Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Platform as an ENnie Judge Nominee

Hello, my name is Frank Anderson, and I am a 2012 ENie Award Judge nominee. I am a long time gamer, who also writes a gaming blog called Have Dice, Will Travel. I would like to discuss what my platform, or rather, what my criteria would be when judging submissions to the ENnies. Please note that I may revise these criteria as time passes, and my ideas change. I believe this is an organic process, and nothing is written in stone. If I waited until I have finalized my thoughts on this matter I would never get anything written or posted.

First of all I would like to state that as a ENnie Judge I will remain objective, undistorted by emotion or personal bias. In other words, while I may not enjoy certain genres, or subject matters, I will give them the same level of regard I do other genres, or subject matters. I will be fair and impartial.

There are two important things I consider when analyzing a role-playing game, module, sourcebook, etc. First of all, is it playable? Secondly, is it entertaining/enjoyable? I think these two criteria should apply to both the person running the game, and the players. Now, I should make a distinction here; I think a game can be playable, but might not be enjoyable, but a game that's not playable is rarely, if ever, enjoyable.

The third thing I would consider is, does the product have a broad-based appeal to gamers? There might be a few gamers out there that would enjoy a RPG written about giant mutant babies that terrorize Earth, but I'm not sure it would have much of an audience, commercial or otherwise. After all, these are fan-based awards. After the nominees are selected, you, the gamer get to vote, and you're not likely to vote for something you've never heard of, much less bought or played.

Some of the other criteria I would consider are originality/creativity, ease of use, i.e. how well the submission is organized, and professionalism/craftsmanship, i.e. does the layout look good, is the font readable, etc?

In this day and age it is very easy to produce and publish a RPG and related material, whether it's a campaign sourcebook, map tiles, or any form of role-playing game accessory. POD ( publish on demand or even print on demand ) is in it's infancy, ( in my opinion ), and the technology is only going to improve over time. With the free open source programs available, a game can be made available in PDF or in an e-book format, making production and distribution easier than it has ever been. However, when you're trying publish a game I would hope people would try to meet some of the above criteria.

When it comes to blogs and pod casts, there are two things that I think are important. Is the blog or pod cast entertaining as well as informative? A blog should be well written. A pod cast should have good production values. Personality is important as well, if you come across as arrogant or snarky in your blog or padcast, then it really doesn't appeal to me. It doesn't matter how informative your blog might be, presentation, mood, whatever you want to call it, is important. Then again, I realize that those things might not bother some people, and I would have to consider that.

In my application, I mentioned play testing as much of the material as possible, and today I realized this was a misstatement. The material should have already been play tested as much as possible. An ENnie is an award for published material, whether it's a RPG with a large print run, or a free RPG available over the Internet. I think the only real way to fairly judge a submission would be to use it in play. Run a game, use the module, or accessory, and get other people's feedback. That's what I intend to do if I get elected.

If elected, I know this won't be an easy task. It will require time, and organization. I will be fair and impartial, and will show no favoritism to any particular company or product. I plan on giving each submission the same level of "inspection" and regard. Please feel free to ask me any questions, about games, etc. and how I would judge them , because while I know why the sky is blue, that's not what I am here for. I am also open to any suggestions you may have. Thank you for your time.

FYI, at one point I was going to write an RPG about giant mutant babies that terrorize Earth, but I thought it over, and decided the public wasn't ready yet. One day maybe...

To my blog readers:  This is what I am going to post on as many gaming forums as I can.  What do you think?


  1. Well, frankly it sounds like you are going to be choosing in favor of the corporate entries. After all, they are the ones who can playtest extensively and they are going to be the ones focusing on broad-based appeal.

    Thought to be fair, I dont know how you would know whether a product is extensively playtested. Guess work?

    Word Verification: Macho! ROFL

  2. That phrasing and word was a poor choice on my part, and upon reflection it would be nearly impossible to tell what's even playtested and what's not. Some books list playtesters in the credits, and some don't.

    Also, I didn't mean that whether or not a product had been playtested would play a role in the choices I made. I was really refering to what I mentioned in my application, i.e. I said I would playtest as much material as possible. ( I consider playtesting something that's done before publication. ) What I would be doing couldn't be considered playtesting.

    I said I would be fair, unbiased, and impartial, and that is my intention.

  3. Fair enough. I just thought the "it must be playable" thing was explanation enough. The playtesting comments seemed a bit extreme.

    I like the revisions you made to the text since my comment.

  4. Thanks, I realize that not everyone can playtest their work, and a game can be playable, and enjoyable without playtesting. I just feel that it can be a very useful tool for a creator.

    I also actual feel that a game, module, or setting may not be "playable". but might still be useful as reference material.