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Author Topic: Indie RPG Awards?  (Read 17849 times)
Andy Kitkowski
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« on: October 09, 2002, 05:36:21 PM »

This is something I've been tossing around for a bit: What do you all think of a chance to run an "award ceremony" for Indies game designers and publishers?  I mean, there's the RPGA awards, the RPGNet "people's choice" awards, the Ennies for d20/D&D-based products... What about us?

I've got a rough game plan etched out, tell me what you think*:

1) DEFINITELY seperate it from The Forge. For no other reason than to keep it relatively unbiased from the discussion that goes down here. Plus, there's always Forge naysayers talking about "the Cult of Ron" and "the Cult of GNS".  If it's run by a seperate entity, namely ME, then that connection isn't there.

2) Already nailed a domain.  www.rpg-awards.com (just bought it, haven't attached it to my existing domain yet).  How easy is that to remember? Yeah.

3) Awards go down late winter/early spring. The games considered will be the ones released from Jan 1st to Dec 31st the year before.

4) Awards will focus on Published, FOR PURCHASE RPGs. At this time, I'm not planning on making a distinction between hardcopy books and PDFs.  I could divide them into "best hardcopy" and "best PDF", but I think instead I'm going to divide the awards into "RPGs for Purchase" and "Free RPGs", with a definite emphasis on the RPGs for Purchase.

5) Nominations: Was thinking- I'll post messages EARLY on every RPG website and gaming press release site that I can find. Additional emails will be sent directly to recognized indie game designers and companies asking them to participate (basically anyone I can find who releases their own games). Here's how it works:
* Every known indies RPG publisher/designer (anyone who's released something in the past five years) will get 2-3 votes for games they'd like to see nominated in different categories.  Basically "fill in" ballots. They aren't allowed to nominate their own games (I'd include here, like ROn voting for Jared Sorensen's Schism, and vice versa, ad that'd be a conflict of interest.  Simple, right?).

6) Actual Voting: When all the nominations are in, the final ballot of 4-5 choices per category is made. This is posted on my site. Registration to vote, etc, is all electronic, using email-reply registration, and probably IP recording to prevent one guy from voting multiple times.
* Anyone who stops by and votes gets a "one point vote".
* All of the above designers that nominated games will have a "three point vote".  I may change this to "five point vote" depending on the number of nominations. Again, you're not allowed to vote for your own game.

7) The Forge/Ron's place in all this: None, really. I mean, I'm sure I'll throw a banner link here, but other than that, nothing. No extra votes for Forge members or anything like that. Here's Ron's take on this issue from another thread:

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I'm not too interested in #3, myself. The Forge is a site, not an organization, and its policies walk a tricky line between Ron's Stuff and everyone-at-the-Forge stuff. (I didn't ask for things to be like that, but that's how it's played out over time.) Who'd give the award? Me? Or would it be a big vote-y thing? If anyone can suggest a painless solution to these issues, I'd like to hear it.


Since I'd host and run it all myself, that will knock those concerns right out.

8) Why should we care: No reason, really. Even if no one "shows up", I'm still planning on running my little party anyway ;) Again, I'm going to take what's said here into consideration as to how to actually go about the process of running the awards, but as for the "Have Them!/Don't Have Them!" debate, my mind's pretty much already made up. Again, if no one "shows", I'll still run the event anyway.

9) And who are you anyway, "Andy": Just a guy who likes Indie RPGs, wants to do a little something for "the cause", and knows his way around web programming.

10) The actual... uh... award.  Yeah. Um... Good question. An engraved "Indies RPG Shot Glass?" An actual award?  This will depend on a number of things.  I'm probably going to get the site up and host VERY SMALL REVENUE banner ads just to get enough money to pay for, say, half the price of some nice awards for everyone (I'd pitch in the money for the rest, as well as actual web hosting costs).

Well? What do you think?

Oh, on category names ("Best Layout in a PDF", "Best Unique Concept", etc) feel free to suggest some, but I'm going to troll for more ideas later. Rather than awards categories, I'd like to see suggestions on how to run the awards.

Finally, the one thing that's gonna be hard to do is come up with an inclusive definition of "Indies RPG". Don't want to be too exclusive, also don't want to open it up to every company under the sun.

*please pardon spelling/grammatical errors.  I had two glasses of excellent sake a sec ago and I'm feeling it.
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Christoffer Lernö
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« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2002, 07:06:24 PM »

Yeah cool idea (sorry for the lack of actual input)
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wyrdlyng
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« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2002, 07:43:36 PM »

Quote from: Andy
An engraved "Indies RPG Shot Glass?"


That would be so cool. I'd donate funds towards that.

Which means don't forget to set up a means of accepting contributions. Some of us are stupid about helping cool things come about.
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Alex Hunter
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Kester Pelagius
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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2002, 07:47:25 PM »

Quote from: Andy Kitkowski
10) The actual... uh... award.  Yeah. Um... Good question. An engraved "Indies RPG Shot Glass?" An actual award?  This will depend on a number of things.  I'm probably going to get the site up and host VERY SMALL REVENUE banner ads just to get enough money to pay for, say, half the price of some nice awards for everyone (I'd pitch in the money for the rest, as well as actual web hosting costs).

Well? What do you think?


The most obvious idea for an award that pops to mind would be some form of mounted minitiature.  (I know, not very original.)

As for the "Free" category, publication somewhere (if you can wrangle it) might be a nice incentive.

Even if just in a commerical zine or some such.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2002, 07:16:17 AM »

Here's a critical thing to consider.

What constitues an "Indie RPG"? If we use Ron's narrow definition then we run the risk of the Forge association again. But if we use a broader definition, most games realeased will probably make it in.

What's your definition, Andy?

Mike
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2002, 08:32:49 AM »

Hi Andy,

You mean that I don't have to do anything or held responsible for anything? Fan-tastic. I like the idea a lot (now).

Mike's right, though - you'll need to define "indie," and (if I may), I suggest saying "Self-published" or something similar instead, which follows the lexicon of comics. It also avoids something that Ed Healy and I did not anticipate when we started the Forge, which is that a kind of backlash has become fashionable regarding the word "indie," such that people angle for being hip by rejecting it.

Best,
Ron
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2002, 08:36:42 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Here's a critical thing to consider.
What's your definition, Andy?


If anyone's interested in seeing the 250+ post RPGNet sh*tstorm on this issue, feel free to check out: http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=12813&perpage=100&pagenumber=1

As I mentioned in my first post, that's probably going to be the hardest thing to reconcile about this whole idea.

1) Come up with a definition that keeps out big RPG companies (WW, WOTC, etc) while being somewhat "fair".

2) A definition that doesn't obviously exclude games that "I don't like" (ie d20, etc)

3) Write down the definition and have the resolve to stick to it in the face of claims like "Your definition is your own- It's not realistic", "Your throwing boundaries to include only games you like and not ones that you don't", "You're just an extension of The Forge", etc.

I have to be arbitrary in some cases, and stick to it.  Ex: If I said "No d20" (which I probably Won't, but leaving that option open), that would neciesserily include Scott Lynch's excellent Deeds not Words and other good self-published RPGs.

Some things I was thinking of as qualifiers:
1) Use your own homebrew system. In this case, d20 and variants would be excluded.

2) Must go from concept, writing to publishing by yourself (you can include others, and of course hire artists and assistants, but you have to have a hand in every part of the process).  This would exclude larger companies, who come up with a concept and assign it to others to work on.

3) If you have a "company", it can't have more than X amount of writers. This would be really hard to keep track of.

I WELCOME ideas for qualifiers with the following caveats:

* Please understand that the definitions won't satisfy EVERYONE. They can't, and won't. We just have to try to be fair, yet still aim towards a definite, select group of designers and publishers.

* Don't use "the dictionary" to give us a definition of independent, etc. Thing is, this term is as dodgy as anything else.

* Don't use Socratic Method to try to come up with a definition (ie have a predisposition to a certain definition, then use logical arguments to show how everyone else's definition doesn't fit to various minutiae).  That would lead us nowhere. I'll call you on it, too- It won't be pretty.

EDIT: Ron posted just as I was finishing up this here post.

Ron's definition is more in line with what I was thinking (basically a much better rewording of my #2, above).

Can anyone see any flak from this?  Anyone think of a group of people who should benefit from an Indies-style award that would be excluded by this?
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Valamir
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« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2002, 08:48:45 AM »

I think the simplest definition is this.

RPGs have costs.

The art costs, the layout costs, and the printing (if printed) costs.  Web hosting can cost, layout and PDF software costs...it costs.

If the person who foots the bill for these costs is the same as the person who wrote it...its indie...if its not...its not.  

IIRC when doing Orkworld JW got a financial backer to help front the money but my understanding is that that backer was then reimbursed.

So follow the money...person pays the costs, and pockets the profits (such as they may be) must be the same as the author.  Throw a few caveats in there about things if necessary...but I think that should be your core concept.
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2002, 09:24:24 AM »

I like both of these definitions (although it'd be harder to "trace the money", as it were).

The Self-Published definition is probably the cleanest. While I dig sites like Monty Cooke's that offer a one-stop shop for purchasing RPGs online (basically "You stick to writing, WE'LL publish your RPG"), Making the definition come down to Writing RPGs (which admittedly is an ideal, mad props to all those writers out there) would include a MONSTEROUS amount of products and people as well (my proposition is: That's too Damn Much).

Keeping the working definition to the comics/music def of independant sounds like the best idea.

I'll probably have to limit the number of writers for a given product as an addendum.  Otherwise, we'd have Green Ronin or other medium-sized companies competing with small one-man operations. After all, even many of the "big boys" come down often to one dude organizing and publishing stuff.
(not to pick on Green Ronin, in the past two years they've gone from Nothing to One of the Biggest, Best Producers in the Biz. I can't emphasize enough my respect and admiration for them)

More thoughts? Bring em on!
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2002, 10:35:55 AM »

Costs is one thing, profits another. Woody gets a cut of Ron's sales, so does that make Ron non-self published? If you go by costs alone, that seems to make more sense.

One problem, The Self-Published Game Awards does not sound as cool as the Indie game awards.

How does Robert Redford handle it?

Mike
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GB Steve
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« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2002, 01:40:40 PM »

It sounds like a good idea. I think you need to be quite clear on what you are rewarding and who is doing the awarding.

Is it an annual thing, or more a Hall of Fame award? Can you win it if you've won other awards (such as Origins)? How stricly defined is the term game? I mean, could Critical Miss' Pimp! game win, does Monkeywrench, fun as it is, constitute a published game or do you need hardcopy?

The free vote whilst allowing a wider spread of votes is nice but email voting is notoriously skewed. Even if you register IPs you still get the problem of somebody getting all theri mates to vote, not because they play, or even have heard of the game, but just because it's their mate. This is just a popularity contest at best and a ballot stuffing contest at worst.

For example, La Gazetta de la Sporta, Italy's prime sports newspaper had a poll to see hwo readers thought would win the Euro2000 football tournament. England won the vote, even though the page was in Italian. Word of mouth spread the news and then the papers got wind of it. Italy never stood a chance.

So I think public nominations are fine but I'd seriously consider having a panel do the voting. You do need to be careful with this too. The Diana Jones award, although obviously merited by its winner, suffers from having a secret cabal of voters which attracts some bad press.

That's a whole lot of things to think about.

Finally, Places To Go, People To Be would be very likely to support such an award. Go for it Andy!

Cheers,
GB Steve
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2002, 01:44:49 PM »

H'm,

What do people think of the award simply being chosen by Andy? His award, his choosing; no panel, no votes, no nothing. Maybe nominations would be open, but considering that any game that fits the criteria (whatever they are) is automatically nominated, even that's irrelevant.

Works for Ken Hite and the Outie Awards. Granted, Ken is all "Out of the Box" and "respected RPG writer" and all that jazz, but ultimately, what it comes down to is that people see the awards, they look at the games, and they say, "Good call."

If Andy wants to follow that model, it seems like a sensible one to me.

Best,
Ron
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GB Steve
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« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2002, 01:51:16 PM »

I think an Andy would be a good name for an award. It ends in 'y' like most good awards.

I'm cool with Andy making the decision too although he'd need to make sure he got all the right sponsors to add weight to the award - being the designer of our logo probably isn't enough, powerful force that we are in some roleplaying circles (very small ones).

That's a lot of reading for Andy though.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2002, 01:57:07 PM »

Quote from: GB Steve
I'm cool with Andy making the decision too although he'd need to make sure he got all the right sponsors to add weight to the award - being the designer of our logo probably isn't enough, powerful force that we are in some roleplaying circles (very small ones).


Don't sell PTG,PTB short, Steve. I think that's plenty enough weight to start an award. Others might follow.

The Andy Indie Awards?

Mike
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2002, 02:26:12 PM »

Heh. Thanks for the vote of confidence, guys.  Now I'll head out and order the domain www.someguycalledandysindierpgawards.com (^.^)

To answer Steve's first questions:
*Annual
*You can win other awards
*Game, for this award, means "Published for Cash".  (I will probably get flak for this, but then again, I don't want a storm of 2-page free PDF publishers asking for "their vote")
*Hardcopy or PDF, you still have to actually sell it. Or Barter.

Yeah, I'm wary of the popularity contest bit (I think RPGA standards have "gone down" since they opened up voting to everyone), so I wanted to heavily weigh in the actual publishers (again, anyone who has self-published their own RPG or supplement int he past 5 years).

I'm wary of being called "a cabal of like-mindeds who only choose their friends" if I go the No Public Vote route, but I'd rather go this route than to have a million skewed votes because of friends voting for friends.

And thanks for that note of sponsorship!  (*turns back to his PC* *sigh* *ashamedly starts hammering the keys on his article for the next PTGPTB*)

If it were My vote, that means the following:

1) I'll have to read EVERY Indies RPG over the past year.

2) Reading them means aquiring them. I'd have to buy a copy of each one.  I'm sure that they'd supply me with one if I asked, but the reason that I've been buying stuff from folks like Clint and Jared rather than saying "Hey, man, c'mon- it's ME" is because I want to support them. Put my cash where my mouth is.

3) Then guilt (or my pursuit of "quality") would make me actually play at least one session of all those games. That, my friends, is a LOT of gaming. Even if I quit my job here at Cisco, or just did some brain-dead job that gives me lots of free time and no outside-work-headaches, I'd still not have enough time.

Say I decide only publishers get a vote in a Secret Cabal meeting (like the Diana): So when the votes come in and the finalists are chosen, I'm POSITIVE that not everyone will have read or played all the games. However, there'll be enough people on the list that it will even out in the end.

And I was also thinking that, for some categories, say there's 5 published games: I'd ask the panelists to skip voting on that particular category if they haven't read three or more of those games.

Maybe in the end I can have a "Pimp Daddy Andy's Award of Excellence", some sort of gag gift for my personal pick, but I'd like to get others in on it, too.

I figure that would be easy to do, if I gave each publisher who participates a vote to cast as they saw fit (admittedly, not for their own stuff, but there you go).

More thoughts?  I'm digging this. The idea's coming together.
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