As you read this, I’m probably sitting on an American Airlines flight from SNA to ORD to help manage this weekend’s Darkmoon Faire Chicago. If you listened to my interview from the World Cup, you know that this weekend is the first of what we hope are many Epic Cons.
You might have heard references to Epic Con over the last few months, so here’s the scoop.
We’re gamers. We like to play games. We like the World of Warcraft TCG, but we also like Dungeons and Dragons, Pandemic, Settlers of Catan, Dominion, Dixit, Magic: The Gathering, Ascension, and Carcassonne. Most of the time, we first play new games because our friends recommend it, or by playing it at a convention—just like you.
The gaming convention business is tough. With very few exceptions they’re a labor of love. The organizers work their asses off at night and on weekends while working their real job. The staff and game masters volunteer their weekend to run the games, and maybe get to play in a couple slots over the weekend. Even so, it’s still very expensive for attendees, with admission often running $50-75 for the weekend.
Why are they so expensive? Well, that’s very easy. Convention/meeting space at convention centers and hotels ain’t cheap. Here in the US the space for a Darkmoon Faire can easily run $10,000 -$15,000. (In Europe, it’s often double that.) This is the average price for a “decent” venue that’s booked 12-18 months in advance. It gets cheaper closer to the event, but then it’s harder for attendees to plan travel. Location matters too – Texas is going to be much cheaper than Chicago during the summer, and no one wants to go to Philly in January.
The interesting thing about convention space is that the amount of space for your dollar doesn’t scale. We doubled our space in Las Vegas this year and are only paying 10% more.
So we love conventions and can get a bunch of space for practically nothing because we’re already planning to run Darkmoon Faire at the same location. I guess the only thing we can do is run a gaming convention. Or more specifically: EPIC CON!
Our plan is simple – we have a chance to give back to the community by sponsoring the convention so there are no badge costs for attendees as we don’t need to make any money from them. We’re making them open to both companies and independent GMs. And we’re committed to running these at Chicago, Las Vegas, and Philadelphia this year, so we’ll have time to learn and make them bigger and better.