Thursday, January 1, 2015

Beatriz's 10-step System for Contest Success

"A guide for contests? Has she lost her mind?" you might say as you see my first post in quite a while...

Hello again! It's been a very busy semester, but it's finally winding down, and with that, blogging is gearing up. To change things up a bit in my life I'll be focusing on working instead of school for a while and will thus be able to focus on my favorite non-school activities, like blogging. Expect to see more posts here in the near future!

As you were saying- contests? Who needs a guide for that? I figured that I would put together a list of places to go, things to do and ways to possibly increase your chances at winning stuff (although it always comes down to luck in the end and I can't guarantee that you'll start winning everything after reading this) in Pirate101 because if you're a newcomer to the Pirate101 community or simply new to contests, chances are good that you feel a little lost on the contest stuff. I felt completely lost when I first got into the "extracurricular" side of Wizard101; I had no idea how to keep up with all the contests and twitter/facebook stuff that was going on outside of the game. I would like to help others feel a little less intimidated by our constantly-growing community and prize pools.

1. What types of contests are there? What can I win?

In the interest of being a true guide, it's essential to introduce the types of contests you may see in the community. While it would be tedious for me and boring for you to have a list of every single kind of contest and every single prize I've ever seen, I can give a brief overview of the more popular types of contests and some categories into which prizes usually fall.
  • Traditional
    • These contests usually require some sort of effort and are a competition amongst entrants. These can include drawing/graphics, poetry, fiction, hide-and-seek, diorama making, real-life crafts, captions and scavenger hunts. These are almost all single-entry contests and multiple entries can get you disqualified and possibly even banned from future contests!
  • Raffle
    • Raffles generally don't require an official entry and aren't so much a contest of skill as just luck. Many of these raffles can be entered daily while others may only be entered once. These contests are usually held through Rafflecopter, pulling usernames from a list of Twitter accounts that tweeted a certain hashtag or message and, in the case of Pirate101 Central, the raffle is managed directly through the site. Sometimes you must submit a screenshot of something specific in-game and other times you write a short blurb and send it via email. Either way, these sorts of entries simply confirm that you read the rules and know the requirements and your entries are not judged as they would be in a traditional contest.
  • Currency
    • Currency contests are generally very long-term (as in multiple years) where people sign up for a site account separate from Google and save up site currency by playing games, participating in the site community and winning contests. The more currency one acquires, the closer one gets to purchasing prizes using that currency. No real money is ever used to buy this currency, though some sites may give the option to give currency to other members.
  • Giveaway/Code grab
    • Whatever you want to call them, these contests involve the least effort- codes are posted either on the site or on the owner's twitter account and people must copy the code and paste it into the gift redemption window. You have to be very fast to win any of these codes. Fun fact: the (usually affectionate) name given to people who redeem these codes almost impossibly fast are called code ninjas. Hi-yah!
  • Tournament
    • Tournaments are an increasingly popular way to give prizes to the most skilled PvP players. These contests can either be single duels or, more commonly, leagues involving multiple tiers with prizes being awarded to the highest-ranking players.
  • Data submission
    • Databases are an increasingly popular way for fan sites to keep track of every kind of information from pets to gear. Sometimes owners give community members an incentive to contribute to the database by offering prizes to members who contribute the most information, are the first to submit info or are simply able to submit any info at all.
  • Bundles
    • Pirate101 has four bundles right now: the Cutthroat Bundle, the Admiral's Bundle, the Empire Bundle and the Hoodoo Bundle. These bundles tend to be expensive ($29 USD and $39 USD) and are very coveted prizes. They are almost always seen as prizes immediately after they have been released for sale as a way to promote them.
  • Crowns
    • Crowns can be redeemed on either your Wizard101 account or Pirate101 account. As long as both are managed under the same name, you can use your crowns in any game for purchasing areas, buying from the crown shop and purchasing things like ship boost refills and pet energy refills, making them the most versatile prize.
  • Companions, Pets, Packs, Potions and Other Miscellanea 
    • These prizes are also usually promotional in nature. Companions/pets from new packs can be given as rare prizes and packs are an especially good way to promote their release- after all, they're like Lay's potato chips "you can't have just one!" Potions are also used as prizes, but usually more as free alternative to spending crowns instead of as a promotion of their release.

2. So which sites usually host which kind of contest?

While it's difficult to generalize, since many sites hold all kinds of contests, some owners have preferred styles or host some types of contests more than others. Below is a list with links to each site with some of types of contests they do most often. This list isn't exhaustive and should only be used as an approximation. Don't limit yourself by what you see here; it's popular to find new and different ways of hosting contests and you might come across your new favorite type of contest by exploring every site. Keep in mind that these are official sites, which are trusted by KingsIsle and don't include unofficial sites or social media accounts.

Pirate101 Central- all kinds, except currency, including contests hosted unofficially by members. These contests can usually be trusted, as unofficial contests have rules of conduct that are set by the site and there can be serious consequences for dishonesty.

Duelist101- traditional, raffle, tournaments, giveaways/code grabs

Mercenaries for Charter- traditional, raffle

Petnome Pirates- traditional, raffle, data submission

Pirate101 Skyways- all kinds, except tournaments (currency is found on the Stars of the Spiral forums)

Skull Island TV- traditional, raffle

Stormgate Pirates- all kinds, including member-hosted unofficial contests. Members are encouraged to enter these unofficial contests at their own risk.

Adventures of the Spiral- traditional, raffle

Art in the Spiral- traditional, raffle

Ditto- traditional, raffle

Paige's Page- traditional, raffle

Pirates of the Spiral- traditional, raffle

3. What you need to get started

  • Have Pirate101 downloaded on your computer (this should be an easy one!) in case you need to take screenshots, meet up with someone in-game, etc..
  • Have your parents' permission!- before you do anything on the internet, especially if you're under 13, check with your parents first. They can help you set up accounts and look through sites and contests and help you decide what is safe to do. If you ever feel like you're in trouble or even danger, talk to them. Everyone makes mistakes and they are sure to understand and be more than willing to help.
  • Set up an email account just for contests- preferably through Google. This way you can manage all your entries and you won't have to sift through emails from school, friends and family. Don't include ANY real-life information in this email in case it is somehow compromised or a bad contest host tries to get your personal information from it. Some contests may ask you to send things to them via email, which is perfectly legitimate and should not be suspicious in the case of official contests.
  • Get a special Twitter account- using your special email to set it up would be easiest and safest. Unlike Facebook, you don't have to use any of your real-life information, which is why I recommend it so highly. Just be aware that if you decide to follow more than just official fan site accounts, twitter is unmoderated and bad language and explicit content are not reportable- only illegal activities such as harassment, impersonation or spam are reportable. You can block accounts in order to completely ignore them and personal messages can only be sent between two people who follow each other. Ask your parents before making an account yourself so they can help you decide if it is appropriate for you to have one or not.
  • If you plan on doing graphics/drawing, make sure you have a scanner or a good quality camera for drawings/photographs of crafts and good quality art software for graphics. If you don't have access to Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, GIMP is a completely free program and is almost identical to Photoshop. Again, ask your parents for permission before downloading and let them help you make sure you are downloading the program from a legitimate site that won't install a lot of adware or viruses.
  • For currency contests, make sure you set up an account with the site.

4. Keep up with the official fan sites in every way possible

Pirate101 has graciously listed all the fan sites with whom they are officially affiliated. This means the prizes are coming straight from Pirate101 and KingsIsle themselves and the site owners have been proven trustworthy enough to give away codes for really cool stuff.

In the age of Google domination, it's easy to keep up with a lot of blogs who are connected to Google. Many have ways of "following" their sites so that you can get updates whenever a new post is made either by email or Google+.

5. Make sure the contest is legit

The best way to tell whether a contest is trustworthy or not is if the contest is being held by KingsIsle or an officially affiliated site owner. While other contests are not all bad (I have entered many and even won a couple non-official contests and really enjoyed the experience), go to the official contests first. If you see a really appealing non-official contest, do a little research on who is hosting it. Have they done contests before? Do they have a way of guaranteeing that what you are getting is more than just a used or expired card/bundle code? Do they announce who the winner is? Are they using a web tool that handles all the entries like Rafflecopter or Twitter? While it's nearly impossible to avoid the occasional fake contest, all you will lose is some time and a little effort if it does happen to you. This is another reason why having an email address dedicated to contests can be important; if you enter a bad contest and the "host" gives your email away, your information will not be compromised, your friends and family won't be spammed and you can close down the account immediately without losing much. Then you can just make a new account.
Any contest asking for real-life money, personal details including real-life information or your Pirate101/Wizard101 account information is not legitimate and you should stay far away!

6. Don't forget about Wizard101

While not all Wizard101 contests are going to have prizes you are interested in, everyone loves crowns. Crowns are a popular prize because you don't have to be official or wait for official codes to come in to buy crowns gift certificate codes (the option on the left) and distribute them as prizes. Keep a list of Wizard101 fan sites and check up on any KI-hosted Wizard101 contests for crowns prizes. You can win a crowns prize in a Wizard101 contest and still use the crowns on your Pirate101 account. Furthermore, if you win a Wizard101 bundle all prize bundles automatically come with crowns, so you can redeem the bundles and still get some use out of the crowns in Pirate101.

7. Be diligent

There are many ways in which a contest can be run, but some of the most popular ways include entering once every day. While rubbing your stomach and patting your head might increase your luck, diligence is, perhaps, the best way to maximize your chances of winning prizes. You can set reminders on your phone or computer to go fill out Rafflecopter requirements to get your daily raffle entry in.

In addition, it would be of great interest to check out Stormgate Pirates and its W101 sister site Legends of the Spiral. I point these two out specifically because the owner who runs both sites is very skilled in making contests. He almost always has an ongoing sweepstakes on both sites and there is a nifty currency system on Legends of the Spiral that lets you play minigames and enter contests to earn tokens, which can then be used to "purchase" prizes from the token store. It is very much worth visiting this site every day to collect tokens. Over the course of about three months, I was able to save up enough tokens to get my very own Arcane Bundle house. This required visiting every single day and doing every single activity. You can earn tokens quicker by winning traditional contests, too. Prizes are usually updated every other month and straight crowns prizes are almost always among them.

8. But isn't it going to be a lot of work checking both Pirate101 AND Wizard101 sites?

It is if you don't find a way to keep up with all of them at once. My best recommendation is getting a Twitter account. You must be over 13 to make one, but you may also ask your parents to make and maintain one for you. Almost all blogs have twitter accounts, and if they don't their owners are sure to have one. Wizard101 and Pirate101 also have their own twitters and their contests will be announced through Twitter as well as all their other social media platforms. If you want to make a separate twitter account that's just for following blogs and not interacting with others, that's a great way to quickly check all sites every day without scrolling through conversations (however if you do this, I recommend you also make an account where you interact with your fellow community members- you can make lots of new friends and get to know site owners and KI employees personally). Owners also occasionally host contests exclusive to twitter. Many of these are flash contests, which are held on short notice and usually only last a few minutes. These games can include hide-and-seek, guessing where a picture was taken and trivia. Sometimes they are announced on the owner's site, but exact times are not always listed. These contests are a bit trickier, especially if you are in school or at work, but equally fun and owners are aware of time zones so they will usually try to vary when they hold their twitter contests.

Other ways to keep up include following on Facebook. While this works, not every fan site has a facebook page and when you 'like' a page, others who also liked the page can see your real name and your profile picture. Facebook generally dislikes accounts made with game character names and it can't be guaranteed that facebook accounts made with fake names won't be deleted without warning.

9. Be polite

This is actually a huge, very important point. Remember to be courteous to the hosts and your fellow entrants. It's actually quite easy:

  • Always, always thank the host(s) for the contest. They didn't have to spend the time and effort coming up with the contest and setting it up, and it's more work than it appears to manage entries, pick winners and give out prizes. It's just good manners to thank them and it will brighten their busy day.
  • Whether or not you win anything, congratulate the winners. This is a sign of maturity as well as simply good manners.
  • Don't be a sore loser- or a sore winner! If you didn't get anything, don't throw a fit. Don't say the contest was rigged. Don't say the contest was dumb. Don't call the host, winners, or anybody dumb. If you're upset, you might be surprised at how much better you feel if you congratulate the winners and politely mention that you're looking forward to entering the next contest. If you did win, don't rub it in everyone else's face. Thank the host again for winning and be on your way, maybe post a screenshot or two showing how much you enjoy the prize and tag the host somehow to show your appreciation, but don't post the screenshots just to brag.
  • If the prizes aren't interesting, just skip over the contest and wait for the next one. Don't say the prizes are lame. Don't say the entry requirements are lame. Don't say they're dumb, either. Most of the official hosts don't have much control over what the prizes are. You'd have to talk to KingsIsle about that- good luck getting them to care about a couple people's complaints that the prizes aren't good enough for just them!

10. Remember that you won't always win

...In fact, very few of the vast multitude of entries you submit will be winners. You won't have enough site currency to buy the prize of your dreams in a mere number of days. Even when you enter the raffle every day there's a good chance you won't win. Don't get discouraged by any of this. It is simply the nature of a contest. The only way you're guaranteed to never win is to never submit an entry. It will be hard when you put a lot of effort into a drawing or story or if you spent a lot of time saving up currency and the last prize was bought before you could get to it, or if you lose the PvP match that would have made you the final champion. These things happen, you're not the only one, and you WILL get other chances, so get out there and give it your best shot every day- you might walk away with some crowns and bundles for your efforts.

Happy contesting, Pirates!

1 comment:

  1. VERY well written. Completely informative and your graphics are spot on. You are really good at this and I am bookmarking this one for whenever someone wants contest help. This is a keeper for sure. Ya done good :D