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Word up Challenge


This contest is complete, and the winner has been chosen.

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Game Ad Game Name Crafter Point Votes Status
{{}} Winner! Finalist Semi-Finalist

Contest start date: {{wing.format_datetime(}}

Okay all you Wordle fans, it’s time to WORD UP! Here’s your chance to take word games to the next level. Let’s raise up this humble genre and push the boundaries of what a word game can be!

Not a word game fan? I get it. Traditional word games can be slow and tend to reward players with the best vocabularies and spelling skills. I challenge you to fix that! Maybe you can create the word game Holy Grail – friendly and fun for people who don’t usually like word games while still being a treat for word game fans!

Word games don’t just have to be about stringing together letters for points. How about forming words phonetically, decoding words, or even making up new ones? How about combining words, or finding them in unusual ways? How about a game that uses sign language, morse code, or even semaphore? You could even mash up words with your own favorite game mechanisms!

As a lifelong lover and designer of word games, I still enjoy the classics, but I also love quirky new designs. Let’s take advantage of all the great stuff The Game Crafter (TGC) has to offer. What could you do with custom acrylic shapes or clear cards? How about custom score pads or printed dice? How about dry erase? How about a game in a coil bound or perfect bound book? I really want to see how your creativity can take word games to new heights!

Here are some games that use letters and words in new and interesting ways:

The contest will be judged by me, Brian LaPorte of Balaporte Design. I created Letter Better for the TGC Staff Roll and Write Challenge, which has just been published for Android by Unboxed Games, LLC (Letter Better - Apps on Google Play) and is coming soon to iOS and PC!

Have fun!

Contest start date: {{wing.format_datetime(}}

To qualify, your game must comply with all of the following rules:

  • Design a word game.
  • New players should be able to learn your game in 10 minutes or less.
  • Your game should play from set up to finish in 60 minutes or less. Players usually complain more about games being too long than being too short.
  • NO CLONES! I don’t want to see an old game re-skinned or re-themed, whether it’s a published game or not. Try something new!
  • You may use any printables or game pieces, if TGC sells it, you can use it.
  • Though not explicitly required, a 2-minute overview video is highly encouraged.
  • All artwork must be your own, commissioned by you, licensed to you, or in the public domain. Be sure to attribute your images when required.
  • Full rules must be included in the box. You can provide links to other sources, but players need to be able to learn how to play your game just by reading the rules that come in the box.
  • A PDF rules document must be downloadable from your game's shop page.
  • The total cost of your game must be less than $54.99.
  • The game must be publish-ready (as it relates to our shop, not as it relates to being finished). This means it has a logo, backdrop, shop ad, action shots, description, and cool factors. It must also have all images proofed.
  • This must be a new game created for this contest. It cannot have existed on TGC prior to the start of the contest.
  • All entries must be submitted through TGC's game editor (by clicking on the "Contests" button) no later than 7pm US Central on April 21, 2022.
  • Games and their shop page should not be changed after the contest deadline, until the finalists have been announced.
  • Contestants may submit multiple entries to this contest. Each entry will be judged separately.

You retain all rights to your game, and are welcome to sell it in The Game Crafter shop during and after the contest, regardless of the outcome of the contest. Your game does not have to be available for sale to enter the contest.

The community voting process will be used to determine 20 semi-finalists.

I will then choose 3 to 7 finalists. All finalists will be played and judged by me to select one winner.

You can read more about TGC contests here: Game Design Contests - The Game Crafter

If you have any questions about this contest, feel free to ask me. You can usually find me on TGC’s Discord (the #contest thread is a good place to ask questions) or in the TGC Designer Discussion Facebook group. I’ll be around!

You can also message me on Discord or Facebook:

Discord: Brian LaPorte (Balaporte he/him)#9926

Facebook Messenger: @balaporte


Q: Can I ask players to provide components that don’t come in the box?

A: I’m a big believer in having everything you need to play come in the box. Asking players to provide some scrap paper or pens and pencils is fine, though I’d like to see a few pencils in the box if your game depends on them. Less common things like dry erase markers should come in the box. If players need to look up words in a dictionary or on a phone, that’s fine, too.

Q: Can I ask players use their phones as a timer, or to use a timer I’ve provided online?

A: Yes, but if your game relies heavily on a timer, you might want to include one in the box. Not everyone likes using their phone to play a table top game.

Q: I want to use custom acrylic shapes. Do they have to ship in the box?

A: Custom shapes and punch outs are shipped as slugs. Since acrylic slugs are bigger, they can be shipped outside the box. After they are punched out, the shapes need to fit easily inside the box. For other custom punch outs like card stock and chip board, the slugs need to ship inside the box. If your players need to assemble a component from custom shapes or punch outs to play, the assembled component should fit in the box or should come apart easily.

Q: Can I make a game for kids?

A: Due to legal regulations, your game must be at least for ages 12 and up. That’s a good starting age for word games, too. Target your game at young teens to adults.

The winner shall receive all of the following prizes:

  • Six hours of design consultation and services from Balaporte Design (a $240 value). I have over 25 years of experience in art and design, so hopefully I can help you out! This prize can be applied to your winning game or another game, to a sell sheet, or to a TGC shop page. I can also provide services like play testing or rule editing. This prize must be used within six months from the date the winner is announced by TGC.
  • A one-of-a-kind trophy designed and shipped to you by Balaporte Design.
  • A copy of my original Letter Better game from the TGC Staff Roll and Write Challenge, shipped to you directly from The Game Crafter.
  • $250 of shop credit on
  • Automatic Showcase status for their game on
  • The possibility of judging a future contest.
  • Induction into The Game Crafter Hall of Fame.
  • Semi-finalists, finalists, and the winner will all receive accolades for their achievements.

The community voting process will determine 20 semi-finalists.

For more information on how I will judge the entries, see the Finals Rubric.

Scored results from the judge

I’m looking for original, well-designed games with clear rules. Spend your time developing game play, play testing, and writing the rules. Your game can be simple or complex or anywhere in between, but this contest is only three months long. Games can be simple and still be lots of fun.

Entries will be scored using a 100-point scale:

Game Play (30 points): How smoothly does your game play? Does it have a good hook? Has it been adequately play tested? Does it last the right amount of time? Does it suit your intended audience? Is it fun?

Rules (25 points): Are the rules clear and easy to understand? Are there pictures/diagrams to help show how to play? Can someone who is seeing your game for the first time learn how to play just by reading the rules that come in the box?

Originality (20 points): Is your game an original creation? Does it use components in new and interesting ways? Does it push the boundaries of the word game genre, or bring a clever twist to a classic formula?

Presentation (20 points): Does your game have good table presence? Are the components attractive? Are any graphics easy to understand and in service of game play? Is text readable with no errors? Do layouts make sense? Does everything fit in the box?

Bonus (5 points): Did you go above and beyond the basic rules and expectations? Surprise me!

I will provide detailed feedback for every finalist, and hope to provide some feedback to every semi-finalist.

Good luck, and WORD UP!

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