Since our very first Tsunami GameDay back in early 2013, the goal of the TsunamiCon management team has always been to spread the joy of our hobby and connect with fellow gamers. No matter how you cut it – no matter how weird or introverted or socially awkward you might be – tabletop gaming is a purely social activity, and the broader the player base, the more fun there is to be had. We have never once doubted our aspirations or that the local/regional community was worth the effort.
TSUNAMICON is a labor of love. It’s a big game con, because Wichita deserves a big game con. And our experience last year showed us that the community can support it, which is what leads us today. In our first year, we approached the convention with a broad safety net. None of us are rich… we’re struggling families trying to keep our collective head above water, and we happen to love gaming. If the 2014 Kickstarter failed, we would know that there just wasn’t enough interest in supporting the event. We could be on our merry way without any significant debt… a lot of work, but very low risk.
Then we had a fantastic game con.
In 2015, we knew we were looking at a more expensive convention. We were forced to move to a bigger venue, and we suddenly had to pay everything up front. We broke even the first year but made no profit, so we had no choice but to run another Kickstarter. It’s a great tool, but I can’t overemphasize the amount of work involved and how stressful it is to watch the funding level crawl toward a goal it may never reach.
We approached this year with the confidence born from last year’s success. TsunamiCon was a hit, and the feedback from the community suggested it would only get bigger. But we still needed money, and more of it. We engaged many returning vendors and received strong support from returning attendees who bought in early to help us get our crowdfunding goals down as much as possible. We were forced to launch our campaign earlier than we wanted because the venue’s pay schedule requires about half the money four months out.f
Some people have asked what happens if the Kickstarter fails. As I write this, I still have every reason to believe we can succeed, and I hope you will help. But if we fall short… well, let me posit the two extremes of the available spectrum. Best case scenario, we find alternative funding quickly enough to put together the money for the venue (unlikely, but not impossible) and work against the clock to try to secure the rest before the con. If we haven’t paid the venue over $5K by October 20th, our contract empowers them to cancel our event.
Worst case scenario… we are unable to secure quick alternative funding and the business folds. We owe a lot of money to the hotel for early cancellation and – more importantly – we have to pay back everyone who bought in early because they believed in us or were excited to do business with us again this year (or both!). It would force us to plunder any reserves we have and put our livelihoods at risk, because some portion of those early funds have been spent on things like the hotel deposit, our business license, promotional expenses like flyers and such… Let’s just say, the risk this year is significant. And to be honest, that debt would be enough to keep us from trying it again.
What I’ve learned from running TsunamiCon: You can’t please everyone. Some people are always going to try to tell you what you’re doing wrong. You can spend 40 hours a week above and beyond your 40+ hour job working on the con and still not know if you’re going to succeed. You will spend a LOT of time buried in emails, FB messages, questions on Twitter and G+, 95% of which won’t yield significant results in terms of capital or convention support. You will ultimately spend three days on your feet, putting out fires, working with vendors and venue staff, fielding complaints, and trying to anticipate problems before they occur, and never get to spend even an hour gaming with your friends…
… And it will all be absolutely worth it. I get to spend THREE SOLID DAYS surrounded by hundreds of folks having a blast because I spent all that extra time and energy, put my gamer family through the wringer, and dealt with all the stress of organizing, promoting and funding a convention.
Now I need your help. Back the Kickstarter. Buy your tickets. Get the swag. Buy your friends tickets, or convince them to buy their own. We intend to do everything we possibly can to have a convention this year, and we need the support of our gaming community to make it happen. No hyperbole… no dodging the question. We. Need. You. It’s our convention… yours and mine. And this is how we make it happen.