Sunday, July 15, 2007

Advice to potential judges

So, I promised to try and post some advice for those people who are considering running for a judge position for the 2008 Ennies. I guess I'll do the best I can, and hope that some of the other (or previous) judges have better advice to give, or perhaps the voters and publisherscan explain what they're looking for.

I ran on a pretty simple platform. I promised to work hard, play the games I could, and blog about my thoughts. For me, it worked. I should say, it worked well. Much better than I expected.

Part of that I think came from a fuss during the elections where some people complained that the ENnies were too d20 centered (I wonder if they'd make that claim this year?). I think there was a push to "throw down the old guard" and "put upsome new blood", which really helped some of us who wouldn't have otherwise had a chance. Not that I really think it was founded, but I think it certainly played a role, since we ended up with three brand-new judges, and I know that at least Stuart and I got first and second place in the actual elections.

So, how does that help you?

Well, be honest, but above all, be transparent. Let people know what you're thinking, and don't be afraid to hear what they have to say. Let them tell you if you're wrong or right, but don't let it dictate your choices.

Take a look at my post on the process to get an idea of how I handled actually reviewing products, then figure out how it would work for you, and how you'd do it better.

Fight for what you want. Believe it or not, the other judges are likely to be very reasonable people, and if you tell them you really want a nomination, they'll probably find room for it of there is room to be found.

Read reviews and actual play posts. Listen to what other people love about the product, and let it influence you. Not every game is for every person, but that doesn't make it a bad game.

Play the games. A lot of the products function a lot differently than you might think. Something that seems overly complicated in writing may play as smooth as silk. If you can't play, watch a game being played.

Get help. Something I forgot to mention during my discussion of the process was very important. I gave out a number of entries to my friends and members of my gaming group. After I got them back and read them, we compared notes. It's the next best thing to playing the game yourself or reading someone else's experiences. Talking things out with someone whose opinion you trust can really help you firm up your thoughts. More than one nominee got my vote because someone else convinced me that they deserved it.

Don't be defensive if people disagree with you. Voting comes down to opinion. That's it. When you ask for someone's opinion you're not always going to like what they have to say.

Beyond that, I'm not sure what I have to offer. The threads on RPGnet or ENWorld that take you here have my thoughts on things you should consider before throwing your hat in the ring, so I won't belabor the point. This is hard. Harder than you imagine, don't let the prospect of getting to read cool books fool you. Reading isn't even the hardest part. Still, it's very rewarding, and you get to meet some cool people along the way, so if you can, do it.

Oh, and don't take the free tickets to GenCon, buy your own. By the time you get a registration number everything will be booked, trust me :)

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