Announcing The Winners Of The Public Domain Game Jam!

from the like-it's-1923 dept

The votes are in, and it's time to announce the winners of the Gaming Like It's 1923 game jam!

At the beginning of January, we decided to celebrate the long-awaited entry of new works into the public domain with a game jam, inviting designers to submit games of all kinds based on newly-copyright-free works from 1923. We got way more entries than we expected, and handed them off to our huge judging panel of game designers and copyright experts, who left comments and nominated them in our six prize categories. Now we've tallied up the votes and reviews, so without further delay, here are the winners of Gaming Like It's 1923:

Best Analog Game — Permanence by Jackson Tegu

This award goes to the best overall non-computer game, with a clear consensus emerging from the judge's review scores. Permanence is perplexing at first glance, and requires some serious prep work, but sometimes that's the cost of a game this unique and creative. Using the format of a book that can be read in two directions, it weaves the painting Metempsychosis by Yokoyama Taikan and poetry from the book The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran into an artistic gaming experience that isn't quite like anything you've seen before.

Best Digital Game — Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to Steal Treasure by Alex Blechman

The award for best digital game goes to this short, sweet, simple, and above all entertaining take on Robert Frost's famous poem. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to Steal Treasure tasks you with jazzing up the verse by subbing in some new material to entertain a modern gaming audience. Give it a try, or two or three...

Best Adaptation — God of Vengeance by jrgoldb

This award goes to the game that most faithfully and meaningfully adapted its source material, carrying its original intent forth into a new medium. God of Vengeance, based on the 1923 Yiddish language play of the same name, is an analog storytelling game that puts players in the main roles from the play and provides an interesting mechanical framework for improvising scenes and exploring the themes of a work they might otherwise have never encountered.

Best Remix — Will You Do The Fandango? by Lari Assmuth

This award goes to the game that made the best combined use of multiple public domain works. Will You Do The Fandango? starts with the 1923 film Scaramouche, but then draws on the whole world of Commedia dell'Arte and the mechanics from games like Apocalypse World and Lady Blackbird. The result is a high-energy tabletop roleplaying game, complete with dice and stats, in which a troupe of traveling players tour revolutionary France engaging in bombastic drama and romance — with printable masquerade masks to boot!

Best Deep Cut — Not a Fish by J. Walton

This award is for the best use of an obscure or unexpected source that doesn't appear on the typical roundup lists of works entering the public domain, and the cuts don't get much deeper than Not a Fish: a game based on a pair of 1923 science journal articles about Amphioxus fisheries in China. Like the jigsaw puzzles that inspired the mechanics, the game starts out seeming jumbled, but it quickly starts to resolve into an exploration of social and political themes you might not be expecting from the subject matter.

Best Visuals (Tie!) — Chimneys and Tulips by litrouke, and The Garden of God by DreadRoach

There wasn't a single stand-out winner for the best visuals category, and understandably so — one month is scarcely enough time to create or assemble a game's worth of stunning graphics. Instead, the award for best visuals goes to two browser-based submissions which, while they have their limitations, certainly caught our eye.

Chimneys and Tulips is a creative arrangement of four poems by E. E. Cummings, with a focus on beautiful minimalist design. Though the gameplay is somewhat lacking, a lot of work and vision went into the colorful style in which the works are presented, and while the interactive elements may be simple, they aren't arbitrary. Fans of poetry, and of typography, will find plenty to explore.

The Garden of God is a short narrative experience based on the novel of the same name by H. De Vere Stacpoole. It's built in RPG Maker MV, and most of the visuals are stock sprites and graphics from that tool — but a lot of thought and effort went into how they were used. The game has multiple unique settings and maps, and well-choreographed scripted scenes with attention to background detail.

All the winners in all categories will receive their choice of a copy of our public domain card game CIA: Collect It All, or one of our copyright-themed t-shirts from Teespring. We'll be reaching out to all the winners on their games' Itch pages, so if you see your game listed here, keep an eye on your incoming comments!

Thanks again to everyone who submitted a game — there are lots of entries worth checking out in addition to the winners. And thanks again to our panel of judges:

We'll likely be back with another game next year when, if all goes according to plan, the public domain will continue to grow!

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Filed Under: 1923, board games, copyright, game jam, games, public domain, public domain game jam, rpg, video games

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2019 @ 3:17am


    Me too, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to Steal Treasure by Alex Blechman is fun

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