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 previews the upcoming GAMA Trade Show.

The annual Gama Trade Show starts next Monday in beautiful, parched Las Vegas with, by my count, over 75 different seminars (including one on "Marketing Challenges" by yours truly) and in excess of 100 exhibitors in the display hall.

The majority of seminars listed on the website have no description attached.  One interesting one is Mike Stackpole's Hot Topic seminar Thursday morning, focusing on the changes in New Media, by which I assume he means social media, and how they are affecting the industry.  Given that (thanks to Facebook's tweaking of its software yet again) viewership of the average store's post has dropped by 50% since last October, I expect a lot of store owners will want to hear what Stackpole has to say.

Another presentation that I expect to have good attendance, despite the fact that the schedule has it on Thursday night, is the TableTop presentation.  A lot of retailers leave the show after the Thursday lunch presentation and a final cruise around the exhibit hall, but given the impact the TableTop webcasts have had on the industry, I would expect to see more stores than normal stay around to hear how to "Maximize TableTop."

If there's a Q&A afterward, I expect to hear quite a few questions about the upcoming International TableTop Day, the already announced promo packages for the day, and if there will be a "premium" package offered again this year.  I would doubt one gets offered, given that it is less than a month until International TableTop Day, hardly enough time for a store to decide if it wants to commit the money needed to purchase the premium package, which cost $500 last year, if I recall correctly.

What I hope to hear them announce is the release of TableTop Season one on DVD, which would make it a bit easier to play in-store, especially for those stores that do not have streaming capabilities.  Granted, there are fewer and fewer of them as time goes on, but still, a DVD is a bit more convenient than streaming.

Mike Selinker, of Lone Shark Games, has what looks like another interesting presentation, especially for those of us who sell games and would like a better idea regarding what goes into setting the price of a game.  Selinker's presentation discusses the economics of working as a designer in the era of Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, as well as different structures for ownership and royalties, risk assessment, and contract details; a good session for publishers and designers, but also useful for retailers who would like to understand how a publisher sets the price of a game.

I noticed that Cryptozoic is aping Mayfair Game's Demo to Demo program.  Instead of doing presentations a la Wizards of the Coast, Paizo Publishing, Fantasy Flight Games, etc., Cryptozoic Entertainment is running demo sessions wherein retailers will get a chance to try out Cryptozoic's games.  I am not certain just how useful these programs are versus spending the hour telling me about your new releases, retailer support programs and future plans.  I guess Mayfair Games finds them valuable as they have offered the Demo to Demo program for several years so hope that Cryptozoic does as well.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of