Word count will solely be determined by wordcounter.io. You can use any special characters you want to, but if wordcounter.io counts it as a word, then it's a word. This is just to keep things simple and to make judging entries as easy as possible.
After tinkering around a bit, it seems like wordcounter.io DOES count special characters, unlike the counter on the 200 Word RPG website. So no ASCII art for me.
Good news! We are no longer using wordcounter.io! See the new thread for the changes!