Ben Hesketh

Fingersmiths by co-designers Dennis Ku and Daniel Rocchi was declared winner of the 8th annual Canadian Game Design Award (CGDA) at FallCon 2017 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Finalists for the 2017 award included:

  • The Builders of Babel by Fabien Haond
  • Like a Boss By Adam Wyse
  • Fingersmiths by Dennis Ku and Daniel Rocchi

The CGDA was created to promote, showcase and foster Canadian talent in game design

The Road to the Canadian Game Design Award

The road to the CGDA award is a long one. By the end of May designers must send a complete ruleset and a short video with an overview, rules summary and pitch for the game. A team of volunteers judges across the country read through the rules and watch the videos, scoring submissions on Presentation, Theme, Mechanics, Rules, and Overall Appreciation.

Finalists submit prototypes which are sent to teams of judges in at least three cities in Canada who play the games and score again on those same criteria of Presentation, Theme, Mechanics, Rules, and Overall Appreciation. The criteria is described as follows:

  • Presentation: We don’t expect a final product in terms of graphic design. Aim for functionality. In other words, does the presentation functionally impede or facilitate game play?
  • Theme: Is the theme original/interesting? Does the theme come through in the rules and game play? Do the mechanics match the theme?
  • Mechanics: Mechanics will be evaluated based on novelty, game-driven arc, interesting decision points, efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Rules: Rules must be clear, unambiguous, easy to comprehend. Are the Setup, Player Turn and Scoring Descriptions clearly identified? Are the rules well organized? Are there sufficient examples and diagrams?Treat your ruleset as you would your resume. Using this analogy, you need a good resume (rules) to get a job interview (a request for prototype playtesting).
  • Overall Appreciation: General impression of cohesive whole. Judges will be tasked with answering the following questions: Does the game “work”? Is the game exciting/fun to play? Does this game make you want to play it again and again? Would you buy this game? How does this game rank compared to other entries?

Final scores in these categories are compiled and the winner is announced each year at FallCon.

The History of the Canadian Game Design Award
The FallCon Gaming Society and The Canadian Warmers Group had been supporting the gaming hobby in Canada since 1985 when Back to the Future ruled the big screen and the Nintendo Entertainment System finally was released in North America). In 2010 the Society and Group took a further step in supporting the hobby by launching the cross-country design award challenge.

Past Award Winners
This is the CGDA’s 8th year. Past winners include:
  • 2010: Roberta Taylor – Octopus’ Garden
  • 2011: Matt Tolman – Undermining
  • 2012: Paul Saxberg – Coven
  • 2013: Joseph McDaid – Windfall: Gateways
  • 2014: Gavan Brown & Matt Tolman: Super Motherload
  • 2015: Ben Hesketh & Graham Davis: Video Game Studio
  • 2016: Sebastien Bernier-Wong & Peter Gorniak: Sloops!

Other finalists have included Steampunk Rally (runner up in 2014) and Quarantine (finalist in 2013). Winners have been picked up by publishers including Z-Man Games, 8th Summit, Valley Games and Roxley Games.

Winners of the Canadian Game Design Awards have not included Curling or Crokinole, which seem like real oversights. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving anyway!