Thank you for your interest in sharing your favourite games with JimCon attendees. Over our years of running this convention, we’ve noticed a number of best practices that we strongly suggest our GMs implement. So without further ado, allow us to present our JimCon GM FAQ / Guide:
What is a GM?
A GM, or Game Master, is someone who’s graciously volunteered to teach their favourite games with JimCon attendees. These people volunteer their time, games and passion to make it easier for people to learn a new game without having to dig through the rulebook, as well as sharing strategies, tips and tactics to make the game more enjoyable for everyone involved. GMs are a combination teacher, rules resource and strategy guide for their favourite games and are there to make even the most intimidating game easier to learn and understand.
Do I get anything for being a GM at JimCon?
Yes. The opportunity to grow the Winnipeg gaming community, play and teach your favourite games, and meet new people. In addition, JimCon often offers small tokens of our appreciation for you dedicating your time to making our small convention possible. Specific rewards and qualification criteria vary year-by-year, but we hope that these small signs of our gratitude demonstrate how much we appreciate you donating your time.
Are there any requirements to be a GM?
Yes. Anyone who wishes to volunteer to be a GM needs to be aware of the following:
- GMs are responsible for their own transportation to the event
- GMs are responsible for their own JimCon membership
- GMs are responsible for providing all materials required for play (copies of the game, rules documentation, dice/tokens etc) unless otherwise arranged with the Games Coordinator.
- Where the style of game requires/allows participants to bring their own equipment (for example, a Miniatures Tactics or Collectable Card game). Even in cases where participants should bring their own deck/army/whatever, we ask that you have your own preconstructed/demonstration army/deck/whatsit for new players to the game use.
- GMs should be familiar enough with the game to instruct new players with minimal reference to the rulebook.
- Everyone should feel welcome. Players should be accepted and treated with respect regardless of age, gender, orientation, creed, race or ability. Remember, this may be some people’s first exposure to gaming outside of their family’s kitchen table.
- Show up a little before your slot(s) to prepare.
- Be familiar with our policies
How do I sign up?
Send an e-mail to email@example.com. We’ll need the following information.
Information about you:
- What is your name? (This will be listed in the program guide)
- How shall we contact you? (e-mail, phone, etc.)
- When are you able to run games?
- What other games are you wanting to participate in? (We will endeavour to get people breaks when there is a game they want to play, but scheduling everyone can be tricky. Please be patient with us)
We also need to know about the game(s) you wish to run:
- What is it called?
- What kind of game is it? Both category (card/board game, RPG, etc) and genre (worker placement, adventure, free-for-all, etc)
- Will you be playing the game as a player, or are you taking on the role of ‘dungeon-master’, ‘running the board’ or just helping facilitate the game for the players?
- How many players are you looking for (minimum and maximum)?
- Is this game suitable for all ages? If not, how young of players are you willing to accept? If no age is specified, we will assume tweens are acceptable. We really appreciate the games for the younger tykes, they are the future of any group.
- How much room do you need? Typically we have 60″ round tables and 36″x72″ tables. If you need a couple rectangular pushed together, we can do that, but we need to know in advance. It’s no fun having your resources in your lap while playing.
- How long will the game take? Remember to include time to explain the game to new players, and setup time. If in doubt, ask for that extra slot. Please note: We do ask that, except in special circumstances, games are limited to three 2-hour slots. Longer games are great, but losing players in the middle of a game is rarely fun.
- How much experience is required? If it is a game where an inexperienced player will have little hope of winning against someone who has played a couple times, it probably won’t be fun for the new players. Perhaps think of running it twice, once for new players and once for the seasoned veteran.
- Is there anything else we need to provide (such as electricity or a space away from others) to help you run this game?
- Can you provide a quick blurb about the game? Provide us with a catchy sentence or two and it could entice new players to join in the (mis)adventures.
- Beyond that, we would also like to know if this game was created either in part or wholly in Winnipeg/Manitoba or even elsewhere in Canada. We are a community that supports each other, and so we would like to recognize when gaming companies are a part of the local culture.
What should i do if things change?
If something comes up that prevents you from running any or all of your games let us know as soon as possible. This way we can make sure we can adjust schedules accordingly.
If something comes up the weekend of con, let us know ASAP by e-mailing the games coordinator and sending messages with people you know will be attending to let us know (we would much rather be told 3 times than not get the message). Forewarned is forearmed in our case.
Any advice to prepare before JimCon?
- Get your games in to our games coordinator as soon as possible, in the format requested making sure we know your availability. This makes it easier for our Games Coordinator to ensure that all your information is accurately reflected in the program guide, ensures that you have enough table space to run your game, and that you don’t get that awkward situation where you have more people sign up than your table can handle.
- Know your game well, whilst nobody will remember every little side-rule in some of the more complex games, make sure you have a good grasp of the rules so you can explain them well to others. Consider practicing your hosting techniques in advance. Introduce the game to a few brand new players before you get to the Con (where time pressures and distractions make everything harder). If you can supplement the cheat sheets and reference guides that come with the game to make it easy for people to pick the game up quickly it will mean everyone has even more fun.
- Check through your game, make sure that all of the parts you need are there, consider removing optional components you won’t use to speed up setup. For games that can take a bit of setup time, like those with lots of counters or parts, look at storage solutions that help you set up quickly for quick table changeover. For games that have a lot of setup options, like deckbuilders [looking at you Marvel Legendary], making those choices in advance and putting the selected parts together really speeds things up.
- There are many great resources out there around the topic of how to host a good game, “The Civilized Guide to Tabletop Gaming: Rules Every Gamer Must Live By” by Teri Litorco is worth a read for lots of ideas that might help you level up your GMing skills.
Any advice when running the game at JimCon?
- Treat Everyone Well. Regardless of race, age, gender, creed, whatever. We’re all gamers, we’re all here to have a good time. Everyone at your table should feel safe, included and welcome. If any interaction between two of your players isn’t in the spirit of our policies, bring it to the attention of JimCon staff.
- Be prepared to teach and help new players. This should go without saying, but you’re not GMing this game to show off your skill and crush all opposition before you. Your new players have either never picked up the game before, or are new to the hobby entirely, and they’re unlikely to have fun if you’re stomping their faces into the dirt. Where possible, consider opening up an extra seat at the table and facilitating the game rather than playing yourself, many games have a lot of moving parts ‘play the board’ so your players don’t get overwhelmed .
- Lead by example. Be a good sportsperson and encourage good play. This goes both ways. Complement clever and skilled play, especially if the player’s inexperienced, especially if the move directly thwarts you. Don’t gloat when you have the game sewn up and victory is assured. If a first-time player’s making a clearly sub-optimal move, gently advise them by making them aware of some interaction/rule they may have overlooked. Don’t say “Don’t do that, do this”, but maybe phrase it something to the effect of “Are you sure you want to do that, because that allows x”. When giving advice, make it good advice.
- Show up early for your slot, try to have your game set up prior to the start of the slot, with a couple minute allowance for stragglers. If a late setup is unavoidable, you can describe components and some rules interactions to your players as you set up so they can start learning the game. There’s nothing worse than getting to a scheduled game that you’re looking forward to learning/playing and finding that the GM is a no-show or is running around like a headless chicken trying to set up.