Judge in Design Contest 2019, from The Board Game Workshop. An initiative fueled by the enthusiasm and dedication of Chris Anderson! And another new experience in this first year of returning to the Land of Games, a year now almost coming to an end.
The responsibility: supporting creators, contributing to the realization of their ideas.
The challenge: to treat very diverse proposals in a fair way.
The doubt: would I be up to the task?
The doubt had been anticipated: the contest page contained detailed information about the entire process, the judges’ role, the amount of time involved and, most importantly, on games submitted in previous editions, allowing one to experience being a judge before committing.
Self-assessment done. Let's do this!
More than 100 projects at the starting line.
More than one hundred creators, individually or as a team.
So many dreams, ideas, projects, hours of work.
Abstract or themed games; Cooperative or competitive.
Boards and parts.
Mechanisms and combinations.
For two players; For three, four or more.
For fifteen minutes of relaxation or a few hours.
In different development phases.
Aiming to provide different experiences.
Material available for the first stage of the contest: a short description and a 2-minute video.
Maybe the hardest phase to judge. Two minutes is definitely a very short time. And, therefore, one must try to look beyond, while avoid sticking to first impressions. Avoid being influenced by the video production level, voice over, animations or subtitles. Avoid deciding based on personal preferences as a player. For all this, the hardest question for me was undoubtedly: "How excited are you to play the game?".
Focus on the game, first and last. Focus on the intended recipients.
I opted, from the start, for not trying to judge all the games. I also decided not to evaluate games whenever I was not able to look at them from distance enough. I chose to make enough time for each proposal. View and review the videos. Try to understand the intent and envision the hidden potential.
I've evaluated 19 games.
On the way to the second phase, the innovation of this edition: working sessions with the creators!
An opportunity to know a little about the person behind the game. An opportunity to better understand the path, the ideas, the objectives, the options, the whys and why nots. And thus, better contribute to the development, through listening, questioning, suggesting, providing opinions.
Conversations with two creators, face to face, across distance, in space and time, over the Atlantic, between Portugal and the USA. And a few more messages to continue polishing the game, preparing the rules and developing a video up to fifteen minutes long.
Congratulations for this idea, Chris! Very interesting and enriching, besides enabling a more effective contribution towards game development!
And we have reached the second phase, now with the complete rules of the game and the longer videos. Demanding greater time availability to digest all the information, to imagine the game in action, to evaluate balances and imbalances, to identify virtues and problems.
I've devoted my time to just two games.
Just one more phase to go: to test the real thing, a complete prototype. Of course, this must be done on location, by a panel of judges, and so my contribution ends here, believing that many of these projects will become games, available at a nearby store!