Networking ®, the Trading Card Game
Hello! Now that our bearded scout squadron (with glasses) is back from Sweden and recharged, it's time to write a couple of lines about our trip to Nordic Game Conference, Unite Nordic and some related events.
For us the trip went very well. People seemed to like the idea behind Interplanetary a lot, and Hedgehop, one of the games we still very much hope to finish at some point, was very well received by the few people I had a chance to show it.
We thought about writing a longer post mortem and a more detailed description of the events, but there are plenty of those around at this point, and you can always watch some of the presentations online. So, instead, here are some things you should keep in mind when it's your time to travel to NGC. (Majority of these points apply for most games industry events.)
Nordic Game Conference tips for the newcomers:
Make it clear to yourself what you require from the trip and plan your actions accordingly. Is there someone you want to talk with? A company you want to connect to? Are you looking for a training place? Do you want to find a publisher for your game, or are you there for advice?
If you travel with a group, discuss your goals beforehand. This way you can keep on the lookout for your friends as well: If someone spots a person you want to talk with, they can give you a call.
Prepare some material for your game or team.
Think of the message you wish to deliver to your target audience, and what that target audience will be. Prepare the materials early. You may also want to prepare an elevator pitch for your company, team and/or your game.
Make reservations as early as possible.
This allows you to find cheaper flights and accommodations. Comfort Hotel Malmö is a good choice, it's located right next to the Slagthuset where the conference is held.
You'll end up needing only 1/3 of what you have in most cases. Linens and a towel are usually not needed, even if you stay in the cheapest possible hostel.
Wear good shoes.
Your trip is likely to involve lots of walking and standing, and it'll be a lot harder to focus on important things when you have blistered feet.
Be aware that the price level in Sweden is very high.
This is true even from a Finnish perspective. You can expect a McDonalds meal to be around 10€, a beer in a bar around 8€ and drinks around 12€. There's a good China Box at Gustav Adolfs torg which is not exactly cheap, but it's a good alternative to the other fast food places.
Data roaming is around 0,8€ / MB and wifi access in the conference area is pretty unreliable, so you might want to consider Swedish prepaid for the event.
Conferences offer lots of quality content for social media.
You can post interesting things often, and if you tag the people or companies you meet, there's a chance you will get retweets/shares etc.
You don't need to attend every talk.
Though the talks may appear to be the main thing, most of the information you will get is something you can find by googling. The real value lies in stuff that you can learn when discussing face to face with the professionals. Attending their talk may be a good way to earn a chance to speak with the person later, though.
Have some business cards with you.
It's so much easier for the people to remember you afterwards if you give them one. Offering yours is also a less awkward way to get one.
It may be a good idea to wear clothing with your team/studio/game logo.
This makes you more recognizable and memorable. It also makes it easier for people that know your game to recognize you and start a conversation.
Make use of your previous contacts.
Game industry people are usually friendly and eager to help- it's usually ok to ask them to introduce you to someone they already know.
Go to the afterparties every day, even if you don't drink.
There is a good chance you will get your most important contacts there. And if you do drink...
Don't drink too much.
Most of the evening parties offer free drinks, but you'll get more out of them if you stay reasonable.
Most importantly, talk to people.
This is the core of everything. Only by socializing you'll end up getting new contacts and strengthening the existing bonds.
So there you have a couple of points to keep in mind, some of which we have learned the hard way. Hopefully now you can avoid them and have even more fun and productive conference experience!