Tue
Jan 11 2011 10:01am

The Thousand Year/Dollar Challenge

The Thousand Year Game Design ChallengeInnovative 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.

6 comments
Roland of Gilead
1. pKp
Can't wait to have a look at the results.

I have a minor quibble with the title, however : how many millenia-old games are we still playing ? There's Go, possibly chess, and the whole gamut of kid's game that don't have written rules (tag and its variations, etc). That's all I can find, and I'm practically certain that Go is the only one that survived in its original form. So it's a mighty tall order.

Still a great idea, though, and the rights bit is nothing short of awesome. Are previously-published games eligible ?
Devon J Kelley
2. Devon J Kelley
The title makes it rather intimidating. Still, I may have a go at this.
Devon J Kelley
3. mirana
@pKp You need to play more games! Try Backgammon (over 3000 yrs dating back to Ancient Egypt), Parcheesi ("Pachisi" 500BCE India), Majong (Ancient China), various Dice games (over 5000 yrs), and even Tic Tac Toe (Ancient Egypt).

The key to longevity in a game is simplicity and universal appeal. Best to have a game that doesn't rely on language too much.
Devon J Kelley
4. Daniel Solis
Seven new entries in last month! http://danielsolisblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/thousand-year-game-design-challenge-may.html
Devon J Kelley
6. Daniel Solis
UPDATE: The submission period has closed and here are the entries:

http://danielsolisblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/whats-next-for-thousand-year-game.html
Devon J Kelley
8. Daniel Solis
And here's the winner!
http://danielsolisblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/take-back-toe-wins-thousand-year-game.html

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