I Have a Board Game Idea: Now What? Part 48: 5 Reasons Designers Should Consider Participating in Design Contests

Welcome back everyone and happy new year! I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas filled with family, friends, and board games!

Earlier this week, I received notification that the submission period for the 2019 Cardboard Edison Award was open. Also, at any given time there usually is at least one open contest on The Game Crafter and/or Board Game Geek. This got me wondering why people continually submit game designs to these contests? For this weeks post, I will look at five reasons designers might considering participating in one of these contests.

Reason 1: Increased exposure and publicity

There are a number of different ways that participating in a design contest can provide you and your design increased exposure and publicity. For starters, simply by submitting your game you are putting it in front of any number of organizers and judges some of which might not have heard of the game otherwise. The level of exposure increases exponentially if you are chosen as a finalist and again if you end up winning the contest.

Reason 2: Good design practice

Any contest that you enter will have guidelines and deadlines both of which might not be something you have had to consider while designing. Even if you don’t submit the final product, creating a design that would qualify can be a rewarding and invaluable experience.

Reason 3: Focused, higher quality feeback

Back in part 25, one of the reasons I cited for attending playtesting conventions was the quality of feedback you were likely to get due to the nature of the convention and the understanding that the whole purpose of the con was to playtest prototypes. The same could be said for the feedback you will receive from a design contest, but to an even higher degree as the judges of the contest are often veterans of the design and board game communities.

Reason 4: Build relationships and networking

Any opportunity to participate in the board game and design communities are an excellent chance to forge relationships, but participating in a design contest is even more so. By simply submitting a design, you have to opportunity to make contact with at least one, if not many more, judges. More than one contest winner has ended up being signed by a publisher, though winning isn’t a guarantee. Even if you don’t win your design could strike a cord in a judge and lead to further collaborations.

Reason 5: Free stuff and bragging rights

While it really shouldn’t be the primary reason for entering, most who enter a contest do so with the hope of winning. Most contests come with some nice prizes, including free games, money, store credit, and free publicity, but the bragging rights amongst your peers and other designers by winning can also be well worth the effort.

That pretty much sums up this week’s article. If you have participated in a design contest in the past, what reasons did you have for doing so? I would love to hear about your experiences. Until next time, happy designing.

8 thoughts on “I Have a Board Game Idea: Now What? Part 48: 5 Reasons Designers Should Consider Participating in Design Contests”

  1. Good stuff! These are actually a few of the reasons I created tabletopcalendar.com — even if you don’t submit something to one, you’ve still designed something which can be refined for a future game. I couldn’t tell you the number of times a mechanic from one game has ended up in another game…

    1. Raymond Northcott

      Thanks for your comment. I agree that anytime you are able to practice making a design is a good thing, and as you mentioned, could end up leading to the solution for a game down the road. I will have to check out your site.

  2. Yep. Those are the reasons. Dragon Phoenix Games has entered in a number of competitions for all of these reasons. Networking has turned out to be weakest result, but all of the other benefits listed have materialized.

    1. Raymond Northcott

      Thanks for your comment. I’m still a little on the fence about the Cardboard Edison Award, but all of these are indeed compelling.

  3. Good bit.
    I have been designing in a vacuum since I was a teen.
    I only recently took the leap to trying to get my designs into the world at large (and cannot defend my prior hesitance).
    I’ve been working toward submitting to the Cardboard Edison Award (was up late last night doing a first pass video assembly) and all the reasons you have here are entirely reasons I’m intent upon getting my hat in the ring.
    Winning, of course, would be amazing – but who am I kidding? It’s the adjacent benefits that are really fuelling my effort.

    1. Raymond Northcott

      Thanks for the comment Kennedy. I am still a little on the fence about whether or not I will submit to the Cardboard Edison as I would like to get my game onto Kickstarter sooner than June, but the other benefits may end up being worth it. Good luck with your submission!

  4. Great points, Raymond! I actually wish there were more game competitions. I realize there are at least one going on at any given time. I believe competitions really stretch us to design better, more engaging games. In fact, I think there needs to be even more rewards out there for all the aspects of board game content…including blogs, right? We got the Enies, but that is not just board games and card games. We need to strive for autonomy!

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