Mozilla unveils holiday HTML5 game competition

In order to stoke the fires of the still-nascent world of browser gaming, Mozilla is rolling out  a holiday contest that could reward a handful of plucky developers with cash and trips to the much-revered Games Developer Conference (GDC).

The challenge, developed in partnership with HTML5 game engine Goo Technologies, has obvious roots in Mozilla’s involvement with WebGL and other game-friendly technologies. Entrants can choose from one of three categories, including an “Interactive Game Scene” amateur contest that requires no previous development experience. All participants must use the HTML5/WebGL-based Goo Engine and a visual editing add-on, Goo Create, to create original games by January 14. Then, representatives from both companies will join with judges from Angry Birds creator Rovio to pick winners to be announced by January 17.

The big prize at stake, available only to participants of the full game categories, is a trip for two to GDC San Francisco in March, 2014. GDC has, over the years, become an event du jour for developers to actually learn about developing, rather than spending every available resource to show off a game to the public like the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX).

While it’s hard to ignore some of the more Mozilla-serving aspects of the contest, including bonus points if a cross-platform design is compatible with Firefox OS, the contest has its merits. There’s a need for more contests and jams that revolve around browser gaming because of it’s low entry-level for amateur developers. The effectiveness of starting in browser gaming can probably be seen best in the career trajectory of mobile app company Vlambeer, which built on the success of its browser game Radical Fishing to create the critically acclaimed mobile success Ridiculous Fishing — the browser game can be a solid stepping stone into mobile or desktop gaming, and a smart way to build an early following. Mozilla’s contest, and others like it, have a chance of cementing a new pathway for amateur gamers to get their games seen (and, even better, played) and making browser gaming a more solid pathway to success.

It’s a cool little contest with a screaming fast deadline, and worth trying if only to peek into the world of browser gaming.