The initial reviewing process for Game Chef 2011 starts around July 25th, with reviews and recommendations due by July 30.
Which Games Should I Review?
Chefs are semi-randomly assigned four games to review as follows.
- Take your entry number (based on the order your game was submitted) and add +1, +3, +6, and +10. This will give you the numbers of the games you are supposed to review.
- For example, if your game is number 23, you would review games number 24 (+1), 26 (+3), 29 (+6), and 33 (+10).
- The numbers will ultimately wrap around, so the final dozen chefs to submit will be reviewing some of the games submitted earliest, but that will be all spelled out.
- To avoid any confusion, I have added the games to be reviewed and the numbers of their reviewers in the comments below. Make sure the games you are reviewing have your number or name next to them.
- If you end up being assigned a close friend’s game to review, please try to arrange a swap with another chef, trading review assignments with them. This is both to avoid bias and just because — come on! — you’re gonna read your friend’s game anyway, right? Get to know some new people!
How Should I Review My Assigned Games?
I’ve reviewed a LOT of contest games over the years (more than 100, certainly) and, while I haven’t always done an equally great job on every review, these are the principles I try to more-or-less stick to, which I think have served me well and are among the most helpful things for designers to hear.
- Try to avoid reading other reviewers’ comments on the game before reading it yourself. Be your own reviewer!
- Read the games in a cooperative spirit, not like a harsh English teacher looking for flaws, but as someone who’s potential interested in playing the game with their friends. If you can, print the games out and take notes on the print-outs as you go, so you’ll have a record of your initial reactions to specific passages.
- When you’re ready to write a paragraph or two of feedback, start off by mentioning what you like about the game, what excites you, what the designer has done well. In addition to what you would normally look for in a game, consider how well the theme and ingredients were incorporated, how much the designer was able to accomplish with a limited wordcount, and how brave the designer has been in attempting new or difficult things.
- Then, talk about the parts of the game that you don’t think are clear, that you don’t fully understand, or that you feel uncertain about. Think more about how you would present this game to your friends or organize a session of play to try the game out. Do you have the information and instructions you need to do that? What clarifications or additional tools might you need? Try to ask questions or admit your own confusion instead of criticizing: “I felt unsure about the part where…” or “What did you intend this part to do?”
- End with a few positive thoughts about the game as a whole and how it could move forward to be even better or more “finished” (whatever that means). Is it ready to be tried out? Does it just need a couple things before it’s ready to hit the table? What’s the minimum amount of work that the designer needs to do to get it to the next level? Don’t list a bunch of things or talk too abstractly. Suggest one or two concrete steps or improvements.
Where Should I Post My Thoughts?
Post your reviews as replies to the comments below. That way I can tell when all four reviews for each game have been completed.
If your review is more than a couple paragraphs — or if you want to post your review elsewhere or send your comments privately to the designer — please just post a link to your review (on your blog, on a forum, etc.) or a short comment telling me that you’ve sent your comments to the designer.
How Should I Pick One to Recommend?
Please do not indicate in your reviews which game you are recommending as a potential winner! Honestly, the business of winning — which I mostly view as a necessary evil — should not get in the way of providing helpful feedback and support to your fellow chefs.
Instead, please fill out the form below to submit your recommendation, picking 1 of the 4 games you reviewed to be a potential winner of Game Chef 2011.
When picking an overall winner, consider:
- Are you excited to play this game, right now?
- Do you feel able to play this game, right now?
- How well did the designer use the theme and ingredients?
- How brave was the designer in attempting this game?
Your selection will be anonymous unless you decide to announce it. Additionally I’m not planning on announcing the number of votes each game receives, since I suspect that would be a distraction from the more specific comments each game accrued in the reviewing process and simply appreciating everything the participating chefs have accomplished.
What If I Can’t Finish by July 30th?
Please let us know as soon as possible, since there are a number of former Game Chef participants and friends of Game Chef who’d be happy to step in and help out with reviewing. There’s no harm and no foul here, since we know lives are busy and getting things done in the middle of a work week can be difficult. If you already know, looking at it, that you might not be able to get your reviews done, passing it on to another eager reviewer is the responsible choice.
Honestly, I don’t really see any reason to disqualify people for opting out of reviewing. It’s your loss, really, since reviewing is a great opportunity to build connections with people, but sometimes things happen and we won’t hold that against you or your game.
That’s it and thanks for helping me out! Reviewing all 59 games last year was fantastic but exhausting and way too time-consuming.