Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

[Icehouse] Icehouse Game Design Competitions and Icehouse Awards

  • From"Jeff Wolfe" <jwolfe@xxxxxxxx>
  • DateWed, 4 Nov 2009 18:42:54 -0500
I have seen the following stated goals for promoting competitions and

- Encourage more game designs
- Provide feedback to designers to facilitate better designs
- Recognize good designs
- Promote Icehouse games to a wider audience

But these are conflicting goals.  If we're trying to help designers make
their games better, then we clearly have games with weaknesses.  We don't
want to go to the general public and say, "These games might suck, but you
should play them anyway because Icehouse games are cool."  If the first
Icehouse game a person plays is bad, that person might not play another one.
Ever.  What we should be promoting to the general public are games that we
already know are good, not new designs that still need work.

The first two stated goals are best served by the IGDC.  The last two stated
goals are better served by something like an Icehouse Awards.

Based on the participation we've seen, I don't think the IGDC can be
sustained more than once a year.  That leaves room for something like an
Icehouse Awards in the other half of the year.  I wouldn't think we would
want to do both of them at the same time, because many of the same people
(i.e. people from this list) will be involved in doing both.  And taken
together, they complement each other.

So here is my vision:

- Focused on design, playtesting, and feedback
- Each one has an optional design "restriction" or theme
- Open to all entrants
- Played and rated by people who are already fans (mostly us)
- Designers encouraged to improve the rules while the competetion is ongoing
- Recognizes best of competition and best themed game

Icehouse Awards (for lack of a better name)
- Focused on recognizing excellence
- IGDC entrants would be eligible, but so would other designs
- Initial evaluation by self-selected group (i.e. people on this list)
- Criterion: Would we want this in hypothetical "Playing with Pyramids 2"?
- A limited number of finalists
- Finalists evaluated and rated by the general public
- Scheduled for maximum exposure
- No more than one award winner every year

A few words about some of my points:

IGDC designers encouraged to improve the rules while the competetion is
ongoing:  If the goal is improvement, we should encourage incremental
improvement during the competition.  The wiki could help the evaluators to
keep the versions straight, because it's easy enough to compare the version
you playtested with the current version when you go to make comments.

A limited number of finalists for the Icehouse Awards: I think there should
be three finalists.  More would give us too many for the casual fan to play
and evaluate.  Fewer wouldn't leave us with much of a competition.

Icehouse Awards scheduled for maximum exposure: There are hundreds (or
thousands) of people at the Big Experiment at Origins every year, many of
them Icehouse fans or at least Looney Labs games fans.  And for the most
part, they are there to play games.  This would be a ready-made audience for
opening this thing up to a larger audience.  Because of that, the evaluation
period should include Origins weekend.  (Note: there are about 10-15
thousand people at Origins overall, but not all of them go to the Big
Experiment room).