A Gaming Geek’s Guide to Not Being Lonely at Events

It’s the countdown to one of the biggest events on the gaming calendar – Gamescom 2017 takes place in Cologne later this month.  But, alongside a sense of anticipation, sometimes it’s only natural to feel a little apprehensive about making those all-important connections. Joe Heider, Alpha’s International Marketing & New Business Manager – Games, shares his top tips for overcoming conference shyness.  

There are obviously many, many great things about turning up to a big games event. But there’s also the big downside for anyone who is a full-on geek like me, and that’s the fact that I have always been terrified of networking.

In theory, I have lots of exciting industry people to meet and talk to at these events, all of whom I have a lot to say to.  There are ideas to swap, solutions to suggest, and a lot of really awesome games to hear about.

But then, historically, I would turn up, and think everyone just looked so… busy. Like I was going to be annoying them. And my gutsy list of people to have exciting talks with would start being replaced by question-marks. I’d start drifting around, looking for opportunities to talk, and then ignore them…

It’s amazing how lonely an exciting event can feel when you do that. And it took me a lot of events and a lot of years to learn how to do it right, helped a lot by joining a new team and starting to hang out with some really friendly, laid-back people who had no problem striking up conversations.

So here are the things I’ve learned over the years, which I hope will help you.

  1. Don’t walk around looking at your phone. It’s a great defence, don’t get me wrong. It wards off anyone who wants to start a conversation and makes you look like you’re BUSY BUSY BUSY. Which is exactly the problem… You need to look like you’re open to a chat.
  2. Be prepared to wait to talk to people. You may think you look stupid standing around a stand, but that’s what’s happening all over the show. You are not standing out. Be patient, and wait. Ideally with a smile.
  3. Imagine you’re about to start up a conversation with a nerdy child, which will both make you feel more comfortable and help you approach with the level of enthusiasm necessary to break the ice.
  4. If #3 doesn’t work for you, a large coffee usually does the trick for me. Though I usually have to apologise for having had too much coffee whilst I verbally assault my victims.
  5. Make a little eye-contact. It’s easier for people to know you’ve started talking to them when you’re actually looking at them.
  6. Know what you’re going to say as an opening line, and practise saying it to yourself -but then ask questions instead of talking. It’s supposed to be a conversation, not a sales patter. And if you’re like me, then you probably burble when trying to give a sales patter.
  7. Embrace your inner geek. The chances are, you’re surrounded by similar people. Asking someone what they think about any game is going to get you somewhere. Though try not to shout at them if they don’t like your current obsession. People are allowed opinions. Even if they “weren’t that bothered” about Little Nightmares.
  8. Remember that there are always people who will be as keen to talk as you are, and many who are lonelier than you are.
  9. If you’re still nervous after all that, come and find the Alpha team at the event! We are always, always ready to geek out with you over something, and we totally get how intimidating it all is. We’re generally to be found hanging out wherever there’s cake and coffee, wearing “I love localisation” shirts. You are never truly alone!

Joe Heider (International Marketing & New Business Manager – Games) and Francesca Sorrentino (Program Manager – Games) will be attending the GamesCom event in Cologne from 22 August – 26 August. If you’re there, do stop by to say hello – they’ll appreciate your company!