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Dice Tower Gaming Awards, and why they're better than the other awards. ;)

Tom Vasel
United States
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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?
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