Sony invites you to design games

I’ll let the Eurogamer article do most of the talking:

Sony is inviting both amateurs and professionals to submit game ideas for the PS2, PSP and PS3. The winner will receive acess to a studio and development team, project funds and living expenses, and of course the unparalleled joy of seeing their very own game on shop shelves.

This isn’t the first time Sony has run such a competition – previous winners include the creators of Devil Dice, Bombtastic and Doko Demo Issho. But it is the first time entrants have been invited to submit ideas for PSP and PS3, rather excitingly.

Fancy giving it a shot? Well you’ll have to wait until November 15, since that’s when the ‘Let’s Play a Game’ competition website will launch, via which you’ll be able to send in your application. The closing date for entries will be some time in February 2006. It’s not yet known whether Jack Thompson will be entering.

This kind of competition has occured before. Most recently I recall the BBC inviting people to submit simple game concepts that would be turned into a brief Shockwave Flash game. I was an active member of a gaming forum at the time and I let people know about that competition. The response was very interesting – nearly everyone decided it wasn’t worth their effort.

I’ve already seen some feedback to Sony’s invite and it echoes the “not worth my time”, “they’ll just steal my ideas” attitude that I saw before. I’ve also seen comments to the tune of “Hah! Sony have no talent so they’re doing this!” from your typical forum troll. Yes, of course there’s going to be conditions about what control and finance Sony have based around the winning entry. The winner won’t turn into Miyamoto or Will Wright overnight and they won’t be made an instant millionnaire. On the other hand, for those genuinely interested into getting into the games industry or seeing the development process from game concept to final product, it’s a prize that you simply can’t put a monetary value on.

People rarely appreciate just how difficult any creative process is. I tend to think of their behaviour in ‘before and after’ terms. Let’s say that GAME X is going to get a sequel. People can speculate as to the features and they can look forward to its release. Often, when GAME X: The Sequel appears a wave of criticsm will come from gamers who will say what a bad idea some new feature was or how they’ve changed an existing feature too far from the original. This sort of thing is human nature, I’ll concede to that. It’s very easy to criticise something when someone else has thought of it – it’s much harder having the idea in the first place.

To anyone who has ever criticised a game by saying “This is bad” I would encourage them to think further. Why not have *constructive* criticism? Why not say “This is bad, it would be better if…”? It’s a great deal harder to do, it requires more effort and more consideration. It’s easy to criticise, it’s harder to give constructive criticism, it’s hardest to come up with all the ideas in the first place.

By having a stab at the creative process yourself I can guarantee you’ll learn a lot. At the very least, you’ll have a better appreciation of just how difficult it is to create something new. This doesn’t apply to videogames alone. Music, poetry, fiction, websites, news reporting and plenty more are all things we may take for granted as a viewer or listener. We probably criticise them without even knowing it. The instant you try to create a website or a short story you’ll start to understand and appreciate the work that goes into them.

So, if you’re one of those critical gamers, I urge you to have a stab at this. What’s the worst that can happen?

6 Responses

  1. Raine/Kiyuri October 28, 2005 / 3:39 am

    The whole I thing I have with not entering these things is that usually I completely lack any kind of imaginative process. I probably couldn’t think of anything that hasn’t been made a 1000 times before really. I’d probably enter, heck my Uni course will probably make me enter, but I don’t see myself making anything with a hint of uniqueness.

  2. Dr Kong October 28, 2005 / 5:54 pm

    I’ll enter, just for fun and to see whats it like if I win.

  3. Retroid October 29, 2005 / 11:53 am

    This seems like a much better competition then the BBC Flash game. (I would also like to see what won that.)

    I’m tempted to enter the puzzle game I’m working on, as long as I can still use it for my course work and any portfolio if it doesn’t get picked.

    The idea is brilliantly simple and hopefully hasn’t been done before. It is a variant on the Tetris formula – but a bit more action packed whilst keeping a solid puzzle game play.

  4. Koffdrop October 30, 2005 / 12:12 pm

    Apologies. I’ve just learned that this is a Japan-only competition and actually runs each year (what a good idea! – let’s see other manufacturers nurture creativity like that).

    Raine, I don’t think it’s essential to have something wholly unique. And I wouldn’t set your personal sights on changing the world with your first efforts. The best games are based around simple concepts that are well executed. The key mechanic for most games should be risk and reward. Unrewarding games aren’t fun – but rewards that come too easy are no challenge.

    Why not start small and see how things work out? I know everyone loves to delve in and play with RPG maker and start with graphics and all that – but that’s totally the wrong way to go about it. All that you need to design a game is a pen, a piece of paper and the ability to express your thoughts clearly.

    If there’s enough interest I’ll be happy to expand to accomodate an area on game design discussion, methods and efforts.

  5. Dr Kong October 31, 2005 / 10:46 am

    Thats a shame but, yeah, that might be intresrting Koff.

  6. mark November 8, 2008 / 3:54 pm

    dear sony,
    If you are interested in game ideas contact me at or 1723-286-1670. My friend & I made up a game that we think you would be interested in.If you would like the ideas contact us.

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