Thoughts on the “Al Gore” award

In order to qualify for the Game Chef “Albert Arnold Gore Jr. Award for Invention in Contemporary Game Design” you need to “Design your game to be played over the internet or cell phones.” In my opinion, that could be read as playable over the internet, not only playable, so I think I would qualify if I created my own custom virtual tabletop to play my game.

I’ve been teaching myself the Python programming language over the past several weeks, and been dabbling with the PyGame cross-platform graphical framework. And it looks like there’s a cross-platfrom python wrapper for the Skype api, too. I think those are all the necessary components for creating a nice virtual tabletop, aside from skill and effort on my part. Lately I’ve been itching to work on a new coding project, so I might take a stab at this.

As a sort of coincidence, the video-game oriented “Indie Game Challenge” is taking submissions until 10/31/09 with a potential prize of $100,000. While they obviously intend for more traditional video games to be entered, I don’t see anything that would prevent me from entering a virtual tabletop with the gameplay of my game programmed into it. According to their rules, they’ll be judging based on:

Judging: Entered Games will be judged according to the criteria (“Judging Criteria”) set forth below by a panel of judges, consisting of members of AIAS, representatives of the Guildhall, and members of GameStop’s executive team, considering the following overall criteria: (1) Originality – uniqueness of concept; (2) Creativity – implementation and innovation in mechanics; and (3) Playability – ease of use, fun factor and re-playability. Application of the Judging Criteria to Entries shall be at the sole discretion. The judges’ decisions are final and binding in all matters relating to this Contest.

A collaborative story-creating kind of game would probably score high on all three of those criteria if the judges were open-minded. Unfortunately, there’s an entry fee of $100 unless you live in Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, North Dakota, or Vermont, so I probably won’t do it since the odds of winning with such a nontraditional entry would be low. It would probably be rough to get something polished by the end of October, anyway.

However, I still might try to whip something basic up within the 2 week or 1 month Game Chef deadline, assuming I complete the basic design of my game within the 1 week deadline. The ability to play virtually would probably be a requirement for me to get any playtesting done anyway, since the only gaming I’m doing right now is over Skype.

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2 Responses to “Thoughts on the “Al Gore” award”

  1. I definitely see your own build of a shared desktop for the game to be played on as fitting the theme of the Al Gore award… but in the end the decision if it fits or not is up to you. I think it would be really to see though, so I will be keeping an eye on if this happens.

  2. Hans Otterson Says:

    I can see how what you’ve got so far is well-suited to online play. The oracles could be generated in a snap. Entering two contests at once, for different-format games, at the same time with the same game? That would be EPIC!

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