Diana Jones, and Other Awards

The Diana Jones for 2013 nominees have been announced and as usual it’s a great list. Even Slashdot picked up on the news and called it “hobby gaming’s top prize”. Others were quick to point out this is a title more worthy of going to Spiel der Jahres, but whatevs. There are a lot of cool awards, each interesting for different reasons. Fred Hicks summed up the many gaming awards thusly on an industry forum.


​The top award in RPGs is a bit more muddy depending on who you ask. Much has to do with what you think of the population of folks doing the voting.
Diana Jones is voted on by a small secret panel of insiders and I believe past winners. It’s a lot like winning a Nobel prize voted on solely by past Nobel winners. Very elite, very respected. I tend to regard the nomination as the win. Making the list is a big deal.
​ The Indie RPG Awards are voted on by a small community (more inclusive than DJA perhaps) of independent game designers. It might be an outlier here but my company would not exist if Rob and I hadn’t won an award or two from them in its earliest years. So I still regard them as significant.
Getting nominated for an Origins award means you have done a good job of looking like an awesome game to the retailers who attend GTS.
Winning one means you are especially delicious to and good at motivating the gamers who attended Origins that year.
​ Individually those facts are kinda ehhh, but I like how it intersects two different populations. I’m proud to have a OA or two on my shelf.
The ENnies are nominated by a popularly selected panel of fellow gamer judges. They regard a huge body of work from the year and divide them up into a variety of largely relevant categories for nomination. Making it to the nomination list feels great. It feels like someone took the time to really weigh and measure your game.
Winning ENnie is done via Internet voting. It’s very populist. It can very much be a popularity contest. The biggest players tend to grab the gold. But that said they awar a silver too and that’s often where the real interest and surprise can happen. So yeah, a popularity contest a la People’s Choice. But you know what? It can feel pretty fucking great to be told you’re the belle of the ball. As such this tends to be my personal idea of what the top prize in RPGs is. But it ain’t the only contender.
Others out there include the Golden Geeks (love this but it’s limited to the population of folks who can survive the nightmare interface of the BGG/RPGG) site and others I’m sure I’m forgetting.
The one I’d add is the French award the Grog d’Or, which is always worth watching. There’s also some growing American awards, like the American Family Association’s Board Game of the Year. MENSA also votes for board games and has picked some winners over the years, including non-brain burners like Apples to Apples.
Generally, it’s pretty hard to win an award without deserving it somewhat. And as mentioned above and in the previous post, sometimes being nominated alone is impressive.  Getting on the Diana Jones list is always worth a nod. As you can see on the link, this year’s crowd is pretty awesome and varied – games, cons, books and youtube shows. For my money, the winner should be Table Top because Wil Wheaton has arranged for every game he features to be sold in major US retailers like Target. That breaks down one of the fundamental barriers to game sales we’ve always faced: the need to go to a specialist store.  RPGs like Fiasco are turning into time fillers everyone can pick up at the supermarket. That’s changing the landscape on an epic scale.

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