IGA Statement on Coronavirus/COVID-19

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For Immediate Release
March 15, 2020

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Greetings. We hope, in this time of concern and mass closings, you’re hunkered down with a great game or 20. We felt that it was prudent to share some thoughts on the impact of the coronavirus on our operations. All of these positions are subject to change as more information becomes available.

IGA only has two full-time staff members, Matt and Victoria. Because we’re married, if one of us gets sick it’s pretty much a guarantee that the other will. So far so good on that front, just some sniffles we’re chalking up to allergies and huffing hand sanitizer, and we are taking all reasonable precautions available to us to try to keep it that way. Victoria always works from home. Matt has a day job, which has not as yet made the decision to move to remote work. Fortunately, it’s a fairly small office that doesn’t have public traffic, so the risk is relatively low.

If we come down with COVID-19 we will likely be off the radar for 2-3 weeks minimum (bearing in mind that both of us are in the high-risk category due to other chronic health conditions we have.) We have asked a few volunteers who help out occasionally to be prepared to pitch in as best they can with customer service requests if one or both of us gets sick, and we will endeavor to stay as connected as we can during that time.

Important Notes for Minions

Minions MAY continue to run demos in any public place they wish, if they wish to do so. This is entirely up to you. If you do decide to demo, you are STRONGLY encouraged to follow all preventative measures recommended by the CDC and to check their website often for updates. Carry hand sanitizer (if you can find any) and wash your hands after EVERY play.

DO NOT run or attend demo events if you are sick or feel as if you may be getting sick, or if you know you’ve been exposed to someone who is. PLEASE DO NOT run or attend demo events if you are a member of one of the high-risk groups identified by the CDC. Minions reserve the right to politely refuse to demo for or play games with someone who appears to be sick. We recommend, if you’re choosing to demo during this time, taking precautions such as sleeving your cards so that they can be wiped down between plays. Gloves may not be a bad idea. We’re hearing conflicting information about whether, and which kinds, of masks are effective.

Minions are expected to abide by all laws and executive orders regarding closures of events and limitations on gathering sizes during this outbreak. We fully understand that there is a wide spectrum of anxiety levels about this thing, and we will support your decision if you decide to back out of conventions you may have planned to attend or pause your demoing until this is under control. We believe that game demos are pretty darn important — but this is life and death for a lot of us. We ask that Minions keep us actively in the loop about your convention schedule and any changes made to it.

Minions are also reminded of our Tabletop Simulator and Tabletopia demo partnerships, which are a great way to earn Loot Points with no exposure whatsoever.

We are waiving all deadlines for playtests until further notice, but you are reminded that unlike demos, playtests MAY be reported from your private home, so even if you are self-quarantined, these still can be completed in most cases (it may be tougher with a party game, for instance). The “your playtest is late” emails will still come, as they are automated, but you may ignore them until further notice and just do the best you can.

The IGA reward store continues to be open and we will ship rewards in as timely a fashion as we are able.

For Member Designers and Publishers

Members are asked to bear with us during this time of uncertainty. We are doing our best to stay on top of everything, but help and money have both been harder to find than usual, and it wasn’t easy before.

IGA is not just a service you pay for, like a Netflix subscription. We’re a guild, and that means we as a community are invested in the longevity and success of every one of our members. We are actively searching for any and every avenue within our means to help our members weather this crisis. I wish we could do more than we currently are, and we are open to any suggestion whatsoever about ways we can use whatever resources, reach, or skill we have to make things easier for you.

We are working on a few ideas already, and we’re actively making the connections and doing the research to see if we can make them happen. We’ll share more if and when these ideas come to fruition, but obviously this is happening fast and we are all shooting from the hip here.

We know this is a terrifying time for all small business owners – which very much includes Victoria and me – but I want you to know, right now, from the hand and heart of IGA’s founder, we have your back now and always. As long as IGA exists, YOU ARE NOT IN THIS ALONE. We strongly encourage our members to work together during this time, too. Support each other any way you can.

As mentioned above, we will be extending deadlines on playtesting to give volunteers more time to work around situations they may be facing as a result of this unprecedented event. Some Minions are very likely going to be hesitant to get out and run demos, and between that and depressed convention sales, it’s going to be a rough few months statistics-wise.

Likewise, pitching games to publishers will be a pretty tough slog for the next few months.  We’ll do our best to do it online and with sell sheets and video chats, but most of our pitching is done at conventions, which are quite up in the air at this point. Speaking of which…

IGA’s Convention Schedule

We were in the process of pulling together our Minions’ 2020 convention schedule when all of this blew up. Victoria and I  have already had a few local conventions that we planned on attending personally wind up canceled so far. At this point, any effort to document our convention schedule for our volunteers is somewhat moot until we know what is going on with those shows, so our upcoming convention list is going to look a little bare for a bit.

At present, the two big conventions we’re nervously watching are Origins and Gen Con. What happens with these shows is still up in the air and very much out of our control, but right now we are planning as if everything is still on schedule for both of these shows.

If the conventions go on as planned, IGA WILL attend and perform convention services as normal, with the one exception being if Matt and/or Victoria are personally infected.

We acknowledge that the uncertainty surrounding the conventions has led to a hesitation to purchase demo time or other convention services. Rest assured: If the conventions are canceled or IGA is for some reason unable to attend, IGA will refund or credit every cent paid for convention services to the members that purchased them. Should we get to that point, affected members may choose one of the following two options:

* A full refund, which we may need a little time to process because we often don’t have a very large cash reserve on hand

* An account credit of 120% of the amount you paid for the convention services, to be used toward your Pro/Lite subscription or future convention services once society stops collapsing

We had planned on launching our “rent a minion” service to help folks out in booths this year. Given the uncertainty surrounding the conventions and volunteer signups, we are going to delay that rollout until at least the BGG.con/PAX Unplugged window in the fall.

We expect that even if the cons continue as planned, attendance and sales will be down at least somewhat. There comes a point where that is beyond IGA’s control and we think we are probably there. We are encouraged by finally getting our first distribution sale under our belts, but some of our partner distributors are talking about shutting down operations for a bit as well, which will obviously impact what we’re doing here.

Contingencies, Backup Plans and Other Thoughts

We are discussing a few ideas with various members of the industry to try to ramp up online promotions of games to try to take the sting out of this for our members. We strongly recommend investing in creating a Tabletop Simulator or Tabletopia version of your game to be able to conduct demos, especially if you are planning a Kickstarter soon. If you are planning a Kickstarter during convention season, it may behoove you to consider waiting to launch.

Members and Minions are both STRONGLY encouraged to join our Facebook groups (www.facebook.com/groups/IGAMinions for Minions and www.facebook.com/groups/IGADevLounge for members) and our Discord server (www.indiegamealliance.com/discord) to get access to the absolute latest information about the situation and our plans.

The next few months are going to be tough on all of us. Please try to remember that IGA is just as small of a business, with just as many challenges and risks, as our members’ own companies are. We are all in this together, and we ask for mutual patience and understanding as we all try to find a way to get through the rough weeks and months to come. In life as in tabletop gaming, pandemics are co-op games, so let’s all work together and see if we can’t win this thing.

Most importantly, stay safe out there. Take care of your families, your friends, and your loved ones. We will be here when this is all said and done, and before you know it, we’ll all be back to the table.

Founded in April 2014, the Indie Game Alliance is a guild of independent tabletop game developers. Alliance volunteers, or Minions, give demos, run tournaments, playtest new games, and represent IGA members at conventions. With hundreds of member publishers on six continents, including household names like Portal Games, Asmadi Games, Tasty Minstrel Games, Mayday Games, and Brotherwise Games, the Alliance brings the very best of the board gaming hobby to the public.