's Origins, where we run something like 50 events throughout the weekend, and have had up to 400 people playing in them.  While Table Top Gamers is retiring, I will continue to run events and promote games through Team Porkageddon, a tristate gaming group. 

In terms of games I've ran events for, the list is quite long. I've ran events for Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer 40,000, Infinity, the "classic" Rackham skirmish level Confrontation, Spartan Games, Hell Dorado, Pulp City, and many others. I've probably ran over a hundred tournaments, and a copious amount of leagues, game days, and whatever other sort of silliness I can thing of. 

What led you to start organizing events?

Really, the need to give back. At the game stores and at the conventions, you always see these people running these events and doing cool crap. I really enjoy gaming and it's really my only hobby, and I have these people at these stores and conventions to thank for that, so I wanted to get involved and start helping grow the community. I play a lot of less popular games, and without getting off my butt and actually running events for them, I'm never going to get to play them.

Another thing I really like about running things is that I can try new stuff and give interesting ideas a go. Once you run enough events and prove that you're interested in running a strong event and having a good time, most people become willing to try interesting events and leagues. Even if the league or event ends up not being totally successful. For example, I ran a pretty serious map based warhammer fantasy league a couple years back. It ended up everyone fighting the same two people over and over. In the end the league was disbanded and even to this day people jokingly complain about having to play the same person over and over and over. I would say it was a learning experience, and I learned a lot about maps and extended campaigns, and those lessons have carried me through a wide range of events since. 

If you recall what was the first organized event you ran and how did that go?

 The first organized event I ran was a local Dragonball Z CCG tournament. I joined Score's organized play team, and started running events for foil promo cards (Yeah foiled Vegeta!) I was sixteen and free cards sounded awesome. The first event had ten players, which ended up being the same ten people every time I ran an event. Overall I remember it going okay, mostly because I was use to running the show from Boy Scouts and the like. Like I said, all the players continued to play Dragonball Z CCG until the game become totally unbalanced and I stopped running events for it. 

What did you take away from running your first event?

 The most important thing I learned from the event is that there needs to be more motivation for running the event than getting free stuff. Like I said before, I started running Dragonball Z for the foil promo cards, which really wasn't the correct motivation. Once I realized that I wanted to put on a good event to give back to the community and promote gaming, I became a much better event organizer. Another thing. Technology. even back then, I used an excel sheet or something like it to run events. Running events on paper is rough and is time consuming. If it's possible to run an event in a location with power, get your laptop, or a smart phone, or something. Most games stores have a computer, so ask if you can use it to run the event. 

Can you offer any tips or advice on working with the store/venue of an event location?

 The best thing to do when working with stores is help them see the benefits your event will bring to them. Most stores are open to running events as long as there is something they will get out of it, even bringing people into the store is normally enough. Also, it's very important to build up a reputation and get to know the people in the store you plan on running events in. Once the store managers start trusting you, you will be able to run more complicated events and will build a great gaming relationship with the store in question.

For non-store venues, it's hard to predict the space you'll have, so be ready for anything. Also, venues have rules for a reason. Follow them. Nothing sucks more than to break a rule at a venue and not be able to get back into that venue the next year. I've seen it happen and it's not very pretty. One last thing about non-store venues, remember they don't automatically know how much space you need. 

For you personally what is the hardest part of running an event?

 If we are talking miniature gaming, the terrain and space is the worse part of running the event. Miniatures gaming is something the is suppose to be impressive and look awesome on the table. The hard part is trying to get all the terrain together in the limited amount of space and making the tables look good while making sure the event is ran well. When you're running at a Store, this is a lot less of a problem (as long as they have tables and terrain of course) but a conventions and non-gaming venues, nothing sucks worse than not having enough terrain and having to make up table rules and ruin people's experience. I've played in events that's happened in, and it's absolutely terrible. The nice thing is that with a little prep work and foresight, you can easily avoid that issue.

For you personally what is the most rewarding part of running an event?

 The best part of running an event is when someone comes up to you at the end of the day and they tell you something positive about the event. It seems silly, but one complement can turn a crappy day of rules arguing, yelling, and being a colossal d-bag, into a great experience and make everything worth it. A couple other things I really enjoy is being able to see all the armies and everyone's hard work. Building an army, painting it, playing it, coming up with a theme and spending a whole day of someone's life moving little soldiers around is a real commitment, and it's nice to be in a role where you can see everything everyone's worked so hard on. You always miss that when you're playing in the events, but when you're running something, you can take that all in. And you might even get an idea or two or a dozen! 

 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?

 Make sure you're running the event for the right reasons. Foiled promos are cool and all, and getting into a convention for free is nice too, but if you're not interested in actually running the event and creating a great environment for players to be a part of, then you're going to be wasting your time and your player's time. I've never been to a bad event where the Event Organizer was interested in the event. I've never been to a good event where the Event Organizer was not interested.




So big thanks to Brian for taking a time out of his Non stop fantasy gaming to do shed a little light on his background. I have a few more of these planned and if anyone is reading this not in the states I would be very interested in having some non American Gamers do a couple of these to see if our backgrounds are really that different or if maybe we are all just gamers at the end of the day and not so different. =P If your interested in doing one of these Q and A's on running events and you are over sea's or not over sea's feel free to drop me a line at Drkmorals @ Gmail . com. 

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