Are there too many contests around these days?

edited June 2009 in Story Games
Pretty much as the title says, really.

I often enjoy taking part in RPG contests, but there are so MANY of them going off I can't pick them out from the crowd. I'll probably do Game Chef if it materialises this year, especially if they do another Artists First one, but aside from that I'm feeling somewhat worn out and even a little jaded with the contest culture.

Thing is, I'd like to have another go at running a contest, despite the rather abortive attempt I tried last time (damn depressive spike), but there are just so many of them going on that I think people would just be, like, "Oh, another contest." Sorry for my lack of eloquence tonight, I've been writing all day and I'm all worded out.

Anyway, what does everyone else think? Are there too many contests? Is it just me? Would there be any real point in adding to the glut? What would make it worthwhile?

-Ash

Comments

  • My only problem with design contests (and NaNoWriMo) was that they always seemed to come along when I was busy with school stuff. Now that I'm all done with grad school that won't be a problem anymore, but it still amazes me how consistently the design contests managed to show up right when I was buried in midterms or finals.
  • Any time someone says, "HEY! Let's make stuff!" it's a good thing.
  • You must be aware of contests that I'm not aware of. All I've seen that caught my attention enough to consider entering was the BPG Aeromachine thingy.
  • This thread makes me think that I should make my own contest. We'll call it the Brand's Contest of Excellence in Roleplaying. Because that sounds like a cool name.

    The rules of this contest would go like this:

    1) If your game's writing sucks, I will not read it. You lose.
    2) If your game uses any mechanic that is a Story Games Darling of the Season, I will not read it. You lose.
    3) If your game uses cues to distribute narration rights, I will not read it. You lose.
    4) If your game contains reference to anything written by Vincent, Ron, Paul, Matt, other Matt, Luke, or Shreyas, I will not read it. You lose.

    5) If your game does not cause me to stop reading it due to violating one of the above rules, I will read it.
    6) If it makes me go "Hey, I want to play this" then you move on to Phase 2. If it does not, you lose.

    7) I will then play the games that I wanted to play. If I like playing the game, then it will go on to phase 3. If it does not, you lose.

    8) In phase 3 I will talk about the game with my group, and probably toss some shit about it around on line. If I want to play it again, then you win and I will send you $20. If I don't, you almost won, but then sucked at the last moment.


    It is worth noting that this contest is more or less how I buy RPGs these days, save that as part of the contest you don't get money until phase 3, where as in real life I usually have to pay you around the end of phase 1. So its better for me all around.
  • edited June 2009
    Posted By: DestriarchWhat would make it worthwhile?
    If:

    1. By and large the participants have fun and learn something
    2. By and large the organizers have fun and learn something
    3. The field is enriched by the process and products of the contest

    Then yeah, I'd say it's worth it, by and large, for the people involved and for the field.

    (edit: for varying values of: "field", "participants", "organizers", "enriched", and "fun")
  • You know what happens when there are too many contests? Nobody participates in them and they die a tragic death. It's like having too many wolves and not enough deer. These things are pretty self-regulating in that kind of Darwinian way.
  • Posted By: Destriarch Would there be any real point in adding to the glut? What would make it worthwhile?
    To really make another contest really worthwhile, it would have to pose a challenge that forced me to examine game design from a different direction. That's pretty vague, so I'll try to give some examples. The Little Game Chef challenge had a suggestion that people hold to 2 page games, and I managed to do so, but had to abandon certain aspects of rpgs in order to fit. Been there. Done that. On the other hand, if the art thing from Game Chef 2008 came up again, I'd enter the art side because I didn't do that before.

    So, that's my suggestion. Don't add another contest unless it will push people in new directions. Doing something because it worked before does not mean it will work again unless you've got new people or the old people weren't satisfied with what they did before.
  • Posted By: madunkieg
    So, that's my suggestion. Don't add another contest unless it will push people in new directions. Doing something because it worked before does not mean it will work again unless you've got new people or the old people weren't satisfied with what they did before.
    I agree with you there, I don't like the whole copying thing. Annoyingly, since Game Chef introduces a new element every year, it's getting hard to come up with stuff it hasn't done before. There's also one contest that I really, really loved (and produced one of my favourite games of my own) that never got a sequel. Anyone remember Reversed Engineer? Everyone drew a character sheet with no game, swapped sheets at random with somebody else then designed a game to go with the sheet they got. I loved that one, but that's the only one I'd ever think of immitating and only then because I think as a concept it deserved more than one year of running.

    -Ash
  • Hm, just an idea, I wonder if it would work as a kind of design 'club' rather than an actual contest? i.e. regular challenges get posted, anyone who wants to creates a game to match the challenge and submits it, then anyone else who wants to offers comment and scores on it, maybe with periodic prizes for the ones that get the best results?

    -Ash
  • I agree with everyone, unless Brand has posted on this thread, in which case I disagree with whatever he's written.

    I'm specifically torn between two points:

    1. Brennen's "When someone says 'Let's make stuff', that's a good thing". I like that.

    2. The other Graham's "Only offer a contest if it's doing something new". I agree with that too. Contests shouldn't just be about yay, contest. They should be trying to do something interesting.

    Graham
  • I think the contests have taken over some of the really great long jam session threads that I love so much.

    So I agree with Brennen, kind of, and Destriarch, mostly, and Jonathan, definitely.

    I disagree with Graham and Brand on general principle.
  • Yeah another vote vs Contests with a Purpose Here. Some good old fashion make a game or lose is just fine. The only good writting advice I ever really got (aside from cut out your adverbs?) was practice (got both from the same source coincidently). Contests help with the practice bit, so who cares that their are 10xmy games for every good game that Jason Morningstar makes. Your probably only going to see the morningstar game anyway and really whats it to you. Were all concenting adults here, if we want to have a little frivolous outside of purpose game design, we're allowed.
  • edited June 2009
    You need ideas for contests? Here's one I thought about, but didn't run because I was dissappointed that I couldn't get enough players together to playtest the winning games of the contest I did run.

    One Setting, Two Stories

    Everybody creates a game setting.
    Everybody then creates two rules sets for that setting, designed to support different stories within the setting. This challenges designers to work against themselves to create two really different games. Everyone has habits that we use in mechanics design. This could help people break out of those habits. If going this route, give longer than 10 days.

    Alternatively, you could run it like Game Chef 2008. The first stage involves creating settings. The second involves creating rules sets for them. Players then get to compare each others' work, seeing different ways of approaching the same setting, as well as see different ways of structuring setting. This would likely be a week to 10 days per stage.

    Yes, it might be possible to reverse it (rules first, setting second), but there's a problem. It has become fashionable to create rpgs where the first step of play is to build the setting, and that pre-empts setting-building part of the contest. It's clumsy to ban such designs, so I suggest have setting building first.
  • Posted By: madunkiegYou need ideas for contests?
    Speaking of which, what happened to the "suggest a contest idea" thread, which was supposed to be resurrected after a bit? I never saw it again.
    Posted By: madunkieg
    One Setting, Two Stories

    Everybody creates a game setting.
    Everybody then creates two rules sets for that setting, designed to support different stories within the setting. This challenges designers to work against themselves to create two really different games. Everyone has habits that we use in mechanics design. This could help people break out of those habits. If going this route, give longer than 10 days.

    Alternatively, you could run it like Game Chef 2008. The first stage involves creating settings. The second involves creating rules sets for them. Players then get to compare each others' work, seeing different ways of approaching the same setting, as well as see different ways of structuring setting. .
    This is interesting. Especially if there's a twist of "everyone designs a setting, then we pick the best one and everyone designs rules for that setting". Possibly two sets of rules within the same setting. I know I could have made more than two sets of rules for the Aeromachine challenge.
  • "I wrote a song about it! Wanna hear it? Here it go!"
    Posted By: Jonathan WaltonNobody participates in them and they die a tragic death.
    True dat. ONE submission in the Random COver Comp that's gone on for two months, with tomorrow as the deadline for submissions.

    Looks like you won, Mackay. I'll read it give you feedback all the same (and I hope my other four--or is it now three?--judges do as well).
    Posted By: Graham"Only offer a contest if it's doing something new". I agree with that too. Contests shouldn't just be about yay, contest. They should be trying todosomething interesting.
    Doesn't make any difference, in my experience. Aside the above all-but-failure, I've also run several Icehouse Game Design Competitions the past couple of years, with minimal participation by designers OR judges, and that's with a theoretical worldwide audience (between IcehouseGames.org and BoardGameGeek promotions).

    I've come to the conclusion that the only successful competition is one that has several of the following attributes:
    * Name recognition of the organizers and/or judges. (This is remarkably obvious, if one pays attention.)
    * Extensive, regular promotion across the Internet. (One site is never enough. Fifty sites MIGHT be.)
    * Significant prizes, ideally for more than just First Place. (Cash works, but books or accessories have a surprising cache.)
    * Not conflicting with typical busy times: ends of semesters, vacation times, etc. (Dead of winter--February-ish--is often best, it seems.)
    * Sponsorship by, promotion prior to, and participation at a major convention. (Typically one-day comps, but they get MOBBED.)
    * A vital community of designers reviewing and helping each other during longer-running competitions. (Creativity is contagious; working in a vacuum makes it easier to give up.)
    * A unique, inspiring design challenge. (Game Chef popped last year because of Artists First. Conversely, most IGDC Open Design comp submissions are just games folks were making anyway; but new product releases--Martian Coasters most recently--have driven a lot of REALLY cool designs.)

    Hope this helps the next comp organizer... 'cause it won't be ME ever again (here).
  • My problem with tons of little contests is that I want to enter all of them, but then I end up getting distracted and giving up on them...

    So then I decided it would be better to just do some stuff on them without announcing entry, and then announcing entry if I actually got something worthwhile off the ground...

    But then the problem is that you don't get the whole community thing that's kind of a main point of contests.

    Still, I think they can be pretty sweet, given the right circumstances.
  • The scarce resource here isn't contests, or even cool ideas for contests; it's participation of interesting people.
    It's a little like the old days on the internet, where you'd have one or two really good websites for, say, Vampire, and about a thousand abandoned GeoCities pages with tumbleweeds blowing through them.

    In other words, either try to make an existing well-supported contest better... or, if you really need to start a new contest, try to get buy-in from a group of interesting people so that the contest will be lively and active.
Sign In or Register to comment.