Last month, I reviewed the M*A*S*H video games released by 20th Century Fox Video Games. In that post, I mentioned that there was a contest gamers could enter to design the next M*A*S*H video game. Since writing that post, I have gotten a copy of the of the M*A*S*H contest entry form, so let’s take a look!
Normally, I wouldn’t discuss the cover of what is essentially an advertisement, but there is a lot going on here! First, they claim that winning will get you something that “money can’t buy.” Later, we’ll see just how much money the prizes were worth! But what is most interesting here is the image of Mount Rushmore with a M*A*S*H character added to it. I have looked at this image, and I cannot figure out who this is supposed to be? I am fairly certain it is a man, but then again, it’s hard to tell. There is curly hair, but it looks like maybe Radar’s hat? The curly hair leads me to think it is Trapper, but by 1983, he hadn’t been a part of the M*A*S*H cast for eight years. It is such an odd image. Who do you think it is?
The Object, Rules, and Regulations
This is where the contest gets interesting. Per the rules, the entrant had 50 words to establish “the location, how to play, and make all of the rules.” 50 words? That doesn’t seem possible! The prize though is very clear from the “Operating Orders.” If you win, you get to be a game designer for the next M*A*S*H game, and you’ll be assured an annual fee of at least $25,000 with the possibility of your game being produced. So the winner would be hired to design the game, get paid as an employee, and their game may or may not be produced. So, you win a job? This seems like an odd prize. It would have made more sense for the winner to be paid a commission for the idea, then let the professional game game developers make the game.
It gets even stranger. Per rule 4, the entries would be judged on three criteria: “originality and creativity of the idea – 50%; appropriateness to subject matter (M*A*S*H TV series) – 25%; sincerity – 25%.” Doesn’t really give you a lot to go on, does it? It’s really confusing to me. Explain your original, M*A*S*H based, sincere video game in 50 words or less, and then you win a job. It sounds outlandish, but let’s look at the prizes!
The list of prizes presented on this page sound great! As mentioned earlier, you can win a job as a video game designer making $25,000 a year. But 20th Century Fox Video Games was also going to give away four Jeeps, 400 Texas Instruments Home Computers, and 4,000 20th Century Fox Video Games for the Atari 2600. So, you had a decent chance of walking away with something if you entered. I would like to know how it was going to be determined who won each prize? Well, looking back at the rules, rule 3, it says, “There will be one (1) First Prize, 100 Second Prizes, and 1,000 runner-up winners in each of the four following age categories: 8-10, 11-13, 14-16, 17 and above.” So, does that mean that first place for each category gets the video game designer job and a Jeep? Then everyone else gets the Texas Instruments Home Computer and video games? The rules don’t clearly define what the prizes packages really actually are. Also, do four people get hired to design a game? I have so many questions!
The Entry Form
Finally, we have the entry form itself. There isn’t much to it. Explain your idea, list your name, address, and age. Sign and date, then have your parent sign and date the form as well. Stick a stamp on it, then send it on its way and wait to see if you win a job, Jeep, video game console, or a video game! Needless to say, the contest never amounted to anything. No second M*A*S*H video game was ever produced. The video game crash in the early 1980s resulted in many video gaming consoles and game studios shutting down. 20th Century Fox Video Games shut down in 1984, not long after this contest ended.
When I was researching the M*A*S*H video game for last month’s post, I found an article that mentioned the contest, so I knew I had to check it out. As soon as I found this game with the entry form on eBay, I bought it. I was not disappointed! This contest did not really seem well planned or well organized. I wonder what happened to all of the entries? Did you enter the contest? If so, please leave your idea in the comments below!