What is a Judge Conference?
A Judge conference is an excellent way to help you and your peers grow and advance as Judges. At a conference, you will meet old friends, make new ones, expose yourself to innovative new judging techniques, engage in fun activities, and leave even more excited about our community and judging.
History of Judge Conferences
Judges of all types and levels belong to an international community devoted to improving themselves and the quality of the events they steward. One of the central tools Judges utilize to improve themselves is attending and/or organizing a Judge conference.
Originally Judges came together to present talks on aspects of judging as an educational tool. Typically held at game stores, large events, or conventions, early conference presentations were lectures and workshops where more experienced Judges presented on topics they were passionate about. These events drew anywhere from a handful to hundreds of attendees and became a central feature of the Judge world. Over time, Judge conferences have evolved to fit the educational, research, and social needs of Judges.
Judge Academy Supported Conferences
Judge Academy Supported Conferences are our way of helping to facilitate the pooling of knowledge, increased mentorship, and community building that helps make the Judge Community what it is.
Judge Academy Supported Conferences begin in 2020. Sponsorship includes one pack of four promos for each Judge Academy member at the Conference, as well as additional packs for Judge Academy Presenters and Organizers. In addition, Ultra-PRO has offered to sponsor 2020 Judge Academy Supported Conferences by offering Judges a special gift as a thank you for attending. These will be mailed to most Event or Regional sized Conferences around the world (50+ Cap), pending approval by Judge Academy.
Judge Academy does not charge Judges to run or attend any Conferences, so most Conferences you attend will be free of charge. However individual organizers themselves may, on occasion, need to charge entry fees for additional costs associated with attending a specific Conference, such as catered affairs or retreats that include lodging. 2020 Conference Support include:
Ultra-PRO Sponsored Judge Academy playmat
The Judge Academy Conference Promo Pack
These will include the two 2020 Conference Exclusive Promos, and two additional promos from the current or previous member mailings.
Guaranteed Conference Promos:
These Promos will remain a mystery until you arrive at your Conference:
Below are some examples of different types of Conferences. We are ALWAYS looking for new, innovative ways to gather Judges and spread knowledge. If you have an idea for a type of Conference not listed below, please email us at Nicolette@JudgeAcademy.com!
Explanation of Conference Types
Event Conferences are held near or in a venue used for a MagicFest or other large event. They are open to Judges from all regions, and typically have presenters from outside the area as well. The Conference should be presented in English to account for the global presence, and the venue of the Conference should be able to support at least 50 attendees, and should not have any restrictions on Judge Academy attendees outside of a hard cap on the venue.
At Supported Event Conferences, both the Organizer, and any additional Presenters will receive 2 extra Promo Packs as a thank you for supporting the global Judge community.
Regional Conferences are stand-alone events that are not connected to any major events. They’re targeted to Judges from a specific region or part of a region, typically focus on addressing specific regional needs, and often bring in Regional Judges of all levels. They’re often run in the local language, although this may depend on the diversity of the Region. These can be large single or multi-track Conferences, and should have something for everyone to learn from.
Since the goal is to support Judges coming together, the venue for a Regional Conference should be able to hold at least 75-100 people, if not more. Regional Conferences may prioritize In-Region Judges, but should not have any other restrictions outside of a hard cap on the venue. At Supported Regional Conferences, both the Organizer, and any additional Presenters will receive 2 extra Promo Packs as a thank you for supporting their regional Judge community.
Mini-Conferences are stand-alone events that are not connected to any major events. They’re targeted at Judges from a small subset of a region, address mainly the needs of that area, and are smaller than a regional Conference. They’re often run in the local language, and typically have between 20-50 Judges in attendance.
Mini-Conferences tend to be focused on Level 1 and Level 2 development, use local Judges as presenters and help Judges meet and get to know other local Judges in their area. At Supported Mini-Conferences, both the Organizer, and any additional Presenters will receive 1 extra Promo Pack as a thank you for supporting their local community.
Specialized Conferences are smaller, and have their own specific rules. They can be focused on L3s, L2+ Judges, those in the Level 3 Advancement Process, those going for Advanced Certifications, or any other specialized group.
Depending on the expertise and size, Organizers and additional presenters may receive 1 or 2 extra Promo packs for helping with the Conference.
Mock Tournaments are small one-day Conferences, usually held at a Local Game Store. They’re meant to help L2 candidates or new L2s gain Competitive REL experience. They generally involve a small group of Judges who applied for the role that are acting as Head or Floor Judges, a small set of Judges that prepare and execute roleplay scenarios or help moderate, and a number of other Judges and possibly local players that simply come to attend the event.
All Judge Academy Judges in attendance will receive normal attendee promo packs. Those acting as Judges will receive 1 extra Promo pack, while the organizer and any additional judges moderating or performing specific role plays throughout the tournament will receive 2 extra Promo Packs
Judge Gatherings or Unsupported Conferences
These are get togethers that are solely focused on building camaraderie and do not have an educational component, such as meeting up for dinner or exploring a foreign city after a MagicFest.
Steps for Planning Your Judge Conference
You will need a venue for your Conference. Your basic needs are lots of chairs, tables, and some way to display information to a large crowd (i.e. a projector and screen, whiteboard, etc).
Some Conferences may be held at local game stores. Many game stores owners are willing to let Judges use their gaming space for free, provided it doesn’t interfere with the needs of their business. Make sure that the game store owner understands what the Conference needs – for example, that putting a tournament in the same room at the same time would not work.
Larger Conferences may require two separate spaces so you can run multiple sessions in parallel. If you believe you need monetary support from Judge Academy to secure a venue, please note this on your Conference application.
Announcing the Conference
The initial announcement about the Conference should contain as much information as possible:
- Location (including address of the venue) and date.
- Estimated start and end times. Participants need to know this in order to plan their travel.
- Event link for registration, and registration deadline
- Will participants receive Promos (i.e. is this a supported Conference?)
- Information on seminars/presenters that you have already scheduled
- Call for presenters: who to contact if you want to present a seminar, what is expected
- Language: some Conferences are run in a language other than English. Some may even have seminars in several different languages.
- Other information that can be included in the initial announcement but can also be posted later: social activities such as dinner or sightseeing, information about hotels and public transportation, etc.
Presenters and content
You can start recruiting presenters or Conference leaders even before announcing the Conference to the general public. Posting a general call for presenters is common practice, but you might also contact individual Judges who are specialists in a particular topic or known for being skilled presenters.
Content for Conferences should be finalized at least 2 weeks prior to the event. Presentations that lack preparation negatively affect Conference attendees and can undermine that hard work that other presenters may invest in your event. As a Conference Organizer, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are providing attendees with a positive experience.
Planning the Conference Schedule
Once you have your final list of topics and presenters, you should start planning the schedule. Each session is usually about 40-50 minutes long. A common setup is to allow 60 minutes per session: 40-45 minutes for the presentation, 10 for questions and 5-10 for a break.
You should also plan a longer break for lunch in the middle of the day. Don’t forget to allow some time at the beginning of the day for setting up laptops, projectors and tables, and at the end of the day for handing out promos and making any closing remarks to the group.
Food and Beverages
There are many possible ways to arrange lunch for an all day Conference. The simplest way is to just provide enough time for everyone to go out and have a meal somewhere. Another option is to order some food to be delivered, or create a pot-luck style meal.
Longer Conferences may also have a dinner in the evening. Make sure to make a reservation well in advance, and ask participants to sign up.
It’s important to gather feedback, to help you plan a better Conference next time and to help presenters improve their presentation skills. You should prepare a feedback form that has space to provide comments about each individual presentation, as well as the organization of the Conference in general.
Check back here closer to January for a Feedback form template you are welcome to use, although you can feel free to find other ways to encourage and facilitate feedback.