2017 Game Challenge Judging Criteria & Competitor Prep


Though each year is different, last year’s information may be helpful to you in gaining some insight into the competition.

Thanks for entering the 2016 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 2016 winners. Please be sure to also read our full rules for entry here.


Based on experiences from previous years and feedback from judges and competitors, we have changed from Concept and Prototype to Demo/Alpha and Beta/Near Release.

For the purposes of the Game Challenge:

  • Demo/Alpha – the game will have the basic game play mechanic shown and can have several game elements and art implemented.  You can show the mechanic in software other than what you intend to build the game in, for example: you plan to build the game in Unity but you did the demo in GameMaker to give the judges a sense of game play.
  • Beta/Near Release – if you game has almost all major systems in and is being tested regularly by others please select this category.

Competition/Judging Overview:

Participating teams will enter their Demo/Alpha or Beta/Near Release 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. Other prize categories may be added from time to time and will be communicated as appropriate.

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 prize page).

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, “What game will have the biggest impact?” 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 prizes as noted on the prize page.

6 teams will be awarded Category Prize Packs (Indie: Beta/Near Release – Entertainment, Indie: Demo/Alpha – Entertainment, College: Beta/Near Release – Entertainment, College: Demo/Alpha – Entertainment, Indie & College: Beta/Near Release – Serious, Indie & College: Demo/Alpha – Serious) each of which includes prizes as noted on the prize page.

Finalists and Runners up will be named in each of our 6 categories with each team receiving trophies.

2 teams will be awarded High School Prize Packs each of which includes prizes as noted on the prize page.

What Can Teams Expect & Preparation Tips:

All teams will participate in judging Round 1, which will occur the morning of Saturday, February 27. During this first round teams are expected to present a 8-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 5-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!



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