New Challenge: Two Games One Name

I’ve had this idea kicking around for a while, and now seems as good a time as ever to pursue it.

Two Games One Name

The title of a game is extremely important in terms of setting tone for the game and the expectations of your potential audience. Not only is it identification of your work, it encapsulates it. Not to mention that a good title is good marketing.

I’m interested in seeing what happens when a game is inspired primarily by the title itself.


This contest is in four parts.

The first is simple: propose a name for a game. There will be a post on this blog where you can use the comments to do so, and also a post on the Story Games forum. Name proposals will be open for a week.

The second is the tap-in phase. Email me a list of the top 4 names for a game that inspire you. I will assemble a list of names, each with two designers attached to it. I will also post a list of the unused titles, which I think can still be useful to you (see below). Finally, each pair of designers will have a set of binary guidance choices that I will develop and assign to them. Between themselves, the designers work out which they will pick to include in their game.

For example, Jon and Shreyas are both assigned to “In Search of Glory.” I decide to give them the choices “Solo game or group game” and “Fortune-based resolution or drama-based resolution”. Maybe Jon wants to do a solo game with drama-based resolution (challenge!), so he emails Shreyas and they work it out.

The third: Write a game! Guided by the title and your pick of the guidelines, write a game. The guidelines are there to give some additional inspiration and force the two games into difference courses, but if they end up being not useful to you, you can still do well in the contest without using them. For extra credit, somehow include entries off of the “unused” list in your game in meaningful ways. There will be about a month for this. I give no guidance whatever to what “write a game” means. Just do it!

The fourth: Submit. There will be a submission process (email me a PDF, really). Send me your game by the deadline. I will read them all and give critical feedback. I will also be choosing winners! These are the categories that I’ll be judging in:

  • Best Game Overall – what blows me away the most and makes me excited to play
  • Best Extra Credit – what uses the unused titles in the most meaningful way
  • Best Pair – what two games of the same name would best be packaged together as a set
  • Best Outside The Box – which game surprises me the most
  • Best Presentation – yes, for better or for worse, I think appropriate presentation is important. Make it pretty!

I plan on not awarding a game more than one of these, by the way. If there are enough entries, there may be runners-up though.

There will be prizes – here is the current list:

(PDFs courtesy of myself and Two Scooters Press)

  • Annalise
  • The Dance and the Dawn
  • Mist Robed Gate
  • It’s Complicated
  • Murderland

(print games courtesy of myself, Dig 1000 Holes Publishing, Kevin Allen Jr Design and Red Moon Medicine Show)

  • carry. a game about war.
  • The Dance and the Dawn
  • Urchin
  • Time And Temp
  • 2 copies of Sweet Agatha, one for the winner of best “Outside the Box” and 1 for the game that is best suited for players who have no experience with RPGs.
  • Special Bonus Publication Prize: Any game that sees publication in print, for money, in a final non-playtest non-ashcan form will receive the entire TAO Games electronic catalog, as well as a physical copy of XXXXTreme STREET Luge, courtesy of Ben Lehman.

  • Special Bonus Art Prize: George Cotronis (aka northerain) will offer $200 worth of illustrations for the best horror/violent/dark-themed game. His portfolio:

Also, if I end up playing any of these I will of course give playtesting feedback.

I’m looking forwards to seeing what happens!

Published in: on October 4, 2009 at 3:39 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] a 5 session run of Don’t Rest Your Head tomorrow evening, and there’s Nathan’s Two Games One Name competition to bear in mind. I can see the schedule […]

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