When Fan Awards Make a Difference: Diana Jones and ENnie Awards for Gaming

As most of you know, I’ve done a lot of writing and editing within the gaming industry. Like other industries, there are some industry-facing and/or fan awards that softly bolster the businesses that do their very best. There are two awards that are typically presented at GenCon Indy that not a lot of folk are aware of; one is The Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming, and the other are the ENnie Awards.

Diana Jones Award

I had the pleasure of sponsoring this event through Flames Rising last year and was on hand to take pictures and throw in support.

Attracting international attendees, there are folk from Scotland, Ireland, Germany, France, the UK and as far away as Australia have come to Indianapolis for this convention opener. The Awards commemorate the “excellence in gaming” and while for many folk that might mean “excellence in design” — the Diana Jones awards has a different take on it.

The Diana Jones Award is designed to reward any combination of achievement, innovation, and anything that has benefited or advanced the hobby and industry as a whole; or which has had the greatest positive effect on games and gaming; or which, in the opinion of the judging committee, shows or exemplifies gaming at its best. —Source: About the Diana Jones Awards

To people within the industry, the Diana Jones awards gives us the ability to nominate and support those kind folk who “do good.” The 2006 winner were the Irish Game Convention Charity Auctions led by Brian Nesbit (pictured at right).

Ireland has a vigorous hobby-gaming community and a strong tradition of local conventions. These often climax with a charity auction that raises astonishing amounts of money for good causes, particularly given the size of the conventions. In 2005 Gaelcon’s auction made €31,000 (US$40,000)—that’s US$80 per attendee—and the smaller Warpcon raised €12,000 (US$15,000), making its parent society the biggest charity fundraiser at University College Cork. This extraordinary spirit of generosity not only helps the needy but also publicizes gaming to the wider community in a very positive way, making it less obscure and more approachable, which may explain why the Irish games scene is so full of life.–Source: 2006 Diana Jones Award Winner

This year’s 2008 nominees include one gaming organization that might look familiar to you. The group “Child’s Play” I had mentioned in my post about gaming charities has been nominated this year, and I can’t wait to see if they win. The Diana Jones awards are usually held in our favorite watering hole the night before GenCon and are typically hosted by the infamous-yet-humble Matt Forbeck.

The ENnie Awards

On Friday night, after the GenCon convention hall closes, many of us in the industry venture off to a ballroom to attend the ENnie awards. More of a formal awards ceremony replete with speakers and presenters, the ENnie awards mean a lot to the publishers because they encourage fan involvement.

With award categories recognizing the components that make a game great to the types of products fans have come to love, categories for fan-based websites and much more, the ENnies are the best way for fans to acknowledge outstanding effort from and to say “thank you” to the publishers, designers and artists who make this hobby great. Source: ENnie awards Home Page

This year, to our great surprise, Flames Rising was included in the 2008 ENnie award nominees for best “fan product” which, in this case, is our horror fanzine. Last year Flames Rising earned an Honorable Mention nod and this year we’ve only made it as far as we’ve gone because we’ve had a lot of help from reviewers, our web designer and programmer and our fans.

Voting hasn’t opened quite yet, but when it does fans can vote for their favorite publisher, product, and more! In my mind, this award is pretty interesting because it blends both worlds — both the industry-facing publisher side and the fans, who keep the hobby and the spirit of our gaming community going. The awards ceremony is funded by two auctions: a silent auction and a “dream date” auction where fans can get a seat at their favorite publisher’s table for the awards ceremony. Eight years and it’s still going strong!

Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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