I can remember going to my one of my very first tournaments and winning. The reward? A little piece of paper with my name on it and nothing more.  I went to tournaments to meet new players and some competition with no thought of prize support, today for the most part this hasn’t changed. I think for most competitive players they see the prizes as a bonus– icing on the cake for winning. Especially with large events dishing out, door prizes, grab bags, and a whole host of prize support just for showing up. Events look to compete with each other for our gamer dollar, which is good for you and me. Though we still hear occasional corruption, from TOs winning their own events and cronyism with local favorites– such episodes are rare and far between.

A recent development though might invite not only corruption, but the worst behavior in players.

Large cash prizes.

No random blister, (you might give away) we are talking 1,000 bucks for taking overall. Giving away such a large sum of money sounds great for promotion, but it can also lead to douchery at a level we have never seen before. It also creates an unnecessary potential for organizers to look fraudulent if locals or good friends win their events. In the similar way companies don’t let employees win their own contests TOs now have to be on high alert for anyone in their group winning their event. Just think if you throw subjective equations into the mix (comp) the barrel of bullshit could end up being astronomical. Games like poker deal with large sums of money all the time, but we are talking about tabletop gamers not professional gamblers. It only takes a few bad apples to spoil the bunch and with high stakes the court of opinion is not going to give a crap about who got 45th place, but who won and how they won.

Adding money to the mix is just too dangerous.

I have already read about a few people looking forward to an upcoming event so they have their trip paid for by winning. How disappointed do you think they will be? If a few bloggers are putting the money front and center, you can image what is going through the minds of even more competitive types? I am sure many have seen fights start for less. A  large money prize also sends a clear message: this is the most important part within the event. Giving this type of money away… in say something like a raffle or random door prize would be less problematic. If events took the total pot they were willing to dish out evenly over every category of gamer the incentive for douhery would decrease; still we are dealing with cold hard cash and the larger it increases the possibility for problems rise.

I think investing in door prizes and grab bags does more for general good will and promotion than a winner takes all short stack of benjamins. I am also not sure a hobbyist attending for fun would like the idea funding an enterprise he has no chance of winning in. Besides aren’t we supposed to believe “competitive” players only wish for true competition and nothing more?

This is uncharted territory for our little hobby so it remains to be seen if my trepidation has any merit. Only time will tell…