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Saturday, June 08, 2013

Going to Origins

Steve Cole reports:

Monday, we leave on our 14th trip to Origins as a exhibiting manufacturer (and my 31st in a variety of capacities).

A ton of work goes into getting ready for Origins, although Steven Petrick and I have done it so many times (from a checklist used many times before) that we could get ready for the show in our sleep. When we get home, we repack all of the Origins stuff "ready to go next year" because we know that the time after Origins is calm and the time before the next Origins is going to be chaos. The displays are all packed away ready to load in the car, and we evaluate the sales each year when we get home and write the list of what to take next year before the "after Origins list" is done.

This trip will be different as it will be the first time Jean goes with us. We'll have a different booth display and take no older backstock products so as to make room for her. Having a third driver will be good as Steven Petrick and I are starting to show the signs of old age on those long driving shifts. Why Jean thinks we need to take her GPS is beyond us; we know when we get in the car where we'll be using the restroom four states down the road the next day. We stop at the same places every year for gas, food, sleep, and "rest."

Origins is always the focus of the company's year as it is the only deadline that cannot be pushed. We usually go to Origins with three or four new products, but this year will only have one (Captain's Log #47) due to my injury this spring, the computer crash that wrecked Module C6, and the trip to rescue Jean from North Carolina. In a way, that will be sad, as for the first time we won't make any profit on the trip (we should more or less break even) but Origins is not about money. (We found out in 2012 that the economic impact of not going is zero. Everybody bought by mail what they would have bought at the show.) No, Origins is not about money.

Origins is about COMMUNITY; it's about getting the staff together to discuss the new products and new directions. It's about getting the customers together to hear their thoughts about where we need to go. It's about seeing what other companies are doing. It's about asking our competitors for information on new sources and manufacturing methods (including how to get Tribbles published). It's about talking to other manufacturers about the industry in general. It's about helping new manufacturers get started right (or get out of self-made disasters). It's about seeing old friends we have seen once a year for over three decades. (I have many times talked about conversations I have had that lasted decades, and every year as we walk into Origins we pick up the dialogue at the exact point where it paused 359 days earlier.) Deals are made, bread is broken, and ideas are born. We can get more done with the staff at one table in one hour than by a thousand emails over an entire month.

Origins is, very much, Brigadoon, a magical village composed of people who like games. The village appears once a year for one magical week. We all have two lives, the mundane life we live at home with jobs and relatives and yards and families and taxes and chores, and then the wonderful life we live one week at a time once a year. That is the life I enjoy the most. A life where I don't have to explain what I do for a living or that I do games but not computer games or x-box games. A life where nobody thinks I made the wrong career choice. A life where every game publisher in every booth knows every problem I have faced and we think of each other as brothers, not as rivals.

We hope to see you there, at our Brigadoon. Stop by and visit.