I got some feedback that secret information about games had leaked onto the internet. I want to discuss that in this post and propose some mitigation measures.
Unpub and Protospiel are by design open events. Game designers are coming to promote their games, to spread the word, to get players to try the game, and to show their games to publishers. These events are meant to be a public beta of your game. If your game needs to be a secret, that can be done, but you will need to take some additional measures.
Based on the conversations I had with players on Saturday, somewhere around 30-50% found the event and showed up without ever looking at BoardGameBuilders.com. Many people found the event on Meetup.com (thanks Joy!), heard about it through Grant Rodiek tweeting (thanks Grant!), found out through Richard Bliss & Aldo Ghiozzi podcasting (thanks guys!), saw a flyer at Game Kastle, or had a friend/co-worker/family member bring them. We were also listed on Unpub.net, BoardGameGeek, the Board Game Designers Forum (bgdf.com), Yahoo Groups, Reddit and a variety of other places. I did have a post about secrecy on the website by request, but given how people find the event, the website is of limited effectiveness in reaching players.
As I mentioned in the attendance post, I did not have enough staff to always talk to the waves of people walking in. Many people wound up playing games without ever checking in at the registration desk or getting a name tag. I didn’t have the time, staff, or capacity to give each person a speech about certain games being secret.
Here is what I suggest we do next time:
1. Make a request for secrecy when you explain the rules.
If your game is secret and can’t be mentioned on the internet, please clearly state that as part of your rules set up for each and every game. Ted Alpach of Bezier games is a pro at this. Many times I’ve heard Ted explain the rules for his games and then state “By the way, this has not been announced yet and we are still making changes. Please don’t post anything about this game on the internet.”
2. Put a large notice ON your game.
Put a big sticker or sign on the board of your game that says “Secret - Please do not post online.” That way if somebody takes a photo without you noticing, they at least have the chance to see your label.
3. Have a stand up sign on the table.
Have a stand up sign on the table that states in large letters “Secret - Please do not post online.” This is where I can help. I can factor into the budget for the event some stand up signs and make those signs available to designers concerned with secrecy. There were only three designers who expressed concern with secrecy, so we should only need a few signs.
People will find the event from a wide variety of sources. If you want to boost attendance, cast a wide net.
A great deal of people with will enter the event with minimal contact with the website and registration desk.
There is no effective way to enforce secrecy at the event level. If your game is secret, that needs to be enforced at the game/table level.