There were 106 entries to the English-language Game Chef competition for 2015, the biggest Game Chef ever! Based on the peer reviews and nominations, we’ve selected 12 games to advance to the finalist round. The English-language winner will be announced on July 19, and the global winner (selected from among the 8 language community winners) will be announced on August 1.
Because of the number of submissions, we’ve decided to name 12 finalists for this year’s English-language Game Chef. In alphabetical order, they are:
Dragon, Fly by Paul Beakley
Dragonfly Brewing Company by Michael Wenman
Dreams of Dragonflies by D.X. Logan
Far Away From Home by Aleksandra Samonek
Good Night Fairy Theatre by Emily Griggs
ISP Dragonfly by Kevin Omans
REDREAM by RON LANGTON
Sisters of the Hive by Jordan Saxby
Stay, Still by Heather Silsbee
Tea Ceremony by Niamh Schönherr
The Long Sleep by Bill Templeton
Wings by David Rothfeder
The theme for Game Chef 2015 is: A Different Audience
We all write with an audience in mind, whether we’re consciously aware of it or not. For this year’s Game Chef, we invite you to challenge your definition of the audience. What if you intentionally tried to write for an audience you’d never considered before, an audience from a different culture or subculture than your usual gaming group? What if you wrote for an audience that has very different ideas about storytelling? What if your game rules required a literal audience? Or what if you designed for an audience that doesn’t exist yet?
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. While we’ve attempted to explain the theme, we also invite you to wilfully misinterpret it in whatever way you’d like.
The ingredients for Game Chef 2015 are:
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 we suggest really drawing strongly on the ingredients. 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).
Check the full rules for the competition, and get cooking! You have until midnight Alaska time (UTC) on June 21 to submit your game.
Prospective Chefs, get your game design fingers warmed up. In two weeks we’ll be announcing the theme and ingredients for this year’s Game Chef competition. Clear your calendar from June 13th-21st so that you can work on making the best analog game you can!
What is Game Chef?
Game Chef is an annual game design competition. Each year, the coordinators select one theme and four ingredients. Participants get 10 days to create a brand-new tabletop roleplaying game, board or card game, or other analog game. Your game should fit the theme, and incorporate three of the ingredients. All contestants then receive four other contestants’ games to review anonymously. Based on the reviews, the coordinators pick a champion for each language community. (Game Chef is being run in seven languages this year — so you can design your game in English, Brazilian Portuguese, Korean, Russian, French, Italian, or Polish.) The winners from each language community will then go up against each other for the global Game Chef championship.
Everyone can participate in Game Chef, whether you’re a seasoned game designer or have never designed a game before. We welcome designers of all experience levels from all walks of life. Even if you don’t win, it’s an awesome accomplishment to say that you designed a whole game in 10 days.
The announcement of this year’s theme and ingredients will be made on June 13th at 12:01 a.m. New Zealand Standard Time (UTC+12) to make sure everyone has the full amount of time to work on their game.
Get yourself prepared by reading this year’s rules carefully. Then bookmark this page, join our Google+ community, or follow us on Twitter to get the announcement of the theme and ingredients when they come up!
Game Chef 2015 will run from June 13 to 21. On June 13, we’ll announce this year’s theme and ingredients. Then you’ll have a week to design an original analog (tabletop) game based on them. Keep an eye on this page or join the Game Chef Google+ community for all the latest updates. In the meantime, take a look at the rules to see how the competition will work.
The last two years have been great, and I’m humbled to see the ways that Game Chef has grown under my coordination. Last year the competition ran in seven languages simultaneously and had a total of 300 submissions worldwide (despite the theme being weird and difficult!). The Korean community laid claim to the world championship, even though it was their first time participating.
The time has come for me to step down from doing coordination, and to pass the mantle along to someone else. The coordinator position has grown over the last few years, so it made sense to break it into two distinct roles.
The Global Coordinator will be responsible for creating themes & ingredients every year, and liaising with the coordinating teams for each participating language. The role is going to be shared between Josh Jordan and Rachael Storey Burke.
The English Coordinator will be responsible for implementing the competition for the English-language community, much like the Korean Coordinator or the Italian Coordinator or the French Coordinator do already. The English-language community is currently the biggest one participating in Game Chef. The role is going to be shared between Cheyenne Rae Grimes and Stentor Danielson.
As for me, well… game design has been an interesting ride, but it’s time to focus on new projects in different communities. I’ll be making myself scarce around these parts, at least for now. Huge shout-outs to all chefs, past and future. May you create weird messy awesome games that shake the world up.
Avery Alder Mcdaldno
I’ve always said that Game Chef was about creative experimentation and that winning was an honour but otherwise tangential to the more important business of making art together. I was, of course, lying.
Game Chef is about cash money.
I’m kidding, obviously. But I am excited to announce that this year, there is a prize to honour our English-language Game Chef Winner, who will be revealed tomorrow at 2pm (PST).
The Class of 2004 Memorial Prize is awarded to the winner of the 2014 English-language competition, in honor of all the chefs who participated in Game Chef 2004. On our 10-year anniversary, Jonathan Walton offers this award of $100 in a salute to his 2004 comrades (Island! Ice! Dawn! Assault!) and to demonstrate our excitement about and confidence in the future of game design. Congratulations to the champion!
I just wanted to take a moment and explain how the 8 language communities interact, and how their 8 competitions are related to one another.
All of the rules and explanatory text are first written in English, by the global coordinator. A theme and four ingredients are chosen by that global coordinator. Then, awesome volunteers in other languages put together volunteer teams to translate/localize/run the competition in their language. Each language has its own coordinator.
From the moment that materials are handed over to a language’s coordinator, they are in charge of their own competition. They choose what kind of online conversational spaces will be set up (whether it’s a forum, Facebook group, Google+ community, or something else). They can modify the rules or procedures as desired to better suit their community and its expectations. During the competition, each language coordinator may end up making judgement calls or arbitrations. Their decisions will be correct, even if a different language community implements the rules differently in their competition.
As global coordinator, I try to keep all the other language coordinators in communication. I try to provide guidance and structure. But I also trust the volunteers I work with (and especially the language coordinators) to make good choices for their communities and competitions.
Game Chef gains momentum every year. I’m anticipating over three hundred submissions across the eight participating languages. Like every year before it, this will be the best year yet. But amidst all the excitement, I’d like to take a moment to ask two questions that I think are really important:
- What does the Game Chef format do well?
- How do I get the most out of Game Chef?
What does the Game Chef format do well?
Game Chef pushes people to create in parallel. As a result, there is an energetic momentum that happens around this time of year, an extra push toward putting pen to paper (or finger to key, more likely). Game Chef is full of infectious enthusiasm. In addition, the deadline and competitive twist mean that you’ve got a big push to set out the time to do it, to really sit yourself down and make something. In our daily lives, it’s so easy to let art and creativity go by the wayside as more pressing needs arise. Game Chef brings people together in an excited tizzy, and it gives them a reason to make something right now. That combination of excitement and deadline pressure has a really welcome side effect. It tends to kill off your perfectionism. Perfectionism likes to tell you that your art isn’t good enough to share with others yet. It tends to kill creative momentum, and it gets in the way of actually improving. One of the keys to improving is to share your work and get feedback on it. To develop working prototypes and then iterate from there. To feel proud of your half-awful mess of a first draft, because that half-awful mess of a first draft is an important stepping stone. Game Chef is a great place to experiment with new ideas. If you submit a game at the end, you’ll get peer review from four other designers. That feedback can be really helpful in growing as a designer. Game Chef rewards creative risk-taking. You don’t need to worry about whether an idea is polished, precedented, or even playable. Your peer reviewers will still engage it.
How do I get the most out of Game Chef?
The Game Chef format doesn’t often produce polished games. Many of the games submitted aren’t ready for playtesting. The flipside to a design environment killing off your perfectionism is that what you produce probably won’t be perfect. So, lean into that. Forget perfect. Aim to make a game that is compelling, experimental, troubling, new, weird. Use your Game Chef energy to launch an inquiry, to find out whether an idea can work. And submit your results, so that others can engage with your brilliant mess. Make a mess. Engage others. Give people feedback. Cheerlead others when their energy or confidence flags. The more you put into the Game Chef design community, the more you’ll get in return. The return won’t always be fair or balanced, but it will be there. Respect the community. That means adhering to the posting guidelines of the Google+ community (which will be posted tomorrow). It means attempting to make your game as accessible as possible. It means asking people what kind of criticism they want, throughout the public design process. It means trying to help everyone around you succeed. Get hype. Get experimental. Give feedback. Give support. Design to find out what happens.