Do you want to have events other than play testing?

Right now, my plan for Protospiel South is to only have play testing. No panels, workshops, pitch sessions, or anything like that. I figure that for this initial convention, people can self-organize in the down-time from 10 PM to 8 AM.

I'm not opposed to having sessions, but I'm trying to keep things simple for this first run. Also, I like the purity of purpose in it. BoardGame Geek Con has a similar purity of purpose: Wake, shower, breakfast, game, lunch, game, dinner, game, game some more, sleep, repeat.

However, I'd like to know what you'd like to see in 2011 and beyond. Are you in favor of having a panel track or a workshop track? Are you opposed? Let me know.

Another thing to consider: There's a conference format called "Open Spaces". It's typically used by the software development community, but I think it would work well for a Protospiel South type of convention. If you'd like to learn more about it, Wikipedia has a decent article on it:

Ideas for 'other stuff'

I think a panel or talk or two wouldn't be amiss. Maybe right after lunch to attract people back for the rest of the afternoon? or right in the morning to encourage people to show up early?

Talks by game designers (both prominent and not so well known)
...on general game design tips/tricks/pitfalls/inspiration/etc
...on the tradeoffs involved in designing a specific well-known game ; like the occassional "Designer's notes" post that shows up on BGG, but live, in-person, and ideally taking questions :)
How to playtest:
getting the most useful feedback out of your playtesters
where to find playtesters the other 50 weekends a year
Getting Published:
How to get your game(s) in front of publishers
what publishers look for - likes, dislikes, pet peeves
self publishing options
Turning ideas into atoms
sourcing art/parts/manufacturers/assemblies
small scale and large scale

And again, much of this could be via the BarCamp or Open Spaces formats.

Just some ideas.

Great ideas!

These are all very nifty ideas. I'm really glad that you took the time to share them, and that they've been captured here on the forum. I especially like your reasoning for when to have the panels and why.

I can't promise that any of these will happen this year, but I'm certainly considering a panel track for next year. A lot depends on how things flow this year, of course.

BarCamp format

Or you might consider the BarCamp format... BarCamps use a simplified OST format that's a bit more informal: see ; again, usually used in software/technology circles.

Thanks for the Bar Camp info.

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the Bar Camp tip. It's short and easy to digest.

I'll certainly consider Bar Camp format for Protospiel South 2011, however... What Protospiel South 2011 will be like is going to depend a lot on what happens at Protospiel South 2010.

Open spaces - good format

Open spaces is pretty interesting proposal. It seems by default this pretty close to what happens at some gaming cons anyway. In general the games that folks most want to play get played. Going to a more "formal" use of the Open space concept though would ensure pretty good chance of folks having some time to find out about all of the possibilities the mix of attendees represent. It is the break out sessions FROM the break out sessions that can be the most satisfying.

Open Spaces format is likely for PS South #2, etc.

Odds are that Protospiel South 2010 will be very informal and that future instances of Protospiel South will follow the Open Spaces model. You make a very good point that a more formal use of the Open Spaces structure would enable knowledge to emerge that would otherwise remain hidden.

This first instance of Protospiel South is primarily (aside from helping game designers play test their games, which is the #1 reason for the convention) to assess initial interest and engagement, and for me to test / verify a few basic con organizing skills.