Artist Alley for the game developer

Hiyo! This weekend we attended one of the largest anime cons on the East Coast: Otakon in Baltimore, MD! It’s so huge it just about gobbles up a new hotel space each year.  As artists we’ve had artist alley tables on and off for years doing commissions and selling art but this is the first year we had an artist alley table as a small independent game developer.  Last year Legend of Fae was released on steam the same week as Otakon so we really had little representation of it at our table. This year I printed out post cards of our games to pass out and since I read Hanako’s blog post about selling artist alley hard copies I also designed cd cases of Legend of Fae.

I think Anime Con Artist Alleys could be a great way to promote your game and meet  future fans.  Especially since as developers we tend to just sit behind computers for about 19 hours a day.  Thoughts of marketing online always seems forced and not personal but at a small artist alley- you can actually meet people–  Really awesome people who put lots of time into being fans.

This year Fruit Ninja  had a booth in Otakon’s Dealers Room and I spotted 3 smaller game developers in Artist alley.  The developers in artist alley were Zeiva.netthe Fictory and Studio Nasu who is actually teaming up with Otakon to develop a game for the convention’s 20th  anniversary next year.  So the artist alley for game developers is a thing thats happening more and more. But should you do it and if you decide to, how?

Making the cd isn’t the only thing you should consider doing when preparing for Artist Alley. You see Artist Alley tables look like this:

Artists setting up before the floodgates were opened.

Artists who sell at Artist Alleys have really large displays that surround them in an art cave of merchandise.  But if you’re a developer then you probably don’t have a bunch of arts and crafts to sell. But you have something even better. YOU HAVE A GAME TO PLAY. Now you just need to be able to show it with a well prepared table!

Artist Alley Check list:

  • Electricity & Laptop/Monitors. Some sort of game build to have attendees play would be great but you can also just show a game video running in a loop and talk about it. You could even gear your table toward a weekend long playtest.
  • A Banner. Make it easy for people to find your table by putting your name in large letters. You can get one made or Make one yourself. No matter how it comes out your game on display will be more easily found and remembered.
  • Post Cards & Flyers. Hand outs with info about your project. You can go to a office supply store and get these made on paper. Or if you have nice art to show off then make post cards that people might consider keeping.
  • Preorders and/or Hard Copies of completed games for sale.
  • Height. Depending on how big the con is most artist will have pipes or Craft Cube organizers to get more real estate and more attention for their table. It’s certainly a must for a con with 32k visitors like Otakon.
  • Prints.  Print out large Screen shots, Characters or even nice looking in game assets to decorate your display especially if you’ve got the Height going for you!
  • Other Merch. Other things artist generally sell at Otakon are prints of art, buttons, bookmarks and shirts but your art is your game so having extra merch would be nice but not necessarily.

So,  hope that helps other small team game devs out there.  Otakon is huge and really expensive but if you’ve got a smaller con near by, you might want to check it out. You can even team up with other game devs to share expenses.

Now feast your eyes on my con photo collection!  

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