Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Prizes and Rewards

Been talking a lot about this lately, and trying to keep an open mind.  A lot of people make grandiose claims about the "research and statistics" they've done to prove that this or that solution to tournament scoring is right but I think the focus is wrong.

Fact is, this isn't a complicated subject and most of those claims are gamers taking themselves a little too seriously.  What's interesting about it though is that although not complicated, there is a ton of passion behind it at times.  People really do get pretty worked up over the slightest small issue with it and they'll cry from the mountaintop if it isn't their perfect ideal.

To me, the prize portion of the tournament has three purposes.  First is to reward those who did well in their respective categories.  Obviously, this is why they came.  The second purpose is to encourage the newest player to keep coming back for more.  The third purpose is to pump the reputation of your tournaments so that players from out of the area will come and your attendance can increase, which becomes a self perpetuating thing.  If we don't focus some energy in that direction, they will just become discouraged and quit coming.  I know plenty of players who used to be tourney regulars that aren't now and have stated openly they wont be, such as my friend Gavin who recently said as much.  Getting a beat down each time is a discouraging thing for anyone but the sting WOULD be lessened if there were rays fo hope and small gifts along the way as they learn to be better tourney players.

Money is the major stumbling block here.  Charge too much and people can't come, even if they want to.  Charge too little and the people we are talking about simply can't be afforded any prizes.  So it seems to me that pricing a tournament better will ultimately yield you what you want. 

Lets look at it:

If I offer a $200 prize for first place, plenty of people would love to win that.
I offer $100 to the Best General (effectively, second place).
I offer $50 for painting and $50 for Sportsmanship.
I offer a $25 "Best Worst Luck" Award to the person who lost and lost badly.
I offer a prize of $25 to the person who brought the largest amount of food for everyone to eat
I raffle two random prizes off for $25 each.  Thanks for coming.
Give 2 Players $10 voucher towards the next tournament entry fee that have the most interesting story to tell about their game.

So about $450 dollars gets you 6 extremely happy winners and a tourney full of people who had a shot at all of those in one form or another.  Everyone who goes gets a lot of gaming in, everyones in the hat for prizes and people will want to come back and bring people with them becasue at your tournament, the prizes are large and healthy and everyone gets a shot.  Everyone wins.

Unfortunately self interest causes people to focus so much on the here and now and what they get out of it, that much of this doesn't matter to them.  Let the other guy worry about driving attendance.  I just want whats mine if I win, is their attitude.  The long view says if the winners are willing to give a little "to the people" then the people will end up giving more back to the winners!"

Well, if you have 12 players show up regularly, that's $37.50 per person the first time you do it.  But now the word is out and people know that going to your tourneis is pretty fun and worthwhile. 

Well here's my suggestion and I am basing this on the idea of 12 players showing up.  if you regularly get more, all the better:

Go to the game store owner and explain that you have a plan for increasing the attendance of their store.  Dramatically.  The seed money will be provided by the tournament, which you will run.  What you need to ask them for is that they make no profit for two tournaments.  They will match the tourney organizers intake, effectively doubling the pool of money.  So now you can sell tickets for $20 instead of $37.50 and publicise the actual prize sizes with fair confidence.

After two tournies, a lot more people will want to be at these events because payouts are good.  Takes time to get the word out but it will get out if you make sure of it.  And that will allow you to seek sponsorship monies to augment things further.  you need the attendance to justify selling sponsorships though.

So the store can recoup its investment later through out of town sales and exposure and of course the Tournament can become self sustainging.  Yes that means the winners aren;t getting as much.  but it means more people are getting SOMETHING, and ultimately we play this game for fun.  The more fun we make it for as many as we can, the more they will want to be a part of it.

So it takes some sacrifice I suppose, but once you get it going it can really be a boon to the whole gaming community.  It really does start with the store owners vision and willingness to take a risk, but a well organized club should be able to reward that store owner for their investment.  Even offering part of the Sponsorship money to recompense them later can be a solution. 

So much of this would be aimed at highly organized clubs, since continuing such efforts is better done as a club than leaving it to one perosn.  But its worth doing.  Get creative.  Use Prizes as a way to drive the hobby and sales. 

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