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Reminder: I will be present at Gen Con, and I am running a seminar session at each event entitled "Game Group Organizers, Unite" on Saturday at 2pm and again on Sunday at 10am if you would like to ask me questions in person. I can also be located through the Chicago Toy and Game Fair booth in the Family Pavilion section of the exhibit hall.


Calling all designers!

The Chicago Toy and Game Fair (www.chitag.com) is hosting a design competition for Rio Grande Games. Jay Tummelson, owner of Rio Grande Games, will be sitting down privately with each finalist selected and reviewing their prototypes at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair.

Jay has committed to publishing at least one of the games presented to him. Jay will also provide each designer with his advice and expertise on improving their designs for publication.


Finalists will be selected from the following meetup group(s);

Chicago (www.chicagoboardgames.com)
Registration Deadline: 9/13

Milwaukee (http://www.meetup.com/mmbgmu/)
Registration Deadline: 9/26

Minneapolis (http://boardgames.meetup.com/316/)
Registration Deadline: 9/26 (see site calendar)

Indianapolis (http://www.meetup.com/indygaming/)
Registration Deadline: 9/12

St. Louis (http://www.meetup.com/St-Louis-Board-Games/)
Registration Deadline: 9/4

Norwalk, CT (http://www.meetup.com/Fairfield-County-Board-Games/)
Registration Deadline: 9/18

New York, NY (http://www.meetup.com/nyc-boardgames/)
Registration Deadline: Rules with component list and board/card layouts by September 17. September 30 to submit a physical working prototype.

Southern CA @ StrategiCon (www.strategicon.net)
Registration Deadline: 8/21

Memphis, TN @ GameCon (www.gameconmemphis.com)
Registration Deadline: 9/11

Orlando, FL (http://www.orlandogaming.org/smf/index.php?page=51)
Registration Deadline: 9/7

Portland, OR (http://www.meetup.com/pdxgames/)
Registration Deadline: 8/31


Additional locations may be added pending discussions with the local organizers.


===============
Registration:
===============

Each group will announce their prototype registration deadline by August first, and registration will complete by a date they specify in September.

All participants need to show a functioning prototype to the group organizer at registration, to make sure the organizers are able to prepare adequately for the playtest events. Demonstrations via video and digital photo are acceptable. Final versions of the rules are not required for registration; changes may be made to the prototype or rules prior to the playtest events.

Individual event organizers may accept submissions by mail at their own discretion. If you are submitting a prototype by mail, you should not expect that the prototype will be returned to you following the judging event. Please do not send anything you can't replace.

=================
Playtest Events:
=================

There is no cost for submitting an entry. The individual event organizers may charge a small fee to participants (no greater than $5) to help cover costs of securing a venue and organizing the event.

Semi-final events may be run at each location in the event of a high volume of entries.

The game's creators may be present at the playtesting event, but will be prohibited from playing their own game at the event as well as explaining or clarifying rules to any of the playtesters. We recommend having playtesting sessions of your own prior to the event to help clarify any rules issues, and having additional copies of the rules and game aids/quick references available for the contest.


============
Judging:
============

Individual sites may vary in their voting criteria. Local sites have the final say in how their judging is conducted. While organizers can contact us if they want an opinion, the authority for selecting a finalist remains completely at the local level.

Our initial guidelines for voting:

Players evaluating the prototypes will be required to play all prototypes and submit a vote sheet at the end ranking each of the games (1, 2, 3, etc). Incomplete voting sheets will not be counted.

Each game's total ranking will be added up to determine who claims the finalist position.


============
Finalists:
============

Each finalist will receive free admission to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and a 30 minute time slot with Jay Tummelson to present and discuss their prototype. Travel and expenses are not provided. Prototypes cannot be submitted by proxy or by absentee with written/video/voice description; the designer must be present to explain their designs.


=================
FAQ
=================

1. How "professional" does my prototype have to be?

Your prototype doesn't need to be pretty at all, though attention to detail can certainly help "sell" people on the experience. Remember, the goal is to get people to play and enjoy the game. You do not know who will be playing the game, and you might not want to plan around your ideal audience. Giving your game to a group of strangers, leaving them alone, and asking for feedback afterwards can give you some very good and useful information... and more accurately represents what a publisher will be thinking about when they are eyeing your product for licensing.

2. Do I have to show my prototype to the event organizer in person?

No, some digital photos will do. We mostly want to seperate the "have something to play" from "don't have anything to play, but think I'll have it ready by the event" people. Since the organizer will be trying to round up people to play and judge your game and making space arrangements, they need to know exactly what they're working with. You can still make adjustments to your prototype up until the event, but you should be able to bring something to the table if you're going to register.

3. Can I submit multiple designs?

This will be at the discretion of the local organizer, and largely dependent on how many other designs need to be reviewed. Plan on submitting just one.


4. Should I bring an NDA to make sure nobody steals my designs?

Whether or not you get someone to sign one at your local event, we can say for certain that Jay will not sign an NDA. Most game manufacturers will not, as an NDA creates legal complications for them if they publish another game with some mechanical similarities. The same goes for copyrights and patents; if you've gotten them issued on your designs, expect to be refused. Further discussion on this point is available further along in this post for the curious.


5. Will this be an annual event?

The odds of this contest reoccurring increase with the success of the first event. The factors that make up success:
a. Strong Community Involvement.
b. Fair conduct at the events.
c. Support for the organizers, who make this all possible.
d. Commercial success of licensed titles


6. What is being done to prevent the local events from turning into "popularity contests", with friends just voting up designs?

I'll begin with the bottom line: There's not much point to voting up a poor design, as Jay will be the final arbiter. A design without merit will fail of its own accord.

Mechanically, the voting system requires participants to rank each game in order. This produces a score which will determine the finalist. Incomplete votes will not be counted. Also, designers cannot directly interact with anyone playing their game. This prevents them from influencing other players.

Locally, the organizers have authority over their events. They are all very good at what they do. They will do whatever they see as necessary to keep things running smoothly and fairly.

Socially, anyone that would rig a contest like this probably doesn't have that many friends that would want to help them out.


====================
Additional questions:
====================

If you have any questions regarding the contest, please submit them to contest@chitag.com. We'll respond with collected answers on this post.

Please do not contact Rio Grande Games with questions, as they will not be addressed. Individual contest event organizers have been instructed to forward questions that are not specific to their group on to contest@chitag.com.

I will be present at Gen Con, and I am running a seminar session at each event entitled "Game Group Organizers, Unite" on Saturday at 2pm and again on Sunday at 10am if you would like to ask me questions in person. I can also be located through the Chicago Toy and Game Fair booth in the Family Pavilion section of the exhibit hall.


We hope that you enjoy this contest event and that you will help develop your local gaming communities.
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robert cabrera
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
Sucks for all those great ideas that dont live in those cities.soblue
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
badfish20 wrote:
Sucks for all those great ideas that dont live in those cities.soblue


I'm waiting on response from organizers in the Northwest, but in the meantime you might want to hook in with the Salt Lake City design guild.
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
St Louis Meetup registration deadline is September 4th.
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
badfish20 wrote:
Sucks for all those great ideas that dont live in those cities.soblue

Many of us don't even live in the same country! "Calling all designers" needs changing
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
firewizard wrote:
badfish20 wrote:
Sucks for all those great ideas that dont live in those cities.soblue

Many of us don't even live in the same country! "Calling all designers" needs changing


Just gives you an excuse to come visit.
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
I didn't see a timeframe on this, and haven't seen it mentioned on the Milwaukee group's list yet. Any details in that regard?


Oops, see the August first, but still looking for details from Milwaukee (the closest meetup to Madison).
 
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
disclamer wrote:
I didn't see a timeframe on this, and haven't seen it mentioned on the Milwaukee group's list yet. Any details in that regard?


Oops, see the August first, but still looking for details from Milwaukee (the closest meetup to Madison).


Jamey (Milwaukee organizer) is excited about the contest, expect to hear an announcement from him soon. I'm giving organizers plenty of time to set up their registration information, this announcement is mostly for designers to give them ample time to work on / test their designs.
 
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
950Rav wrote:
badfish20 wrote:
Sucks for all those great ideas that dont live in those cities.soblue


I'm waiting on response from organizers in the Northwest, but in the meantime you might want to hook in with the Salt Lake City design guild.


How did Jay choose those guilds? Or did they volunteer?

I ask because Twin Cities Eurogamers:

http://www.meetup.com/eurogames/

... is far more "gamer"-centric than the Minneapolis Game Players:

http://boardgames.meetup.com/316/

They're a lot more "family friendly" and geared towards far lighter games, especially roll-and-moves.
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair

Jay has not taken part in site selection. He has agreed to providing his time to review the finalist's games and selecting at least one to publish.

Rio Grande Games will not be taking part in the finalist selection process (past reviewing the original message, which he approved) or in choosing appropriate sites for the contest (which is a function of the Chicago Toy and Game Fair).


In terms of the Twin Cities Meetup, Mike's group was selected as he and Nadine made the trip to ChiTag last year and I met with them in person. If the Eurogames group would prefer to be the host, talk to Mike and have him let me know if there is a change.
 
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
In terms of other locations for the contest, we have been trying to locate other groups on the national scale and haven't had a firm confirmation from the organizers yet. We wanted to get this message out in advance of those confirmations, but we will say that we have approached organizers in the following locations:

Los Angeles, CA
Seattle, WA & Portland, OR
Orlando, FL
Woodbridge, NJ
Eastern MA


Some have expressed interest but haven't given a firm confirmation, some have said they don't think they'll have the time to organize, and some haven't responded. If you have a large (150+) group and you'd like to participate, send a message to contest@chitag.com with your group's website information. We cannot guarantee you a spot, but we'll give it every consideration.
 
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
950Rav wrote:
disclamer wrote:
I didn't see a timeframe on this, and haven't seen it mentioned on the Milwaukee group's list yet. Any details in that regard?


Oops, see the August first, but still looking for details from Milwaukee (the closest meetup to Madison).


Jamey (Milwaukee organizer) is excited about the contest, expect to hear an announcement from him soon. I'm giving organizers plenty of time to set up their registration information, this announcement is mostly for designers to give them ample time to work on / test their designs.


The deadline will be in the second half of September - toward the end of September. Too soon to give exact date but as soon as things start to take shape I will announce a firm date. Get Busy!
 
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
Superhawk2300 wrote:
950Rav wrote:
disclamer wrote:
I didn't see a timeframe on this, and haven't seen it mentioned on the Milwaukee group's list yet. Any details in that regard?


Oops, see the August first, but still looking for details from Milwaukee (the closest meetup to Madison).


Jamey (Milwaukee organizer) is excited about the contest, expect to hear an announcement from him soon. I'm giving organizers plenty of time to set up their registration information, this announcement is mostly for designers to give them ample time to work on / test their designs.


The deadline will be in the second half of September - toward the end of September. Too soon to give exact date but as soon as things start to take shape I will announce a firm date. Get Busy!



Excellent. Now we just need to get some playtest dates organized before the deadline. I know a number of designers in Madison who may be interested (perhaps I should just organize a Madison Meetup Group?).
 
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
disclamer wrote:

Excellent. Now we just need to get some playtest dates organized before the deadline. I know a number of designers in Madison who may be interested (perhaps I should just organize a Madison Meetup Group?).


There's no reason you couldn't organize people locally for playtesting, and perhaps develop the Madison gaming community along with it.

I know there is a LaCrosse group that may be interested at least.
 
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
HauRuck wrote:
Is there any chance this could be an annual event?

What mechanic has been put into place to ensure that these do not turn into individual "popularity contests" that highly favor active members within their respective meetup groups?


Two good questions. I will address these soon and post the answers to the FAQ section above.
 
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
950Rav wrote:
Two good questions. I will address these soon and post the answers to the FAQ section above.


FAQ updated, would have been faster if the site hadn't gone down last night somewhere in the middle of my long and unsaved response.
 
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
firewizard wrote:
badfish20 wrote:
Sucks for all those great ideas that dont live in those cities.soblue

Many of us don't even live in the same country! "Calling all designers" needs changing


If you have a game idea that's good enough to publish, you don't need a contest to submit it to a publisher.
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
DJ Kuul A wrote:
If you have a game idea that's good enough to publish, you don't need a contest to submit it to a publisher.


That's correct. If you're a well known designer with multiple titles to your name, you could probably just request a meeting with any one of a number of game companies.

If you're not a well known designer with strong published titles to your name, consider that Jay only reviews prototypes at conventions and then only with an appointment. He refuses more appointments each year than he can count. ChiTag is one of 3 conventions he'll be at this year, and he's offering up dedicated appointments to contest finalists.

The odds of most prototypes being published by Jay are less than 1 in 100; so the odds of getting published as a result of this contest are far better than trying to go through the normal process.
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
Nate
Thanks for putting this together for us!

I'm interested in representing the Arlington Hts. meet-up with my new game "St. Somewhere". Looking forward to hearing how to participate!

Steve
 
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
Just because I have the numbers, here's how it breaks down for ideas being submitted to Hasbro (provided by Mike Hirtle, head of global product acquisition):

Out of the approximately 16,000 ideas submitted to Hasbro agents
o 1600 External Game Concepts presented to Hasbro per Year by agents
o 400 of these are brought in-house for further testing
o 30-40 Optioned or Licensed for production
o 15-20 actually produced and make it to Market
o 3-5 sell well enough to last past the first year on the shelf
o Maybe 1 BIG Success - a product that lasts ten years or more.


Food for thought when you consider the challenges of getting a game licensed successfully.
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair

Have confirmation from Organizers in Portland, OR and Orlando, FL that they will be participating.

I am waiting on confirmation from Los Angeles, though the organizer enthusiastically indicated that she was interested in partcipation.

I expect that I'll have more updates after Origins.
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
950Rav wrote:
Just because I have the numbers, here's how it breaks down for ideas being submitted to Hasbro (provided by Mike Hirtle, head of global product acquisition):

Out of the approximately 16,000 ideas submitted to Hasbro agents
o 1600 External Game Concepts presented to Hasbro per Year by agents
o 400 of these are brought in-house for further testing
o 30-40 Optioned or Licensed for production
o 15-20 actually produced and make it to Market
o 3-5 sell well enough to last past the first year on the shelf
o Maybe 1 BIG Success - a product that lasts ten years or more.


Food for thought when you consider the challenges of getting a game licensed successfully.


The world's largest toy & game producer is a pretty extreme case.

For what it's worth, I wasn't trying to denigrate the contest; I was just responding to the complaint about how it sucks for those not local to the participating groups.
 
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
Nate - how many Finalists from each location do you anticipate?
 
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
One finalist from each location and two from Chicago. The limitation is largely one of Jay's time.
 
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Re: Rio Grande Games Design Contest, hosted by Chicago Toy and Game Fair
It was great to meet those of you who turned up to the round table at Origins! I'll be updating the FAQ later today.
 
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