[CQ-Contest] Proposal MPMF Contest (more points more fun)

Matt Murphy matt at nq6n.com
Fri Jul 1 12:03:43 PDT 2011

It's been fascinating to read everyone's thoughts on distance-based scoring,
fairness, etc.  I would love to see the creation of one or more new and
experimental contests through which we could explore different sorts of
rules and scoring mechanisms.

Yesterday I went to a talk by one of the founders of Electronic Arts (a
video game company).  He mentioned one thing about game design that I found
particularly applicable to the discussion of contest rules and fairness.  He
said:  "The ideal game has multiple paths to victory".  Games are designed
this way to make them more fun.  In most contests there is one primary way
to win:  build a big station capable of scoring a lot of points through
"running" lots of other stations.  One can also go to the Caribbean and use
a smaller station and still win using the same rate-oriented strategy.

SO2R came about as a strategic enhancement that allowed smaller stations to
achieve superior rate than their antennas and propagation alone would have
allowed with only one radio. The early innovators in SO2R found a loophole
and used their skills to win using this method. Nobody can deny that a SO2R
takes great skill and so we respect ops who win this way.

What if we created a contest with rules that made the operator of a big gun
station have to think carefully about whether continuing with a 250q/hour
run was really the best strategic option?  What if more points could be
gained by maximizing other aspects of station performance or operator skill?
 In my opinion, it would be incredible if we could create a contest with a
set of rules that allowed for winning strategies other than simple
rate-maximization.  This might have the side-effect of revealing that
different station arrangements, geographies, and operator skills had
unexpected strengths.  If this could be done in a way that preserved the
most FUN aspects of contesting, then the contest would likely draw
significant participation quickly become a favorite.

According to this guy from EA, the most successful games are not stingy in
giving out points -- you can earn points for doing nearly anything.  The
overall goal being to create certain behaviors in the players that make the
overall game more fun for everyone.

Imagine if we had a contest that had some of the following characteristics
(the overall approach being more points equals more fun):

- Dupe tally resets halfway through -- stations may work each other again
the second day of the contest (this keeps rate high for everyone)
- A QSO is worth an extra point for each band the other station is worked
on.  Get 1 point the first time you work a station, then 2 for the second
band, 3 for the third band, etc. This would encourage stations to use bands
that may not have the best propagation, which would cut down on congestion
at the bottom of the "hot" band.
- Use the number of unique callsigns in the log as a multiplier (an
incentive to work new stations)
- Also use a traditional multiplier (ARRL sections, countries, etc.) but use
the natural log of the total countries/sections.  This preserves the
incentive to work mults, but doesn't offer as much of an advantage to
stations in highly mult-dense locations.
- Perhaps also use grid squares as a multiplier.  Why not. More ways to
score points means more FUN and more possible winning strategies.
- It might also be fun to have some sort of QSY rule, or maybe award an
extra point awarded if the next QSO is not on the same frequency as the

- The last rule I'd propose would be a power limit of 500W.  I think this
would cut down on band crowding, splatter, and would allow everyone to
better hear the weak signals on the band.

I'm curious if anyone else thinks this sort of contest would be fun.  I
think it's pretty hard to consider these rules and predict with certainty
who would win... But whoever the winner was, I think all participants would
have fun and a win would appear to be the result of operator skill and
station optimization, which is (I think) the point of contesting.

Matt, NQ6N

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