Protospiel San JOse 2018 Budget and Lessons Learned




Time for the annual recap of Protospiel San Jose. This is provided to give you a peek behind the scenes, to act as a resource for other organizers, and to provide accountability.


Additional feedback is welcome. Please send it to boardgamebuilders at gmail dot com


We had 750+ unique players and 80+ designers attend this year.


Find a photo gallery of Protospiel San Jose 2018 on Flickr here:


What Went Well


Beginner Friendly Game Signs

We had an even greater number of Beginner Friendly Game Signs available at the front table this year so casual players could find games that fit their desired play time. At one point ALL of the signs were in use.



Ricola at the front table. We went through a LOT of Ricloa this year. Two industrial size bags + more I bought at Walmart late Saturday. Good to see it was helping designers to maintain their voice.


Secret Game Signs

Secret Game Signs were once again available at the front table for games that needed to avoid photos and publicity. Only two designers out of 80+ needed them this year, and one of those designers was smart enough to print and bring his own.


Raffle Signs

New signs for how the raffle works. At both the welcome/front table and the raffle table we had signs detailing how exactly the raffle worked. More on the raffle later.


Designer Diner

The designer diner was once again well attended. We will continue to offer this as long as there is a volunteer to organize it. Thanks to Shane for once again organizing this year.


Improve Game Design Contest

This remains a fun and uplifting side event. Each year a new designer organizes it and brings a fresh twist to the contest. Get a box of bits, design a game in an hour, then pitch it. Great practice for pitching. Several past design contest winners have gone on to be designer games in circulation. Thanks to JonnyPac for organizing the improv contest this year. 


Hotel Block

We had an official hotel room block for the first time this year (the event is not in a hotel). Volunteer Rebecca did a fantastic job of setting it all up and we had lots of people take advantage of the deal. Many thanks to Rebecca and the Courtyard Marriott.


Pand GM Panel

Peter from Panda gave a well attended presentation about Panda GM and the services they provide on Friday. In every past year when we did panels, I got lots of complains about the panels. This year, only positive feedback about Peter’s presentation. 


Video Pitches

We had a video pitch/demo room with Ed Baraf Saturday. Ed filled ALL of his time slots and was busy the entire day. If Ed is willing to do it again next time, I would love to bring it back. Ed has a nice summary video here:



What I Will/Might Do Different Next Time


Earlier Date

Both March and April are crowded with events. This year we were date sandwiched between GDC and the Gamma Trade Show. There is no weekend that works for everyone. I need to hold the event earlier in the year in case we overwhelm the AC, so that we don’t roast the players. I’m considering running the event in early February next year (before DundraCon).


Designer Tag Table Badge Tiers

Although you still get plenty of traffic in the back, some designers really hate being back there. I think I’m going to two sets of badges next year, with the second set being the back tables. Register early to get a better table.


Even MORE Easy Game Signs

We ran out on Saturday and designers were asking for more. I will encourage designers to print their own sign next year and send out the template. We can’t provide signs for everyone, that would break the budget.


Company Name on Industry Guest and Sponsor Badges

This was bonehead move on my part. I forgot to turn this on in Tabletop.Events before printing, so the industry badges didn’t have company names on them. Will be fixed next time.


Location For Large Fan In Floorplan

We used a large industrial fan to keep the hall cooler. This required moving a designer table to the back. Many thanks to Jason Lentz and Philip Henderson for moving their table for the benefit of the entire community. Their team spirit and self sacrifice is greatly appreciated.


Acrylics for Signs

A lot of the acrylics purchased five years ago to hold table signs were damaged this year. They have lasted almost five years, but were treated poorly this year. I will have to re-evaluate if its worth replacing them with a budget or if I’m going to let that perk go and put designers on notice for more of their own signage.


Get More Games Posted in the System

We used the Tabletop.Events system this year to create a list of prototype games at the event. However, a lot of designers ignored it and I once again had publishers and players contact me after the event trying to find a particular designer they wanted to reach out to. Next time, I will push game entry harder. Game description entry only takes a moment, and it will get designers more remote play testers and publisher eyeballs.


The Raffle

The raffle was more diverse this year with games from several sources. I plant to diversify even further next year. 


The raffle was a huge problem this year. We had games set aside in the back (and under a table) for the Sunday raffle. They were clearly marked. However, we still had problems with people blatantly stealing those games. People also took games from the store’s game library and helped themselves to armfuls of games multiple times. The level of theft was depressing. The era of the “honor system” raffle is sadly over. Next time we will have to have a much more controlled raffle, this will require additional volunteer labor, but I don’t see an alternative other than getting rid of the raffle all together.

Protospiel San Joe 2018 Budget

Protospiel San Joe 2018 Budget