Why even do the game design contest?
The game design contest is a good exercise for designers, and a fun activity for players. One of the primary goals of the contest is to attract players to the event. Roughly half of the people participating in the contest were players, not designers. The design contest provides another reason attend as a player.
Holding the contest in the larger room was loud, crowded and inconvenient. Next time we will hold the design contest in the smaller room, and put everybody there on notice that they will have to move out for duration of the design contest. Much like we did for the industry panel.
It was hard for some teams to field a team of three people. Next time we will likely allow to man teams.
Designating a winner and providing a certificate on site turned out to be a big plus. The winning game immediately generated interest from a publisher.
Thanks to Franklin Kenter for making the looping slideshow at the registration desk outlining how the games scored and announcing the winner. I would like to plan on doing a slideshow with a photo of each game and each team next time.
Teale Fristoe of Nothing Sacred Games has agreed to take on running the Game Design contest next time. Thank you Teale! Shadow Throne, which Teale tested at Unpub Protospiel is on Kickstarter now: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/77978264/shadow-throne
Hold the design contest in the smaller room at Game Kastle, or a designated area that is not so loud.
Limit the judge panel to five. Enough to break ties, but not enough to cause over crowding.
Use smaller, cheaper kits with less materials. The kits wound up costing $20 each and I got feedback that there was too much stuff in there. It was overwhelming for people.
We may add a theme, requirement or design restriction next time.
Provide recognition for the winner and the teams. A certificate for the top two games and a slideshow of all games and teams.