What is ProtoTO?

ProtoTO is Toronto’s tabletop game design convention. Started by Pam Walls in 2016, this annual, weekend-long event offers new and established designers of card, board and role-playing games a chance to playtest their designs at an accelerated pace. At ProtoTO, the design iteration process (Design>Test>Feedback> Repeat) is expedited as designers gain valuable feedback from many playtesters over the course of a weekend.

In addition to helping designers improve their games, this convention is about creating community. Attendees are encouraged to get involved with the Buddy Program, Mentorship Program or join the ProtoTO crew as a Volunteer. There are many opportunities to connect with other attendees including during the Games Showcases, Open Gaming and at the ProtoTO After Parties. View the schedule for more info about all the great events happening at ProtoTO.

Playtesters are crucial to the design iteration process. They help make games better and are invaluable resources for designers. Gamers of all ages and levels of experience are encouraged to attend ProtoTO as a playtesters.

Questions? Most can be answered here on the FAQ page or you can email Pam at info@protoTO.ca.

Stay connected by joining the ProtoTO Facebook group, subscribing to the ProtoTO Youtube channel, following ProtoTO on Twitter and using the hashtag #ProtoTO.


Pam Walls
Founder, ProtoTO
Designer, Party Hat Games


Does ProtoTO only happen once a year?

Yes, ProtoTO is an annual convention, however we also have dedicated playtesting tables at Breakout Con every March, provided by our partners at Breakout. Our partners at Fan Expo Canada also provide playtesting space at their event every summer. View more info on our homepage.

There are many other playtesting events separate from ProtoTO in Toronto throughout the year including designer meet ups at Snakes & Lattes, 401 Games and Board Game Bliss.

Does ProtoTO have a Code of Conduct?

Yes we do! Check it out:

ProtoTO Code of Conduct

ProtoTO is dedicated to creating a welcoming, inclusive, safe and accessible event. This is achieved when all participants uphold the following guidelines:

1. Be aware of how your actions and words affect others.

Harassment will not be tolerated at ProtoTO. Harassment is any improper conduct* by an individual that should have been reasonably known and is directed at – and offensive to – another individual. This could be a series of events or 1 severe event that had a lasting impact on the individual.

If you say or do something inappropriate, the best thing to do is to acknowledge it and apologize to the person/people affected. Most situations can be resolved in this way.

2. Ask for consent before hugging, touching or taking photos/videos of someone you don’t know well. Do not take photos or video of anyone with a No Photo sticker.

Obviously, if you and your friends/family are comfortable hugging each other, you don’t need to ask for consent every time you hug. Use common sense. Someone you don’t know very well may not be comfortable with hugging, so either ask if it’s okay first or go for a handshake, high five or fist bump.

Never photograph or video record someone without their consent. Anyone with a No Photo sticker on their nametag does not want to be photographed or video recorded.

3. Use correct pronouns and gender neutral terms.

If you are unaware of someone’s pronouns or gender identity, use “they/them” (rather than “she/her/that woman” or “he/him/that man”). All attendees are encouraged to add pronoun stickers to their name tags so others can easily learn and use their pronouns. If you are aware of someone’s pronouns or gender identity, be sure to always address them appropriately.

Try not to use the word “guys” to refer to a group of people. Better options include: everyone, all, friends.

4. Be welcoming and inclusive.

Cred checks are not cool. If someone wants to play a game with you, don’t ask them to prove their knowledge or experience of the game or genre in order to play. It’s fine to ask “Do you know the rules or would you like me to explain?” as long as you also ask all other players the same question. Make everyone at the table feel welcome and included.

*Improper conduct comprises objectionable acts, comments or displays that demean, belittle, or cause personal humiliation or embarrassment, and any act of intimidation or threat. This includes taking photos or videos without consent. It also includes harassment based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and pardoned conviction.

Questions and/or suggestions?

If you have any questions or suggestions about ProtoTO’s Code of Conduct, please send them to conduct@protoTO.ca

Reporting an incident

If you are a victim of or witness to a violation of ProtoTO’s Code of Conduct, please report the incident to a Safety and Accessibility Ambassador (SAA). SAAs will be at the registration table and throughout the convention space and can be identified by their Safety and Accessibility Ambassador buttons. SAAs are volunteers who have completed training regarding harassment (with a focus on gaming conventions) and the provision of goods and services to persons with disabilities.

Reports of violations can also be sent electronically to conduct@protoTO.ca

If anyone violates the Code of Conduct, ProtoTO’s Head Safety and Accessibility Ambassador will take any action they deem appropriate including monitoring the situation as well as warning or expelling the offender (without refund), at their full discretion.

Where can I buy tickets for ProtoTO? Can I buy a ticket at the door?

Playtester tickets can be purchased online prior to, and during, ProtoTO via the Tickets page. During the event, playtester tickets will also be available at the door, unless sold out.

Designer tickets can be purchased online prior to the event via the Tickets page. During the event, designer tickets will only be available at the door, unless sold out. We cannot guarantee a spot during the Games Showcase on Friday evening for designer tickets purchased at the door.

If all designer spots are sold out, designers can purchase a Playtester ticket and test their prototypes during Open Gaming, unless Playtester tickets are sold out.

What is included with the Designer/Playtester tickets?

Visit the Tickets page for more info about what is included with each ticket.

What if I have a co-designer or design team?

One member of a design team must purchase one (or more) Designer Session tickets. “Additional design team member” tickets must also be purchased for each additional team member (1 per additional member).

How do I get to ProtoTO?

ProtoTO will take place at the Holiday Inn Downtown Toronto, 30 Carlton Street. 

The hotel is right next to the College subway station and there are streetcar stops at the College and Yonge intersection.

Note that College street turns into Carlton street east of Yonge.

Where can I park near ProtoTO?

Hotel Parking is accessible via Wood Street (on the north side of the hotel). As there are a few parking garages in this area, be sure to look for the garage labeled Holiday Inn Parking. Upon entry, take a ticket from the parking machine. Bring the ticket to the Front Desk to pay by cash, credit or debit. 

The cost is $18 for the day (Maximum) and $30 for Overnight. 

What accommodations are available? Is there a group rate for guest rooms?

Attendees of ProtoTO can book guest rooms at the Holiday Inn at the discounted rate of $228 CAD/night + tax (normally $256/night + tax).

Guests can either:

  • Call 1-877-660-8550 and reference ProtoTO Board Game Convention and Reservation ID/Group Code WR5
  • Make bookings online (Group code WR5 should be populated in the Group Code field and the discounted rate of $228/night should be applied) 

Be sure to select between the dates of September 27 and September 29, 2019.

Please note the cut-off date for reservations for this group code is August 28, 2019. After that date, the hotel will attempt to accommodate bookings, but the discounted group rate is not guaranteed. Call them at 1-877-660-8550 (reference ProtoTO Board Game Convention, Reservation ID WR5) for inquiries.

Questions or issues with your bookings? Contact info@protoTO.ca

Is the venue wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the Holiday Inn Downtown Toronto is wheelchair accessible. The event is on the second floor, but there is an elevator, as well as an escalator, up to the second floor. The second floor is all on one level and there are no stairs. Accessible washrooms are also available.

Please contact us at info@protoTO.ca if you have any questions or accommodation requirements.

Will there be food and drinks at ProtoTO? Is outside food allowed?

Beer and pop MAY be sold on Friday and Saturday evenings (TBD).

There will be a water station available for attendees throughout the weekend. It is recommended attendees bring a water bottle that they can refill.

The hotel has an on-site restaurant that will offer grab-and-go options for convention goers who don’t want to be away from the action for too long.

There are also many great restaurants within walking distance of the convention.

Please note that outside food and drinks are not permitted in the convention area.

Yes! Login info will be provided at the event.

Is there an ATM on site?

Yes, there is an ATM in the lobby of the hotel.

Will there be publishers at ProtoTO?

Yes! Check out the Publishers section of the website for more details.

Publishers will have an opportunity to see all prototypes at the Games Showcases on Friday evening. They are also welcome to attend the playtesting sessions on Saturday and Sunday.

I am a publisher and am interested in attending ProtoTO. How do I get a ticket?

Fantastic! Please email info@protoTO.ca.

I am a member of the media and am interested in attending ProtoTO. How do I get a ticket?

Great! Please email info@protoTO.ca.

What stage of development should my game be at?

ProtoTO is about designers testing out their prototypes, and not demoing final products. Please only present games for which you want feedback.

I would like to test my role-playing game (RPG), is that okay?

Absolutely! ProtoTO is about testing any and all tabletop games including card, board and role-playing games.

Will I get a dedicated Designer table for the duration of the convention?

Designers sign up for specific playtesting sessions, and will not have a dedicated table for the entire weekend.

Will there be any opportunities to learn about the industry and board game design?

All attendees of ProtoTO can purchase tickets for special events with industry guests on Friday and Saturday nights. View the full schedule for more details.

Check out the ProtoTO Youtube channel for videos of past talks.

Publishers, established designers and other industry guests will be at ProtoTO, so don’t be shy to introduce yourself and ask any questions you may have. View all Publishers in attendance.

What games will be playtested during the convention?

The convention will kick off on Friday evening with the Games Showcases, where designers will set up the games they plan on testing that weekend. Playtesters will be able to see which games they would like to play on the Saturday and Sunday, and publishers will get an overview of all of the games.

Prototypes will not be listed prior to the convention to allow designers the flexibility to decide which games they would like to present.

Will there be materials and space for designers to work on their prototypes?

Yes! There will be a prototyping area with supplies where designers can work on their games.

What games will be available during Open Gaming?

BoardAgain will provide access to their extensive game library during Open Gaming (see the Schedule for times).

Was your question not answered here? Email info@protoTO.ca