Design and submit a playable draft of an analog (non-electronic) game between May 17th and 26th, inspired by the theme and ingredients listed below. Historically most Game Chef games have been tabletop roleplaying games or LARPs, but the divisions between different types of analog games (board games, card games, RPGs, LARPs) are constantly being broken down and re-envisioned by innovative designers like you. Feel free to push the boundaries of what counts as a roleplaying game, an analog game, or a game.
Each participant will review four games that others submit, and this peer-review process will determine finalists. A winner for each language that Game Chef runs in will be declared, though the real victory is completing a game in the first place.
This year, Game Chef is also being run in: Game Chef Brasil, French Game Chef, Italian Game Chef, Russian Game Chef.
This year’s theme is going to be revealed on May 17th. Check back then to see it revealed!
Let the theme inspire you and shape your game as you work on it. You’re free to interpret the theme in any way you want, and to have a different interpretation than other competitors.
When you design for Game Chef, you don’t need to worry about creating a polished product. Instead, focus on creating something that’s accessible and engaging, full of excellent ideas. Maybe you’ll want to work on the game more after Game Chef is finished. Maybe you’ll want to take some of your better ideas from it, and do something new with them. Maybe you’ll just congratulate yourself on finishing a game, and use that accomplishment as fuel to keep working on another project. Any of these are great results!
This year’s four ingredients are going to be revealed on May 17th. Check back then to see them revealed!
Incorporate 2-3 of the ingredients into your design. Try to incorporate the ingredients as centrally as you can, as part of the premise or the rules or however else makes sense to you. A passing reference is okay if that’s all you can come up with, but really drawing strongly on the ingredients is suggested. Like the theme, you’re free to interpret these ingredients in whatever way you want.
For example, the 2004 ingredients were [ice, island, dawn, assault], which ended up inspiring games like The Mountain Witch (climbing icy Mount Fuji to assault the witch’s fortress), The Dance and the Dawn (try to find your true love at an island social gathering, hoping that — when dawn breaks — you don’t end up with the one that has a heart of ice), and Polaris (arctic elves struggle against themselves and a demonic assault, with the dawn finally coming for the first time in hundreds of years).
There are a few guidelines for game format, and each of those guidelines is there to make sure your game is accessible (especially to the peers who get randomly selected to review your game).
The main text of your game is 4,000 words or less. This ensures that reading and reviewing your game is an achievable task for those assigned to review it. People are busy, and keeping your word count under 4,000 ensures that you get the feedback that your hard work deserves. Additional materials (including maps, diagrams, play sheets, etc) can exceed these 4,000 words.
The main text of your game is submitted in an accessible format. Make an effort to ensure that your game is accessible to those who are blind (and using a screen-reading device), deaf, have poor eyesight, or are colour-blind. The easiest way to do this is submit your game in one of the following formats: a plain text file, a tagged PDF (which was run through an accessibility preflight), or a Microsoft Word document. Avoid the use of cluttered backgrounds or anything low-contrast.
If you want to submit your game as a video file, provide captions and a transcript. If you want to provide your game as an audio file, provide a transcript. Doing extravagant things with your submission is fine, but the responsibility lies with you to make sure that it remains accessible to readers.
The game can be accessed via a single download or link and requires no proprietary software. In order to submit your entry, you will need to provide a single download link (or youtube link, etc, etc). If you have multiple files, put them in a zipped folder. Make sure that no proprietary software is needed to access your submission.
Rule on Previous Work
You may draw on concepts you have thought about or worked on before the contest, but everything you submit must be new work, not existing material. Plagiarism or self-plagiarism will get your game disqualified.
Rule on Intellectual Property
It is ultimately the designer’s responsibility to deal with all rights-related issues. Including excerpts from public domain or open source content is fine, as long as it’s cited. Drawing inspiration from other games is also fine, but be sure to give credit and put it in your own words.
You can start a thread on Praxis to talk about your game in progress. This isn’t a requirement – you can choose to talk about your design elsewhere, or keep it to yourself until your final submission. But many Game Chef participants like to brainstorm and share ongoing critique, and Praxis is available for precisely that.
Please stick to a single thread per individual game rather than filling a forum with multiple threads about the same game concept. That makes it easier for everyone else to parse the forums and for the people interested in your game to find your most recent posts. Other threads for general discussion, open questions, and joshing each other are, of course, totally cool.
Games are due before midnight (in your own time zone) on May 26th. To submit, post to the 2013 Game Submission thread with your name, email address, and a link to the game. In order to do this, you’ll need to upload your files somewhere. Options include Dropbox, the media library of a WordPress blog, etc. Let me know if you need help doing this.
You may submit as part of a team. You may only submit one game to one of the participant language competitions.
Once games are submitted, each participant will be assigned 4 games to review. You will have until June 5th to pick one of the four to recommend for the next round. Your recommendation can be based on whatever criterion you determine to be most important. You may want to consider what each game accomplishes in terms of innovation, clarity, ingredient usage, and current playability. You don’t need to explain or defend your decision – just pick and recommend one of the four games.
As part of reviewing each game, we ask that you write a short critique/appraisal and send it to the game’s author. As Game Chef is a short competition that will inevitably create half-finished products, you don’t need to focus on fine details of language. Instead, share what you liked, what you were confused about, any ideas that you have for improvement or development, and any decisions you hope the designer will rethink. You can either email the designer your feedback or post it to their design thread if they started one on Praxis or elsewhere. Aim to be helpful and encouraging.
The games that receive the most nominations will be reviewed by Joe Mcdaldno (and possibly a second judge to be determined). A winner will be chosen from among these finalists and crowned the 2013 English Game Chef champion. Additional awards and achievements may be awarded by a shadowy cabal of past Game Chef participants.
The winner from each language of Game Chef will be translated into a common tongue and judged by an international cabal. One game from the ranks of English Game Chef, Italian Game Chef, French Game Chef, Game Chef Brasil, and Russian Game Chef will be crowned the 2013 international winner.
Winning Game Chef is a funny business. It’s a great honour, but the real focus of the competition is in stirring a great number of people into creative endeavour. We choose a winner in order to create that extra edge and push competitors to do their best work, while acknowledging that the real victory is getting a community to come together and make new stuff.
The comments below are for questions about the rules, which I will be very happy to answer. If you want to share your excitement about the contest, please do it on your favorite forum, blog, Twitter, etc.