Saturday, July 17, 2010

Best Original Game

So, I'll admit it. I'm vain enough to go back through and look at sites that link to my blog. Today that exploration led me through one forum and over to another, one that I used to frequent before I stopped surfing the web at work all night.

There I found an extremely interesting thread asking the question, "Are the ENnies Broken?" What I found interesting however wasn't the actual question (though I'd be glad to discuss the points raised if anyone really wants to), but the discussion that lead from it. Specifically on the appropriateness of a Best NEW Game or Best ORIGINAL Game category.

Bias up front: I'm a new category junkie. Seriously; I'd argue for a 'Best Book Apparently Written by 12th Century Monks' category provided enough entries of quality to justify nominating a stand-out product from amidst the pack.

I like categories. I like adding more slots to fill up with games that deserve a nomination for something they do better than anyone else. I like being able to judge products on specific merits and common features rather than nebulous overarching monster categories. Every year I argue for the inclusion of a new category or the reworking of an old one, and every once in a while, they stick.

That out of the way, I actually kind of like this idea. When I first read it my instinct was that it was unnecessary like maybe people feel that the products we nominate somehow aren't capable of standing up against the big name products. As a judge you look at the games you've put on those lists and think "I've read all these, compared them side by side, why would someone think one isn't just as good as the other?"

But that's coming at it from the wrong angle of course, and that's where the misunderstanding lies. I'm thinking like a judge;. I look at Best Rules or whatever, and in my opinion Hero deserves its place every bit as much as Wild Talents or Atomic Highway does. But I'm not thinking like a fan, or like someone who is looking at a list of winners for that matter.

You see, Hero is fantastic. It's really the best iteration of that game I've ever seen, and it deserves recognition for that. I stand firmly behind my vote to call it one of the best games of last year. Then again, I get to pick five, don't I? Not only that, I get to pick five I like for Best rules, Best Setting... Would I say the rules for Hero are absolutely better than BASH if I only got one choice? If they are, why?

From this perspective a Best Original award makes sense. Not because the games can't stand on their own, but to celebrate a different kind of common ground: The designer came up with something from scratch. Innovation should always be recognized, maybe above all else.

Now, new categories are at the discretion of ENnies management, and I wouldn't campaign on the promise that I'd add one, but I find the idea intriguing, and I'd definitely like to discuss it. As seen over the last few years, they've been trying hard to find the right categories to fit the right products, and I think that Tony, the new manager will be open to anything that would help to continue this improvement. To see proof of that you only have to look at this year's categories, a mixture of proven favorites, reworked existing awards, and yet another new one - Best Blog, to show their difference in focus and technology from traditional websites.


That out of the way, let me go ahead and say that I'm going to post at least a couple more of these updates soon. I'd like to touch on some of the additional issues in that thread and general questions I've seen floating around, so I'll do a Q&A style post (probably tomorrow). I'd also like to touch on the article I had planned for today: "(What I used to call) The other 80%".

If you have anything you want to talk about please let me know. I stopped updating regularly because I flat out ran out of content. Three years of telling how I do this and why makes me feel like I've covered it all, like I have nothing left worth sharing. If I'm wrong, let me know.

As always, you can leave comments here, or I'll do my best to keep up my forum lurking, but the absolute best way to talk to me or see my thoughts is always on Twitter. I'm @motg.


Tony Law said...

Best New Game is a new category for the 2011 ENnies. :)

Best New Game – Awarded to the best role-playing game that was released for the first time during the current submissions period. The Best New Game winner brings together art, writing, rules, feeling, playability; everything that makes up a role playing game. Entries in this category must be complete enough to play as-is, from character creation to rules of play. Best New Game and Best Supplement are mutually-exclusive categories. Best Game and Best New Game are not mutually exclusive categories.

Unknown said...

I'm extremely pleased to hear that, I can't wait to see what you guys come up with next year.

If you get the collector's edition of Deathwatch however I may have to kill a judge and take his copy. :)