That meant we needed prizes. I knew from my past experience working on magazines that companies are perfectly happy to dole out prizes if you...
To that end, I asked GameCity for some stats about the number of visitors who would be attending, and set to work ringing round our friends in other companies. Novint Tehnologies donated our star prize, a Falcon controller: we were delighted to get this, as it's a big, visually obvious, slightly left-field prize that would intrigue people.
I also contacted every PC manufacturer I could find to see if they were willing to donate machines for us to use at the event. I was pretty disappointed with this: despite the fact that it was a genuinely a pretty decent branding opportunity, I didn't manage to get even a single response.
I don't blame the manufacturers for this in any way -- getting contacts at big companies is solely a function of time and persistence. A lot of indies whine about people in big companies being hard to talk to: this is just a defense mechanism to protect these people from bullshit and, as a small unknown company, your job is to hack your way in through any legal means possible.
Most people in bigger companies would love to talk to you, if you're interesting. They might want to do business with you, pump you for information, or laugh at you behind your back; mostly all three, in my experience, but at least it's possible to get the ear of such people through hard work!
I failed at this in this instance and it's something to which I should have allocated more time: we were going to have to beg, borrow and steal computers.
With the format ready and approved by the organizers, we needed to start thinking about logistics. As I mentioned, I wanted to plan in great detail and make sure that we didn't have any disasters. Here's a list of things I needed to take into account -- a quick warning, if you're not currently thinking about planning an event, this will be deathly boring, so please look away now.
Equipment / Furniture
I don't need to go into most of these further, but there are a few points I should mention.
It pays to discuss literally all of your plans, to the point of boredom, with the organizers. You need to know the details of all of the above as soon as possible, even if you're doing a small-scale event: you will always have to solve short-term problems when you get there, but don't ever leave a decision until then. We still had to run out and buy cables 30 minutes before the start (something to do with the projector, which we didn't have access to beforehand and were told would come with appropriate cables) despite all of my planning!
There might be some unexpected issues. For example, we planned to have flyers printed and distribute these on the days before the event. Shortly after we'd paid for them to be printed, we were told that we might need a license from the local council to distribute them, which would have been prohibitively expensive. This confusion was eventually straightened out by the GameCity organizers, who worked very hard to ensure that we could do everything we wanted, but it could have been a real problem.
Similarly, cars needed special passes to be allowed onto the market square -- due to our advance planning in securing these we were allowed to bring in our vehicles when one of the vans actually affiliated with the festival was turned away! It's always worth checking if there are any arcane local bylaws you might be in danger of violating...