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Eric: Wherein Eric proves he is an RPG snob. *sniff*

Friend and Funkmaster Soul Brother #741 Chad Underkoffler came away from this year's Indie RPG Awards having done well for himself -- a runner up for Indy Game of the Year with Dead Inside, winner of the People's Choice Award (which was voted on, believe it or not, by actual physical postcards being sent, not a web thing), and other high placements elsewhere and in other categories.

There's an odd feeling I get when I read the Indy RPG Awards winner, too. It's a feeling I'm so... not used to when I look at RPG awards being given out these days.

That feeling? "Satisfaction." Everything that's on the winners or runners-up lists for the 2004 Indie RPG Awards seems worthy not only of praise but attention. Dogs in the Vineyard, a game that combines both stunning innovation and great heaping gobs of fun, took top honors this year, and good for them. Games like CAT and The Shadow of Yesterday also did really well, and the supplements category (topped by the utterly cool Monster Burner and going down the list from there with many good and froody offerings, including Underkoffler's Cold, Hard World) gives me both pleasure and a list of products to seek out. And that's a good combination.

It can be said that the lack of the "mainstream" games calls the efficacy of these awards into question. However, given the sheer banality of the Origins Awards this year, actually seeing games that pushed the envelope and innovated was so refreshing I almost wept.

There are the ENnies as well, of course. And I'm much much happier with the ENnie nominees than I am with the Origins, though the structure of the ENnies is all People's Choice, without juried or peer components. That the ENnies do a vastly better job of nominating games than the Origins should say something about the anemic connection the Origins selection process has to the actual RPG landscape. The Origins should be the award that bridges the gap between the ENnies -- which specifically reflect the popular tastes of the RPG community -- and the Indies, which specifically cant towards innovative design in small press. The Origins should be the big awards because they're the awards that cover both the specialist understandings that RPG Developers and Peers can bring to the table alongside the clamor of folks who love what the big publishers do.

Instead, we can at least take solace that everything the Indie RPG Awards nominated and selected is solidly worthy of your time and attention, with selections based on a real understanding of both the art and science of game development. And if you can't stand the Indie mystique, at least the ENnies are out there to punch up solid, excellent games without throwing sops to Wizards of the Coast to give the awards "legitimacy."

Congratulations, Mr. Underkoffler, Mr. Baker and all the winners of the Indies.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at August 22, 2005 10:53 AM

Comments

Comment from: John Fiala posted at August 22, 2005 1:04 PM

Except, the Ennies *do* have a judged component. Well, judges determine which games get voted on. Maybe I misunderstand what you mean by "all people's Choice, without juried or peer components"?

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at August 22, 2005 1:14 PM

Do they, John? I honestly thought the ENnies were open to public nomination. If I'm wrong... well then, the Origins are completely useless even in concept, instead of just in execution. ;)

Comment from: John Fiala posted at August 22, 2005 1:28 PM

Sure. Check this related webpage:

http://www.enworld.org/ennies/index.php?do=judges

Comment from: miyaa posted at August 23, 2005 12:25 AM

1. Yup. ENnies have pretty superceded Origin awards in terms of prestige. Gaming company websites are more likely to point out Ennies winners they bagged more than Origin awards. ENworld does it right.

2. At least all of the RPG awards pretty much agree on one thing: Monte Cook is some kind of RPG Deity these days. His Arcana Unearthed/Evolved series is pretty much calculus compared to D&D's algebra thought processes.

3. Did anyone go to Gen Con this year?

Comment from: Piratecat posted at August 23, 2005 1:44 PM

I'm one of the ENnies judges this year, and I was the emcee at the awards show at GenCon. I see that folks already noted the judged component, but I figured I'd lay out the process.

1. Judges are selected over at EN World.

2. Publishers submit entries. Many, but not all, publishers enter; for instance, we got (and nominated!) the indy RPGs Burning Wheel and Capes, but didn't receive the excellent Dogs in the Vineyard. This year we had over 200 products submitted.

3. The judges read the entries. All of them. This takes a crazy stupid amount of time, but it's essential if we're going to try to winnow down the entries to five nominees in each category.

4. The judges pick what they consider the best products in each category, then fistfight each other until each category has five nominees. (The 6th becomes an honorable mention, but isn't voted on by fans.)

5. The five nominees in each category are voted on by the fans. This year we had over 4000 ballots cast.

6. The ENnies (technically the GenCon EN World RPG Awards) are presented at GenCon. Winners can be found at http://www.enworld.org/ennies/index.php

Hope that helps!

- Kevin Kulp

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