Organizing a Games on Demand Event

I get asked regularly about how to start up new instances of Games on Demand for other conventions. I thought I’d write up some of the most recent advice for getting things off the ground as a first lesson, with more to follow.

Other organizers, feel free to comment with your own wisdom and experiences!


My assumption is that you are an enthusiastic attendee who wants to organize a Games on Demand event (rather than a member of the convention staff).

In that case, my first suggestion for getting started is to talk to the convention events staff to see what they can offer to help you run the event- quiet space in a good location, free badges for GMs, maybe hotel rooms to encourage volunteers to come help, etc. 

If you have trouble selling them on why they should help you, point out that you want to assemble a team of enthusiastic volunteers and run an event for free to entertain attendees at their show. 

After that, make a guess about how many volunteers you need for the size of the show and start recruiting. How big is the show? Do you have any idea how many attendees to expect for the event based on attendance?

For a first-time event, 4-6 tables is a reasonable starting point. You’ll need to decide what the hours for the event will be and break that up into shifts for a volunteer schedule. You may not be busy enough to keep all the tables running for all shifts, but start with that assumption. 

If you have the option, the Origins model is a great one to follow- 2 or 3 four-hour shifts with breaks for meals in between. 

So assuming you run three four-hour shifts a day over 3 days — probably less on the last day, so let’s call it 8 shifts — with four tables at a time, that’s 32 shifts for GM volunteers. Add 8-16 more for a host or two to coordinate getting players into games during each shift, and that’s 48 shifts for a total of 192 person-hours.

At Gen Con we typically ask volunteers to work 16 hours to get a free badge. Some people do part-time and work just a shift or two. You can set that dial wherever you like, but if we assume a 16-hour commitment, that means you’ll need about 12 full-time volunteers.

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  1. You mention the “Origins model.” Are there enough GOD instances to do a post detailing the variety of existing models?

  2. Well, they’re always evolving but the Gen Con, Origins, and the PAX East and Prime shows are fairly well established, and through adaption they have more in common with each other than not.

    As an example, the game menus are a relatively recent thing- they began with Will Hindmarch for Origins 2013, and were quickly adopted and improved for Gen Con that year by Jason Morningstar. They’ve worked well enough that they’re a standard part of any GoD rollout now.

    In terms of differences, the main differences are due to the rules and tone of the hosting conventions. Origins is generally more relaxed, so GoD can be structured with meal breaks. At Gen Con, every table is needed all the time, so they encourage us to schedule in shifts rather than leave the room empty.

    Smaller shows (at local cons, Big Bad Con, etc.) have a different vibe and are generally quieter.

  3. For smaller cons, Michael Sands and Sophie Melchior have been running GoD at Kapcon Convention in Wellington for several years. There’s a room at Sean Nittner’s Big Bad Con as well.