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Judging a Global Game Jam

In Gamasutra's new feature, Ernest Adams discusses what he learned from judging recent Global Game Jam entrants in the Netherlands and posits a set of criteria for judging.
In Gamasutra's new feature, Ernest Adams discusses what he learned from judging recent Global Game Jam entrants in the Netherlands and posits a set of criteria for judging. Adams, who has long worked as a designer, was surprised at the diversity of opinion in the judging panel for the Global Game Jam in Leeuwarden. "The tricky part was figuring out who should win. All the judges had distinctly different preferences," writes Adams. "Reviewing the video games, even though I'm a designer, I gave more weight to completeness than to design innovation," he writes. "Our artist judge was more concerned about design innovation than he was about artistic quality, which surprised me. Our audio engineer judge rated one game strongest that I rated weakest." "It seems to me that game judges have four major areas for discussion: programming, graphics, sound, and gameplay. You can judge each of these on three metrics: innovation, quality, and completeness. You might also consider a fourth, size, but in the context of a game jam I don't think there's much point. "Other things being equal, a bigger game requires more work and deserves more kudos than a smaller one, but other things never really are equal, and it would be a shame for participants to sacrifice anything else just for size," writes Adams. However, there's still some debate to be had, Adams admits. "I discussed this with some colleagues on Google+, and several felt that, at a game jam, innovation is by far the most important factor and completeness shouldn't come into it much. Another thought that game jams are effectively rapid prototyping, and the result should be judged like a prototype, for its ability to give a feel of the real product." The full feature, in which Adams proposes his detailed judging criteria and he discusses the entrants to his jam, is live now on Gamasutra.

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