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Annual Game Design Showdown

Annual GDS Overview

The Annual "Game Design Showdown" is a tabletop game design contest that takes place over the course of the year, typically starting in July and ending with an announced winner in November. The contest is run within the forums here at, and makes use of external service providers such as The Game Crafter and Tabletop Generation..

The Annual GDS has two primary purposes:

  1. Challenge designers to create a game within design restrictions. To help them sharpen their skills, whether it is gameplay design, rules writing, theme application, or generally producing a game publishers might be interested in.
  2. Provide a structure for aspiring designers to complete a design. It's hard to get a game ready for a publisher, so the GDS will provide a framework for designers that will hopefully provoke them, scaffold the design process, and end with completed designs in an online portfolio ready to link out to publishers.


The Annual GDS consists of monthly challenges and submissions. Each Monthly submission to the GDS leads up to the Annual GDS submission, and is aimed to inspire those participating. (the monthly submission is open to all, not just those participating in the Annual GDS) See the Monthly Submission process below for information on that.

Month GDS steps
January Announcement of new Annual GDS's target style. Eg. "party games for non-gamers, mid-weight euro game"
February Monthly GDS for inspiration
March Monthly GDS for inspiration
April Monthly GDS for inspiration
May Monthly GDS for inspiration
June Monthly GDS for inspiration
July Begin Annual GDS game construction. Choose one of your GDS entries from previous 6 months to develop. Pitch your game again, this time using images! Each following month the submission will be a portion of a whole development.
August Describe an example round of play. Write clearly and concisely, while evoking a good sense of the game flow.
September Write a full draft of the rules with downloadable link to draft. Store your Work-In-Progress (WIP) project on Round-robin style commentary by entrants.
October Create a sell sheet for the game aimed at publishers. Store it with your WIP project on
November Create public facing portfolio page for your Work-in-Progress project on Tabletopgeneration. Submit this as final entry into the Annual GDS. Voters will act as "publishers" that you want to produce your game.
December Winner announced (prizes may vary)

Participants are encouraged keep a [game journal]( on BGDF for their running title, adding to it each month based on the current challenge.

Annual contest rules

  • The end of year (November) submission is open to registered users that have completed submissions for every month from July onwards.
  • Each participant may only submit a single entry to a challenge. (Note: Two or more people can be listed as "co-designer" on a single entry. However, none of those people can then be listed as designer or co-designer on any other entries submitted to that same challenge.)

Monthly Submission Rules

Rules (unless otherwise stated in the challenge post) will be as follows:

  • Each new challenge will be posted in a sticky thread at the top of the forum with a title that indicates the month and the submission challenge title ... for example: "Game Design Showdown March 2005 Challenge - Dogs at the Park"
  • The challenge begins as soon as the sticky thread has been posted ... it will remain open for approximately 14 days
  • Only registered users will be allowed to participate (as they need to be registered to post)
  • Only entries submitted as comments to the challenge thread are valid. Particpants must follow the rules of that challenge (eg. Most submissions are text only, and limted to 500 words.
  • The spirit of this competition is to use original designs made specifically for the contest. This can't be policed directly, but if your entry is a game already posted publicly it may be disqualified.
  • Participants are allowed to re-submit an updated version of their entry up until the deadline ... the last submitted version of an entry at the time the challenge is completed will be the one that is provided for voting. This is done by editing your comment on the BGDF thread.
  • The monthly submission window will end after approximately 14 days (or as the administrator will indicate) ... no new entries will be accepted after that point ... the voting will be started shortly thereafter
  • The start of voting will be announced within the challenge thread ... the final post in the thread will announce "Voting is Open", and voting will begin and will remain open for approximately 7 days
  • VOTING: Each forum user who wishes to (whether or not he/she has submitted an entry to the challenge) may vote by following the directions in the challenge thread.
  • The voting will end after approximately 7 days. The entry receiving the most votes will be declared the winner.

Other Things to Keep in Mind

  • Unless otherwise stated in the challenge, the entries do not need to be "fully completed and tested" rule sets ... there should be enough of a description, rules, examples, etc., to give other readers a good "feel" for the game ... the extent to which an author wishes to go is up to him -- it will be the voting of the readers that will decide the winner
  • Voting criteria is as subjective as it gets ... each voter is asked to vote for the "best entry" in his/her eyes -- however he/she wishes to determine that
  • Keeping that in mind ... be original, be clear, be creative, be entertaining ... this is, essentially, a popularity contest where your ideas, written in words, will be what makes you popular (or not)

Formatting Your Submission

    If you plan to submit an entry to a GDS Challenge, the following is recommended:
  • Use your favorite text editor to write/edit/save your entry completely before submitting it.

Any questions or comments regarding the "Game Design Showdown" should be posted in the Game Design Showdown Forum or submitted as a private message to richdurham.

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