Game Chef is an annual design competition for “analog” (non-electronic) games, challenging participants to write a playable draft of an original game in just over one week, based on a theme and a set of “ingredients.”
As our 2006 nomination for the Diana Jones Award said: Each year the competition has spawned a number of powerful, widely diverse RPGs and semi-RPGs and is now one of the best break-in points for new game designers and small press publishers. One of its strongest features is its development of a community of review and interest in one another’s projects.
Game Chef started with early contests on the Gaming Outpost, and was revived in 2002 by Mike Holmes on the Forge. In 2005, Andy Kitkowski (administrator of Story Games) took over, and the contest entries moved over to 1KM1KT for two years. Andy shifted Game Chef to its own dedicated forum in 2007, and contributors produced 82 original games that year. Game Chef 2008 used the unique “Artists First!” format and was co-administered by Ben Lehman, Remi Treuer, and Jeff Bent.
Jonathan Walton took over the competition in 2009, leading to an experiment in aggregating RSS feeds. Game Chef 2010 marked a return to both the Forge and 1KM1KT, while the 2011 contest introduced a secret cabal of past participants to informally advise the “master chef” and a guest judge who was an expert on that year’s theme. The 2012 contest — Last Chance Game Chef — was the final competition hosted on the Forge, forums which are now in hibernation. In 2013 Avery Alder took the reins, and continued 2012’s shift toward making this a multilingual and global competition. In 2015, the English language coordinator and global coordinator roles were split in order to support the internationalization of the competition, with the latter role taken over by Josh Jordan and Rachael Storey Burke and the former by Cheyenne Wall-Grimes and Stentor Danielson. Danielson took over as global coordinator in 2018, with Jay Sylvano joining as English Coordinator.
More information about the past years of Game Chef and their winners can be found below:
Game Chef before 2002 (????)
Game Chef 2002 (John Laviolette)
Game Chef 2003 (Walt Freitag)
Game Chef 2004 (Jack Aidley)
Game Chef 2005 (Mischa Krilov)
Game Chef 2006 (Moyra Turkington)
Game Chef 2007 (Fred Hicks, Remi Treuer, & Jess Hammer)
Game Chef 2008 (Nick Wedig, Dale Horstman, Mikael Andersson, & TomasHVM)
Game Chef 2009 (all 22 participants)
Game Chef 2010 (James Mullen)
Game Chef 2011 (Jennifer Hardy, Matthew Mazurek, Sam Liberty, & Kevin Spak)
Game Chef 2012 (Matteo Turini)
Game Chef 2013 (English Winner: Ashok Desai. World Champion: Encho)
Game Chef 2014 (English Winner: Mel Leverich. World Champion: Dolmangi, Chang, & Jiu)