Whenever I read someone’s screed about things they’d do different about Game Chef, one inevitable topic is that 90% of what gets submitted is unplayably rough. That the bar isn’t high enough. Which, you know, fair point. Really fair. Hell, MadJay Brown and I experienced the horror of playing Gregor Hutton’s 3:16 from a Game Chef draft and, yup, unplayable. (The final game is a whole different story, but you wouldn’t know that if you’d dismissed the contest draft.)
I think there’s a problem with expectations amongst some of the participants, but what I reeeeeally think is going on is that a lot of people want to see more like…an invitational. A closed, tight, very high-end competition that’s maybe judged by a small committee rather than random strangers who may or may not have any shared aesthetics. Or the deep critical background required to understand what a game may be trying to accomplish, whether it’s something you’d “like” or not.
Lots of entangled issues here of course. There’s not much formal game design critique out there, and the informal stuff tends to be incredibly subjective. And then there’s the epic sprawl of game design itself. But I think those can be set aside (honest!).
Is that something folks would like to see? Let me be clear: I am not actively proposing I do this or anything like it. I’m just talking. For now.
Or have I completely misread the “why isn’t there a higher bar?” thread of GC talk?
Side note: I’m also super-aware that there are other objections to the contest format that have nothing to do with quality control. Totally get that the contest part of the “contest” is overblown, that people (me included) get bad-neurotic about elements of that, that the quality of feedback is commonly somewhere between iffy and useless (with the occasional shining gem). This thread isn’t about those topics.