Hooray! Nominees are up - go check them out.
I've really put a lot of thought into awards these days. There are certainly quite a few of them out there, even if most people use an award to validate their opinions on games.
So with so many awards out there, why another award?
My main goal with the Dice Tower Gaming Awards was to provide a platform on which games could be recognized - even smaller game companies. I wanted any game to have a chance of winning - whether Ameritrash, Euro, abstract game, etc. Obviously no award is going to be perfect, and I'm sure ours have lots of problems. But let's take a look at the current awards out there.
Spiel des Jahres. This is the biggest, by far. I usually enjoy the winners and nominees of this category. It does have a limited scope - family games, which I don't have a problem with - it's a good way to find out some of the best family games. My problems with the award (for me) are that it doesn't have enough variety, and that it's focused on German games. An American based game with a lot of English text, or a funky Japanese game aren't going to have a chance - unless translated into German. No big deal - but as a person with English as my main language, I'd like to see an English award with the same clout that this award has.
Sadly there are none. But the contenders would be:
Origins Game Awards: These would have the potential of being the American "Spiel des Jahres". But with a flawed process, several main companies ignoring the awards completely, and a lack of global outlook, these awards have lost a lot of credibility over the years. (NOTE: I'm currently on the committee for Family/Party/Children's games.)
IGA: I like the idea of these awards, and while I find their voting system fairly funky - it does work, and they have some great gamers on the committee. My main problem with IGA is that they are simply Eurogame centric. An Ameritrash game doesn't have a chance, unless it's two player - a category the committee doesn't seem to enjoy quite as much. The day Fantasy Flight Games wins an IGA will be a big surprise to me.
BGG Awards: These are the "voice of the masses" awards, and I find them interesting. The problem with these awards is that they groupthink often occurs - and people will simply vote on what's popular on the 'geek. I like to have the people voting on awards have at least SOME knowledge of board games, and you can vote in these awards even if you've only played one game. Thus, games with the best distribution will have the greatest opportunity to win. Oh, and I notice they keep copying my categories from our awards.
Games Magazine: This is probably the most influential award of the bunch - because of the wide range of the magazine. But these awards are picked by one person. So we are going to occasionally (often) get odd choices - and the games tend to tilt towards games that puzzle enthusiasts would enjoy. Some odd choices in the past (Buyword?) but also some bold ones (Dvonn).
Mensa: I like the idea of their awards, but the process tends to favor games that can be explained and played quickly. Not a bad idea, but the award should be called "best filler". Seems like an odd way to do it - doesn't match the idea of the organization.
And a whole pile more here!
I want our awards to be as balanced as possible. So I've filled the committee with Ameritrashers, Eurogamers, wargamers and abstract gamers (although I need more of them). We argue about everything, but most people on the committee play a TON of games. And I want that breadth of experience, even if most of them vote down the games I think should win.
Nothing will ever be perfect, game awards will like discriminate against games based on theme, number of players, game length, style, and distribution.
Got any thoughts on how to make our awards better? Let me know! Want to be on the committee? Contact me. I'm always interested in seeing how things can be improved.
And while I chose my title to be a bit provocative, I really do have respect for (most of) the awards above. And I realize the vast amount of work that goes into them. I just want to see an English speaking award that carries a great deal of clout. Right now, that award doesn't exist. Will it ever?
The guys at the Dice Tower, and our gaming.
Archive for Thoughts on Gaming
26 Apr 2011
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Eric SummererUnited States
CTWill talk for food!
As I write this, we're just under 48 hours away from the official start of Total Confusion XXV in Mansfield, MA. Despite my proximity (the Boston area's only a couple of hours away from my home in South Central CT), this event hasn't been on my radar. However, this year, we were delighted to be asked by the convention organizers to attend as Guests of Honor for the event. Tom's flying up from Florida, and Jim Reed is driving in from PA as well. I'm tremendously excited for all of this, and I wanted to highlight some reasons why.
1 - It's been a long time since I've seen these guys. Despite my working closely with Tom and Jim on the production of The Dice Tower, I haven't actually seen these guys in almost two years. Our last meeting was at Origins 2009. While a good portion of Team Dice Tower was able to attend the 2010 Origins, Tom and Jim were not, and it was especially strange to be doing "official" Dice Tower things without the Big Cheese himself in attendance. Even outside of gaming, it will be nice to hang out with these guys again. This is doubly true since I will be missing this year's Origins due to the birth of our second son in June.
2 - I'm in a bit of gaming drought. I'm in a community theater production of Godspell that goes up in April, and rehearsals have conflicted with my usual Sunday night game group. I've been trying to compensate with lots of yucata.de and Cyberboard Merchant of Venus, but there's only so much you can do before you need to interact with other human beings in person. As a side note to this, I have a number of games, that I've either received or purchased, that haven't seen table time yet. I think a convention is an opportune time to get them played.
3 - I'm looking forward to making some new friends. Yes, it's wonderful to reunite with people you haven't seen in a while, but it's also exciting to know that there will be a bunch of like-minded gamers here that I haven't met yet, just waiting to sit at the table and play something. In addition to meeting new people, I'm also interested in observing the culture of a new convention. Everybody does things differently, and I can't wait to see how it all works.
4 - We have a podcast to put together. Episode 200 (and possibly 201) will be from TotalCon, and I enjoy the challenge of doing something outside our usual box. Despite the work, I'm very proud of what we were able to do with the Origins 2010 episode (175, if you're keeping notes), and I think we can use some of the lessons learned to put together a good snapshot of a regional con experience. Our goal will be to capture the experience of the event for those who attend, while still producing an entertaining show for those just listening at home. Expect a lot of session reports as we play a bunch of games, and get reactions from others at the table. It'll be a bunch of editing, but I'm up for the challenge.
I should really try to contain my enthusiasm, or I won't be able to concentrate on any work that I need to do before leaving.
Oh, who am I kidding? I'm off to pack a tub of games! See you at TotalCon!
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Tonight we record # 198 and # 199
Our top ten list will be a look back five years ago, on the best games of 2006. We will also have some special guests joining us on the show.
Random thoughts on games today.
The more I play Thunderstone, the more I love it. Dragonspire has added a ton to the gameplay. If you want to get started in Thunderstone, it's a better set than the original.
I LOVE my new poker chips for money, but ever since I got them, it seems we never play a game that needs money.
We've taken one small step towards thinking about starting a mini-con here in Miami. Baby steps, baby steps.
After reading the rulebook for a board game, reading the rulebook for a CCG is a jarring experience, since they are quite different.
I really am going to post reviews soon - keep an eye out!
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