Judges & Voting

Learn about the voting process, voting criteria, and the judges that rate your games.

Voting Process

Once all submissions are gathered, all entries are verified to ensure that all necessary information is provided and that the rules stated in Rules & Guidelines and in the Medium article for the specific Game Jam are followed. The judges will then play through and rate the games over the course of 4 weeks. Voting is divided into two phases followed by results processing.

Voting Phase 1

Entries are played and voted for by The Council. The judges appoint games that stood out to them to be nominated for additional awards[?].

Once voting is complete, points are tallied.

Voting Phase 2

A shortlist of the 15 top scoring entries is sent to a team of experienced The Sandbox staff judges.

The judges rate the entries from the shortlist, and the points are tallied.

Results Processing

A list of the Top 10 scoring entries is finalised. Any entries in the Top 10 that were appointed for additional awards are removed from the list of nominations for those awards.

A final list of Honorable Mentions is completed containing up to 10 games.

Voting Criteria

Games are judged based on five categories, amounting to a maximum of 22 points per judge. The following voting categories are scored based on the following criteria:

Overall Creative Idea

This category is rated from a scale of 1-5 by each judge.

  • Originality / uniqueness of idea

  • Theme adherence

Level Design

This category is rated from a scale of 1-5 by each judge.

  • Game flow

  • Ensuring that areas cannot be accessed or skipped past unless intentional

  • Terraforming

  • Immersion (visual design & coherence)

Game Design

This category is rated from a scale of 1-5 by each judge.

  • Quality of logic design / mechanics

  • Fun and well balanced mechanics

  • Immersion (based on mechanics)

  • Narrative (applicable based on narrative’s importance in your game)


This category is rated from a scale of 1-5 by each judge.

  • Intuitive gameplay

  • Severity of issues / bugs disrupting player experience

  • Level of replayability

Some games and genres are naturally more replayable than others. The impact of replayability varies based on the type of game that is being evaluated.

BONUS: Wow Factor

This category is a bonus point category rated from a scale of 0-2 by each judge.

  • Outstanding assets and artistic direction

  • Unique / innovative features

  • Outstanding atmosphere / immersion

  • Exceptional player experience


The Game Jams Program Managers will vote with a panel of select The Sandbox staff judges on the top 15 entries. All judges involved have extensive knowledge of the Game Maker and Game Jams. They are furthermore aware of all aspects that go into creating successful games and will take a professional approach when evaluating the entries.

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