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Canadian Game Design Award 2016

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Canadian Game Design of the Year

by Aaron Sebastian

With FallCon right around the corner, everyone is looking forward to all the games, old and new friends, the auction, flea market and the many many many other things happening over the weekend. On Saturday evening, amidst the auction and the festivities, designers and gamers alike will find out who will win the crown of the Canadian Game Design of the Year Award.

The award, referred to by most as the CGDA, is in its seventh year of existance. The CGDA has helped launch previous winners to success: Roberta Taylor’s Octopus Garden (2010), Undermining by Matt Tolman (2011), Paul Saxberg’s Coven (2012), and Super Motherload by Gavan Brown and Matt Tolman (2014). It has also had several finalists go on to be published like Orin Bishop’s Steampunk Rally (Runner up 2014) and Mark Klassen’s Quarantine (Finalist 2013).
The CGDA was created to promote, showcase and foster Canadian talent in game design. The idea came from Brent Lloyd and Jasen Robilliard, two longstanding founders of FallCon.
“The original kernel of an idea grew from a couple conversations I had with Jasen.” Brent Lloyd said, “The inspiration came from a combination of desire on the part of FallCon to help Canadian Game Designers and a question ‘Should FallCon do a game award?'”
The original judging process was a rules submission by the designers. Each submission was judged by a team of volunteers who would read through them and grade them on 5 criteria: Presentation, Theme, Mechanics, Rules, and Overall Appreciation. Judges have always been encouraged to give feedback on different aspects, both good and bad, in order to help improve the designs and help the designers.
From the original submissions, the semifinalists would submit a prototype which would be sent around to a set of judges for solo play testing and graded using the same criteria. From those semi-finalists, a final 3-4 games would be chosen and judged by a panel including some FallCon executives. From that, the CGDA winner would be chosen.
In 2014, in an attempt to ease the judging burden, the semifinal section of the CGDA judging was removed. “With the growth came some issues with evaluating all the games and it was burning out the judges.” Also, a 5 minute video introduction was added to the initial judging phase. “The introduction of the video format has changed the CGDA for the better,” Brent goes on,”Without that change the award would not likely exist anymore.”
Since its inception, the CGDA has had 145 entries with only a couple of repeat game entrants. This year had 24 entries narrowed down to three finalists:
Lepre-Contractors by Adam Wyse
Palooka Precinct by Glen Dresser
Sloops! by Peter Gorniak and Sebastien Bernier-Wong
The winner will be announced during the Auction on Saturday night but the prototype pavilion will be home to CGDA contestants, finalists, and other budding game designers eager to show off, playtest and get feedback on their games from gamers of all walks.