Who would you like to see as a Judge for this year's 200 Word Challenge?


Hello everyone! My name is David Schirduan, one of the organizers for the annual 200 Word RPG Challenge.

This year we’re planning to launch the challenge in October. More details will be posted later in the year, but right now we’re searching for Judges.

Who would you like to see on this year’s panel of judges?

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

  • Marginalized members of the gaming community.
  • People who run lots of games (ie not just game designers).


Writers and artists who are not gamers


Players. People who actually run and play lots of games.


Great suggestions! We’re definitely focused on marginalized people.

@Jmstar We’ve had a few in the past, and I’d love to continue that trend for sure.

@shanel @jasoncordova Do you have any specific people in mind? Any Gauntleteers who run a lot of games who might be interested?


An interesting approach would be reaching out to some popular twitch streamers. Here are some benefits of doing this:

  • they have a lot of gaming experience
  • they will want to play the best games on their streams, thereby generating exposure for designers
  • it’s a way of bringing the D&D-dominated twitch world closer to including more indie games


Someone who isn’t based in US /comes from a different part of gaming culture than “the indie rpg game” scene.


After some thought, my answer is: No one.

I’ve participated (and won) the challenge in previous years. But the competition aspect of the challenge was always a negative aspect for me.

(I realize that there are plenty of other people for whom the competition part is a good motivator. I don’t know whether removing competition would help or hurt the Challenge as a whole. I can only speak to my own personal experience.)


@Nickwedig do you think there might be less of that pressure if there weren’t just generic “winners” but that the games were judged by multiple criteria and there were “winners” in those different groups like happens with the Golden Cobras ? (Maybe @Jmstar has thoughts?)


The Golden Cobras have several very specific agendas, which isn’t something I get from the 200 Word RPG contest. I wish it did!

In the case of the Golden Cobras, each year we identify a “problem” - some space we’d like to see more games address, usually a play constraint like “we need more games that are easy to play in public” - and set up award categories to encourage games that approach it, interrogate it, solve it. And there are always a few more general categories, and we usually end up adding one based on the zeitgeist of the submissions. It’s also important that the award isn’t emphasized too much, and the whole thing remains very low pressure.

I’d love to see this sort of focus with the 200 Word RPGs, which feel all over the map and don’t really have anything to say in conversation with one another or the broader world.


@shanel It’s a good idea, and one we hope to implement this year with Judge Spotlights. Each judge will give a special award to an entry of their choice. This is unrelated to the three winners. Judges can name and formulate their special awards however they choose.

I also agree that the “winners” are not the “best” entries. The prizes and judges are there to incentivize participation and convince new people to give game design a try.

In fact this year we’re going to attempt to provide feedback to as many entrants as we can. It’s a struggle due to the vast number of entries we have every year, but we’re hoping that feedback will prove more valuable than the prizes/winners were. An even better incentive to participate!

@Jmstar It’s definitely something we’ve been lacking. This year we brought on Jacqueline Bryk to help us get our act together, especially with regards to representation and community management. We hope to use judges/readers/prizes as a way to feature and promote marginalized groups and the incredible content coming from those peoples.

As for constraints/themes that has by far been one of the biggest suggestions. However I think 200 Word has a comfortable niche as the “entry challenge”. That’s why games are short and sweet; low barrier to entry. I worry any kind of constraint or theme would only discourage people from participating. “Our goal is to encourage as many people as possible to make a complete role-playing game from start to finish.” So far we’ve managed to have about 25% of participants mention that this was the first game they ever wrote. That’s a huge indicator of success for us.

Thanks to Itch.io’s recent emphasis on game jams and their robust tools, 200 Word is even more important than ever as a vehicle for drawing people into the hobby. I see new game jams every few weeks, and it’s SO GOOD!

BTW You do a fantastic job with the Gold Cobra @Jmstar Thanks for speaking up with your ideas. I love hearing perspectives outside my own head-space.


Any twitch streamers in particular who come to mind? I don’t watch many streams/lets plays/


How do you determine what “problems” you’d like to feature?

And have you ever had a “dead” category that was under-represented?

The one time we tried categories in the 2016 challenge the new category was much smaller than the main “game” category.


We do occasionally have misses, or categories that are too difficult/conceptual/hard to manage, and those get few games. In 2018 we asked for games that scaled from 2-20, and that proved to be really hard to engineer and was, for the most part, a failure. But we really do need large, flexible freeform larps so it was worth trying. One year one of the optional ingredients was dinosaurs, and that was also a failure, because every game was about actual dinosaurs.

The organizers of the GC all play a lot of games in a lot of different environments, so we put our heads together and think about both things that have tripped us up and things that seem missing. We also think a little bit about trajectory and starting conversations that will be beneficial to the community down the road. But there’s no science to it. Also, since like 200 Word the GC’s are a gateway to design for a lot of people, so we try to keep that in mind.


@David_Schirduan in case it isn’t clear I love the 200 Word RPG contest and think it is great! That it is such a liberating gateway to game design for so many people is reason enough to sing its praises.


Thanks Jason, I’ll be sure to share your kind words with the other organizers.

I started this thread because I want suggestions for improvements. No negativity detected here. I’m excited to improve things this year!


Ditto for Golden Cobra! I love the intentionality of its design and am always impressed by its seamless execution, effectiveness, and impact. Golden Cobra always does what it does so well!


The HappyJacksRPG twitch channel is a fairly diverse bunch and they’re more likely than a lot of other channels to play indie games.


Adjacent to the actual question, but I still think the competition needs a theme or some other seed to make it easier to compare the games to each other.


You should get Tylom!