Active Shooter: Nominated, Honorable Mentions
In his game Active Shooter, Tim Hutchings writes "This was a hard, uncomfortable thing to write." Reading it was equally harrowing, and playing Active Shooter would be at best sobering and more likely quite traumatic. I chose it for an honorable mention because it addresses a serious, difficult topic directly and unflinchingly. Perhaps too unflinchingly - all the judges felt that it needed a much more robust series of safety mechanisms in place as written. But the core game is solid and appropriately horrific, the Shut Up rule is inspired and evocative, and overall Active Shooter feels both mature and well realized. It would be hard to play, but not everything needs to be easy. One of our hopes for the Golden Cobra contest was to encourage work on the edges of established theme and technique, and Active Shooter totally delivers in this regard.
A Crow Funeral: Winner, Best Incorporation of Touch
Have you ever wanted to be part of a murder? Of crows, that is! In A Crow Funeral, players take on the roles of a community of crows that have discovered the body of one of their own. As they crowd around in a mournful-yet-raucous circle, the crows must determine how their friend expired. In the opening explanation of the game, Timothy Hutchings states “there is no conflict resolution mechanic.” This statement is three things: true, untrue, and sneaky. This game’s deployment of touch is both simple and entertaining, and you’ll find that conflict most definitely gets sorted out. This game is fun, light, and great to play in public spaces.
It's All Good: Nominated, Honorable Mentions
It’s All Good combines familiar elements of storytelling with elegant and novel mechanics. Players utilize movement, light and shadow to guide the storyteller as they share a family legend, building a complex oral history over multiple turns. We especially loved the specificity of time and place—a community living in the Ozarks in 1937—established in the space constraints through evocative prompts and challenges from player to player: “Tell us the one about…”
Honeynet: Winner, Special Emeritus Jury Prize
Perennial Golden Cobra rascal Tim Hutchings' game Honeynet deliciously mashes together contemporary anxiety over artificial intelligence and surveillance culture with a beloved Golden Cobra winner from the past - Jeff Dieterle's game Wigilia - and the result is somehow both greater and weirder than its parts. There is a darkness to Honeynet that belies the gentle and sweet game-within-a-game at its core as well as the absurdity of its AI shards' realm of knowledge. Recontextualizing Wigilia as a horrifying exercise by amoral techno-monsters is certainly a bold choice, and it comes together like a delicious piece of opłatek.