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Links: Origins Awards Shortlistsss, Spot It on Facebook & Wil Wheaton on a Tabletop

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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• The shortlist for the 38th Annual Origins Awards was published in December 2011 (but overlooked by me previously – whoops!), with the following categories likely to be of interest to the BGG community:

Best Board Game
-----Automobile (Mayfair Games)
-----Cambria (Closet Nerd Games)
-----Crows (Valley Games, Inc.)
-----Dungeons & Dragons: Conquest of Nerath (Wizards of the Coast)
-----Hibernia (Closet Nerd Games)
-----High Noon Saloon (Slugfest Games)
-----Octopus' Garden (Valley Games, Inc.)
-----Pastiche (Gryphon Games)
-----Prêt-à-Porter (Wydawnictwo Portal)
-----The Road to Canterbury (Gryphon Games)

Can Nerath follow Castle
Ravenloft as best board game?
Best Family, Party or Children's Game
-----Bears! (Fireside Games)
-----Dicey Curves (Worden Games)
-----Faux•Cabulary (Out of the Box Publishing)
-----Get Bit! (Mayday Games)
-----Monkeyland (Sirius Products)
-----Scavengers (Zombie State Games)
-----Shake 'n Take (Out of the Box Publishing)
-----Space Mission (Schmidt Spiele)
-----Telestrations 12 Player Party pack (USAopoly)
-----Trophy Buck (Steve Jackson Games)

Best Traditional Card Game
-----Bargain Hunter (Valley Games, Inc.)
-----Cthulhu Gloom (Atlas Games)
-----Eaten by Zombies! (Mayday Games)
-----Food Fight (Cryptozoic Entertainment)
-----Nuts! (WildFire LLC)
-----Penny Arcade: The Game - Gamers vs. Evil (Cryptozoic Entertainment)
-----Star Trek DBG: The Next Generation (Bandai)
-----The New Era (Wydawnictwo Portal)
-----The Red Dragon Inn 3 (Slugfest Games)
-----The Struggle for Catan (Mayfair Games)

The most fun errors on the list: in the category of Best Game Accessory Ted Asplech's Tiebreaker (Asplech?) and in the category of Best Family, Party or Children's Game Shank N' Take, this apparently being the "back alley" version of Out of the Box's quick-playing Shake 'n Take. Fun for the whole family – well, those who survive playing anyway...

Retailers who attended the GAMA Trade Show in mid-March voted on the titles on this shortlist, and the five nominees from each category will be announced this week, with the winners (as voted on by Origins' attendees) to be announced during the Origins convention in June 2012.

Spot It!, aka Dobble, is now playable on Facebook in a solitaire version that starts you off nice and slow, choosing the common item on two cards with only four items to consider, then boosting the number of items to five per card, then six, and so on. The faster you find the match, the more points you score, with double-score bonuses, immunity and other "boosts" available if you're an awesomely fast pair spotter.

• Raph Koster, author of A Theory of Fun for Game Design, focuses on game design for electronic media more than for cardboard, but after surveying all that he's written on his site since 1997, he's compiled a list of his "juiciest game design posts", covering the theory of fun, game grammar, games as art, game economies, player rights, games as a business, and more. Lots to explore for those who want to dig in...

• The 2011 Japan Boardgame Prize has been announced – well, two prizes actually as the honor is split into the U-more award for families and beginning gamers and the Voters' Selection, which is determined by the votes of gamers. In the latter category, Antoine Bauza's 7 Wonders once again came out on top, as it has in so many other award ceremonies. Skull & Roses placed second, with two-thirds the vote total of 7 Wonders, followed by The Resistance, K2, Navegador, Dixit, Hattari, King of Tokyo, Pig 10 and Quarriors!

While Pig 10 placed ninth among the voters, the jury for the U-more award gave that game top honors, with the other nominees being RinglDing and Incan Gold. (And I can see by looking up the winners on BGG that we sorely need a Japanese specialist or two to create version pages for most of the titles listed above and undoubtedly hundreds of others invisible to non-Japanese speakers like me.)

• Since November 2011, Richard Bliss – aka "The Game Whisperer" – has posted a series of podcasts called "Funding the Dream", with the series focusing on Kickstarter and its intersection with the game industry. Episode 43 was posted in mid-March 2012, and with the continuing flow of game releases toward Kickstarter and other crowd-funding sites, Bliss could keep this series running for a long time.

• Actor Wil Wheaton will host a video segment called Tabletop in a new web series organized by Felicia Day called "Geek and Sundry" that debuts on April 2, 2012. As Wheaton notes on his blog:

My ulterior motive with Tabletop is to show by example how much fun it is to play boardgames. I want to show that Gamers aren't all a bunch of weirdoes who can't make eye contact when they talk to you, and that getting together for a game night is just as social and awesome as getting together to watch Sportsball, or to play poker, or for a LAN party, or whatever non-gamers do with their friends. I want to inspire people to try hobby games, and I want to remove the stigma associated with gaming and gamers.

I'm pretty sure we succeeded. By the second day of production, our crew was grabbing games out of our games library to play at lunch. All of our interns and production assistants have become complete game fanatics, and whenever I edit a show, all I want to do is go home and play that game until my face falls off.

I like that – "Gamers aren't all a bunch of weirdos", just a huge portion of them! The Tabletop trailer is online, and after the April 2 debut a new episode will be posted every other Friday. (HT: Jim Flemming)
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