Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne explains why he's signing up for TableTop Day.
In the quiet of the evening after our second pre-release of the day for the new Magic: The Gathering set Born of the Gods (it went quite well, thanks for asking), between preparing for tomorrow’s pre-releases and getting ready for our 24th anniversary party, I started thinking about the recent announcement from Geek & Sundry regarding this year's International TableTop Day, scheduled for April 5th (in case you missed it, New Games Day took place February 2nd, but it did not command near the attention that the  announcement from Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day did).
I am a big fan of TableTop.  I think it is the best thing to hit the gaming industry in the past five years and probably the most positive influence upon it since the release of Dungeons & Dragons 3.0.  The publishers of both Tsuro and Ticket to Ride point to TableTop as directly responsible for significant jumps in sales of those titles.
With the exception of Betrayal at House on the Hill and 12 Days, we stock all of the titles featured on TableTop (the first because, well, it is out of print and the second because of the Christmas theme, as we have found that holiday themed games have a comparatively short shelf life), and have found that the "Wheaton Effect" does bump sales.  We saw a marked increase in sales of Ticket to Ride after its appearance on TableTop but not on its sister titles.  Then the Ticket to Ride Europe ran a few weeks ago and sales quadrupled on that title (waiting on an episode featuring Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries now), so we happily registered when the store heard the announcement about this year’s date for International TableTop Day (see "TableTop Day 2014 Scheduled").  But I was also somewhat bemused to hear some stores debating whether to register as a venue for the event or not.  It doesn't cost anything to register and Geek & Sundry leaves it up to the store as to what sort of events, if any, it wants to put in place.  I think those not signing up have confused support for the event with the event itself.
Last year, Alliance Distribution partnered with Geek & Sundry to distribute support materials, including, at the basic level, window clings, posters, and promotional giveaways for a number of games (one complaint I heard frequently was that several of the giveaways in the box tied to games that had not appeared on TableTop).  At a higher level of investment, the store received more promotional material, an illuminated Geek & Sundry sign, and a live webcam appearance during the livestreamed event (Incidentally, from what I understand, part of the money from the support materials went to help fund the second season of TableTop).
Unfortunately, due to both high demand and technical problems, a lot of stores did not get their live interview during the webcast, instead just getting listed at the end of the webcast.  This left a sour taste with a number of stores, who felt they did not receive either an adequate apology or any form of make good to replace the promised interview.  On the other hand, the same stores realize TableTop does a fantastic job of promoting games and the gaming industry.  I figure an overwhelming majority of stores will register for ITTD with a large percentage of them opting out of any support kits if they include a video chat component.  Personally, I hope for an illuminated TableTop sign this year.  Geek & Sundry means little to my customers, TableTop, however, is a whole 'nother matter.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of