14 June 2018
Joined by Analog Game Studies journal and racism-confronting RPG Harlem Unbound
Between the nominations for the Spiel des Jahres – plus its various sub-Spiels, like the expert Kenner and recent-awarded children’s Kinder – and the Origins Awards, award season is well underway in the tabletop world.
The Diana Jones Award is something a bit different to the norm, though, aiming to highlight not just the games themselves but some of the trends, people and concepts flying the flag for tabletop innovation – or, as the award describes itself, “excellence in gaming”.
Last year, for example, it went to Gen Con on the US event’s 50th anniversary, marking the convention’s importance in the gaming calendar. Other past winners have included Wil Wheaton’s TableTop, Eric Lang, Ticket to Ride and the open business model. Like we say: it’s eclectic.
This year’s list of nominations is just as wide-reaching, veering from Jamey Stegmaier’s worker-placement legacy game Charterstone to the micro-design competition 200-Word RPG Challenge and the Actual Play movement of people broadcasting tabletop games online, spearheaded by high-profile roleplaying playthroughs like Critical Role.
Other shortlisted hopefuls include the Analog Game Studies journal, for its academic approach to analysing non-digital games, and roleplaying game Harlem Unbound, which flips the racist undertones of a Lovecraftian 1920s setting on its head to directly confront a topic often avoided and spark important social discussion.
As with previous years, the Diana Jones Award – a Perspex pyramid containing a burnt copy of the Indiana Jones RPG, from which the prize takes its name – will be handed out at Gen Con.
The award is voted on by a secretive panel of industry judges, only a few of whom have revealed their involvement, such as Munchkin artist John Kovalic, RPG writer Matt Forbeck and game designer James Wallis, the latter of whom Tabletop Gaming readers will recognise as a regular contributor to the magazine. Wallis and Forbeck co-founded the award in 2001.