Thursday, October 27, 2005
On Being A Judge
This year, and for the past two years, I have been an ENnie Award Judge. I know what you are thinking, what the hell is an ENnie Award? The ENnie Awards are an annual award given to the best roleplaying games and game related products, as decides by the fan community.
The ENnies were first presented in 2001 during an online chat presentation, and for the past 4 years have been hosted by GenCon. The name ENnie comes from EN World, which comes from Eric Noah, who started the D&D/d20 community website.
The way the awards work is the publishers submit their products to the 5 judges, who read everything, discuss among themselves the pros and cons of various products, and decide on a short list of 5 products and an honorable mention for each of the categories. The 5 shortlisted products then go out to a public vote, and the 1st & 2nd place winners are announced at GenCon during an awards ceremony.
So, what are the benefits and drawbacks of being a judge? Well, the first thing that many people think of is that a judge received hundreds of entries, totaling several thousand dollars worth of game books, accessories, and PDFs. Yes, we do receive that much in entered products, but there is a BIG drawback to getting all that stuff. It ALL needs to be read over the course of a few months. It's pretty much a part time job for a few months. Another benefit is getting a free pass to GenCon, having publishers recognize and know you by name, and getting to shop the dealers room early as an exhibitor. Most of the judges also get free lodging at the convention as well, but the past two years I have decided to stay in a room with my friends instead of the judges room. This year, however, I may take the free room if my travelling companions (Tim, Nakia, Scott, maybe others?) have enough people to split a room among themselves without me.
Once the awards are over, there is another logistical probelm to deal with. What to do with all the books. In my case, I keep about 1/2 of what I receive, and divide the other half among friends, ENnie staff, and as door prizes at the various ENWorld Game Days that I attend throughout the year. Giving books away is a great feeling, I know that people always appreciate them, and knowing that I've been able to give somehtiong back to the gaming community that I find enjoyment in makes me feel great!
So, now you are probably asking yourself, how does one go about becoming a judge? The judges are voted on by the ENWorld community every year. Each candidate puts forth a "campaign speech" and then all the candidates are voted on over the course of a week. This year several judges are returning judges (Teflon Billy, Crothian, Cthulhu's Librarian(me), JoeGKushner) and one is new (Diaglo). Having worked with 3 of the others before (TB & Crothian twice) and knowing Diaglo online, I think that we have a great panel of judges again this year. I'm looking forward to starting the process and reading the best of what the RPG field has published over the past year. As the process goes along, I'll try to post some thoughts on this blog.