Friday, August 3, 2007

Comic Making Tournament Part 2: Structure

This is the second part of my multipart Comic Making Tournament series. Part 1 is here.

As I worked on collecting prizes, advertising, and other logistics, I also thought about the structure of the tournament itself. I needed events of varying difficulty to appeal to all ages, but simple enough to be run single handedly. I also wanted to make sure that both original and pre-drawn templates would be equally represented, so kids who liked one or the other could enjoy themselves.

In the end, I came up with five main events, plus three variants designed for groups:

1. Short-form Pre-drawn - The simplest. Individual students are given a handful of pre-drawn comics to fill out. Each comic is standalone and with content based on a theme drawn at random.

2. Short-form Original - Students are given one of each of the blank templates (2x2, 2x3, 2x4) and fill them out in turn. Each comic is given a different theme.

3. Long-form Pre-drawn - Students have to write several multipage story arcs using a group of related pre-drawn templates. Each different arc is given a theme.

4. Long-form Original - Using 2x3 blank templates, students create a single multipage story arc based on a given theme. The arcs can be as long as they want.

5. Speed - Kids are given a stack of pre-drawn templates and have to fill them out as quickly as possible. Quantity over quality!

Short-form pre-drawn and the two long-form events were also setup as group events, where a team of kids could compete against another team. In the end, no one registered as a team, so only the five main events took place.

With the events finalized, I also turned to how to judge them. I need a quantitative way for the judges to rank each student. I took inspiration from Iron Chef's scoring method. The criterion were:

1. Creativity, used for all five events. This was generally weighted more than spelling or art quality, to reward imagination even when skills were lacking.

2. Use of Topic, used for the first four.

3. Spelling and Grammar, used for the two Pre-drawn competitions. This was intended to encourage kids to use more than just simple words or sentences. I setup the scoring matrix so that a kid who attempted to write a lot but made mistakes would still get mroe points than someone who wrote perfectly but only a little.

4. Artistic quality, used for the two Original events. This was meant to differentiate between stick figures and finely drawn figures.

5. Quantity, used heavily only for Speed. Since the point of speed was to see how many comics a kid could create in a set time, this made sense.

Each criterion was given a point scale with precise definitions, to ensure uniform measuring by the judges.

I was anticipating a high number of students, so mechanisms to handle high turnout were put in place. Three-person/team tiers were to be used, with the winners of each tier then facing each other. This would allow multiple runnings of the same event to be held at once. And as the winners of a tier faced off, the others could continue on to the next event. Actual participation was small enough that these more complicated procedures didn't have to be implemented. But I'm keeping them in mind for future tournaments that may be larger.

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