Game Chef 2013: May 17th-26th. Mark your calendars, sharpen your design brains.

edited May 2013 in Make Stuff!
Designers, tinkers, chefs of story,

Game Chef is rapidly approaching. This year, it takes place between May 17th and May 26th. That's nine days in total (a week, plus an extra weekend).

There will be a theme and four ingredients revealed shortly. This year will follow a fairly classic Game Chef format, with a couple twists thrown in. One of the coolest twists is that this year the competition will be global and multilingual. There will be parallel English Game Chef, French Game Chef, Italian Game Chef, Russian Game Chef, and Game Chef Brasil. The winners will even go on to compete in an international final round.

The link is: Game Chef 2013.

Now, feel free to commence with wild questions and even wilder speculation!

((Edited to fix dates.))
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Comments

  • Been waiting for this...awesome.
  • You should link Praxis under "Design Discussions." I think that might be helpful to people who aren't hard-core Story Games members.
  • 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.
    What about OpenOffice/LibreOffice ODTs?
    And how do I run a PDF "through an accessibility preflight"? That's something I'd love to do.
  • edited May 2013
    What about OpenOffice/LibreOffice ODTs?
    And how do I run a PDF "through an accessibility preflight"? That's something I'd love to do.
    You can save a file as a .DOC using OpenOffice or LibreOffice.
    This is preferable to saving it as an .ODT file (since .ODT isn't readable in MS Office).

    Here's a link on creating accessible PDFs: PDF Accessibility For Everyone. And here's a database of knowledge surrounding PDF accessibility: WAC: Accessible PDF.

    I don't actually know much yet about digital accessibility. This is new learning for me. What I did was I wrote to someone who knows more than me, and asked what steps needed to be taken to make this competition accessible. And then I parroted the answer. If you want to not have to think about accessibility much, just submit a .DOC file with consistent header styles. Done and done. If you want to do something else, the onus is on you to make sure it remains accessible to those assigned to read it.

    The reason that a .DOC file is a suggested submission format is because Microsoft Office apparently works quite well with screen-readers and other accessibility tools. And users can easily alter fonts/sizes to aid in readability. And although it is a proprietary format, .DOC files are readable on a number of free/shareware programs as well. So it turns out to be an accessible standard.
  • Well, thanks for the detailed answer. I won't go here into the details of how M$ Office not being able to read Open Document standard files is a very deliberate (and very political) dick move, and I'm instead happy to read up on PDF and DOC accessibility.
  • edited May 2013
    I'm the guy who advised Joe, so if you want to talk about what actually does or does not work with screen readers used by actual visually impaired people we can have that discussion. Microsoft may indeed be the devil's codpiece, but screen readers parse their formats pretty well. Plain text files obviously work great, too.

    WebAIM has a nice PDF and accessibility tutorial.
  • The winners from each country will be translated into a "common tongue." What is this tongue? I wanted to put some smart-ass answers like Ido or Esperanto here, but now I'm seriously curious.

    Because Game Chef originated in English and the Western Hemisphere is overly Anglo-centric, I am guessing the answer is English. If so, I wonder if even originally-English games should be translated using Basic English or Special English, so that it's easier for non-native English speakers to read. It would be an interesting constraint to write your game using one of these limited vocabularies from the start, and ties into the focus on accessibility.

    Also, who will be translating these? It sounds like a lot of work.
  • Yeah... the accessibility requirement is going to snag folks who want complex layouts, several tables or charts, or even more creative information presentation (e.g., multi-column with sideheads; rules running in a column parallel to a column with an example of play; etc.). I do this stuff for a living, and it's hard to get it all right in PDF, if it's more than headings, body, and figures.

    And forget about it, if you want to do an iconic rule set [which I'm mentally toying with, actually--NO text other than sequencing numbers (e.g., Lego manual); designed to be printed in a deck with the play cards themselves (e.g., Dixit)]. Though I suppose I could (a) put alt text behind all the iconic rules graphics and (b) print the deck of cards with Braille descriptions running along the edges...?

    Anyway... looking forward to the rules!
  • For a game you are supposed to write in a week, my response to your concerns, David, is "good". Be less creative with presentation. Your iconic rule set idea sounds fantastic! It doesn't sound like a good fit for something half-ass you whip up in a week though.
  • It's the whole "multilingual, being translated" thing that made me think of the iconic rules in the first place--something like a "sub-Theme" for the contest. I don't have a particular... anything... in mind, yet, vis a vis rules, setting, stances, etc. Once I see the ingredients, I might utterly abandon the notion of iconic, and just pump out a plain text (well, OK, a SIMPLY-formatted text, with accessibility tagging--I'm too much of a format wonk to actually submit plain text).

    But I hear you on "speed over style" for Game Chef: 'Regurgitate, Iterate, Refine, Design.' Time is probably better spent on additional play tests and rules refinements than presentation....
  • Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind with Game Chef is that most potential designs you might consider (even, I'd argue, the majority of otherwise fruitful designs) are not suited to the Game Chef format - which requires a game to be quickly devised, written, and then understood by the reviewers. This last is not so much to give you a better chance at "winning", but to give you a better chance at decent feedback.

    A typical well-suited Game Chef game should be simple, with a few concepts or mechanics followed all the way through, with a sharp thematic focus easy for others to understand, and with an often singular focused innovation on top of a foundation of reliable borrowings from established design.

    You can aim to create something outside of those requirements, I certainly do. But it will make things more difficult and flies in the face of many of the tools and help you can take advantage of during Game Chef. So if you haven't successfully delivered a game for Game Chef before, and you get an idea that doesn't fall into this category, you might seriously want to put that idea aside and find another. After all, you have 346 days in the year to make other kinds of games.

    - Mendel


  • The winners from each country will be translated into a "common tongue." What is this tongue? I wanted to put some smart-ass answers like Ido or Esperanto here, but now I'm seriously curious.

    Because Game Chef originated in English and the Western Hemisphere is overly Anglo-centric, I am guessing the answer is English. If so, I wonder if even originally-English games should be translated using Basic English or Special English, so that it's easier for non-native English speakers to read. It would be an interesting constraint to write your game using one of these limited vocabularies from the start, and ties into the focus on accessibility.

    Also, who will be translating these? It sounds like a lot of work.
    Clinton,

    My original plan was to have a winner declared in each language, and that be the end of it. So there'd be an Italian Winner, a Russian Winner, etc. And it'd stop there.

    But the organizers for several of the other language-based Game Chefs pushed for having an international winner as well. Since we've been doing coordinating together in English (the only language I speak), we knew that all the organizers spoke English.

    It does sound like a lot of work, but in fact it only requires each team to translate a total of two games and read a total of four new games. ("only") You translate your winning entry into English, those five winner entries are voted on by the secret international cabal, and then the winning entry is translated back into each competing language.

    One of my goals for this year was to decentralize the English competition, and so I was hesitant to have an English-dependent international round. It was the other teams who pushed for it.
  • Personally, I feel like it's important to remember that Game Chef is mostly an excuse to (1) produce a first draft of a new game while practicing your chops and (2) plug in to the broader game design community. If some of the requirements are getting in the way of you achieving either of those goals, you can always decide to ignore them. You won't win Game Chef (you might even be disqualified), but that's not really the point as long as the experience is worthwhile and productive.
  • Winning Game Chef ::shudder::
  • edited May 2013
    This year, it takes place between May 17th and May 29th. That's nine days in total (a week, plus an extra weekend).
    Can you confirm the dates? I count 13 days there, if May 17th–29th is inclusive. Did you maybe mean May 19th–27th? That'd be nine days.
  • @Mcdaldno: awesome. If I do compete (unlikely given my track record) I'll probably try to use Basic English as a weird constraint.
  • Winning Game Chef ::shudder::
    Dude, Roach was the moral winner...

  • edited May 2013
    Jason might have won, but my harsh judging sabatoged his chances. (Luckily for him).
  • edited May 2013
    Can we get a photo of Joe being the Chairman? Otherwise, I don't buy all this multi lingual global awesomeness bullshit.

    Actually, woah, there's MULTIPLE GAME CHEF STADIUMS. All of the Chairmans!!

  • Can you confirm the dates? I count 13 days there, if May 17th–29th is inclusive. Did you maybe mean May 19th–27th? That'd be nine days.
    The website lists the dates as May 17-26.
    Winning Game Chef ::shudder::
    I won "Best Game" like five years ago, and I still don't know if I should be happy or sad about that.
  • edited May 2013
    I won "Best Game" like five years ago, and I still don't know if I should be happy or sad about that.
    How do you feel it influenced your RPG-writing career and shaped your design skills? Or did it do neither of those things? In which case what do you feel you got out of the whole experience (both entering the comp- and writing the eventual entry- and winning)?

  • This year, it takes place between May 17th and May 29th. That's nine days in total (a week, plus an extra weekend).
    Can you confirm the dates? I count 13 days there, if May 17th–29th is inclusive. Did you maybe mean May 19th–27th? That'd be nine days.

    May 17th to 26th.

    6s and 9s are way too similar. Someone should fix that.
  • Winning Game Chef ::shudder::
    Truly it is the Mark of Doom. Weeping and gnashing of teeth for all those whom it befalls.
  • 6s and 9s are way too similar.
    Yeah, I have difficulty distinguishing them when I roll dice, even with the line above the 6 and below the 9. Or is it the other way round?

  • Whewie!! I gotta sharpen up for this...
  • Shakespeare was two years ago! Last year the theme was Last Chance (making a game you might only get to play once)!
  • Winning Game Chef ::shudder::
    this

  • I would like to point that the theme should be equally relevant for all languages. Last year's theme, William Shakespeare, is certainly a powerful theme for all English natural speakers but a lot less for the other languages. I guess beer, guns and money are OK. =)
    (Damn, am I whining already?)
    That was a major consideration in constructing this year's theme/ingredients.
    For me, "multilingualism" was a central design goal this year.

    The theme/ingredients were workshopped with the organizers from all five language communities in participation, and I think we've got something rad for you.
  • edited May 2013
    Now, feel free to commence with wild questions and even wilder speculation!
    ...
    The theme/ingredients were workshopped with the organizers from all five language communities in participation, and I think we've got something rad for you.
    Duh, you practically gave it away. It has to be Daikaiju, Abraham Lincoln, and Schadenfreude. :-)

  • Duh, you practically gave it away. It has to be Daikaiju, Abraham Lincoln, and Schadenfreude. :-)
    Pineapple upside-down cake, Horses, and Mustaches. Its obvious really.
  • @zircher now I suddenly want to play that game.
  • Automated Basic English tools

    I'm excited by that constraint too.
  • edited May 2013
    Deleted.



  • How do you feel it influenced your RPG-writing career and shaped your design skills? Or did it do neither of those things? In which case what do you feel you got out of the whole experience (both entering the comp- and writing the eventual entry- and winning)?
    Hey Catty,

    I think that the biggest effects come from participating and engaging with whatever feedback you get. Winning is secondary. Nay, tertiary.

    So why is it a competition then? Why declare a winner at all? Couching creative endeavor within the structure of a competition has this useful effect of adding a little bit of extra fire to every participant's belly. It causes people to push themselves just a little bit further.

    A few years ago, I was the host of a radio show called The Stories We Tell. I interviewed a friend who organizes the Nelson Poetry Slam. One of the things we talked about was "what's the point of judging poetry and ascribing numbers to it? especially considering the fact that we coach people not to focus on the numbers?!" There's a definite parallel to Game Chef there. If you want to listen to Sam's response, you can access the episode via this link.

    As for winning - I don't know. I've never won. Participating has been really helpful, though.
  • we're all just bitter because we've never won.
  • Robert Bruce was a finalist last year. Let me tell you, it basically never stops being awesome when he brings it up.

    For example, when asked his opinion about some finer point of design he might say...
    "well... as a game chef finalist I think..."

    or when asked what his is going to name his new studio adjacent to The Engine Room (Jackson Tegu's studio) he might say...
    "The Engine Room - Game Chef Finalist Edition"

    see? Winning, or even becoming finalist is AWESOME.
  • edited May 2013
    I was 3rd in 2002 when there were ~6 entries! (I was 19yo at the time, or had just turned 20).
  • Each time I write a Game Chef game, I discover yet another cool thing that sounds good in theory but doesn't translate in practice. Hopefully I'm gradually getting it out of my system.
  • Hey, part of design is learning what doesn't work. I'd say you're doing good work!
  • (I was 19yo at the time, or had just turned 20).
    When I first read this I thought that perhaps your age was super-positional. It only ever gets locked down when some outside agent observes it. Of course this then leads to interesting questions about your level of free will and agency...or something.
  • *rumour mongering*

    The ingredients are the names of the participant languages and the theme is "languages."

    The ingredients are the names of geographic landmarks and the theme is "non-spatiality."
  • Re: winning Game Chef.
    With this new, hot "going international" thing going on, winning may actually impact newfound, non-English-speaking scenes in nontrivial ways… Because where Game Chef comes as a fully-formed thing from abroad, it comes with weightier prestige than it would have in the scene which witnessed it grow and nurtured it.
    Matteo Turini won Game Chef last year. First game he ever designed, he says. First Italian to win. Then…
    → I was in a similar (Italian-language only) contest two months ago; he was a judge.
    → I'm going to a convention this weekend. He'll be there as a guest/celeb.
    All of a sudden I know I can leverage my friendship with Matteo to improve my own status/prestige. :)
  • I'm just hoping the theme isn't so open to interpretation that design discussions are overburdened by jargon debates and semantics. Unlike Little Game Chef's "immersion". ;)
  • Worth noting: Praxis will be this year's go-to design forum. If you want to talk about your Game Chef entry in progress, the place to do it is Praxis. That's a game-design forum that's linked to this site. You can see it in one of the tabs on the top of this page.

    I think you need to create a separate account with Praxis? Investigate early and create an account there now! That way, when the competition starts, you don't need to wait around for verification.

    :)
  • Now I see! I was wondering what was Praxis for, since it sees almost absolutely no activity the rest of the year. Huh, I couldn't find it in the rules, but even though I'm peruvian, I can participate with a game written in english, right? Besides, I don't know a word in russian, italian, portuguese or french. Ok, maybe one or two but not enough to write a game in any of those languages.
  • WarriorMonk,

    You can submit one entry in total, to whichever Game Chef you wish. If English is the participant language that you speak best, submit in English! It is definitely not limited to any specific geography.
  • edited May 2013
    Hi Joe
    I think that the biggest effects come from participating and engaging with whatever feedback you get. Winning is secondary. Nay, tertiary.
    Yeah, I get that. That was one of the reasons for posing my question- the opportunity to hone my design skills would unquestionably be the most important aspect for me, although I can't deny that the recognition of my peers and the possibility of gaining wider exposure would also be a drivers.
    Couching creative endeavour within the structure of a competition... causes people to push themselves just a little bit further.
    Yeah, it's the idea of various constraints- deadlines, design parameters etc.- being a spur to creativity. Otherwise it's plenty of free time, a blank computer screen, no particular focus and... inaction.
    A few years ago, I was the host of a radio show called The Stories We Tell. I interviewed a friend who organizes the Nelson Poetry Slam. One of the things we talked about was "what's the point of judging poetry and ascribing numbers to it? especially considering the fact that we coach people not to focus on the numbers?!" There's a definite parallel to Game Chef there. If you want to listen to Sam's response, you can access the episode via this link.
    K, thanks, I'll check it out. And I'll get my brain sharpened, might enter, will see how it goes. 'Spect if I were to win though folks would say 'Leo Marshall, who's he? Hang on, I recognise that writing style. Hey, he's blatantly ripped off that guy from the forums, that catty whatshisface. Flipping cheek.'
  • 'Spect if I were to win though folks would say 'Leo Marshall, who's he? Hang on, I recognise that writing style. Hey, he's blatantly ripped off that guy from the forums, that catty whatshisface. Flipping cheek.'
    :)

    You're also more than welcome to submit your game as Catty Big. Or any other name you feel makes sense for you as an artist.

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