I think some good ideas to help people feel more fairly dealt with would be:
- Have 3 winners, with no #1 spot, $100 per team or something, they can divide in whatever way they chose. OR a winner and several honorable mention prizes, or even something as simple as all participants receive the "support NG" store purchase (equivalent of $25) and a first prize. Add more chance of fresher participants getting something, even if they don't come 1st.
- Review all entrants in an unbiased fashion. Austin breed did this for several of the game jams, and that way ALL participants can look forward to getting some professional level feedback for their hard work, because novice or expert alike, all participants have to work their little asses of to get a game out in that amount of time.
- Alternate random teams and pre-formed teams. I would be incredibly sad if all future game jams didn't allow me to work with the team I love working with, but on the other hand, I'd love to join with people I haven't met on occasion.
Just a few ideas, but there are better ways of talking about an issue than complaining, being constructive is what the cool kids do. Stay in school, don't do drugs.