The Thousand Year/Dollar Challenge

Innovative game designer and advocate Daniel Solis recently opened up a game design dare called the Thousand Year Game Design Challenge. The idea is simple. Lots of games get published every year, but how many of them have the potential to become classics we enjoy a millennium from now?

Damned few, of course.

Daniel knows games. In his day job, he works as an art director for an advertising agency, but in his free time help helps out indie designers with graphic design and designs excellent games himself. Last year, Evil Hat Productions published his latest design Happy Birthday, Robot, a picture book storytelling game “for families and classrooms.” 

The Thousand Year Game Design challenge puts up $1,000—that’s a buck a year—as a prize for the new game design that Daniel and his wife figure has the best chance of surviving the test of time. They plan to judge the entries on three factors: elegance, accessibility, and fun. 

As someone who’s designed games for a living, I can tell you that’s the holy trinity of classic games. Hitting on all three points is something that many games aspire to but few achieve. Many don’t even bother trying. 

The cool part of the contest is that all entrants—including the winner—keep the rights to their games. It’s up to them to go figure out a way to get the game into players’ hands after that, but if you win at least you’ll have an extra grand in your pocket as a head start for taking on that new challenge. 

The deadline for entries is July 31, 2011. That may sound like a lot of time, but not when you compare it to the hoped-for longevity of the games involved. If you think you’re up for it, get cracking!


Matt Forbeck is the author of thirteen tie-in novels, most of them having to do with Dungeons & Dragons or Blood Bowl. Recently, Angry Robot published his first original novel—Amortals—and his second—Vegas Knights—is due out this spring.

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