Q&A About ProtoCON

Q. What is ProtoCON?

A. ProtoCON is a board gaming convention that focuses on unpublished, actively in-development board games. Players learn about, play, and then provide feedback on these unpublished games (commonly called prototypes) directly to the designers, allowing them to see how their games do “in the wild” and make important improvements.

Q. How does ProtoCON work?

A. ProtoCON takes place over two days. On the first day, players attend a “Showcase”, allowing them to learn about the games that will be available to play. The players can schedule a specific time (for the following day) to try out the games they are most excited about. Then, on the second day, players try out the games they have scheduled to play. The designer of the game is there, ready to teach players how the game works and answer any questions. After the game is over, players provide feedback and suggestions to the game designer, so they can continue to make improvements.

Q. Why have structured playtest times with pre-sign-ups, instead of a free flow event?

A. Oftentimes at free-flow playtest events designers wait for extended periods before finding playtesters to sit down.  Having a group of playtesters ready to go right at the start of each session makes playtesting much more efficient. Conversely, at a free-flow event, other designers may only pitch their game once or twice if the first group of people who come along sits down to play. This leaves many other attendees without a chance to even talk to the designer and learn about their game.

Q. Why have a Showcase? 

A. The designer Showcase is a critical component of ProtoCON. There are several benefits to having a Showcase:

  1. The Showcase gives designers the opportunity to pitch their game many times in a short period of time. Learning how to pitch your games is an important skill that designers need a chance to develop.  
  2. Attendees can pick and choose the games that are most interesting to them. They don’t have to feel pressured into sitting down on the spot to playtest a game. The showcase gives attendees the opportunity to review multiple games in a short amount of time, and then sign up for those that interest them most.
  3. The Showcase is an effective way to ensure that when Saturday’s playtest sessions start, designers have a group of playtesters excited and ready to go.

Q. If I’m unable to attend the Showcase, can I still attend ProtoCON on the following day?

A. As a player, if you miss the Showcase, you can still sign up for games to try out. Sign-up sheets will be available in a designated area after the Showcase, where you can look for available openings. ProtoCON volunteers will also be able to assist you in finding a game with available seats.

Q. Why are there two Showcases? Couldn’t you do both at the same time?

A. Since many designers will also be playtesting, having two Showcases gives them the chance to see and sign up for games in the other Showcase they are interested in playing.

Q. What if a game I want to play runs out of sign-up spots?

A. The longer sessions will actually benefit designers with short games. As attendees complete their initial playtest that they signed up for, they will be directed to games needing additional playtests by volunteers. A longer session means more playtests and more feedback for your game.

Designers with short games can also utilize open gaming on both Friday, and Saturday. 

Q. How will the game raffle work this time?

A. The raffle is back and better than ever. Based on feedback from our past event, we’ve made the following changes:

  1. 3 raffle tickets will be given to those who attend Friday night for the Showcase
  2. On Saturday, each time you finish playtesting a game, you will go to the prize table to receive a raffle ticket. You may then find another game to play, and subsequently earn another ticket.
  3. One prize (from the game raffle) may be won per person during the event. Organizers and immediate family are ineligible to participate in the raffle. Event volunteers are however eligible. 

Q. What is the food situation at ProtoCON 2024?

A. As the organizers, we are not allowed to provide food at the Megaplex Event Hall. However, attendees are permitted to bring food into the venue (there are many nearby food options in the Valley Fair Mall). Please make sure to be considerate with your food near game prototypes.

Q. Why did we change venues?

A. We are very excited to be hosting ProtoCON 2024 at the Megaplex Event Hall. This venue has more space and better features and is still centrally located. The large main gaming area will allow all designers and players to be in the same room (instead of being divided into two rooms as before).

Q. So what exactly is open gaming and when & where can I do it?

A. Open gaming is a chance to play whatever game you’re interested in. It’s a great opportunity to try out a designer’s game you didn’t get a chance to sign up for. You can also bring published games to play during open gaming. We will have a few tables available in the common areas that are free for open gaming at any time during the conference. Open gaming is also available in the main gaming room at times noted on the schedule. *Note: See “Q. What does the open designer badge allow me to do?”

Q. Can I bring my own games to play during ProtoCON 2024?

A. Yes! There will be a handful of tables set up outside the main gaming room that will be designated as open gaming tables. These tables will be free for people to play published games they brought with them. We also have several times during the schedule when open gaming will be available on all tables in the convention.

Q. As a designer, how do I select my time slots and tables?

A. Once you have purchased either a single, a double, or a triple badge on Tabletop Events, refer to the Table Layout section from the drop-down menu here on the website. Decide which Showcase, and which time slot(s) you prefer, along with which tables you would like to be at during both the Showcase, and your playtest session(s). Then email us at info@protoconutah.com. We’ll then guide you through the rest of the process. Priority will be given to badge order, but in order to maintain your place you must email us within 72 hours of your purchase. If you don’t email us to make your selections we will assign selections to you. We will update the Table Layout to show what’s still available as selections are made. 

Q.  I am a designer whose game has a short play time. How does a longer session benefit me? What other options do I have?

A. This year we are expanding ProtoCON to a two-day event, with more opportunities to play the available games. Additionally, the longer playtest sessions allow attendees to try other games once they’ve completed their initial playtest. Volunteers will assist attendees in finding games that are ready for further playtests.

Q. What does the open designer badge allow me to do?

A. If you purchase the open designer badge, you may bring prototype designs to playtest and utilize open gaming to seek out attendees to playtest your game during opening gaming times. You may playtest your game at any of the open tables in the Lobby during the main playtest time slots on Saturday so long as playtesters aren’t needed in the main hall during those times.