FAQ

What are the contest dates again?

5 September - 5 October 2016. We'll throw out any games submitted after 5 October (by the most liberal time zone interpretation of that date). The winners will be announced at Metatopia in November.

What do you mean by "Be a new, unpublished freeform larp"?

Original and unpublished. If you are recycling old ideas that's fine, but don't submit anything you've previously submitted to another contest, and don't submit anything you wrote previously and stuffed in a drawer, and don't submit anything you've already published in any form. Let your conscience guide you when it comes to what "new" means, but "unpublished" means you have never released it in any form, for free or for profit, in print or electronically, until now. If you have never published your game, but have been running it on the convention circuit for awhile, please consider submitting something else.

What do you mean by "Games should be playable with zero to minimal prep"?

The players of the game should be able to grab the print out and play, with no preparation beforehand required (or very little at least). And above and beyond that, we're looking for set-up that is simple and easy, and few additional props or tools needed beyond paper and pencil.

What do you mean by "Consisting of one or both sides of an 8 1/2 by 11 or A4 sheet of paper (Minimum point size accepted is 8)?"

We're looking for games that are concise and elegant. The directions for play need to fit on two sides of a sheet of paper--and be readable (hence the minimum font size). Allow for printing margin as well. All cards, prompts or other parts of the game need to be included in that area. However, what those direction ask you to do need not be simple or short. We'd love to see long campaign-style games come from this, as well as brief, punchy games.

What is "culturally responsible game design?"

Paying attention to and being specific about the details of culture, setting and identity used to create a role playing game. Making careful and conscious choices about what is included and reflecting on what it communicates. Thinking about who these elements may include or exclude in representation and play, and seeking to make well-thought out inclusive choices. Examining our sources of research closely, digging deeper, engaging with people for whom these things are parts of their lives and identies.

An approach to design coined by Gabriel de los Angeles. For further discussion, see his talk "Culturally Responsible Game Design."

What does "somatic" mean?

It means "of the body." We're looking for games with physicality, that build upon the fact that we are moving about playing these games. Touch is not required, but may be included. Take into account issues of physical safety!

What does "magical realism" mean?

Stories set in normal, contemporary society but that include spontaneous events or fantastic beings that can't be explained. Some examples include the films L.A. Story or Like Water for Chocolate. The works of Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges are quintessential magical realism.

This label is applied to a broad variety of works today, but the roots of the genre are in post-colonial fiction, possibly as a response to making sense of diverging interpretations of the world. Think about what that might mean in a role playing game.

Do you really want us to be funny?

Yes! Write games that make yourself and others laugh. Lighten the mood. And also, don't be afraid to tackle serious topics. Serious games are often expected to be downers or depressing. Up-end expectations. And also, don't be afraid to tackle light, frothy topics. Write games that make you feel good after you play.

Is there a prize for winning?

You mean like an electroplated Ferrari or a dice bag made out of unicorn leather? No. But even entering the contest means you have a cool game under your belt, and this impressive and honorable accomplishment grants you entry into the mysterious Circle of Power. We will try to run some of the games at Metatopia 2016.

Can you define "Freeform"?

Not really, we're trying to be inclusive in our definition. We're asking for freeform larp again this year since this has become a looked-to venue for writing such games. The games may include elements of other styles of play (tabletop rpg, online, pervasive, etc.), but must have live play in them.


Freeform is used to describe many kinds of games from indie tabletop, to larp in the UK, to scenarios in Denmark, a wide variety of games in the Americas, Sweden and beyond. Freeform has been used to describe tabletop, full live action play and more.

Here's some further discussion that gets at what we're looking for:

Sara Williamson: " I wrote a game called Shelter that I think fits into the freeform category; it involves touching the other person you're playing with and things like keeping your eyes closed, so to me this feels a bit larpy even though it can be played entirely while seated (or while cuddling or while making out). But it has some tabletop elements, too: you might say things like "And then my character picks up the stone tablet, and a look of horror crosses their face" instead of in a larp where you might pick up a prop and convey the look of horror yourself."

Mikael Andersson: "I kind of feel like nailing down what freeform is and isn't is needlessly narrowing its potential scope. It's a form that's free, after all. I think the rules presented on Oct 1st will give some submission criteria, which might help a bit. At its core, I think of freeform as just "the absence of [traditional] structure". There's a structure, of course, and there may even be mechanics... but it's often not based on using tokens of randomization and currency to determine and manipulate outcomes. The player's goals are frequently not aligned with their character's goals. There may not be a 1:1 player:character map, nor character ownership. There may or may not be a game master, and that person may or may not take on a traditional game master role. There are rarely any numbers or number crunching involved in play. But the more I talk the more I realize I'm assigning shape to something elusive by design, so I'll stop now."

How do I contact you?

Back to the contest page please!

OK!