Conpulsion 2014 – The negatives.

This post has taken a wee bit longer than I had originally thought it would, in part because of “real life” but also I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just coming across as a moaner.  No guarantees on that front though!

Couple of scene settings comments before we leap into the detail.

  • I take no pleasure out of this. I believe that Scotland should have a thriving tabletop gaming convention scene and most of my thoughts are borne of frustration that we don’t have that…
  • I’m going to approach this post from an independent (if not entirely impartial) assessment of Conpulsion as a convention
  • I don’t live in Edinburgh and am not (and never have been) an Edinburgh student so maybe I miss out on news etc…
  • I’m treating the con as a commercial entity as after all there is a transaction taking place with attendees and as such a professional service should be the result
  • As I said in my first post about Conpulsion 2014, I don’t go to play games
  • Convention attendees plan ahead to attend.  By that I mean unless it’s on their doorstep the attendee has to consider things like accommodation, parking and the like.  In my case that came to ~£150 for 2 nights in a hotel (Fri and Sat night) and parking on the Saturday

So with these comments in mind I hearby give you my critique of Conpulsion 2014.

Unfortunately Conpulsion 2014 failed in a number of areas.  Somewhat ironically a number of these failings can be associated with technology, I say ironically as the theme for Conpulsion 2014 was Innovation…

Website – The website for Conpulsion has always been a bit of an annoyance for me.  It is rarely up to date although the past 2 conventions have seen a marked improvement on that front.  Unfortunately for 2014 quite the opposite happened…

  • Broken WordPress installation – I don’t know how else to describe it other than “broken” as the navigation was awful. Whether that was down to technical difficulties or not I’m unsure and if it was that then where was the plan B?  Facebook?  Oh we’ll come to that…  A proper Plan B with some sort of communication to explain would have made sense.  There are plenty of alternative Blog solutions out there not least of which is WordPress’ own portal.
  • Content – Next to no content on games that were on offer right up to the weekend itself. There was a list of RPGs that were on offer but what about the other stuff?
  • Card Gaming events? Nothing on the website until 5 days prior to the event, and the information that was there was mixed at best with different details being stored in different parts of the website.
  • Guests?  Limited if any information on guests that were coming until almost 2 weeks before the event.
  • Wargames?  Other stuff?  Talks?  Bring & Buy?  Charity Auction?  Sketchy information at best…

Oh but most of this was on Facebook! is probably one of the responses to this, and to be fair most it was on Facebook.  The problem being is that it wasn’t joined up on Facebook…

  • 2 portals for Conpulsion on Facebook – A Group and A Page.  That’s fair enough, but at least ensure they are aligned by posting on both consistently…
  • Actually there were 3 portals on Facebook…  There was also a Facebook group for the Wargames which nobody seemed to know about unless you already knew someone on the group.  I say “was” as it’s since been deleted which is frustrating.

This really shouldn’t be hard.
Communication is about sending a coherent message.
Marketing / Promotion is about re-impressing that coherent message onto the audience time and time again to capture their interest.
Conpulsion 2014 from the perspective of internet communications and marketing failed to deliver on both of these fronts.

Internally at the event things were reasonably well run in that events seemed to stick to their allocated slots but there was a challenge in finding out where to sign up for events.
In previous years there was a dedicated (and well sign posted) area for event sign up.  Indeed last year they had a pre-registration early sign up service for games too.
If these things existed this year then it wasn’t clear either from the website (as per above), the programme or the general signage within the venue.
Many people I spoke to said they just didn’t know where to go to sign up for RPGs and so ended up not playing in any which isn’t great…

Now apparently the convention had 350 unique attendees over the weekend.
Those 350 attendees include 2 card game events that brought in approximately 90 attendees so the “core” of the convention attracted 260 unique attendees.
If that’s really the case then I’ve no idea where these 260 unique attendees were as there were times over the weekend when the venue felt deserted…

There’s more I could write here about the challenges that Conpulsion faced this year and indeed there are others of a more permanent nature (venue not being exclusive to the event) which need slightly better planning for.

As I said in my previous post though I had a good time but that was less to do with Conpulsion than it was to do with the excuse to meet up with friends.

Also worth pointing out that I plan to follow this up with another post on the convention scene in Scotland and how I feel it could be significantly better than it currently is.