An event report by Jon.
Tabletop Scotland is a fast growing event held annually in Perth, scotland. This year Handiwork Games was in attendance, and sponsored the show.
What a great weekend. Simply put, Tabletop Scotland is a really good convention. It’s big enough that as exhibitors we were kept busy. And it has a great atmosphere, so we enjoyed being busy.
Boring business stuff
In terms of sheer sales we smashed all previous records at events. As a young company we’ve only done a few, but doubled our previous total, UK Games Expo. Much better booth size and placement, along with much more pre event build-up from us neatly accounts for that. Changes in our pricing really helped too, alongside an ever expanding range of cool stuff to buy. The friendly and easy-going nature of the con helped too. I didn’t see any stressed attendees.
I think best thing for me about getting out to events is actually playing our games face to face and remembering they’re really fun games, and people enjoy them!
The Bang & Twang World Cup was huge fun, and everyone understood the spirit of it. Essentially I wanted to import some of fun that I witnessed at Ropecon in Helsinki with their amazing Rock Paper Scissors event.
This actually spread across into the whole booth – The general atmosphere struck the chord I’d hoped for: a kind of tongue in cheek wholesomeness. There’s plenty at our booth for serious “grown up” gamers, but there’s also some family stuff, and lots for kids to enjoy. For me “wholesome” is the new “edgy” and I was really satisfied how well that was facilitated by the spirit of the event. On a personal level you’re never quite sure if you can achieve an atmosphere at a booth. I think we did and it makes me mist up a bit. Weirdo.
Tabletop Scotland provides copious playspace for people to simply sit down and play games. I loved that the exhibitors were an island in the middle of two large spaces full of open to play tables. Really cool. The facility to easily sit down I reckon adds to the friendly atmosphere. At an event like Gen Con, where there’s literally no where to sit, there’s a different vibe.
Crit the Rollatron
My single favourite moment was our first sale of the day, where our first customer decided to buy Bang & Twang. She got a roll on the Rollatron – a big table of prizes you got with every purchase. She wished for Bang & Twang Coins, which required a 20. And she smashed it. Free coins! It was a lovely start to proceedings. AND EVERYONE CHEERED
Maybe this belongs in the boring business section, but I was super proud of our little team. It was a joy to work with such willing, helpful people who all pulled in the same direction without any fuss or drama. Thanks Paul, Duncan and Andy! Next year?
I really enjoyed participating in the fantasy illustration panel. As so often happens after the event with the benefit of hindsight I hope we weren’t too boring – we talked a lot of illustration business more than strictly about fantasy illustration. But hey. I think we chatted about some interesting stuff and the Potato Print Game we discussed should probably be made into a real thing. Thanks to the event organisers for laying on the talks, and thanks to Iain for his excellent moderation. It’s hard to moderate well and Iain did a grand job.
It was really nice to see the event organisers so regularly. David Wright made himself especially visible and available, checking in on us several times daily. I’ve been to other events where having paid to be there you’re very much left to sink or swim. Not the case here.
All the volunteers were helpful, visible and available throughout and we were made to feel very welcome and supported.
Initially I was wary of all the booths being islands, but this actually made set up a breeze – no weird feelings about encroaching on other people’s booths nor being encroached upon. This also made for a luxurious amount of space for attendees to browse.
We’ve realised we need a bigger booth as a 10×10 just isn’t big enough. Yay!
I loved that the exhibitors area was cordoned off after closing and I felt really secure leaving stock there. Not always the case at all events when the gaming runs late.
Things I’d change
Nothing about the way the event is run at a high level. It was simply a pleasure to attend. 14/10, will sponsor again.
The panel needed more diversity. I know that’s really tough to achieve, and I know the organisers really felt the pain of putting on a talk with three white men. And I get that it was kinda cool the three of us individuals were there, because we’ve done some cool things.
But yeah. We needed some other voices there. I might see what I can do, if invited to a panel next year, to help to swap myself out for someone who is less of a middle-aged cis white man. I mean I’m a pretty funny talented entertaining guy and all (ha ha) but I’m happy to help facilitate someone less well heard being on that panel.
Something I’d change for myself is to make some more time to speak to other exhibitors. I realised way too late that time had run out. So I missed a load of conversations I would have loved to have had. I did get some really important chats and meetings done, but I’m going to plan more proactively next time. Im sorry if I didn’t get a chance to chat, my fellow exhibitors. Next time.
I’d probably make the effort to stay the Friday night. I chose to travel up on Saturday morning because we’re so close to the show. But I think it might be more fun to be there an extra evening.
By way of suggestion, and this is something I’d be happy to help with, I’d love to see Tabletop Scotland become a platform for showcasing Scottish innovation and quality in games design and publishing. We have some cracking companies right here in Scotland, that really expound those Scottish values of cleverness, hospitality, fairness and humour. I think that’s something we should be really proud of and promote to the rest of the world. (Gees here I go misting up again. I’m an immigrant to this country, and I absolutely love it still, even after 15 years in Falkirk) I think Tabletop Scotland, which already showcases these values, could be a venue in which that could happen.
I’m torn on something that TTS doesn’t have: awards. On one hand I find them nerve wracking, arbitrary and divisive. On the other hand it’s nice to win stuff, and it’s good for raising awareness of the winners/nominees.
All-in-all a really enjoyable convention, very well organised and it’s no surprise to me that it’s growing as fast as it is.
A heartfelt thank you to the organisers, volunteers, attendees and fellow exhibitors. Good times. See you next year!