The very best part of being a finalist in last year’s Game Chef was discovering, once and for all, that Game Chef is…

The very best part of being a finalist in last year’s Game Chef was discovering, once and for all, that Game Chef is totally not the right event for me.

I love that so many people love it! I wish I knew your secret.

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0 thoughts on “The very best part of being a finalist in last year’s Game Chef was discovering, once and for all, that Game Chef is…”

  1. Not my thing either. I’m happy to chill and watch from the bleachers though. (Gosh, I wish we actually could watch from the bleachers. Chat about game stuff and occasionally rah rah our friends. That would be rad.)

  2. Does it actually matter?

    Not a rhetorical question! I’m happy to unpack it, just wondering what’s at the end of the rainbow.

  3. I ask because I’m considering whether or not to join and I’m curious to know what your thoughts are. Really I’m just curious what your thoughts are, but you asked for a rationale and that’s what occurred to me.

  4. Robert Bohl okay! I’ll unpack it.

    It’s because I’m:

    1) Way too competitive, especially where the stakes are so objectively meaningless

    2) Unable to take any real control over my chances

    3) Too invested in the opinions of total strangers

    4) A perfectionist, and perfection is just impossible in this format.

    So basically it’s weeks/months of self-inflicted emotional and creative stress for an outcome that isn’t even intended by the event. Everyone, me included, correctly says the winning is not the point. And yet my fucked-up personality makes it the point.

    Last year I went all-out. I mean all-out, including spending money for artistic help. I put it all out there. I’ve never worked so intensely for so long on a game design. I’m not good at it in an easy, casual way (see #4). And I made…finalist. In a year where there were more finalists than ever. It felt like an enormous waste of time in the end, and I felt embarrassed that I’d gotten myself so invested.

    I put it all out there. I lost. I looked at the actual winner and I cannot pick apart what she did different. I have no idea. And again, it doesn’t matter even a tiny bit. She’s never going to publish that game, nobody’s going to publish their games. People who want to publish their games are going to publish their games with or without a contest.

    I’m not even that proud of the work, a year out. I looked at it again recently, thinking maybe I could/should continue work on it. Eh, whatever, I wouldn’t play it. I was high as a kite for a few weeks after, though! Thought I’d take the world by storm, spool out a half dozen variants, generate real excitement.

    If I were a productive, talented designer, it might be a fun external prod to make something else. I’m neither productive nor talented, at least not in a way that Game Chef demands. I can’t casually half-make a thing. I mean I do casually half-make things all the time! But I’m not trying to vie for the approval of a panel.

    My insecurities and creative limits keep me from letting it be a fun thing. I take it seriously in all the wrong ways, and dismiss it in all the wrong ways.

    So there’s the unpacking. Hope it’s useful.

  5. I dunno, I’m in a similiar boat last year. I put a ton of energy into my game. I was a finalist. I’m very competative. I felt that my entry was very close in quality to the winner. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever publish. But I’m pretty damned proud of what I put out. It was a cool game and got some positive buzz. I learned a lot about game design (I might have been trying to steal a couple of ideas from another finalist that I know), and I made a game I’d probably never have thought to make otherwise. I’m still not sure if I’m going to participate this year just because inspiration hasn’t hit me, and I only want to write games that excite me. I guess the enjoyment for me was about trying to create.

  6. Oh, I totally don’t take it seriously. It’s the only way to go. Throw something together, use it as a creative constraint, don’t care if it wins. After all, it’ll be judged by four random people, and you can’t control that.

    And so I quite like it.

  7. My problem was that the people who were voting were downright rude. I was told my design sucks, that the game was broken, and that I shouldn’t have bothered to even enter. That last one stuck with me, I won’t be bothering again.

  8. Moe Tousignant my first go round I had the same experience. The second time was better, for whatever that’s worth. Still won’t enter again, however, but that’s mainly because I have lots of ideas for games I’m excited about without using someone else’s creative constraints. (Although I can’t wait to see people using technology in RPGs)

  9. Honestly, I have a problem with Game Chef feedback in its entirety. My distribution always ends up looking a little like:

    20% assholes. Just straight-up jerks who want to hold court.

    50% incompetent. Didn’t read the draft, don’t understand game design, fixated on their own interests.

    25% well-meaning. Rah-rah, a nice couple sentences but they clearly aren’t on the same wavelength. It’s nice! But not useful. I think the encouragement is absolutely useful for other folks, though, so this is a net positive in my book.

    5% actionable, useful feedback that isn’t just an ego stroke.

    I have no solutions to any of this, other than feedback about feedback. Maybe tighter/narrower focus of the event itself (which just ratchets up the seriousness of the whole thing, which IMO is already a problem because of people like me).

    I don’t know! But I’ve done five or six Game Chefs and this is pretty much how it always falls out.

  10. I know one of the problems I saw was that half of the participants think it’s an RPG contest, the other half think it’s a card/board game contest. And those people seem to hate games that fall on the other side of the fence.

    Okay maybe it’s not 50/50, there seemed to be more RPG bias, but none the less it seems different people think different games are ‘proper’ Game Chef games.

  11. Moe Tousignant oh, yeah. And within the “it’s an RPG contest!” side there are super deep divisions in expectations. When you have freeform folks trying to evaluate mechanized games, nothing makes sense. When you have mechanized-game folks trying to evaluate freeform, it looks like they haven’t actually submitted any work.

    The hybrid board/card/rpg/story designs I personally find super interesting, mostly insofar as they defy everyone’s categories so therefore must be evaluated on their own merits. Of course that can also mean that nobody can or will provide useful feedback.

  12. Game Chef feedback has been a colossal waste of time since the first year that judges were replaced by peer feedback. I once had someone suppose that I’m not a native English speaker. This coming from a person whose grammar obviously indicated that they were from Bangalore or some such.

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