Current Contest

End Date:
October 30th, 2020

Winner Announcement:
January 15th, 2021

Innovation in a Small Package

For this special game contest, we are seeking a game to publish at the end of 2021 as part of our "small but different" game line-up. This line-up includes Rosetta: The Lost Language, an upcoming re-release of Quota (in a larger box than the current release), and an unannounced memory party game by Bobby West. Each game comes in a magnetic-lidded identical box, and focuses on giving a unique game experience that may not be what players are expecting. This contests seeks to add another game to that line-up.

Prizes & Awards

  • First place will be announced and offered publication through Story Machine Games using our industry-aligned contract, advance, and royalty rates. This process is negotiable.
  • The judges reserve the right to announce the names and game titles of finalists as they see fit to honor excellent work and designers we hope to work with in the future.
  • Although there is a winner of this contest, we also reserve the right to reach out to and offer publication to additional designers.


To expand, our"small but different" product line uses the premium feel and presentation of Rosetta: The Lost Language and expands it to games that we feel we haven't seen before. These may be surprising, thoughtful, creative, or something else entirely. Consider the below for guidance:

  • The game will fit comfortably in the magnetically-lidded box that helps define the visual of the product line. The dimensions are 3.75" x 4.75" x 1.25" interior, with a larger folding-out lid. Take a look at the photos here.
  • The game won't feel like a larger game that is 'shrunk' to fit the box, nor a smaller game that is given unnecessary components to fill the space. The game is permitted to utilize the box as a game component.
  • The core gameplay will hinge on elements that feel surprising, entertaining, and fresh in some regard. In some sense we want to not have seen a game like it before.
  • While there is no restriction on theme, the theme may be subject to change upon publication.
  • While there is no restriction on genre or mechanics (e.g. dexterity, mystery-solving, puzzle, worker placement, trick-taking, legacy, etc.), consider that the three games that already have a space in this line set a higher standard for adding anything similar (e.g. a drawing or language game, a conversation-based 'gotcha' game, or a memory/mnemonic party game). It may help to suggest something different.


  • Games must follow the restrictions and requirements of the theme.
  • Copyrighted material is not permitted without written permission. Creative Commons and similar material is permitted as long as noted in the submission. Rules regarding those licenses must be followed.
  • The game cannot already be listed in the BGG database.
  • The game can include previous design work as long as that work is not published or currently available to the public. Submitted games cannot contain or overlap with work that is being considered or developed by other publishers.
  • A rulebook/rulesheet is required. It must be legible and in English (the current common language of our judges).
  • Entries are not limited by background or location. The contact person for a designer or team must be 18 or older.
  • Family members and co-workers of Story Machine Games staff and invested parties cannot submit. Previous winners in 2020 game contests are not eligible for first place.
  • Up to two submissions are permitted per person, whether or not they are members of a larger team.


The Story Machine Games Discord is available to discuss the contest with other designers and the judges. The judges cannot provide feedback on submissions in this capacity, but can clarify elements of the theme, restrictions, and rules. This is an excellent space to also talk to other designers and receive feedback and support.


There are two methods of submission, due to both distance, cost, and the limitations of the ongoing pandemic.

  • You may submit elements of your game physically to our address: Story Machine Games LLC 120 E Washington St. Suite 415, Syracuse NY 13202. If you do so, please include postage or a SASE so we can return it to you. Otherwise, we get to keep it.
  • You may submit elements of your game digitally to with the word CONTEST in the subject line (keeps it out of the spam folder). This is also useful to include how-to-play videos, printable components that aren't worth the stamps, and a rulebook.

Regardless of method, we must be able to PLAY the game. Any version of a submission that does not include all components, as well as a legible rulebook, will not be played (and therefore, not judged). If elements of your design are split between both methods above, please note in BOTH submissions that the other half is digital/physical, so we do not consider your submission incomplete.

Submissions are not required to be perfectly sized to fit the contest-restricted box, nor do you need to submit a box. We have plenty—and we will take a generous view on whether or not a game 'fits' within reason. You are welcome to submit materials describing or showing box usage, if necessary, and we will mock-up our spare boxes as needed.

Past Contests & Jams

Theme: Social Distance

  • Winner: 12 Parsecs by Andres Desa & Saurabh Misra
  • Runner-Up: Desktop Dueling by Matthew Christodoulou
  • Runner-Up: Honey Hunt by Manuele Giuliano
  • Finalist: Dodekatheon - 12 Gods by Chris Backe
  • Finalist: Mission Control by Corey Andalora & Donnie Coleman
  • Finalist: Mystic Portal by John Bailey

RetroGameCon 7
48 Hour Game Jam

Theme: The Wonders of Vintage Video Games

  • Winner: Siege Quest by Cheryl Aupperle

24 Hour Game Jam

Theme: Common Mechanic, Uncommon Twist

  • Winner: Best Worst Enemy by Corey Andalora & Donnie Coleman