Game programming challenge contest: What's a good prize?

So as a vanity / why not project, I want to create some games. I have 5 ideas complete with design docs. I’m an experienced programmer and entrepreneur. Mt first instinct is to throw some money at a cheap overseas (likely Indian) company and see what happens.

But our local economy sucks. I really want to give some work to recently graduated and unemployed, or still in a school looking for jobs programmers. I was thinking of doing one of these “programming challenges” where a few creative individuals form a team and try to bang out a working prototype in a weekend.

First, anyone have any experiences with this? How we’re they run? Good execution? Bad? Waste of time?

Second, I need to think of a reward system that is fair. I was thinking along the lines of $3000 + 25% royalties on any revenue earned for the winner, and smaller rewards for those who complete a game/participate. Still with royalties. Not even sure if they will ever be published . . . again, this is more of a vanity project.

Anyone have any thoughts? Just throwing out this idea, have not pursued or anything outside of getting quotes from a developer.

Royalties don’t seem to make a lot of sense.

The kind of code you get out of a game jam in a weekend isn’t going to be anywhere close to the final code. If you were to make it an actual product, probably every bit of that prototype would eventually be scrapped and re-written completely.

Plus, the overhead of actually tracking and distributing the royalties would probably be more than they’re worth.

Agree with CLWheeljack

How about some $ and then something that helps their programming down the road, like a choice of classes, membership in something meaningful, or a device fully loaded with dev kits & such. One of the coolest “prizes” I received for programming (long story) was an Arduino device: with some fun attachments. Open source hardware! Great for all aspiring geeks!

Edit: or, rereading your post. You could hire them to make the real thing.

Yep, this is kinds of a talent scout competition. I know the whole thing is not going to be done in a weekend. I’m just looking for some prototypes that can be polished later.

If not royalties, would that amount make sense? Or maybe slightly less and some goodies? More?

Still in the brainstorming stage here.