Excuse me, Protospiel?
Basically, designer’s heaven. Affordable, full of connections, game testing all weekend long!
In this blog post we’re going to cover:
- The games
- The people and the “spirit”
- Upcoming event dates
- Tips for designers
- and even being a good play tester!
Plus, for Luke Laurie or anyone interested or crazy enough to HOST a Protospiel, we’ve got a guide for that too!
So, um, there are games at these things? YES! Sure, they may be in all states of “finished”, but it’s the essence of pure gaming. Protospiel has resulted in many published titles!
Please add to the comments on these Published Protospiels on BGG if you have stories of how these games came to be!
THE PEOPLE AND THE SPIRIT
Protospiel was originally started by founders Stephen Glenn, Dominic Crapuchettes, and Mike Petty. We talked with some of the current Protospiel organizers David Whitcher, Eric Jome, & James Mathe to get some of the scoop on what it means to Protospiel.
David runs the event in Michigan annually, admins on the official Facebook group and maintains Protospiel.org. He confirmed that the main Protospiel event usually has around 80 testers and guests, with about 10 industry reps, growing about 10% a year. Whether you’re part of the original Protospiel alumni or someone who has just come in, it feels like a close group.
Clearly, someone who gets the spirit of Protospiel is Eric Jome. You’ll see more of his quotes and links in this article. He operates the Milwaukee event, which has hosted 3 events thus far, two in 2013, and another in 2014. Attendance ranged from 65-80 at these three events. Eric mentions that 90% or more of the attendees are designers, and that designers are the core demographic.
James Mathe might be where I first heard about Protospiel, with all the design groups he sponsors. James has been attending Protospiel in Michigan for 5 years, and helped start Milwaukee and contributes to running promotions, registration and the website for the Milwaukee Protospiel. He attends as a publisher, a designer and as a tester. Minion Games has published over half a dozen titles found at Protospiel events. James also contributes a ton to the process of designing and publishing games at www.JamesMathe.com
UPCOMING EVENT DATES
Ok, so we’re IN. When is the next one?
Next Protospiel is May 9-11 in San Jose, CA!
- Designers: Rob Daviau, Kevin G Nunn (also a Protospiel organizer!), Grant Rodiek & David Sirlin to name a few.
- Publishers: Victory Point Games, SlugFest Games, Tasty Minstrel Games, Bezier Games and Jeff represents Cosmic Wombat Games.
- Industry guests: Aldo Ghiozzi, Impressions Game Distribution, Eric Vogel from Evil Hat and Richard Bliss, host of Funding the Dream Podcast.
The San Jose event is run by Jeremy Commandeur of Boardgame Builders. There’s a Facebook page for the event, as well as some recent detailed posts on the schedule and a great FAQ at Boardgame Builders. The San Jose event is also an UNPUB event. UNPUB is a separate series from Protospiel -a topic for another blog post.
Here are the major Protospiel’s and their planned event status:
- Protospiel South in Austin, Texas. Organizer, Jonathan Leistiko. Hosting May 24-25
- Protospiel in Chelsea, Michigan. Organizer, David E. Whitcher. Hosting July 25-27
- Protospiel North. Currently looking for a home in 2014.
- Protospiel Milwaukee. Maintains complete Protospiel calendar! Just hosted in March. Next event estimated 2015.
Tips for Designers
Just a couple of tips for designers. Eric Jome sums it up like so:
James tells you to be prepared!
Oh, and don’t forget not to geek out, just because there’s publishers present.
That said, this is no doubt a great networking opportunity between designers and publishers.
Tips for Play Testers
Ok, got it. Designers should keep a couple things in mind. But at least when you’re just testing games – that’s the easy part, right? Actually, this may be the toughest part of the process. Do you know know how to be a good play tester? Eric has a great write up on 10 Playtest principles over at BGG. You definitely want to read that list, whether you’re attending Protospiel, a convention, or even just games in your home.
Make Your Own!
Ok, now, without further ado:
the GUIDE TO MAKING YOUR OWN PROTOSPIEL
Eric advises you should probably go to one, but it really is that easy to make a Protospiel:
Seriously though, are their steps?? Ok, fine, here are the 4 ‘rules’:
- 1) It’s Non-Profit. Only charge what you need to cover costs. If you have money left over either give it to charity or roll it over to you next event. Of course you can give it to David too for the main coffers.
- 2) Open-Source. It must be open to designers of all skill and experience levels. Testers are allowed, but we want more designers than testers. The point is to get feedback for other designers.
- 3) Extras Optional. You can do panels, seminars, design exercises etc.. but the focus should be on testing.
- 4) Industry Guests. As mentioned, don’t pester them, they are a big draw for designers. Comp their entrance fees and make it as painless as possible for them to attend.
Done and done. So when are you going to do a Protospiel?
A sincere thanks to Eric, David and James for the information re: Protospiel. I’ll be following up with more from Jeremy in San Jose after my first Protospiel experience.
I’m bringing four league games to San Jose: (five if you count donating What the Food?! for prizes!) Letter Tycoon, designed by Brad Brooks, Replicant from Luke Laurie and Breaking News from Norv Brooks. And hopefully a first appearance of my animal group battle game, Shapeshifters. Can’t wait for some feedback!
Jeff mentions he’s definitely bringing the Stones of Fate Zodiac expansion and then probably Grow, Garden, Grow; Ascendant; and possibly Campaign Trail. Cheers to games!
P.S. Be sure to add this to your design, once you’ve tested at Protospiel. All the cool kids are doing it. Courtesy of James Mathe: