Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Game design competitions

I've been hearing about game competitions a good deal recently, and they seem interesting. The Hippodice competition just ended for this year - that one sounds interesting, and the games that won look really neat. There's another one, Premio Archimede 2010, coming up, with a deadline of July 30.

The thing is, they're not quite what I imagined. The barriers to entry for a few are pretty high. For example, Premio Archimede has a €25 entry fee and requires a prototype, which, if you want it to look nice, will cost you. So, you're looking at probably $80 at least just to get entered, maybe more. They vote at the awards ceremony, which is in Italy, so if you make the finals, you'd have to decide whether to go and how to get there. They won't give you back your game unless you pick it up the night of the banquet, either.

And suppose you win. Maybe unlikely, since most of the finalists seem to be Italians recently, but that may also just be a reflection of entries. You get the €3500 prize, but you've probably blown a big piece of that on plane tickets to Italy. You have to sign over rights of first refusal for your game to the competition organizers, and you actually pledge them 50% of royalties if they get you a publishing contract agent. And you won't know if you've won until the banquet night, so you may have spent thousands of bucks to arrive and find you've won 14th place. Yikes. Seems like a big gamble.

Hippodice seems like a better deal. The entry fee is only €5, and there aren't restrictions on your use of the game after the competition. You only submit rules first, and then they choose which games they want to see. The prize is merely recognition, but it sounds like more fun, and far cheaper to enter.

Incidentally, I think having a small entry fee is fine - obviously, they don't want to have to wade through tons of crappy games, and having a modest fee probably cuts way down on that kind of thing.

I may not go for this Premio Archimede thing, although I'm tempted. I'll keep looking for other competitions to enter, and I may go for Hippodice next year. Many of these competitions seem to have rules that forbid any publication at all, so I have to figure out if self-publishing on or counts.

An interesting process, and maybe a way to get wider notice. And to tell if the games that I've made that I think are great are actually any good.

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