comp.sys.sinclair Crap Games Competition

The comp.sys.sinclair Crap Games Competition (also known simply as the CSSCGC) is an annual competition for crap computer game development.[1] It is specifically targeted at the Sinclair Research range of 8-bit computers including clones, derivatives and emulators of those systems.[2]



The competition was originated by posters to the comp.sys.sinclair newsgroup and was inspired by the Cascade Cassette 50 compilation[1][3] as well as Rich Pelley's Crap Game Corner from Your Sinclair Magazine.[4] It started off in 1996[5][6] merely as an idea to "outdo" the original Cassette 50 tape by producing a compilation of newsgroup members' own efforts.[7] During subsequent years, it evolved into the present-day form of competition. As of 2011, the event has taken place every year since 1996 and by the end of 2010 a total of 785 entries had been submitted.[5][8] To date, the competition has remained an informal hobbyist, community-driven event. Although it lacks any formal organisation or centralised controlling body, it remains an unofficial feature of the retrogaming community amongst which other games are sometimes compared.[9][10]


Generally, the aim of the competition and criteria for entry and ranking have been loosely defined.[11] The focus has tended to be on low-quality games which reproduce the look, feel and un-playability of those found on the original Cascade Cassette 50 tape.[11] Also, games which parody, satirise or even extend those of the original Cassette 50 tape have been submitted. In later years the scope had broadened considerably with many newer titles bearing little resemblance to those on the Cassette 50 tape. Some accepted titles have consisted of technical tricks, joke programs or applications rather than games.[12] Authors have also submitted deliberately good programs to the competition.[13] A significant proportion of submissions have the word "simulator" in the title, a reference to Codemasters games that often had "simulator" in the title and often alluding to simulating something either completely mundane or conversely something well beyond the realistic limits of an 8-bit system.[12]

Since its inception, the competition had originally been dominated by UK-based entrants and judges, although in 2008 for example, the competition gained considerable international participation, with games being submitted from several countries including most notably Spain,[14] Argentina, Italy & Russia. Of particular note were the submissions of games in the Spanish and Russian languages and an eventual competition victory by a Spanish development team.[15]

Submissions are very often written in interpreted Sinclair BASIC as BASIC is a natural language for writing crap games.[1] However, submitted titles have also been developed in Z80 machine code, compiled BASIC, Small-C (using Z88DK) and FORTH amongst others.[12]

The vast majority of the games submitted are for the ZX Spectrum platform, which was the most successful and popular Sinclair computer.[16] However, games for the ZX80, ZX81[17] & Jupiter Ace (a non-Sinclair "derivative" computer) as well as several other related computer models have also been submitted to the competition.[12] The exact list of permitted hardware platforms as well as the scope of allowed software is at the complete discretion of the incumbent judge, with variations in the rules commonplace from one year to the next.

In theory, the competition is organised, hosted and judged by a different individual each year, although some organisers have hosted and judged it on more than one occasion.[8][18] The host and judge are often the same person. However, as in the case of the 2005 competition, the judge can be a different person than the host. Typically, the loser of the competition is asked to be the host and/or judge of the following year's competition, whilst the winner may receive a low-value prize, or perhaps nothing at all apart from the recognition of having won. Another informal tradition is that the closing date of the competition may be deliberately set further back by the host whilst the competition itself is running,[19] often adding to the confusion and disorganisation that has been a hallmark of the event. However, as the rules vary according to the judge of the day, these practices are not always upheld. Over the years, the competition has generally maintained a whimsical and humorous approach to retro game development and judging.

Availability of submissions

As of 2011, all previous competition entries are archived at the World of Spectrum FTP site [20] and are ordinarily considered freely distributable, assuming that permission has been granted.[21] Entries up to and including CSSCGC 2008 are also organised and catalogued at Unsatisfactory Software's 'Crap Game Finder' website.[8] However, technically the copyright status of submissions can vary. For example the 2006 competition rules stated that all games are copyright their respective authors [4] whereas the 2008 and 2009 rules simply stated that all authors agree to free distribution of their submissions.[22][23] In at least one case, an author has withdrawn a submission and rescinded distribution permission on it.[24]

Table of competitions

The following table is necessarily incomplete since full ranking of all submissions has only been carried out in the later competitions.[25] Also, in 1997 no ranking was applied at all, as the emphasis was in producing a crap game compilation, rather than a competitive event.[26] Some of the earlier websites' original links are now dead and therefore omitted from the table. Others are now only present in archival form, for example on World of Spectrum or the Wayback Machine.

Year Judge/Organiser[8] Website Number of entries[8] Winning Title Winning Author Losing Title Losing Author
1996 Blood (The 1997 page immediately below covers both the 1996 and 1997 archives) 60 Anthea Turner's National Lottery Simulator Alan Moore - -
1997 Blood 51 - - - -
1998 Barry Salter

(only top-level link to competition page exists - the csscgc page itself was not archived)

54 ZX Spectrum Emulator Derek Jolly - -
1999 Alistair Nelson & Graham Goring 41 Sheepdog Ian Collier - -
2000 Graham Goring 53 Erotic Pinball Chris Young - -
2001 Adam D. Moss 37 Fire Electric Pen Joe Mackay - -
2002 Paul Equinox Collins 21 Millionaire Chris Young - -
2003 Dave the Lurker 75 Crap Invaders Woody - -
2004 Jim Langmead 69 Falling Paul Equinox Collins - -
2005 Starglider/deKay 45 George Best Deathbed Simulator, The Alex Taylor - -
2006 Matt Rudge 37 Celebrity Arses Crapman Advanced Big Brother Head of Security Simulator Chris Young
2007 Chris Young & Phillip Lake 41 Dobsonic Defendor (Gold Edition) David Mackenzie The Quest for the Golden Egg Digital Prawn
2008 Digital Prawn 123 The Ultimate First Communion Simulator The Mojon Twins Lapland Theme Park Manager Cruddy Software
2009 Guesser 37 Whack-A-Nun Ben Rapier Knot in 2D (Machine Code Edition) BloodBaz
2010 BloodBaz 42 Complete Useless Machine Simulator Dr. Beep Homeless Horace Mulder
2011 The Mojon Twins - (TBA) (TBA) (TBA) (TBA)

Example submission screenshots

The Quest for the Golden Egg (2007), ZX81
Space Whale (2009), ZX Spectrum
Commode Nybbler Part Deux (2009), ZX Spectrum
Smiler in Arrowe Land[27] (2010), ZX Spectrum
Turbo Rubber Ducky Shootout (2010), ZX Spectrum
MEMPTR Snake (2011), ZX Spectrum


  1. ^ a b c Jolly, Derek (2004-04-13). "comp.sys.sinclair Folklore FAQ". comp.sys.sinclair FAQ Maintenance Group. Retrieved 2011-05-05. "The Comp.Sys.Sinclair Crap Games Competition. This is an annual competition in which the residents of the newsgroup try to write the crappiest games possible." 
  2. ^ Cree, Alistair (2009-01-01). "Everything you never wanted to know about the CSSCGC". Retrieved 2011-05-05. "The Comp.Sys.Sinclair Crap Games Competition is an annual competition between the regular posters of the comp.sys.sinclair newsgroup, and anyone else who can be bothered, to write the crappest game for a sinclair computer." 
  3. ^ Woodcock, Colin. "CSSCGC2002 result; CSSCGC2003 kicks off; CC50 is 20 years old". ZX Format (4): 18–19. "This will be the eighth celebration of the thoroughly dreadful standard of games programming established by the Cascade Cassette 50 compilation" 
  4. ^ a b Rudge, Matt (2006). "About The Competition". Retrieved 2011-05-05. "Basically, the idea is to make a really crap game. It has to be originally crap (or crappily original), not just unplayable and bug-filled." 
  5. ^ a b Paul E Collins (2011-02-21). "Crap Games Competition". Retrieved 2011-05-05. "Every year, in homage to the legendarily terrible 1980s games collection Cascade Cassette 50, the residents of comp.sys.sinclair compete to create the most amusingly awful game for the Sinclair Spectrum." 
  6. ^ Woodcock, Colin (2004). "The ZX Spectrum on your PC". CafePress. Retrieved 2011-05-08. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c d e Young, Chris (January 2011). "Crap Game Finder". Unsatisfactory Software. Retrieved 2011-05-05. "The CSSCGC was inspired by Cascade Cassette 50. For over twenty years, nobody knew the real story behind what has gained the reputation of "the worst games compilation ever", until redkeyreddoor interviewed the author of Galaxy Defence." 
  9. ^ "Hall of Shame: Chase HQ". Retro Gamer (Imagine Publishing) (5): 16. 2005. "It may even provide inspiration for those people wishing to enter this year's Crap Game Competition." 
  10. ^ Xor, Alex (2004-08-01). "Interface - Alex Xor о положеннии дел игровой индустрии на ZX Spectrum." (in Russian). Adventurer ( (15). "тем не менее, большинство релизов далеко опережают работы, выставляемые на crap game competition." 
  11. ^ a b Langmead, Jim (2005-03-01). "comp.sys.sinclair crap games competition 2004". Retrieved 2011-05-05. "All games are the copyright of their respective authors, for what it's worth." 
  12. ^ a b c d "CSSCGC 2008 Results". Digital Prawn. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2011-05-05. "Congratulations to "The Mojon Twins" for winning CSSCGC 2008 with "The Ultimate First Communion Simulator"." 
  13. ^ Woodcock, Colin (2002). "The King of Crap". ZX Format (1): 8. "It's not escaped the attention of many CSSCGC players that some of the competitors over the years have shown blatent disregard for the rules of this sport, turning in entries that are actually quite good." 
  14. ^ Miguel Angel Montejo Ráez (2008). "El peor jeugo del mundo tiene premio" (in Spanish). Fanzine Bytemaniacos. "Crear el jeugo peor realizado, más absurdo, sin sentido, injugable... ese es el objetivo." 
  15. ^ "The Ultimate First Communion Simmulator" (in Spanish). The Mojon Twins. 2009. Retrieved 2011-05-05. "El camino hacia la salvación es arduo y esta lleno de vicisitudes." 
  16. ^ Owen, Chris (2003). "ZX Spectrum". Planet Sinclair. Retrieved 2011-05-05. "By far the most famous and successful of his many products, the ZX Spectrum earned Clive Sinclair a fortune" 
  17. ^ Woodcock, Colin (2004). "CSSCGC 2003 Results". ZX Format (7): 16. "And this year you can submit ZX81 games too!" 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "The CSS Crap Games Competition". Deekay's Lofi Gaming. 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-05. "Every year, the cheery folk that inhabit CSS relive the ‘excitement’ of such god-awful releases for the Spectrum" 
  20. ^
  21. ^ van der Heide, Martijn (2003-03-25). "ARCHIVE - COPYRIGHTS AND DISTRIBUTION PERMISSIONS". World of Spectrum. "Retro-gaming - emulating original arcade machines and later consoles and other gaming machines - has gained increasing interest by fans." 
  22. ^ "CSSCGC 2008 Rules". Digital Prawn. 2008-12-09. Retrieved 2011-05-05. "All entries must be crap games that run on Sinclair computers i.e. the Sinclair Spectrum 16K/48K/128K." 
  23. ^ Cree, Alistair (2009-01-01). "the CSSCGC rules". Retrieved 2011-05-05. "Rule Number 1: The game must run on a Sinclair computer, or a compatable clone." 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ See the file "MANUAL.TXT" inside the archive.
  27. ^ Bebbington, Shaun (March 2010). "Hello Smiler". Micro Mart (Dennis Publishing Ltd.) (1096): 102–103. "It's quite an interesting challenge for fans of puzzle games, although the spot effects are a little sparse and it's not graphically the best thing you'll see on the Spectrum." 

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