The Honor System
The set up for this booth was the simplest I've ever had to deal with. It was just a big pile of games, a box for payment, and some instructional signs to clue everyone in on what was going down.
We went into this knowing that, of course, we weren't going to bring home as much money as we would have if we had just sold the games outright. But at first things went really well. People formed a queue and dropped money in our box on their way out.
Unfortunately, games retailers at the show caught wind of our scheme and sent their staff to take as many games as they could carry, paying nothing. We tried to ask that they leave the booth to the fans, but there were so many staffers from one retailer that we could only watch helplessly as armloads of product were carried off.
We were left with an empty booth in the middle of day one of the convention, and I was determined to fill it.
Sound the Horn of Gondor
I put out a call on social media and contacted indie creators directly to see if anyone could make immediate use of prime table space at ECCC. My team and I helped them set up their wares and laid down some ground rules, but otherwise, their table was theirs. We had a wide range of guests, including Chris Rowlands' The Last Garden, artists from Oni Press, and a lady who just sold a whole bunch of horns (the appendage, not the instrument).
Kids these days just love mail
The last day of the con, I decided to switch it up again and dedicate the booth to teaching attendees how to write to their representatives. I put together a short guide and made a bunch of copies. My team found and printed copies of the mailing addresses of every representative in the state of Washington, and of every senator in the United States. We reused the cash box from the Pay What You Want Booth to gather letters, which we would stamp and send.
Most people wrote to Paul Ryan
The goal of was only to use our space to teach people that contacting government representatives is a normal, painless thing to do. We didn't push anyone to write any specific person for any specific reason. Two teachers and one librarian asked to take copies of our guide to proliferate.
Imperator Furiosa here wrote to Paul Ryan. I wish I had asked why.
If you'd like to read more about this booth, have a look at the viral blog post my team and I wrote about it.