2014 Judging Criteria & Competitor Prep

Thanks for entering the 2014 Game Challenge! Below is some additional information about our judging process, as well as a set of guidelines that our judging committee will adhere to when evaluating submissions and determining the 2014 winners. Please be sure to also read our full rules for entry here.

Competition/Judging Overview:

Participating teams will enter to win in three different levels (high school, college, or indie/professional) and in one of two categories (entertainment game or serious game). Winners will be named in 6 category prize groups, as well as one overall grand prize winner. In each category, judges are also able to nominate “honorable mentions” from the finalist pool.

Winners will receive prize packs of different levels that may include cash or gift cards, experiential prizes, certificates / trophies, additional post-event mentorship, PR support, and additional sponsorship prizes (see below).

The Game Challenge is intended to simulate the presentation of materials to a company or investors.  Teams will be judged on your overall pitch content, “Why should we help you?” and not solely on presentation skills.

Judging Criteria:

Each judge will rate participating teams/ games on a 1-to-5 scale in the following 5 main buckets.

1. Originality – Does this concept show uniqueness within its genre or does it create a new model/game mechanic? Value will be given to teams who identify their game’s inspiration (other games) and show how they’ve combined those elements into a new and interesting concept.

2. Business Model – Does the team have a good sense of the business model for the title? And, do they understand their core market / audience? Each team should be able to explain the core business model and which elements they expect to monetize, and how they will effectively reach their target market.

3. Art Style – How does the game’s overall art concept fit within the game and is it appealing to the target market? Value will be given to teams who have quality art concepts; however judges will not place weight on the level of completion or complexity of the art. Instead focus will be placed on art as an isolated element relating to the overall project.

4. Creativity – Each team should be able to explain the unique elements of their game and what is the core mechanic.

5. Presentation Skills – Each team should clearly articulate the main elements of their game.  Materials should be consistent and clear.  This is really about presentation polish, know what you are going to say, know who is going to say it and stick to the time limits.

Notes on Competition Levels

1. High School – at the skill level displayed by current high school students.  In general we would set the expectation for high school at showing a fundamental understanding of each of the areas that they are being judged on. We do not necessarily expect them to have mastered the topic. The winner of this category should be a team that you think will succeed in the industry based on their maturity and understanding.

2. College students-for college students we expect a clear and fundamental understanding of all four areas. The student should be able to articulate art style, business model and creativity clearly and their plans should make sense. The students are also expected to be able to quickly and solidly present the unique element of their project. The winner of this category should be a team that the judges expect will be able to form an indie company when they graduate. They may have some weaknesses but they are headed in the right direction.

3. Indie developers-these competitors are expected to have mastered all five areas they are being judged on. They should have a clear and viable plan on how this concept becomes a profitable title. The winner this category should be someone who will be launching a winning game in the next year.

Teams that have a majority of students or students and recent graduates without jobs in the industry can compete as College Teams.

 

Finally, the games are rated based on how well developed each category of judging is, i.e. a college team that has a clear business model at the level of an indie will be judged higher than a college team that meets all of the expectations and the judges sense of the overall impact of the game in the market.  As in all things more is more.

Team Prizes:

1 Category prize-winning team will be awarded our Grand Prize Pack, which includes:

  • $2,000!
  • Legal Services Package valued at TBD from TBD**
  • PR Package*
  • Customized Mentorship Package*
  • PAX East 2014 Mini-Session at “Made in MA: The State of Play” Booth*
  • Trophy
  • More TBD!

6 teams will be awarded Category Prize Packs (Indie Prototype/Near Release – Entertainment, Indie Concept – Entertainment, College Prototype/Near Release – Entertainment, College Concept – Entertainment, Indie & College Prototype/Near Release – Serious, Indie & College Concept – Serious) each of which includes:

  • $250!
  • PR Package*
  • Mentorship Package*
  • Trophy

Finalists and Runner’s up will also be named in each of our 6 categories with each team receiving certificates.

2 teams will be awarded High School Prize Packs each of which includes:

  • Studio Tour
  • Classroom Visit
  • Trophy
  • $100 game gift card

All college entries are eligible for MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program consideration, a $20,000 value***.

* No cash value. PR Package to include various promotional opportunities including inclusion on the MassDiGI website / social channels, inclusion in Game Challenge related press releases and ongoing PR support. Mentorship packages to potentially include local studio tours and arranged meetings with industry executives. Grand Prize winners must provide their own PAX East badge to participate in the mini-session at the “Made in MA: The State of Play” booth. 

** No cash value.  And, (a) TBD will need to do a conflicts check, and if there is a conflict TBD will not be able to represent (and therefore since there is no cash value, the prize will be forfeit) and (b) it covers legal fees only, not any third party disbursements.

*** No cash value. Expires, 8/15/14.

Summer Innovation Program:

The MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program provides teams of students with access to a lab, free room on campus, mentorship and a stipend for 11 weeks during the summer of 2014. College level entrants are eligible for this prize.

Judges will help to determine which projects are invited into the SIP during the competition. Students are expected to bring a project to market and judges will select games for this program based on which concepts can be reasonably completed in an 11-week time period.

What Can Teams Expect & Preparation Tips:

All teams will participate in judging Round 1, which will occur the morning of Saturday, March 8. During this first round teams are expected to present a 6-minute maximum pitch to each group of judges. MassDiGI will provide timeslot assignments to each team at registration.

Those teams that are selected will then participate in Round 2, which will consist of a maximum 8-minute pitch. Unlike the Round 1 pitches, which will take place at individual tables, the Round 2 presentations will be in front of the entire room. Your team will present to the whole judging committee and attendees! Teams will be expected to provide MassDiGI organizers with a PowerPoint file on Saturday to be loaded onto a master laptop (we will not be stopping to setup individual laptops for elevator pitches, like we did at last year’s event).

Some parting words…

  • This is a pitch competition, so PowerPoints are also encouraged for Round 1 judging and REQUIRED for Round 2 judging pitches. Creativity is a must, not just with your game, but with your presentation!
  • If you have a demo/playable to show, embed a video in your PPT to be safe. Judges may not have time to PLAY through your prototype.
  • Use your mentor meetings and what you learned during the Day 1 sessions to fine tune your pitch prior to Saturday!
  • Be enthusiastic about your idea, but smart about how you present it.
  • Practice your talking points BEFORE the Game Challenge even starts.
  • Show art, if you have it.
  • Be sure to explain why your game is great and why you think it would be successful in the marketplace.
  • Teams are expected to bring their own laptops, demo materials, audio speakers, etc.
  •  Subject to change.

Good luck!

 

 

  • What people are saying…

    This past summer was, without a doubt, the most productive, amazing, incredible, fun time I have had in my college life. I can’t thank MassDiGI enough for the experience it allowed me to have with the other incredible artists and programmers I was able to meet and work with. The staff and every mentor who stopped by helped us believe in ourselves and created a fantastic game dev environment for all of us. If there’s one thing I learned from this program, it’s that you won’t discover what you are capable of until you just go out and try your best at something.
    Renzo Heredia, Berklee College of Music '15 and SIP '14
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