' Golden Cobra Challenge


What are the contest dates again?

Contest launches on Tuesday, 6 September 2022 and runs through Monday, 3 October 2022 11:59PM PST (Pacific Standard Time). We’ll ignore any games submitted after 3 October 2022. The winners will be announced on 4 November 2022.

How do I submit a game entry?

Fill out the Golden Cobra Entry Submission Form and email your game to submissions@goldencobra.org.

What do you mean by "Be a new, unpublished freeform larp"?

Original and unpublished.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 Let your conscience guide you when it comes to what "new" means, but "unpublished" means you have never released it in any form, for free or for profit, in print or electronically, until now.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. Our goal is to inspire people with our constraints, ingredients and awards to rapidly generate a new thing!

What do you mean by “The game must be safely playable in pandemic conditions (online, epistolary, solo, etc.). No multiplayer in-person games will be accepted regardless of distance or barriers involved? Games optimized for Web chat, streaming, Discord or Slack, epistolary games, solo games, or weirder formats are all welcome. If your entry is also playable in person, that’s icing on the cobra cake.”

Golden Cobra was started to spark design that would create more games that fit common conditions of play (eg playing in a hallway at a convention). Today we’re all involved in worldwide pandemic measures that vary from country to country (and in some places state to state/province to province, or town to town!) So we’re asking for games that are playable under social isolation conditions to give us ways to connect in pandemic resilient ways.

What do you mean by "Judges will read the first four pages of your submission (four total sides of 8.5x11 or A4 paper)"? And “If your game comes in a form that doesn't involve pages, we will engage with it for at least fifteen minutes?”

Our suggestion is to use the first four pages to explain your game so well that it is playable, and use additional pages for non-essential elements. For entries that are not in pdf format we’ll spend roughly the amount of time perusing the entry as it would take to read 4 pages of text.

Your submission can be as big as it needs to be, with whatever it needs - character sheets, printable cards, etc. Just choose the first four pages wisely, because those are what the judges will look at and what you will be judged on. If the game makes no sense after reading just four pages but is otherwise brilliant, congratulations! You’ve made a great game - but it isn’t going to fare well in this challenge. Also remember: Everyone loves the insight that comes from designer’s notes!

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 the impressive and honorable accomplishment of submitting grants you entry into the mysterious Circle of Power. We will try to run some of the games at Metatopia.

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 [the year this was written] 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!