So I recently volunteered at the UK Games Expo. It was a bigger event than ever this year with attendance up 80% and most if not all of those people wanted to play board games. To help people play as many games as possible, and to encourage try before you buy, the Expo arranged for a board games Library, run by the wonderful Thirsty Meeples Board Game Café.
I volunteered in the library all weekend, as I did last year, and hundreds of board games were borrowed. Seriously games were coming in and out so fast they had skid marks, and not just Formula D. With hundreds of board games and hundreds of people we needed a system to track lending and encourage people to actually bring our games back.
Last year we used a Board Games Passport. People at the con paid a £10 deposit and received a passport. They were able to borrow 1 game at a time and when they returned the game they got a stamp from passport control and could borrow a new game. This system meant people working in the library didn’t have to take a deposit for every game and generally involved less money handling. Reducing the risk of losing people or the con’s money is always a bonus, and it makes it more difficult for the con Director to “mind” the cashbox next to the bar.
The passport also allowed people to borrow games over night and take them up to their hotel rooms because the library could keep track (roughly) of what games people had out. People at the expo really liked the system, as much as the English admit to liking anything that isn’t tea, football or imperialism.
This year we went more high tech and our simple stamped passports become barcoded Library Cards, that could be scanned. Oh the technology. Although there were some differences and we encountered some inevitable IT issues it was again a roaring success. People really seemed to like that they didn’t have to repeatedly mess around with money, or find change.
A variation of the board game passport was also used at Leprecon. We’ll be using our own boardgames passport at this year’s Gaelcon. For only a fiver you can borrow games overnight, take them out of the boardgame area and save yourself a lot of hassle. You can buy your passport at the convention or on our website.