Here you will find the latest news and announcements in the weeks leading up to the convention. Check back often for the latest information!
About four years ago, shortly after running our second local Tsunami GameDay event, I floated the term “TsunamiCon” onto the world stage via the auspices of our RPG podcast Metagamers Anonymous. It was kind of intended to get a rise out of my co-hosts, who were already reeling from the high-energy output necessary to make a GameDay happen… and my insistence on treating a day of tabletop gaming for 20 or 30 people like a major event. Everyone laughed nervously and rolled their eyes a bit, certain that ol’ Erik was just reaching well outside the bounds of reality.
Even if you’ve never run a major event, or even contemplated it, there are a few things which you can reasonably assume:
- It’s complicated. There are obviously a organizational details and planning exercises involved, and you have to know where to start.
- It’s questionable. Just because 30 people show up to a free GameDay, what makes you think you can get a couple hundred gamers to pay for the privilege? And doesn’t advertising cost money?
- And it’s expensive. Clearly, it takes a solid wad of cash to put something significant together.
The first point is inevitably true, and this is where my radio background has served me well. I’ve helped organize – and often spearheaded – numerous events over the years, from concerts to cooking shows to variety shows at the local park. I’ve also been firmly in the driver’s seat when it comes to marketing, so I’m no stranger to the art of promoting an event. And as for the cash… well, I wasn’t the first to use Kickstarter to fund a convention, but I definitely felt like a pioneer.
The real secret of my success is in that first paragraph, however. I figured it out a long time ago, when I was touring the Midwestern bar scene as part of a blues band. You see, real blues fans are kind of an exclusive crowd. Sometimes, you’d land somewhere and pack a tiny club with enthusiastic locals; at other times, you’d be lucky to have half a dozen folks in the audience. But both kinds of gigs had something in common… the audience was full of people who loved the blues. So whether you played for six or sixty, you got up there and jammed out like it was the freakin’ Hippodrome.
In short, any event worth doing is worth doing to the best of your ability. Last year our attendance ran at about 220 people, not counting volunteers, guests, and staff. Not particularly large by convention standards, though given that a gaming con is about hanging out all day long playing games, it sure feels busy. And I’ve had a chance to visit with other small convention organizers, and you guys’ll be happy to know that our numbers for the first two years compare very well indeed. But my point is this… even if you’re game con has only 200 people, it’s your job to treat it like there are 2000.
Details are important to me. Impressing people with a world-class experience is important to me. Not just because I want them to come back next year, but because I want the folks in our gaming community to feel like they’ve had a chance to do something awesome. To have an experience that’s both fulfilling and memorable. To be fair, we struggle to raise enough capital to have a convention at all… but I could easily sink another $10,000 into our con just to make it shine. Just to make the experience that much better for everyone involved.
So the secret is this… If you want to do something BIG, do it right. If you find yourself looking at the details and going, “that’s just too much work”… buckle up and do it anyway. Don’t cut corners, don’t over-promise and under-deliver, and don’t shy away from a cool idea just because it sounds complicated. Take risks, and understand that the reward is the undertaking itself. The rest will come in time.
Oh… and back my Kickstarter, would ya? Thanks.
Needless to say, a lot of work goes into managing a Kickstarter campaign: building the page, doing all the math, figuring up reward levels and stretch goals, finding a way to express everything your project IS in just a handful of words and graphics. Your selling an idea. Selling a dream. A concept that hopes to capture the imagination of enough eager contributors to fund your project and make it a reality. This work starts weeks – or even months – before you ever see a page on their website.
Today, TSUNAMICON LLC launched our third Kickstarter campaign for our third annual tabletop gaming convention in Wichita, Kansas. Despite our best efforts, the cost of running a con seems to go up every year… or at least, the amount we need up front. Consequentially, our Kickstarter goal is the dead minimum we need to pull this off in 2016. That’s a sobering realization, to say the least. Our advantage, however, is a strong gaming community and two excellent events under our collective belt.
Today I urge you to check out our Kickstarter page. Peruse the reward levels and find a way to support the con. Pledge now, and you’ll be charged when the campaign is over. Simple, effective, and so important. Then SHARE. Send everyone you know to check out the Kickstarter page and urge them to get involved. It’s a fantastic event that brings joy to our community and gives us a chance to spend three freakin’ days playing games with family, friends, and total strangers, and generally enjoying life.
As we march toward the launch of our upcoming Kickstarter campaign, you have a few days left to get your early VIG tickets at the pre-Kickstarter price. This price goes up once we launch the campaign! As a VIG (Very Important Gamer), you get your weekend pass, exclusive convention swag, and access to the VIG Lounge – a sanctuary where you can retreat from the noise and excitement at any time and graze on some of the complimentary snacks and soda we keep on hand. It’s a fun way to be part of the con and get the most out of the experience. It’s also a great way to show your support for your hometown game con.
The GOLD VIG level includes some additional perks. Every year, we run some exclusive gaming events on Sunday just for our Gold-level VIGs. These are original adventures penned in house and run by one of our management team, and you get a chance to check it out before it goes to publication. Additionally, we’ll invite you to an exclusive dinner on Sunday night with TsunamiCon staff, guests, entertainers, and the cast of Metagamers Anonymous.
Finally, if you want to secure a booth in our TsunamiCon Marketplace, we’re extending our 10% pre-Kickstarter discount for a few more days. TsunamiCon is a fun venue with a crowd that generally shows up on Friday afternoon and evening and sticks around for the whole convention, giving you plenty of opportunity to ply your wares when they wander away from the gaming tables. Many of our returning vendors are also game designers who enjoy numerous opportunities throughout the con to demo their games and spread the word to the local community. If you’re interested, or if you have any questions, drop me a line at [email protected].
Be watching for our Kickstarter announcement very soon!
There are numerous challenges associated with running a grass roots convention, but nothing so daunting as securing the venue and the dates for the upcoming year. As TsunamiCon continues to grow with the gaming community in and around Wichita and draw larger crowds from outside the city, this part of the process will become less stressful, but at this point we still have to approach each event much like it’s our first, negotiating with venues and raising capital to get things started. Happily, we have managed to secure an amazing venue for TsunamiCon 2016.
This year’s event will be hosted October 7th, 8th and 9th at Venue 332 at the Wichita Scottish Rite Center in downtown Wichita. This is an exciting move for our little organization, as we move away from a strictly hotel-oriented environment and attempt to forge a new relationship with a truly breathtaking venue, suffused with a historic and immersive atmosphere that will be sure to delight gamers with its old world charm.
The location is excellent. If you’re a Wichita native, you may have driven past the Scottish Rite numerous times without even really soaking it in. It’s located at First and Topeka, just a block north of Douglas and east of Broadway, and offers ample free parking in a lot situated just north of the building.
TsunamiCon LLC maintains the same dedication to producing a quality convention experience that you have come to expect, and we will be working with VisitWichita to establish housing opportunities with nearby hotels. As always, our focus will be on the gaming, with a large banquet hall for the games, an attached annex for this year’s vendors, and other rooms we can use for special events.
We currently plan to launch our primary crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter at the end of April. Until that time, you can help us raise our starting capital (and lower the Kickstarter goal!) by purchasing your VIG memberships and vendor booths early. Meanwhile, follow us on social media and watch the website for updates on upcoming promotions and special events.
Let’s make 2016 the best convention yet!
We all know that the beating heart of any game con is the big damned room where the magic happens, and this year we don’t aim to disappoint. Schedules are going up, which means it’s time to start planning your weekend at TsunamiCon! We have piles of new games being posted on our event schedule, as well as a host of game demos courtesy of Cardboard Carnage, Tabletop Heroes, and our own TsunamiCon game wardens! We’ll update the site with new event information as plans are finalized, so continue to check back with us and be sure to sign up for some games.
- D&D Adventurers League and Pathfinder Society. There are numerous games scheduled for each system throughout the convention, starting as early as Friday morning and running through Sunday afternoon. Don’t miss out! Reserve your seat at the table now!
- Warmachine/Hordes Steamroller Tournament. Starts on Sunday morning at 10am and runs through the afternoon.
- Star Wars Xwing Tournament on Saturday afternoon.
- Duel Grounds’ new Cthulhu Deckbuilder game demos.
- Numerous games and demos from volunteer GMs!
Additionally, this week on our Facebook event page, we’ll start highlighting different gaming opportunities for the con and make announcements as new events are posted. TsunamiCon is weeks away, and we plan to make the most of it!
TsunamiCon 2015 is fast approaching! You’re ready for 3 solid days of gaming goodness this October, so how do you get started? Let’s start with the basics:
We will assume you already know what TsunamiCon is: a three-day convention that provides attendees with the best variety and highest caliber tabletop gaming entertainment Wichita can offer, with demos, tournaments, and gaming experiences to serve the needs of hard-core hobbyists and amateur gamers alike. We expand on this core product with related activities and entertainment, including cosplay contests, miniature painting, live geek comedy, and so much more.
If you need to know more, you should definitely poke around the website and see what the convention is all about. In the next couple weeks, you’ll start to see new gaming and event schedules appear, with tournaments, demos, organized play, casual gaming, panels, cosplay, LARPs, and more! If you want to run some games, all the better! You can submit your game now on our Submissions page. Note: If you plan to run a couple games, you can get a nice price break on your weekend pass.
You can find the basics on our Registration page, including the hours of the con, links to buy tickets and reserve your hotel room, and a general rundown of what you can expect as a TsunamiCon attendee. Finally, follow us on social media for regular updates. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter! And if you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions, let us know! It’s your home town game con.
My wife is currently taking a marketing class, and while she was discussing one of her current assignments last night I was reminded of something fairly profound. I’ve made an effort to market the convention as exactly what it is, at least on the surface. It’s an event at a hotel wherein you get to play games all day long for three amazing days. We’ve added a bunch of features and events to give the convention a robust appeal, from demos and tournaments to panels and cosplay. The end goal is to make the convention as memorable an experience as possible.
Therein lies my recent revelation. The appeal of a game con is that it’s more than what it is… it’s an experience. You get there as early as you can and spend up to 16 hours packing in all the gaming you can take. You sit down with friends and strangers and check out games you’ve never played before. You fit in a few of your favorites, maybe even teach some of your fellow gamers how to play! You try out That One Thing you’ve never gotten around to playing before. You grab the occasional snack to keep yourself moving, maybe take a break at some point to get a real meal at the hotel restaurant or one of the nearby eateries.
You take a few minutes to check out the vendors, sign up for drawings for new games and gaming products, maybe relax for a few and watch the cosplay contest or attend a panel on game design. At the end of the day, maybe you’re exhausted and head up to your room, or maybe you meet up with some folks who are gaming in theirs! Maybe you hit the hotel bar and have a few drinks with new friends, talk about the day and make a mental checklist of the games you still need to check out.
Either way, you get to do all again tomorrow!
A Game Con isn’t just an event, it’s an experience. I’ve been heartened by how many people still talk about last year’s TsunamiCon and the great time they had. Right now – in Wichita – it’s a unique opportunity to spend an entire weekend doing what you love, and doing it in style. With friends, with family, and with an amazing opportunity to connect with so many other gamers!
We’re closing in on our funding goal, but we only have a few days left to make it happen. Help us bring the TsunamiCon Experience back to Wichita this fall. Buy your tickets now via our Kickstarter page and help us cross the finish line (we have to hit 100% to get any of the cash!). We’re so close… now we just a need a little more love to make it real.
To sweeten the deal, we’re going to put our Kickstarter backers into a hat (yes, you’ll all fit… trust me…) and give away a hotel room for at least one night of the convention! So now you can get a great price on your ticket and have a shot at winning a hotel room for the con!
Back our convention, and experience TsunamiCon with us again this fall. You won’t regret it.
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.
One of the most exciting rewards we offer TsunamiCon attendees is the V.I.G. (Very Important Gamer) experience. As a reward for providing a higher level of support during the funding process, VIGs have a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the convention.
First of all, the VIG ticket is an all-access 3-day pass, and ticket holders are eligible for any drawings and giveaways we conduct throughout the con. Additionally, the specially labeled VIG badge you collect at will call is accompanied by a preordered TsunamiCon T-shirt, our custom commemorative dice, and any additional swag we manage to cobble together for the package. (This year’s Gold VIGs even get a quality, embroidered TsunamiCon dice bag from dicepouch.com.) Last year, we handed out handmade leather key fobs.
And we have some very cool rewards were eyeing with particular interest for this year’s event.
Secondly – and perhaps more profoundly – there’s the VIG Lounge. The lounge is a hospitality suite set aside specifically for VIGs and TsunamiCon guests. It’s a place to retreat occasionally from the crowd and the noise and graze a little on the available finger foods and stash of soda we keep stocked, as well as occasional bonus meal items. This year, the lounge is located in one of the Holiday Inn’s Executive Loft Suites, just an elevator ride to the top floor high above the convention center, where you can relax and refresh yourself at your leisure throughout the event. You can even game a bit with fellow VIGs, and we’ll plan to have a few scheduled games in the lounge available for signup. Maybe even some after-hours revelry.
The lounge was very popular last year, and we’re excited to bring it back to TsunamiCon 2015.
And all that comes with the basic Silver-level VIG membership. Gold-level contributors also get access to an exclusive Tsunami Living Campaign gaming event, as well as dinner at the Green Mill Restaurant on Sunday night with our management team, TsunamiCon guests, and the cast of Metagamers Anonymous.
We feel the value of the VIG ticket and the VIG experience at the con is a fantastic way to reward our contributors and fans, and you can take advantage of our limited number of VIG tickets via the Kickstarter campaign. Every dollar raised through the Kickstarter helps fund our convention, paying for the venue, the food, the guests, and all the cool swag. By buying in now, you’re not only supporting the con…
… You’re making a difference.
A few days ago, we launched our Kickstarter campaign for TsunamiCon 2015, and it’s starting off rather nicely. We have a long way to go if we’re going to fund this convention, and this is in many ways the most critical stage of our planning process. So it kind of threw me yesterday when one of our backers mentioned that there were a lot of local gamers last year who felt that Kickstarter was an inappropriate venue for funding a gaming convention. I’d like to take a moment to address that idea.
Why Kickstarter? The first thing you need to understand is that I’ve been thinking about running a convention for years. What started as a small group of like-minded gamers with our Prismatic Tsunami forums (now lost to antiquity and Russian spambots) has slowly blossomed into a global community tied together through our podcasting network, our periodicals, and our enthusiasm for gaming. About a year after we launched the Metagamers Anonymous podcast, we decided to start hosting local GameDay events in our home city of Wichita, and we started building connections with the local gamer population. TsunamiCon was a no-brainer.
But the truth is, conventions are extraordinarily expensive to run, and none of us are independently wealthy. We really wanted to put together something special for our community – something big enough to incite even some of our fanbase from across the nation to make the trip to Wichita to game with us – but we had no startup capital. That was when I started looking at Kickstarter, and I quickly found that several new conventions had popped us across the Midwest by virtue of successful crowdfunding campaigns.
If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it started as a way to permit creative projects – like games, books, electronic innovations, and clever inventions of all sorts – to reach out to potential customers and secure a means to fund their efforts. Without a middleman. As a musician, I loved the idea of being able to pre-sell an album I hadn’t yet recorded so that I could at least afford to make my art into something tangible that I could share, without having to secure a record contract and lose most of my money to the corporation behind it. More importantly, as any musician who has ever perused a record contract can tell you, you instantly end up signing over much of your creative control to the investors.
Which is exactly what we didn’t want to do with TsunamiCon.
Using Kickstarter to fund an event is a perfect fit. It allows us to pre-sell tickets and use the money for funding, rather than having to come up with thousands of dollars on our own. It gives us a powerful medium for connecting with fans and giving them the opportunity to really show their support. We use the reward system to provide access to convention swag (again, collecting the funds to actually have the swag made!) and VIP opportunities at the con, as well as provide accessibility to would-be vendors and advertisers. And better yet, the Kickstarter website provides us with tools that help us reach a broader audience, unbound by our social media connections. Anyone looking for a gaming convention or even just browsing the website (which, believe it or not, a lot of people do) can find us and immediately elect to get involved, and there’s even a social connection between account holders who choose to follow each other’s activities that immediately alerts your friends via email when you back our project.
As you can see, it’s a win-win.
In short, if you’re a gamer who feels like conventions should only be run by people who have the cash (who are often largely interested in obtaining more cash), I offer you in turn a chance to help fund a convention from the ground up and add your voice and ideas to the mix. We listen to you – not a team of investors – because you’re the ones who control our fate. Without your patronage, there is no TsunamiCon.
Sure… we hope to one day make enough money at one of our cons to pay it forward and no longer require crowdfunding, but for that we need to grow our convention into a much bigger event with more attendees. Understand that a lot of cons that aren’t even as big as ours frequently fail after just a year or two because the organizers aren’t making enough money to cover their costs and often end up with bad debt. Nobody likes that arrangement, and by funding it ahead of time we can be confident that our event is paid for. And at this point, we’re spending pretty much every dollar to make the convention bigger and better.
And by the way… Kickstarter is easier than ever to use. It takes 30 seconds to make a new account, and you provide your credit card information when you pledge your support, then you’re charged on the last day of the campaign if it funds. Which also means there’s no risk, because you aren’t charged a thing if we don’t make enough money to fund a convention.
So help us out. Pledge if you can. It gets you your ticket early, and the prices won’t get any lower. Your money contributes directly to the success of the convention, not to line anybody’s pocket. There’s no downside. And if you can’t contribute now, at least help us spread the word. Let your gamer friends know what’s happening, because TsunamiCon 2014 was an amazing experience, and we’re jonesin’ to do it again.
I look forward to seeing you at the con!