The Big One About PAX South

I'm now just about fully recovered from the massive weekend that was PAX South. Granted, my travels and recovery involved a six-hour time difference and about 24 hours on planes, but I think Marshall and Andrew were just about as exhausted as I was after the weekend too, even though they're in San Antonio.

For those that don't know, PAX is shorthand for the Penny Arcade Expo. What started as a popular webcomic's fan-based alternative to the Electronic Entertainment Expo, one of the largest video-game expositions based in Los Angeles, CA, has grown into a multi-city event. There's PAX Prime up in Penny Arcade's home of Seattle, WA, PAX East in Boston, MA, PAX AUS in Melbourne, Australia, and most recently PAX South in San Antonio, TX. All of us at Yanaguana Games attended PAX South last year as fans (our first PAX), and were inspired by what we saw there.

Fast forward to this past weekend where we were attending PAX South 2016 as exhibitors, showing off our first two games. We learned much more about the Indie Tabletop game industry (and fortunately had some of our business practices confirmed as being the right idea). We also had some good conversations with other independent designers both a few steps ahead and behind where we currently are as a company. 

I also truly enjoyed meeting all the fans at the convention. Over the course of three days, we had to have talked to hundreds of people (my voice is still recovering). While not everyone was interested in buying Shipload o'Gold or Stir Fry 18, those that played them seemed to genuinely enjoy the demo sessions. It still is blowing my mind that within a year we went from an idea to having two games for sale as a fledgling company that people were enjoying.

I had some butterflies in my stomach at the start of the day on Friday, anxious to see if anyone would actually like our games enough to buy them. Our first few sales were to friends that stopped by to say "hi." It didn't take long though for someone we didn't know to come by, demo our games, and buy a copy of both games. From then all the way through when I left on Sunday afternoon to fly back to the UK, it was a steady stream of demos and sales. We managed to sell out of Stir Fry 18, and a bit under half of our stock of Shipload o'Gold.

Photo courtesy of Christopher MacDougald

We think the packaging gimmick with Stir Fry 18 - having it come in a Chinese food take away box - built a little bit of hype for us over the weekend. As the convention went on, we had many people coming up to get a copy of Stir Fry 18 because they had seen other people with the box playing the game. A Facebook friend also sent us a picture of people he saw playing the game while waiting in line for another event. It's hard to come up with words to describe how it felt to see and hear that.

Meeting with fans of games was a tremendously rewarding experience as well. We even were made to feel like mini celebrities when quite a few that purchased our games asked us to autograph the boxes or cards. There was even a couple that came back to our booth so they could get my autograph when I returned from attending a panel on manufacturing games. To all of you that stopped by our booth, whether or not you bought a game, we want to thank you wholeheartedly. We decided to make games because we're passionate about them, and without you, we'd just be making games for ourselves. A lot of you provided some good feedback with rules variations on Stir Fry 18 or suggestions about posting a full-size Reminder Sheet for Shipload o'Gold, and we're working on getting those created. They should be on the website very soon.

Since we do have copies of Shipload o'Gold on hand, we'll be discussing before the Thursday post what our plans are for those. Our weekly HQ meeting will be a big one this week with lots to discuss, so be sure to come back on Thursday to see the updates from that.

Finally, I sincerely want to thank my wife Elena, without who we wouldn't have been at PAX South, Andrew's wife Becky, for donating the t-shirts and buying us dinner the night before it all started, and every person that stopped by our booth. You all were incredible, we hope you enjoy our games and we can't wait to see you all again in the future!