Design Contest

The Board Game Workshop Design Contest

Judge Round Two Here

2020 Design Contest Submissions

Become a Judge

2020 Judges

Black Lives Matter

The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Walter Scott, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, and thousands of others caused by police brutality, systemic racism and white supremacy, are horrific and inexcusable.

The Board Game Workshop stands with protesters.
No Justice. No Peace.

For each submission to this year’s design contest, The Board Game Workshop will donate $1 to Black Lives Matter (https://blacklivesmatter.com/).

With 97 submissions we rounded up and made a $100 donation to Black Lives Matter.


The Board Game Workshop Design Contest is an annual contest for analog games that focuses on giving feedback to designers. Over the past 2 years we have given over 3,000 feedback forms to over 100 designers. Every entry in the contest will receive feedback.

The contest is open to designers of all ages around the world. There are 3 rounds in the contest. For the first round you will submit a 2 minute pitch video focusing on the innovation of your game. What makes it new and unique?

The top 20 games from round 1 judged on innovation will move on to round 2. In round two, each game will be assigned a coach. The coach will have two online meetings with the designers to help them prepare their round 2 submission of full rules and a how-to-play video.

The top 5 games from round 2, judged on clarity, will move on to round 3 and submit a fully playable, physical prototype.

The 5 finalist games will be played and judged on elegance to determine a winner.

There is no prize for the contest beyond feedback.

Submission fee: $7

If the submission fee is a barrier to entry, email chris@theboardgameworkshop.com to have it waived.

Judging

Fill out this form to join the judge list.

Anyone who can give kind and critical feedback can be a judge for the contest. It is important to be critical so the games can improve. It's important to be kind because that's just a nice way to be, but also to help designers take the feedback in productive ways to improve their game.

I strive to make the judging process as simple as possible so that judges can enjoy learning about new designs and not be bogged down by the process.

As a judge you are only required to judge one game in any round. Many judges enjoy the process and judge a lot more than one, but every single feedback form is important and helps a game improve.

Judging in each round is slightly different in the information you receive about games, but the judge form is always the same. After you watch and read the materials, you will fill out a form rating the game from 1-11 in that round's focus and give some written feedback. The feedback only needs to be a few sentences, but you can write as much as you like. You can include your contact info if you would be interested in following up with the designer, or you can remain anonymous.

Round one is the easiest to judge but has the most games. Judges have access to the full list of games with a short description of each. Choose a game that interests you, watch its 2-minute pitch video, then fill out a form. It takes about 5 minutes to judge a game in round one and that is when most judges help with the contest.

Round two cuts down to 20 games. Each game submits full rules and a how-to-play video up to 15 minutes long. Just like round one, judges have access to the full list of games and descriptions to choose what to view. Choose a game that interests you, watch its video and read its rules, then fill out a form. Round two judging takes longer for each game depending on the rules and video. With more information judges usually give more in depth feedback as well.

Round three cuts down to the top 5 games. Designers send physical prototypes in for round three judging. It takes place in person in Massachusetts in October. I try to set up a few different days in different locations so we can get as many judges as possible to play the games. You are not required to attend round three judging, but it is a great time if you can make it. We have food and play the games. We get a chance to discuss them and try them at different player counts, then we fill out judge forms.

This year I've changed the rules to allow designers who enter games to also be judges. Judges aren't allowed to judge games they've worked on and are expected to judge all games fairly. Games are not compared to each other in the contest, but rather to the ideal. So in round one you aren't comparing the innovation of two entries, but rating them on how close they each are to complete and perfect innovation. If any feedback seems to be inauthentic, it will be removed.

The Board Game Workshop reserves the right to remove any judge and their feedback for any reason.

Schedule (dates subject to change, all deadlines are End of Day AoE)

  • June 12, 2020 - Round 1 Submissions Due
  • 3 weeks of judging round 1
  • July 3, 2020 - Round 1 Judging Ends
  • July 6, 2020 - Round 1 Results
  • July 6-10 - Coach Assignments
  • July 10, 2020 - Round 2 Coaching Begins
  • July 10, 2020 - Round 2 Design Begins
  • 4 weeks of design and coaching round 2
  • August 7, 2020 - Round 2 Coaching Ends
  • August 7, 2020 - Round 2 Submissions Due
  • August 9, 2020 - Round 2 Judging Begins
  • 2 weeks of judging round 2
  • August 23, 2020 - Round 2 Judging Ends
  • August 24, 2020 - Round 2 Results
  • 5 weeks of design for round 3
  • September 25, 2020 - Round 3 Submissions Postmarked
  • 5 weeks of judging round 3
  • October 30, 2020 - Round 3 Judging Ends
  • November 2, 2020 - Round 3 Results

Submit a game to the 2020 design contest

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible, your design must meet all of the following criteria:

  • It must be an analog board game, card game, dice game, or dexterity game.
  • It must be your own intellectual property.
  • It must not be available for sale, preorder, or crowdfunding while it is in the contest.
  • It must not have been available for retail sale,  or preorder prior to the contest. This does not include print on demand or print and play versions.
  • It must not have been successfully crowd funded prior to the contest.
  • It must not be finished. This means you are willing to make changes to the design to improve it.
  • The Board Game Workshop reserves the right to remove any entry from the contest for any reason.

Additional Information

  • You retain all rights to your design.
  • You may enter multiple designs.
  • You may enter designs that you have entered in previous years.
  • Every eligible entry will receive feedback from the judges in round 1.
  • All submitted videos and documents must be in english.
  • Your design will be shared publicly by The Board Game Workshop.
  • There is no age limit for entering the contest. If you are a minor, please get permission from a guardian before entering.
  • If you have any questions about the eligibility of your design or about the submission process, contact chris@theboardgameworkshop.com.

Submit a game to the 2020 design contest

Submission Materials

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

  • fully playable physical prototype
  • round 3 submission form
  • interview for the podcast (optional)

Use of Your Information

When you submit a game, sign up as a judge, or submit a judge form, you are sending that information to The Board Game Workshop. All information is handled behind the scenes by Chris Anderson and no one else. Much of the information is eventually shared in part or in whole. Listed below is how that information is used and who has access to it.

  • Your Email Address: Used for contest communication only. Not shared. Only Chris Anderson has access to this.
  • Judge Info: Your picture, name, title, description and social links are posted to the judge page. They are publicly viewable.
  • Game Submission: Designer names, game name, description, image, and video are posted to the submission page. This information will be shared publicly for judging.
  • Judging Form: The rating, written feedback, and optional contact info is shared with the designers of that game. Some information is shared publicly but not associated with the game or judge, such as total and average word count of feedback, average scores, amount of feedback forms.
  • Scores: The final score of each game (average of all judge scores), along with the game name and designers names, is shared publicly on the results page.

If you have any questions about the contest please contact me by one of the methods on the contact page.