Play tester admission thoughts...

Howdy all,

As I did my research to set up Protospiel South, several people suggested that I offer free admission to play testers. By now, you've probably noticed that play testers pay the same price as designers/inventors. I'd like to share a few thoughts on this and bounce some ideas off of y'all.

I understand why people want to let play testers in for free (or an extremely reduced rate). It increases the pool of players and makes it easier for all designers to play test their games. Also, the play testers are doing us (the designers, and the convention organizers) a huge favor by donating their time and their effort to us.

I did not offer free admission to play testers for several reasons, including:

  • This is the first Protospiel South. I don't know what kind of attendance we're going to get and the space we have is finite. I don't want to overcrowd the space.
  • I've found that I learn a lot by play testing other people's games, and I like the give and take of having designers act as play testers for other designers' games.

That said, I'd still like to acknowledge non-designer, non-publisher attendees in some way. The best idea I've come up with thus far is this: I know how much I need to make to break even on the convention. Once I've reached that point, there's extra cash. At the end of the convention, I could hold a, "play tester refund lottery." I'd figure out how many full refunds the extra cash enable, randomly select that many play testers, and refund their registration fees to them. Variants on this theme include:

  • Refunding play tester registrations, starting with the first play tester to register and so on back.
  • Spreading the love to more lottery winners by giving away half-price refunds instead of full refunds.

I'd appreciate any thoughts or comments you have.

Another idea...

A friend suggested to me yesterday that I could let play testers pay the pre-reg rate at the door. It's an interesting idea, but it dis-incents them from pre-registering (which is tremendously helpful for me, since it helps me pre-pay for the room and prepare for the convention much more effectively).

Although, to be fair, my

Although, to be fair, my suggestion was an unannounced five dollar reduction at the door.

Also true... Oh. That's the

Also true...

Oh. That's the point, isn't it? Don't tell everyone, and then it works.

Silly me.

Partial refunds for all!

Why not divvy the surplus up evenly amongst all play tester attendees?

Splitting the profit amongst

Splitting the profit amongst attendees is rather unfair to the kind people who are organizing this event. They will (hopefully) have earned their profit from their hard work, and should be able to walk away with something to show for. Sure, there is the monetary cost of the convention, but this doesn't begin to touch on the physical, mental and emotional strain organizing an event like this puts on the event planner. Having put on a number of small festivals myself (all non-profit for charity, and successful I might add), I can tell you that even if Protospiel South had a 100% profit margin, it wouldn't be enough to truly cover the man-hours that I can well imagine are being put in right now. That being said, big kudos to the people behind Protospiel South; don't worry, it only gets more stressful until the last person leaves the Con. :)

I'll take that under consideration.

Michael said: "Why not divvy the surplus up evenly amongst all play tester attendees?"

That's a valid request also, and I considered that. However, the main reason I shy away form it is that if there's only (say) a $20 surplus and 20 play tester attendees, then I'd be giving $1 back to 20 people. That doesn't seem worth it for me or for the play testers.