News and Announcements

Here you will find the latest news and announcements in the weeks leading up to the convention. Check back often for the latest information!

An Un-Conventional Marketplace

MarketplaceBefore I ran TsunamiCon, my experience with gaming conventions was admittedly quite limited.  I had a great deal of experience organizing other kinds of large-scale events – concerts, faires, home and leisure shows, wedding and trade shows, etc. – but one of the things that drove me to start a gaming con here in Wichita was that we would often see gaming and gamers at local and regional fan conventions, but the gaming was something of an afterthought.  Like a fun thing to do for geeky attendees, but all the convention did was supply the space and maybe organize someone to manage it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

A game con, however, is clearly a different animal.  At a fan convention, the focus is exhibitors and guests.  A hoppin’ con is filled to the gills with vendors, plying their trade, selling unique items and collectibles, and generally adding to the substance of the event.  Oftentimes, convention organizers can even offer their space at a premium to bring in small vendors, because they are dedicating enough of their overall space to make it easy to cover the costs.

A gaming convention, however, is about gaming.  This presents a unique challenge… the majority of the available space absolutely must be made available for gamers who come in, sit down, and spend an entire weekend at the table.  This is another huge difference in this kind of con, as most smaller fan conventions attract attendees who browse for a couple hours, maybe meet a guest or catch a panel, and otherwise are just there to socialize and/or show enjoy their cosplay craftsmanship (whereas larger fan conventions have attendees attempting to pack as many panels, autographs and photo ops into three or four days as humanly possible).

AirshipGypsyGoldSo herein lies the challenge.  As a merchant at a gaming convention, you have access to a fairly broad audience.  But their interests are primarily oriented toward the activities at the con.  So your wares, your presentation, and your salesmanship have to compliment this arrangement to be successful.  Some opportunities are quite obvious… if you sell games and gaming accessories, it’s a good venue.  If you sell collectibles that will appeal to gamers and genre aficionados, you’re also in good company.  And if you’re a game designer, publisher, or demo team… you’re definitely in the right place.  That being said, you still have to play the long game.  Clearly, you get a mix of impulse buys and carefully considered selections, since they often have all weekend to decide.

It can also be enterprising to make the process of interacting with you about having fun.  Use dice or games of chance, have drawings and giveaways, engage passersby with the enthusiasm you have for your product or craft, and so forth.  One of the advantages over a fan convention is that there are fewer exhibitors, a more select market, which virtually guarantees that almost every attendee who walks through the room will take a look at your wares and perhaps stop to visit or ask a few questions.  And it’s important to note that the smaller size of the marketplace is not a detractor, as your customers are there for the gaming.

It’s a unique experience, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know our vendors over the past couple years.  I am certainly pleased at the number of returning vendors, and I love seeing everything from homegrown games and handmade items to top gaming merchandise and collectibles.

If you are interested in joining us, we still have a handful of vendor booths available for TsunamiCon 2016.  Reserve your space now by pledging on our Kickstarter page.

Secrets of the Tsunami

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.

Liz runs a World of Darkness game on a Sunday morn.

Liz runs a World of Darkness game on a Sunday morn at TsunamiCon 2014.

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.

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Shaun runs a private game for VIGs.

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.

TsunamiCon 2016 Kickstarter is LIVE!

kickstarter-logo-k-colorNeedless 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.

Final Days for Early Deals

TC16VIGADMITONGAs 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!

Announcing TsunamiCon 2016!

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!

Let the Games Begin!

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.

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To get started, you can list a new game or sign up to play HERE.

Highlights include:

  • 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!

Where To Begin…?

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.

The TsunamiCon Experience

 

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!

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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.

Giving Back to Our Community

Curtis's Pathfinder game gets intense.

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

DealerHallDay2-1Some 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.

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The VIG Experience

vigpicOne 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.

lounge1Secondly – 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.