The State of ARGFest Address

ARGFest-o-Con Info Desk

Wow! We made it through another amazing conference! We want to thank everyone who attended ARGFest-o-Con this year. What a great event we had! Amazing speakers, amazing guests! And who would have thought, a FestQuest where you eat clues?! INCREDIBLE!

We have seen a lot of praise for the event this year from the people who were indeed able to attend, as well as a lot of “wish we were there” from those who didn’t.

Attendance this year was down. We put together what we think, and have been told, was the best year yet as far as speakers and presentations go. We have seen many people on twitter say “Oh, if only we were there!” We also wish you had been there. What could we have done, besides change the location, to make you be there?

ARGFest-o-Con Social Gatherings

We have also seen a lot of “We didn’t know soon enough,” from people who have been to ARGFest before. We announced both the location and the speakers earlier than ever. We opened ticket sales earlier as well, including a fun opening with a gamified discount. We made our presence known on social media. What more could we have done to let you know we were here?

We want to explain a bit about how ARGFest is created, and in the process, we hope to address some concerns. Opening the curtains a bit might help everyone understand the big general “Why?”

ARGFest is a very well organized event. The Directing Committee is a team of volunteers who not only put in their time, but also put in their own money, to make ARGFest happen.

In the past, we have been a travelling conference. We migrated each year to a new location around the U.S., and on occasion Canada, and that became part of who we were. Attendees would get to visit someplace possibly new to them, which was a big draw we know. Also, by migrating around, someone who maybe wasn’t able to attend one year because we were too far away was able to attend the next year as we were closer.

ARGFest-o-Con ARGMuseum and Cocktail Party

As you may know, we are intending on making Portland, Oregon, our permanent home. Portland has been kind to us. It is our kind of city! We enjoyed travelling, but now, we need roots. We understand your concerns with this change but please know that this is a change we feel we need to make.

Having roots will hopefully make it easier to maintain sponsorships and to maintain relationships with venues. Roots will help us to become self-sustainable and become that much better for us and for you.

Travelling each year to a new city meant we needed to find people on the ground in that city to help with the planning. Someone to visit every possible venue, go to meetings, haggle in person on our behalf, and that wasn’t always possible. Even when it was possible, it wasn’t always in a timely fashion to have adequate planning. Planning is everything; if we can’t plan fast enough, we can’t get sponsors. We can’t get speakers. We can’t get attendees. ARGFest is not something that can be done last minute.

ARGFest-o-Con Speakers

Sponsorship is a MAJOR part of this. ARGFest doesn’t typically make a profit. When it does, it is at most a couple of hundred dollars that goes towards the next year’s conference. Often, we break even. Sometimes, we ride in the red. When this happens, usually that year’s Project Manager steps up to bite the bullet out of his or her own pocket. Last year, a member of the DC donated thousands of dollars to help the Project Managers. This year, the entire Directing Committee decided to bear that load.

If we want to continue ARGFest, we need sponsorship, plain and simple. We are going to try – try VERY hard – to have another year of ARGFest but if we don’t have sponsors lined up by January, we may very well have to postpone the next conference until we can secure sufficient advance funding. While this is not something we WANT to do, the DC cannot handle another year out-of-pocket.

ARGFest-o-Con Grand Inquisator Questions

In years past, we have gotten sponsors to help cover some of the costs of ARGFest. We have sold ad space in the program. We have had donations in the form of auctions. We have survived. This year, our sponsorships were limited to product donations (the programs were donated by DogTale Media, the concert by The Doubleclicks was funded by Synth-Bio Productions), and ad space was sold to one company.

We are in the red.

We typically need about $10,000 – $15,000 in sponsorships in addition to decent ticket sales in order to fully fund ARGFest. We have heard some people say “you do too much” and I think that is because people don’t understand the financial breakdown. Please see Appendix below for information on some of our financials, if you are interested.

ARGFest-o-Con Specials

We are reaching out to you for your assistance, guidance and/or suggestions to help us increase interest in and attendance at ARGFest in the future. If you are a player or community member, we want to know what it would take to bring you back or encourage you to attend for your first time. If you are a developer or other industry member, we would love to hear from you about how we can better address your needs. We have seen public requests for an event where professionals could gather and we wonder how or if we may address those demands while continuing to provide a platform that encourages the growth of the industry with respect to the development of new projects as well as increasing the available audience for them.

If you are or know of a potential sponsor, we need information about what we can provide in return for your support. You can help now by responding to our survey, whether you have (ever) attended ARGFest or not. Please also join us in discussing these issues in more depth at the UnFiction forums.

Post ARGFest Survey
Thank you.

The ARGFest 2014 Directing Committee,

Sean Stacey, Brian Kearsley, Pixie Kearsley, Dave Walker, Jonathan Waite, and Daniël van Gool

ARGFest-o-Con Thanks You!


So here we go:


We generally do an RFP process for possible venues to ensure we keep costs down. In 2011 and 2012 we hosted ARGFest-o-Con at universities. In 2014 we added an additional day of conference activities.

(2 days)
(2 days)
(2 days)
(3 days)
Room Rental
A/V Equipment
and Tech
Wireless Internet

*does not include insurance or other incidental charges


We host a social evening on Thursday, a keynote dinner on Friday, and a speaker/volunteer lunch on Friday. In 2014 we added an additional speaker/volunteer lunch on Thursday.

Cocktail Party
(# attendees)
Keynote Dinner
(# attendees)
AM and PM Coffee,
Drinks and Snacks
Speaker and Volunteer Lunches
(# lunches)

*Per-day average


Material costs include such things as lanyards, bags, posters, banners, and other printed materials.

Lanyards and Badges
Printed materials
(incl. poster and banner)

The Bottom Line

2011 Expenses: $7,726.66
2012 Expenses: $9,904.79
2013 Expenses: $17,032.08
2014 Expenses: $16,388.58

Note that our 2014 expenses were less than 2013 despite having added an extra full day of developer-aimed conference sessions with the IDEA Symposium, which significantly increased the venue, A/V, and catering costs from a two-day total. Totals include miscellaneous expenses not enumerated above, such as payment and ticket processing fees, local taxes, venue-required staffing, T-shirt printing, other promotional items, minor equipment, and last-minute supplies.

Ticket Sales Revenue

While other ticket options are available, most attendees purchase an all-access pass which is shown for representative pricing. Note that net sales revenue may be reduced by payment and ticket processing fees (such as PayPal and Eventbrite).

All-Access Pass Pricing
$100 – $175
$115 – $190
$125 – $200
$175 – $250
$104 – $204
Gross Ticket Sales
Across All Types
(# Paid Tickets)