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Which RPG Awards are Relevant to You as a GM?

There are a number of different RPG awards given out each year, and some of them pique my interest as a GM more than others.

In most gaming groups, the GM is the one who owns the most books (at least, for the game currently being played) — and you have decide what to buy somehow. How much of a role do RPG awards play in helping you decide which games to buy — and therefore, to run?

These are the four most prominent RPG awards that I’m aware of:

All of them take a different approach, which is handy since it prevents a good deal of overlap.

Diana Jones Award: From their “about” page: “The Diana Jones Award is decided on merit, not popularity or commercial success. You may never have heard of some of the nominees, but you can be certain that they are all outstanding in their fields. What is more, because the winner is chosen by a closed, anonymous committee, it is impossible for a manufacturer or publisher to stuff the ballot or interfere with the voting.

ENnies: The ENnies are “a peoples’ choice award, and the final winners are voted upon by the gaming public at EN World.” The process is an interesting one: EN Worlders vote on who the five judges will be (anyone can apply to judge); publishers submit products to the judges; the judges decide which products will be nominated for awards; and during the voting window, gamers visit EN World and vote for their favorites (the “peoples’ choice” aspect).

Origins Awards: The Origins Awards are run by the Academy of Adventure Games Art and Design [5], and Academy members select the best products in several categories (a closed process). These are the longest running awards by far — they’ve been giving out Origins Awards since 1975 — and probably the most prestigious.

Pen & Paper Fan Awards: From their description: “The Pen & Paper Fan Awards are voted on once a year by visitors to this site. Voters are free to select any product they wish; no predetermined nominees are selected.” Like the ENnies and the Origins Awards, the Pen & Paper Fan Awards span a wide range of categories.

I’ve voted in the Pen & Paper Fan Awards for the past couple of years, and in the ENnies since their inception. I’ve never been on the Diana Jones committee, and I’m not a member of the AAGAD, so voting in either of those awards is right out for me.

Personally, I have to say that none of them have a major impact on me as a GM. I generally know what’s “out there” in terms of RPGs (although the Diana Jones Award recipients can definitely catch me by surprise), and through a combination of research on the net and flipping through books at my local gaming shop, I usually have a pretty good idea what I’m interested in buying — and running.

That said, I do enjoy the ENnies and the Pen & Paper awards quite a bit, mainly because I have the opportunity to participate in them. That participation gets me thinking about games I might not otherwise have considered, and that’s one of several factors that can pique my interest in running a game.

On the flipside, even though the Origins Awards are the closest in format to the Academy Awards, which I love to watch, gaming is so much more of a participatory hobby than watching movies that I tend not to pay too much attention them.

RPG awards definitely heighten awareness that there is a wider gaming community out there, represent major accomplishments for the winners and have plenty of other things going for them — I think they’re a good thing, and I’d love to win one someday. I’m just not sure how useful they are to most GMs.

I can see where these awards might be a useful tool for some GMs, though: as a way to find new games to play, as the “tipping point” in picking up a game you were already thinking about, as a shortcut through time-consuming research into different games and so forth.

How about it — do you pay attention to any RPG awards? Have you ever bought or run a game largely (or even solely) because it won an award?

10 Comments (Open | Close)

10 Comments To "Which RPG Awards are Relevant to You as a GM?"

#1 Comment By Jeff Rients On November 26, 2005 @ 9:51 am

I tend to take the ENnies and Diana Jones awards seriously, but I don’t always follow them. I consider positive buzz in Ken Hite’s post-GenCon Out of the Box column to be at least as good a barometer as either of these. But I don’t rush out to buy anything going just on these sources. They might pique my curiosity or serve as a tipping point on something that already vaguely interests me. I’m pretty sure I didn’t get Sorcerer until Ron Edwards won the Diana Jones.

The P&P Awards don’t register on my radar and Ryan Dancey’s antics killed any chance of me taking the Origin awards seriously again. Nice job, Ryan!

#2 Comment By Frank Filz On November 26, 2005 @ 10:40 am

I really don’t pay awards of any sort much attention at all. What has influenced my purchasing is:

Monte Cook’s Design Diary convinced me Monte was a thoughful designer and convinced me to try Arcana Unearthed.

I’ll pick up almost anything for some of my favorite settings (Judges Guild’s Wilderlands of High Fantasy, Glorantha, Dave Areneson’s Blackmoor, Thieve’s World, Tekumel, Talislanta are the settings I’m currently following – in the past I did all the 7th Sea stuff, but sort of regret it).

An in store demo sold me 7th Sea.

A demo at the Forge booth at GenCon sold me Riddle of Steel. I’ve also purchased several other games at the Forge booth. The Forge in general has also sold me Universalis and The Shadow of Yesterday. I ordered Sorcerer and Sword based on threads at the Forge.

I pick up a fair bit of D20 stuff based on reads in the store, though I’ve gotten more selective (mostly only Malhavoc and Wizards of the Coast stuff other than favorite settings these days).

So yea, the awards pretty much have no impact on me.


#3 Comment By Crazy Jerome On November 26, 2005 @ 3:58 pm

There are awards?

Just kidding. I pay little to no attention to any of them. I’m vaguely aware that the Origins and Ennies are out there, just from comments on game sites.

#4 Comment By Martin On November 27, 2005 @ 9:45 am

(Jeff) The P&P Awards don’t register on my radar and Ryan Dancey’s antics killed any chance of me taking the Origin awards seriously again. Nice job, Ryan!

Ryan’s “antics” didn’t register on my radar, oddly enough. What happened?

I’m curious to see if anyone who comments on this post will be in a different boat — so far, we’re all on pretty much the same page regarding awards.

#5 Comment By Matt On November 28, 2005 @ 11:16 am

I don’t pay much attention to awards either, although I do like to know who wins. When I do pay attention, it is mostly to double check my own opinion of some book and make sure that I did not underestimate it

#6 Comment By mcv On November 28, 2005 @ 11:54 am

I too am vaguely aware of the existence of awards, and I’m mildly pleased when something I like actually wins something, but other than that, I couldn’t care less. Wat does matter to me is:

* My own experience playing it (at a con, for example),
* Someone whose taste I think I know and share saying good stuff about it,
* A good review (which explains not just what’s good about it, but also what’s bad about it; I don’t trust reviews that only point out the good),
* In general, people saying nice stuff about something.

I also tend to check out stuff made by a game designer I like.

#7 Comment By ScottM On November 28, 2005 @ 5:51 pm

I follow this thread’s herd perfectly. Awards don’t do much, but enthusiastic actual play sells me frequently.

#8 Comment By Martin On November 29, 2005 @ 7:36 am

Interesting — I expected at least one comment along the lines of, “I’ve bought X number of things to run based on RPG awards.”

In the absence of any real disagreement, I supposed the logical follow-up question is: Who are RPG awards aimed at?

I’ve always heard that Origins carries a fair amount of weight within the industry, because the judges are fellow game desginers/writers, and all of them are exciting for the winners — but who else are they relevant to, and why?

#9 Comment By mcv On November 29, 2005 @ 8:05 am

I’ve always heard that Origins carries a fair amount of weight within the industry,

Perhaps that’s who they’re aimed at: the industry itself, publishers and distributers perhaps. And perhaps we’re not a perfect cross-section of the gaming community.

#10 Comment By Martin On November 29, 2005 @ 10:51 am

(mcv) And perhaps we’re not a perfect cross-section of the gaming community.

Here’s my thinking, from largest niche to smallest niche:

Gamers -> GMs -> GMs who read TT -> GMs who read TT and comment on this post

That’s a pretty small cross-section, at least at the moment. 😉