Ice Game Design Competition

Ice Game Design Logo ...Pushing Pyramids Around since 2004

Want to design an Icehouse game? Want an excuse to finish the Icehouse game you once started to design? Want feedback on the Icehouse game you've designed? Want people to play the Icehouse game you've polished to glittering perfection?

Enter the Ice Game Design Competition.

Current Status

Your Competition Organizer for today is Jonathan Leistiko -

The fifth competition has started! Entries are here. Votes are due by Oct. 10. Please read on for more details...

Previous Competition entries and winners.

How the Competition Works

The Competition is a regular event. Competitions are run approximately once every three months.

The Competition is open to all original, unpublished games which make use of Icehouse pyramids. Entrants are collected by the Competition Organizer, and posted to this web site all at once. As a voter, you have six weeks to play as many entries as you can, then vote on them. The Organizer will collect the (secret) ballots at the end of the voting period, tally the votes, and announce a winner.

The winners of each Competition will be published by Looney Labs in a future issue of Hypothermia. Looney Labs may also include other notable entries, at their option.

There is also a second voting category: the "Most Improved" Award. This recognizes previous Competition entries which have been improved, following the testing, suggestions, and feedback of their original Competition debut.

Planned schedule:
CompetitionRegister by:Entry due by:Votes due by:
ICE 5August 22August 29Oct. 10
ICE 6Nov. 14Nov. 21Jan. 2
ICE 7Jan. 30Feb. 6March 20
ICE 8April 17April 24June 5

Who and What Can Enter

Any previously unpublished game which is played with Icehouse pyramids is eligible for the Competition.

The game may make use of other equipment besides pyramids. (But remember, if voters don't have the equipment, they can't play your game. If they can't play your game, they won't vote for it.)

A game is "previously published" (and thus ineligible) if it has appeared in a printed work such as Playing with Pyramids, or an issue of Hypothermia, or the Ice-7 cards.

Posting a game on SLICK, or a Looney Labs mailing list, or your own web site, or teaching it to other gamers does not count as "publication". If you have released your game in these venues, but it is otherwise unpublished, you are welcome to enter it in the Competition.

You may not enter a game in the Competition if you entered it in aprevious Competition (whether you won or not). However, see the "Most Improved" Award.

You may not enter more than one game in any one Competition. If you have other games, save them up for future Competitions. (However, you can improve any and all entries in previous Competitions -- thus making them eligible for "Most Improved" -- in addition to entering a new game.)

To keep bookkeeping simple, all contestants must have Rabbit accounts. Register at the Mad Lab Rabbit web page if you don't have one already.

How to Enter

To enter the contest, you must notify me at least a week before the deadline. This is to keep me from losing entries in the shuffle! You must send email to the Organizer ( . You do not have to have a finished game. Just tell me that you plan to enter, and give the name of your entry.

(Not sure if you're going to enter? Send me mail anyway. There is no penalty for withdrawing at the last minute. It's perfectly fine to register an intent if you think there's even the slightest chance you're going to have a game ready.)

Send your completed game to the Organizer ( Include the game, your Rabbit ID, your name (as you want it to appear on the web site). You may also include an email address and a personal web URL, if you want either of those to appear with your entry. Email addresses will be munged, unless specifically told not to do so.

Your entry must be in a format suitable for posting on the Web: HTML, text files, PDF, and so on. You may include multiple files (e.g. an HTML file with images), but they should be organized to fit in a single directory of a web server. Also, when you send them to me, multiple files must be archived as a single package (.zip, .tar, or so on). I will unpack them for the web site.

You may also send me a URL to download your game from -- but again, multiple files must be packaged as one.

There is no formal list of allowed Web formats. However, Competition voters will be learning the games by browsing this web site. If they can't view your game, they won't vote for it.

We encourage you to thoroughly test your games before you submit them, especially if it is an old game which you posted to a mailing list and then set aside! You will not have an opportunity to revise your game during the voting period. The game which you have submitted at the entry deadline will be the game which the voters play.

(However, you can revise your game at any time before the entry deadline, simply by submitting another version to the Organizer.)

How to Vote

Voting is open to everyone. (However, if you are a contestant, you may not vote on your own game. Just leave it off the ballot.)

You should make an honest attempt to play as many of the entries as you can before you vote. However, you are not required to play all of them. A ballot consists of all the games you have tried, ranked from best to worst.

New: There are now two ways to vote. You can submit a ballot using the voting web form. Or, vote by email: send your ballot list to

Please try to make your ballot easy to read: just the game names, one per line, from best to worst. I will reply to acknowledge your vote when I process it. I'll try to process incoming votes at least once a day, but it may take longer.

If you submit more than one ballot, only the latest one (received by me) will be counted. Earlier ballots will be discarded.

"What criteria should I judge the entries on?"

Which ones you think are best.

Etiquette During Voting

Discussion is good. Reviews are better. Feedback to the game designers is great.

The recommended forum for discussion of Competition entries will be the Icehouse mailing list. (If the traffic warrants a separate mailing list, that can be arranged. We'll see.)

Some players will likely post long (or even not-so-long) reviews of every game they play. Such comprehensive posts will probably occur at the end of voting, simply because it will take a while to try all the entries. Other players will post as they play. And, of course, there are certain to be questions, clarifications, and strategy tips floating around all through the Competition (and after).

Some players will want to avoid discussion of each game until they have had a chance to try it. Therefore, if you are posting about a particular game, you should mention its name in the subject line of your message. (Or "All entries", if you're posting reviews of all of them.)

There is nothing wrong with the games' creators joining in these discussions. (In fact, it may be unavoidable, when rules questions arise.) There is nothing wrong with discussing rule changes and improvements, either.

However: you are voting on the games as they were originally submitted. Any suggested changes -- whether suggested by players or the creator -- are not part of the Competition entry. Revisions are part of the design process, but it would be impossible to reconcile votes on six different revisions played by voters at different stages. The game you are rating is the game posted on the Competition web site.

Revised games will have their chance in future Competitions. Which brings us to...

The "Most Improved" Award

Since the Competition is intended to encourage the creation of new Icehouse games, you cannot enter a game into more than one Competition.

However, we also want to encourage revision and improvement of all games -- that's how good ideas turn into great games.

Therefore, each Competition (except the first) has a separate "Most Improved Game" award. This will be open to all entries from previous Competitions.

To enter, just send a revised version of your game to the Organizer, any time after voting ends (for the Competition you originally entered). The Competition web site will retain your original entry for historic reasons, but your revised entry will be listed first. Competition ballots will have a separate category for "Most Improved" rankings.

You may continue to improve your game, and thus enter it in the "Most Improved" ballotting, even if you have previously entered it or won a "Most Improved" award. (Voters will only be rating the revisions since the last voting period.)

"What if I revise my game so completely that it becomes a new game?"

We realize that this is a subjective boundary. If you really think that your game has become an entirely new game, you can enter it in the main Competition under a new name. (If you don't think it's changed enough to deserve a new name, maybe you should reconsider, and enter it as a revision for "Most Improved" instead.)

If the voters think it is too similar to your previous Competition entry, they won't vote for it. Those are the risks.

Fiddly Details

Final decision about all aspects of the Competition -- the rule, who can enter, who can vote, what games are eligible, and so on -- rests with the Competition Organizer. Hi there.

We're still figuring out how best to run these contests. We reserve the right to rethink the rules for future Competitions.

Votes will be tallied by the Condorcet Ranked-Pairs system. Here is a long explanation of Condorcet. If you don't want to read it, just realize that it's a good system for tallying ballots of ranked entries.

Actually, we are using a slightly modified Condorcet system, which allows for partial ballots. (If you leave a game off your ballot, it doesn't count towards or against the margin of any pair which includes that game. A game which nobody at all votes on will be disqualified.) So if you have no opinion about a game, don't list it.

Contestants retain copyright of their entries. However, submitting an entry to the Competition constitutes permission for the Competition and Looney Labs to host your entry on their web sites, for as long as they want. The intent of the Competition web site is to host entries (and their revisions) permanently, for everyone to read and play.

See Also

Last updated July 22, 2005.