BrettSpiel is a blog about board game design, written by game designer Brett J. Gilbert.

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Game Designers Got Talent?

This week saw the formal commencement of two of Europe’s most prestigious game design contests for 2010: France’s Concours International de Créateurs de Jeux de Société and Italy’s Premio Archimede.

Both contests are open to game designers worldwide, and many games entered into the contests over the years have been successfully published. So if you have a finished game prototype, what have you got to lose?

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany’s equally well-regarded Hippodice contest got underway last October (as previously reported in these pages) with the 2010 winners expected to be announced in March. Fingers crossed!

29th Concours International de Créateurs de Jeux de Société

The name may be something of a mouthful, but the contest has a long if briefly interrupted history beginning way back in 1977. This year is the 29th time the contest has been run, and in 2011 the organization that runs the contest — Centre National du Jeu — is moving to new digs and the organizers are taking a break; however they promise to be back in 2012 for the 30th contest!

I first discovered the contest in 2007, but it was too late for me to enter. In 2008 I entered Terraform, and in 2009 Mosaic Romanum. The contest now typically receives around 150 preliminary entries from which 50 are selected for the secondary playtesting stage. Once that is complete the entries are scored by the team of playtesters and a final shortlist of around 12 games selected for judging by the contest jury. Both of my submitted games, Terraform and Mosaic Romanum, were selected for playtesting in their respective year, and although neither game found a place on the final shortlist, I do know that Terraform was ranked 17th overall in its year.

If you fancy your chances then have a look at rules for this year’s contest and download the registration form. The window for submissions is open now, but not for long. You only have until February 12th to post your entries!

The rules perhaps make the submission process appear more onerous than it is, but you do need to be able to submit typed rules, a photograph of your prototype and a separate sheet detailing the game’s key attributes (name, number of players, game length, etc.) plus a description of the first three rounds of an example game.

P.S. How marvellous of the French to have a national centre for games!

Premio Archimede 2010

Italy’s Premio Archimede is now a biennial contest organized by Venice-based studiogiochi, a game and puzzle design house led by the well-known game designer Leo Colovini. The contest has been running since 1992 and now is dedicated to Alex Randolph, the American game designer who moved to Venice in 1968 and was the president of the first seven contests.

The last time the contest was held, in 2008, I submitted my card game Amongst Thieves, which performed far better than I could ever have expected. I have already related in these pages the thrilling tale of my trip to the Venice prize-giving in October 2008, and my eventual and very gratifying 9th place.

The contest is now accepting submissions, but in contrast to the Concours International de Créateurs de Jeux de Société (can I perhaps propose CICdJS as an abbreviation?) the window is larger: you have until June 30th. Entering is a little simpler than the CICdJS, but requires a full prototype to be sent by that date.

The contest organizers assess all the submitted prototypes before publishing a shortlist of around 50, with the 15 finalists only being revealed at the prize-giving, where the jury then vote live on the result — an experience, I can personally attest, that is far more nail-bitingly tense than it sounds!

Good luck one and all!

For me the experience of entering the CICdJS in 2008 and 2009, and the Premio Archimede contest in 2008 has been an entirely positive and rewarding one. The rigour and discipline of creating a prototype fit for submission and playtesting by unknown boardgamers in another country is, in and of itself, good for the game designer’s soul.

And who knows? Perhaps your game will be the next one to attract the attention of the contest organizers, playtesters and juries, and through them a publisher.

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