GDC and PAX Awesomeness

Hiya! As you might know, we recently came back from both GDC and PAX. GDC (Game Developer's Conference) is a week-long event that takes place in San Francisco, and PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) is a massive consumer-facing weekend event that takes place in Boston. This year, the two were about a week apart, and we're rested up and back to our routine... if you can call it a routine. 

GDC is a great opportunity to learn, get inspired, do business, and meet other great devs. The conference involves going to lectures, meeting cool people, going to eat, meeting more cool people, going to parties, and meeting even more cool people. We were also nominated for an Indie Game Festival award for design, which was a great honour, and we got to go to the award show which was a ton of fun.

The award ceremony was hosted by the lovely Nina Freedman, and then the Game Developer Choice awards were hosted by Tim Schafer, who was funny as ever. We got to feel fancy and have little (kinda big actually) meatball hors d'oeuvres and wine and stuff. That was just one of the many, many, many parties where we met a ton of great people.

We went to some great talks as well, and we were able to share the knowledge within the team at dinner one night as well as in a meeting that took place here at our office. The most interesting thing about the talks is not only that they teach great things, but also that they inspire you to think of things beyond what was covered in the talk, and talk about those ideas at parties (which further accelerates the creativity).

The next step was PAX East, which is a game expo which sees over 150,000 people over three days (my source on this isn't reliable, but I think it's close to that). As you can imagine, the show was pretty crazy. 

It was really great to hear people come up to us and tell us how much they loved the game, as well as introduce it to new people who hadn't seen the game yet. We also had some press interviews and had some streamers pop by to play the game. 

It was a great two weeks full of team bonding, lots of beer, knowledge gathering, and gaming (though we didn't actually get to play much...) and we're looking forward to the next event.


A New Artist Appears!

Today we have the proud honour of introducing the newest member of our team, Fabio Grisi! Fabio is an artist who will be helping us with all sorts of stuff: 2D assets and animation, 3D art, video work, and surely other art tasks that come up for Ultimate Chicken Horse and future projects. 

Just to give a quick show of his awesomeness, this is the video he made as an application for the job here at Clever Endeavour:

We should take a second to thank all of the other applicants, some of whom were truly amazing as well! At the end of the day, we felt that Fabio's skills would be the best fit for the team given our current situation and size. 

Fabio comes from Brazil, and moved to Canada four years ago to work in the game development world. He's a multi-talented artist who also makes music videos on his YouTube channel Mini Music... who knows, maybe there will be ukelele in our next game?

All in all, we're super happy to have him on the team and look forward to the future as a team of 5 people, up from the original three co-founders that we were when Ultimate Chicken Horse launched on Steam.

You can also check out his art on his ArtStation page:

So You Wanna Show Your Game, Eh?

In preparation for PAX East in a couple of weeks, I'm writing a guide for Canadians to show their games in the U.S. at trade shows and conferences. I've had a lot of experience with annoyance at the border and have started to get the question about what's needed in terms of paperwork and documentation to go down to a game expo like, say, PAX. 

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer! I take no responsibility if you get arrested or exiled. This is what I've learned from talking to people (officials and other devs) and doing research.

What Can You Bring?

You're allowed to bring anything that is for the trade show that you can't sell or can't use to generate profit. You can generate leads by having meetings with people (therefore you can bring a computer, business cards, etc.) but you can't do "work".

What Can't You Bring?


You're technically not allowed to sell merchandise within the U.S. if you're not an American corporation with a registered tax number in the state where you'll be showing. This means that pretty much every booth you see at PAX which sells stuff (i.e. all of them) is doing so illegally. Usually no one cares, though there have been rumors of IRS folks walking around and fining people at shows (never seen it though throughout 3 PAXes). 

You're allowed to give stuff away as promotion, but at the border they'll be the judge of whether it's promotional or for sale (spoiler alert: they like having power and like abusing it even more, don't take too many chances). 

Work Materials

My friend once got denied entry to the US because he had a camera with him to shoot some footage of the show... they decided he was "going to do work" and therefore wasn't allowed. So if anyone asks, you can be doing business development but I believe as soon as you're signing a contract it counts as work and is thus not legal.

Selling Your Game

You definitely can't bring physical copies of your game to sell, and you're not technically allowed to sell digital copies either (if you're receiving cash for them on-site). I'm not sure how anyone could know whether or not that was happening, but I'm just talking in terms of legality.

What's Needed

Here's some documentation taken from the site. You'll need:

  • Official documentation date and location of the Trade Show
  • Confirmation that you are an exhibitor
  • List of items "Not for Sale"
  • Documentation indicating value of items (usually on the same list of items)
  • Mark items "Not for Sale" or mutilate the items
  • Contact the Port of Entry prior to travel
  • Complete CBP 7523 "Entry and Manifest of Merchandise Free of Duty" (For NAFTA items only).
  • Check with the government agency that regulates your product for any possible restrictions or required documentation
  • Obtain the HTSUS code for your items

The CBP 7523 should only be filled if you're bringing in merchandise, though the limit of what you're legally allowed to take seems to be extremely subjective. Last time, we brought pins that we were giving away (1000 pins that were valued at $0.25 each) and we had to pay about $10 in duties for them.

What's a Carnet?

The following bit is very important: if what you're bringing has a value of over $2500 USD or if you're shipping supplies, the best option is to get a Temporary Importation Under Bond (also known as a Carnet). Some info about what a Carnet is can be found here, and how to apply for one can be found here, along with the processing fees involved. This involves going to the Chamber of Commerce and registering, and it also involves paying 40% of the value of the goods you're bringing across, which gets refunded to you when you come back (though I've heard mysterious stories about it not being fully refunded).

Other Forms

I believe this information was from a call with a border agent, where I was also told to bring:

  • FDA form 2877: for bringing in electronics
  • FCC form 740: for bringing in electronics to a trade show. On this form, there's an area for the Harmonized Tariff Number, which is the same as the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, and that can be looked up here. Most normal things you're bringing will not have a tariff.

I'm not actually sure if the 2877 is needed if the FCC form is already being filled out, but we're doing both just in case.

Don't Be Too Worried Though...

Note that this is the best way to go through without trouble, and have all the documentation ready in case they decide to be assholes. We've had really bad experiences with the CBP, and I imagine we'll continue to have issues forever, so we really make sure that everything is legit and well documented. Most people get through without any searches or without any documentation, but it's a risk you've got to be willing to take. We've never had issues where we were denied entry or had to pay fees, but we have been delayed by a few hours with some paperwork.

Anyway, this was our experience and hopefully we can help someone avoid issues in the future or clarify questions that they've had.

Cheers! If you have questions or comments or corrections, please add them on Gamasutra.