How to organize a meetup in your city
What I've learned from organizing game dev meetups
I started organizing events and conferences at university and to this day the joy of bringing people together, making new connections, and exchanging knowledge have never left me. When I entered the game industry I jumped in head over heels and helped organize the Indie Arena Booth at gamescom in my free time. I learned a lot. Later I moved on to more sustainable meetups because all the work I do as a volunteer I do in my free time next to a 40-hour work week job.
I supported game dev-related meetups in the NRW region for a while and then decided to found the #FemDevsMeetups. While for obvious reasons we now offer more online meetups as well this guide will focus on on-site meetups.
Let’s get started
If you are interested in reading further you probably have an idea about what field you are interested in and want to meet more people or exchange knowledge about. If not, that’s what you need to decide on first. Should it be a casual networking event? Do you want to focus on a specific topic?
The next step is to find a suitable location. Usually, co-working spaces or universities offer an event space that can be bookable. Sometimes there might be game companies that have a dedicated space for events. Ask around, visit a few places and decide what you think feels best for your meetup. Obviously, there should be enough space to sit comfortably for all attendees. It is up to you to determine the attendee limit. Having a kitchen in the location is a plus. Ask if catering is allowed. Also, check if it is easily accessible. The best places also offer easy access to attendees in wheelchairs for example. Is the public transport close? Are there parking spaces?
Once you have a location, you need to let the owners know which time slots you want. When and how often should your meetup take place? There is no golden rule. For people already working in the industry during the week for example Thursday evening seems to work well. For indies and students, Saturday afternoons seem to be working great too. Additionally, during weekends people who do not live in the area have a chance to travel to your meetup. The time frame of a meetup is usually between two and four hours. You also need to decide how often it should take place; weekly, monthly, or each quarter?
The location should offer a presentation space with a screen and projector (check which outlet it has, e.g., HDMI, and bring an adapter if needed). If there is no public PC or laptop, bring your own. Also, check if loudspeakers are available in case sound is needed and test everything beforehand. If you want to record or stream the talks (only with the permission of the speaker) check if you can organize the proper setup.
Contact game companies, other meetups, universities, etc., and ask if people would be interested in coming and talking at your meetup. If you already have connections ask them. Sometimes it can be easier to start with someone you know and then progress from there. Decide if it is possible to pay for a speaker (keep in mind travel and accommodation costs as well). Usually, it works to find speakers in the area who are willing to support the community. Let the speaker know what you expect. How long should the presentation be? Usually, the meetups are held in English since it is the industry standard. Which audience should the talk be for? How much time does the speaker have? Will there be a Q&A? Should the speaker bring their own laptop or send you the presentation? Do you want to see the presentation beforehand? Do you need a profile picture and info about the person?
Decide which format you want. Should your meetup have regular talks, workshops, panel discussions, and get-togethers? Is there a specific theme you want to tackle at every meetup? How do you want to fill the meetup with content? Do you want an introduction round? Can people ask for and offer jobs? How much time should there be for networking after the content part is over? Talk and Play is an excellent example of how to structure the event.
Try which event management tool suits you best. Meetup or Eventbrite are recommended. Facebook events do not let you manage reservations properly and force people to have an account to see the event. But depending on your target audience it mind be useful.
Find sponsors who support you and pay for the location and the catering. As an extra, you can also contact gaming networks or press in your area for visibility. Offer your sponsors to put their logo on your event page, and mention and thank them during the event and on social media. Discuss with them how the money can be best transferred. Ideally, the event location and caterer address the invoice directly to the sponsor. Make sure you know the proper sponsor information (name, address, etc.) to put on the invoice! Use the correct sponsor logo, be on the safe side and ask them to send you the correct one.
Food & Drinks
Check how you can best provide refreshments for the attendees. Do you want catering? Are drinks and some snacks enough? Also, keep in mind to offer vegetarian and vegan options. If time allows mail your attendees before and ask if any food allergies, preferences, etc. need to be considered. Not having food at your event is okay but having at least water on site is a must! Also, inform your attendees about it. Asking everyone to bring cake and cookies also works.
Code of Conduct
Please also add and ensure the following:
The [add event name] is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form. Meetup participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference at the discretion of the conference organizers.
If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, please talk with the organizer. If you see someone treated with disrespect, please speak up either yourself or by getting the organizer involved. With your help, we can make sure everyone involved is treated with respect.
This is taken from Geek Feminism. There is also a longer version available.
Photo & Video Disclaimer
If you plan to take pictures, let your attendees know beforehand. Use a line like this for example:
By attending the event, you agree to picture and video material being taken, which will be used to promote the event on social media and in the press.
Print out an attendance list and get it signed by everyone! Also, add a paragraph that by signing they are okay with photos and videos being taken and shared to promote the event (give an option for attendees to opt out if they don’t want to appear in pictures). Store the attendance list somewhere safe and keep it!
Spreading the news!
This is it! Congrats! Now it’s time to share your event on social media platforms, and contact related networks or companies who could be interested in joining.
Test the setup before the event starts
Provide name tags to make it easier for everyone to network
It’s beneficial to have a proper introduction at the meetup start so people know who you are
Do some housekeeping: code of conduct reminder, where is the catering, the restrooms, wifi code, fire exit directions, emergency contacts
Depending on the size of your event keep first aid and security regulation in mind (usually the location owner can provide the needed information)
#FemDevsMeetup Game Jam 2022
This weekend we are running the online edition of our game jam. You can watch what the participants have created and they will talk about their jam experience. Tune in this Sunday, November 13th, at 5 pm CET on NerdStarTV!
We also have an on-site meetup in collaboration with Mediennetzwerk.NRW coming up! A special edition of Gametreff NRW on November 24, 2022 at LAVAlabs in Düsseldorf. During two talks, Melanie Taylor (Narrative Game Designer / Founder) and Casilda De Zulueta (Freelance Technical Artist / Animator) will give insights into exciting topics before the evening ends with drinks and finger food. The event is free and will be held entirely in English. More info and registration here.
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