Ion Award Rules and Entry

The Ion Award competition at SaltCON is the premier competition for game designers to meet publishers.

Rule Summary:
  1. Deadline for submissions December 1, 2023, 11:59pm
  2. Game must not have been published previously, or during the competition
  3. A submission must include game rules, video link, and payment to be considered
  4. Finalists will present to the judges online using Tabletop Simulator or Tabletopia
  5. Winners announced after the Final Judging around February 22-23

You can find the entry form link at the end of the full rules.

See Ion Award Winners

Full Rules

The entry process is as follows;

1. The game designer(s) submits a 6 minute video pitch, an electronic copy of the game rules and pictures with game summary included. This is a “game packet”.

2. The game packets will be reviewed by the judges and the judges will select the games they wish to review.

3. The game designers of the games with the highest reviews are invited to personally demonstrate their games to industry experts online on Tabletop Simulator or Tabletopia.


1. All game designers, regardless of publication history.

2. The game cannot be under consideration by any company at the time of submission.

3. The game cannot be published prior to, or during the competition. This includes but is not limited to self-publishing, crowd-funding opportunities, and games available for purchase through print and play sources, but does not include games available through print and play sources only for the purposes of prototype creation and distribution. If your game has been available for purchase for any purpose other than prototype creation, then your game is considered to be published and is not eligible for this competition.

4. The game must be complete by the time of submission. The “design” must be complete, it is not required to have final art or production. The presentation of the game is at the discretion of the designer.

5. The game designers may submit more than one game as the primary designer or as a co-designer. Each game must be a separate submission and paid for accordingly.

6. Only the game designer or co-designer may submit their game. If the game is selected for final judging, the game designer must present their game online on the day(s) of judging. in order to be eligible to win. Proxy presentations are negotiable and considered on a case by case basis.

7. Game designs that place as Winners or Finalists are not eligible for future contests.

8. Game designers who are related to, or work for any of the companies who are judging final submissions, cannot participate in this competition.

9. Any violation of these rules will result in disqualification of the game from the competition and/or removal of awards. The decision of the SaltCON Organizers is the final decision for any dispute.

10. The designer must be at least 18 years of age to enter a game in the competition.

Submission Details:

1. By submitting your game to the SaltCON Ion Award Competition, you agree to not hold SaltCON UT LLC or any of the participants, including but not exclusive to the judges of the Ion Award, liable for any perceived intellectual property infringement. Paid submission of a game to the SaltCON Ion Award Competition is a validation that you have read, understand, and accept the terms of this agreement.

2. Please use the Ion Award 2024 Submission Form completed in English. All Ion Award entries must be uploaded in  jpg, png, pdf, or txt format only.

3. Each game design should include a pdf of the rules, a picture or image of the game setup, and a summary or description of the game no more than 500 words long.

4. The Designers must submit a url for a “Video Pitch” of their game design. The video may not be more than 6 minutes in length, and should convey the game play and mechanics. It is entirely the responsibility of the designer to ensure that the video is viewable at the link provided.

5. Summaries, rules, pictures and non-refundable entry fee must be received by December 1, 2023, via submission form below.

6. SaltCON UT LLC has the right to use Ion Award Winners submissions (prototypes) names, images and or likeness for promotional purposes.

7. The designers may not contact the judges or judge’s companies about the Ion Award competition, prior to or during the competition, in regards to their game(s) which have been submitted to the competition.

8. The designers may reply to a judge’s request for prototype or to negotiate publishing arrangements prior to the end of the competition.

9. The designer agrees not to release any information of publishing arrangements for a game in the competition to the public until the Ion Awards have been awarded for that year’s competition.

10. The designer may release information of publishing arrangements to their own organization and to the SaltCON Organizers, prior to the Ion Awards being presented for that year’s competition.

The Process:

1. Judges

a. The judges will be screened by the SaltCON Organizers to ensure they meet high standards of knowledge in the field of game play and/or publishing.

b. The judges will be representatives of game publishing companies who produce freelance designer games, representatives of other game publishing companies and/or published game designers, or other industry experts.

c. The identities of the judges will not be revealed prior to the competition.

d. The affiliation of the judges will not be released prior to the competition.

e. The judges will operate independently of the SaltCON organization.

f. After the game packets have been ranked, the judges may contact the SaltCON Organizers to request a game designer’s contact information for the purposes of contacting the game designer to request a game prototype or to discuss the game design.

g. The judges agree not to sign a contract for any game in the competition until after the final judging has been completed.

h. The judges agree not to release any information of intent to publish a game in the competition to the public until the Ion Awards have been awarded for that year’s competition.

i. The judges may release information of intent to publish to their own staff, the designer(s) being published and to the SaltCON Organizers, prior to the Ion Awards being presented for that year’s competition.

2. Game Packet Grading

a. The game packets will be divided by the game designer selected classification and assigned to judges who possess the appropriate knowledge for the type of game and are willing to review that type of game.

b. The categories are Strategy Game and Light Game. Light games generally refer to a family or party game.

c. The judges will rank all their assigned game packets independently without discussion or disclosure of game information to any person outside their own organization or to anyone who is not a SaltCON Organizer.

d. The game designers of the game packets with the highest cumulative rankings will receive an invitation to present their game online using Tabletopia or Tabletop Simulator.

e. After the game packets have been ranked, if a game packet is of particular interest to an individual judge, the judge may request from the SaltCON Organizers and will be given the game designer’s contact information for the purposes of contacting the game designer to request a game prototype or to discuss the game design.

f. All submitted game packets will receive a feedback form. The feedback forms have no official capacity. The purpose of the feedback forms is to help the game designers in the process of designing their game.

3. The Ion Award Final Competition Online

a. The game designers will be notified of the status of their game, on or around February 1, 2024.

b. The game designer will present their game to the judges online through Tabletop Simulator or Tabletopia on or around February 22-23, 2024. They must be available during the game to answer any questions during the time slot assigned to them by SaltCON staff.  If the designer cannot attend, they may request that another person present by proxy.  Each request for proxy presentation will be considered on a case by case basis and must be approved by the SaltCON Organizers prior to the final judging.

c. In case of a tie, all games in the tie will be awarded the Ion Award.

g. The Ion Award winners will be announced within 1-2 days of the final judging.

h. The winner(s) will receive a plaque for the event.

i. The Ion Award winners and the Ion Award Competition finalists in 2024 may use the Ion Award logo on future packaging without charge.

4. The Ion Award Competition Changes

a. SaltCON UT LLC may change and/or alter “The Ion Award Competition” rules at anytime during the competition.

The Ion Award Competition Submission Process

1. Click the link below to fill out the Ion Award Entry Form, and accept the rules of the Ion Award.

2. Upload your game rules PDF and game photo at the link provided.

3. Pay the $25 entry fee through Paypal using the link provided.

All entries must be received by December 1, 2023.

Ion Award Entry Form