ARTISTS FIRST! Game Chef 2008

For discussion of the rules, or for questions, please see the Discussion section, above.


The rules of the contest are pretty simple: To enter, your must draw a series of illustrations for a role-playing game text that doesn't exist!

1. There must be 3-5 original black and white illustrations, suitable for the interior of a book.

2. B&W only, size should be from 1/4 to a full A4 or 8.5x11 or page, although strange form factors are A-OK (everything doesn't need to be contained in a rectangular bounding box)

3. Each illustration should showcase a place, mood, person, idea or event. The illustrations shoud be thematically connected in some way.

4. Submissions must be posted in the Game Chef forum as a unique thread in the Art Submissions category, or by e-mail to [email protected], by 12:01am April 13th, 2008

You do not need to produce super-high resolution images (we won't be printing the contest submissions) but you should have print-quality versions around as well.

Rights Stuff

You keep (almost) all rights to your artwork. By submitting to the contest, you are granting participants in the game design contest the right to use your artwork as part of their own contest submission. However, any further publication, distribution, or payment should be negotiated directly between the artist(s) and designer(s) in question.

You must own the rights to whatever you submit: this is mainly an issue for people putting together photocollages or what have you.

Historically, many games from the Game Chef contests have gone on to publication. We'd like to see that continue this year. So keep an open mind about eventual publication.


See the Discussion FOrum (link above) for questions or details.

The rules of the design portion are simple: Starting on Friday the 18th of April, we'll show you all the art sets that the artists developed. Pick one or two of these sets. Design a game that would be illustrated by the sets you have chosen, finish and submit it in manuscript form by Monday, April 28th, then give feedback to at least two of your peers about their own designs.

But let's take things slowly, step by step:

1) To sign up for the contest, post in the "tap in" thread. You'll be assigned a feedback group (see #4 below) and registered for the contest. You can do this at any time before the final deadline.

2) When we say "design a game" we mean "a role-playing game." Feel free to push and prod and poke this definition as much as you like, but ultimately we're here as an RPG design community, so your design should probably fit into at least the loosest possible definition of role-playing game.

3) Your design must use your chosen art as illustration. The stronger the link between the two is, the better. Game Chef traditionally has many restraints, this year the only restraint is the art, so make it count. You must use every picture that you have chosen and no additional art: you cannot discard some of them or add others. You may not crop, edit, or alter the art in any way, except to resize it.

4) While it would be possible to just submit a game at the deadline, Game Chef has a great tradition of open design, with designers giving each other feedback, advice, and support during the process. To facilitate this, and make sure that no one gets lost, we'll be sorting the designers into "feedback groups" named after constellations. Each group will be between 5-12 designers, who should be each other's first resource for support, questions, and feedback.

To be clear: Your first feedback responsibility is to your group. After that, you can go look at other games.

If you do not wish to participate in the online design discussion, let the judges know and we won't assign you to a group.

5) Submissions must be in manuscript format, which is to say plain text with no layout or additional illustration. Please indicate where in the text you would place the illustrations by marking it somehow. You can also make a pretty-fied PDF version, but the judges will be using manuscript format to judge.

All submissions should be posted on the forum (a thread will be provided) by Monday April 28th, 11:00 PM PST.

6) Review. The feedback phase of the contest will take place in the two weeks after the games are submitted. This is as important a part of the contest as the initial design, and if you want to be considered for winning the contest, you must participate in this portion as well.

Each designer will be assigned two games, which will not generally be from their feedback groups, and they will then do an in-depth analysis over two weeks. Compared to previous years, we are giving designers less games to critique. The intention is that you will give very in-depth review: covering the mechanics, presentation, goals, and so on. We will provide guidelines for this, but as a start: Playtesting at least one game would not be out of line at all.

7) Judgment. All qualifying games (submitted by deadline, designer gave feedback, uses posted art in a manner keeping with our rules, abides by any other rules of the contest) will be judged. We'll declare a "best game" winner and also the overall prize for this year, "best combination of art and game." Judgment is at the sole discretion of the Judges (Ben Lehman, Remi Treuer, Jeff Bent, maybe Andy Kitkowski). The winners will receive fame and glory unto eternity.

8) Assorted disclaimers: You keep all rights to your work. You do not get any rights to the work of the artist(s). Only single-author submissions will be accepted. Only one submission is allowed per contestant. You may apply extra design restrictions to yourself, but you get no credit for them. There is no limit on the length of submission, but please consider the Judges are busy people and may not have time to read 200,000 words.

9) Artists who are not designers should feel free to participate and heckle (or support) the designer who are using their art.

10) The only prize of the contest is the connections with your peers, having completed a draft of a game, and the feedback. Everyone who participates wins that prize.

11) This does not include the final rules about how art will be chosen. Those will come out on Friday. Sorry for the wait.


Iron Game Chef/Artists First 2008 is a Contest of sorts, but it's mostly an Event. The entries will be read and reviewed by the Judges, who will then organize to announce the winners. There is no prize for the winner (save for some light applause). In this event, Peer Feedback is everything, and Winning is about as important as Winning at Yearbook Club.