Right on schedule, this year’s shortlist for the Diana Jones Award, established to recognize excellence in gaming, has been finalized. The 2008 nominees are:
- The Canon Puncture podcast
- Childâ€™s Play, the charity formed by the creators of Penny Arcade
- The Come Out and Play festival
- Grey Ranks by Jason Morningstar (Bully Pulpit Games)
- Open Design/Wolfgang Baur
- Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media Edited by Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin (MIT Press)
As always, the DJ Award committee has made worthy, thought-provoking selections, which will be narrowed down to a winner on August 13th, the night before GenCon Indy ’08 opens.
Diana Jones Award press release follows:
EIGHTH ANNUAL DIANA JONES AWARD SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED
Annual award â€œfor Excellence in Gamingâ€ to be presented 13th August, 2008
London, 4th Julyâ€”After much debate, the shortlist for the eighth
annual Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming, covering the year
2007, has been announced.
The Diana Jones Award is given to whatever the Diana Jones Committee
believes has best demonstrated â€˜excellence in gamingâ€™ in the previous
year. This year the committee has shortlisted six potential winners.
In alphabetical order, they are:
By Rich Rogers, Chris Perrin, and Chris Norwood
Canon Puncture (canonpuncture.blogspot.com) is a podcast by Rich
Rogers, Chris Perrin, and Chris Norwood. Across 27 episodes in 2007
they nailed uncommonly good interviews with game designers from Jared
Sorensen to Red 5 Studios to Kevin Siembieda, skillfully working some
of the wider history of the hobby and conveying a sense of its true
porousness and possibilities. Their â€œround tableâ€ conversations about
the industry are tempered with honest concerns, but still express
â€œheart on the sleeveâ€ enthusiasm spanning more than twenty years of
engagement with the hobby. And their conversations about actual play,
successes as well as failures and frustrations, reveal uncanny insight
into the social workings of play.
Childâ€™s Play (www.childsplaycharity.org) is a charity appeal to
gamers, benefiting childrenâ€™s hospitals in (so far) six nations. It
was founded in 2003 by the creators of the Penny Arcadegame review
comic. Its objective is to give gamers a chance to show the world, by
helping children, that they are caring people, not ultra-violent
zombies controlled by evil video games. Although the charity accepts
cash donations and holds special events to raise money, most donations
are made by clicking, through the Childâ€™s Play site, onto a hospitalâ€™s
Amazon.com wish list. The wish lists include not only handheld
videogame devices, but also DVDs, books, and toys of many kinds. The
donor selects what he wants to give, and Amazon.com does the rest.
Thus, the administrative overhead of Childâ€™s Play is a very small
percentage of total donationsâ€”and those donations were over $1,300,000
last year. ThePenny Arcade creators, Jerry â€œTychoâ€ Holkins and Mike
â€œGabeâ€ Krahulik, have very intelligently leveraged their huge audience
in the service of Good.
Come Out and Play
The festival Come Out and Play (www.comeoutandplay.org) is the primary
showcase for the new movement of pervasive games (a.k.a. street
games). Held in New York in 2006, Amsterdam in 2007, and back in New
York in 2008, it mixes up urban spaces with technology and new media
to turn cities into playgrounds, game boards, and giant arcades.
Whether the game is PacManhattan (a live-action version of the classic
video game using cellphones to track player positions), Journey to the
End of Night (which takes a traditional schoolyard game and stretches
it out over several hours and miles of a darkened city), or any of a
hundred more, anyone who takes part in Come Out and Play will never
feel the same about the urban environment again.
By Jason Morningstar
Published by Bully Pulpit Games
Jason Morningstarâ€™s roleplaying game of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, Grey
Ranks, commands attention for many reasonsâ€”its fidelity to and
evocation of historical detail, its unique and harrowing subject
matter, its elegant mechanics of play, and its unflinching assessment
of war and heroismâ€”but it deserves highest marks for two factors.
First, it is a game of inexorable tragedy, sacrifice, coming-of-age,
mortality, and self-destruction. These truly mature literary themes
are almost unexplored in gaming of any sort, and virtually unseen in
roleplaying. If gaming is to approach the other arts in depth and
richness, it will be games like Grey Ranks that make such an approach
possible. Second, its emotional grid mechanic anchors a solid,
powerful rules design that drives such themes home in play. Jason
Morningstar has not created a game that lazily appropriates the
historical horror at its heart, he has created rules that reveal that
horror, rules that re-create that horror in its playersâ€™ hearts and
minds. Aristotle said that all true tragedy must end in terror and
pity. Itâ€™s hard to believe that Aristotle never played Grey Ranks.
Open Design/Wolfgang Baur
Open Design began as an experiment in funding the development of
roleplaying game supplements. Wolfgang Baurâ€”a highly respected, long-
time Dungeons & Dragons editor and designer for TSR and then Wizards
of the Coastâ€”went back hundreds of years to dig up the concept of
patronage, add a few modern twists to it, and apply it to the problem.
He posts a project and publicizes it along with a monetary threshold.
When the funding his patrons chip in reaches that threshold, he starts
on the project in earnest. Baur supplements his exemplary work by
letting his patrons suggest various directions for each project and
then allowing them to look over this shoulder as he works. Each
project becomes a master-level class on adventure design for those
privileged to be a part of it.
Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media
Edited by Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin
Published by MIT Press
The fact that MIT Press is publishing serious work about roleplaying
games and other â€œplayable mediaâ€ is a signpost for how far games of
all sorts have come over the past 40 years. The essays herein tackle
everything from Dungeons & Dragons and Choose-Your-Own-Adventure
stories to World of Warcraft and The Howard Dean for Iowa Game. The
book also contains three full-fledged roleplaying gamesâ€”Puppetland,
Bestial Acts, andThe Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausenâ€”
making them the first to be published by an academic press. In such a
young field as games, itâ€™s essential that we develop a serious
discussion about their meaning and how they work, and Second
Persondelivers that necessary, seminal volume to kickstart such a
About the Award
The Diana Jones Award was established in 2000 to celebrate the
principle of excellence in gaming. Each year the Award is given to the
person, company, product, event, trend, or item that in the opinion of
the committee has best demonstrated â€œexcellenceâ€ in the field of
gaming in the previous year.
The award is announced and the trophy presented at a ceremony the day
before the opening of Gen Con Indianapolis (this year on Wednesday
13th August). Winners receive the Diana Jones Trophy and the
admiration of their peers. The award is administered and decided by a
mostly anonymous committee of games-industry luminaries in three
Previous winners of the Diana Jones Award include Peter Adkison,
former CEO of Wizards of the Coast; Jordan Weisman, former CEO of FASA
and Wizkids; the games Sorcerer, Nobilis, My Life with Master and
Ticket to Ride; the game supplement The Great Pendragon Campaign; and
the generosity of the charity auctions at Irish games conventions.
A fuller description of the history of the Diana Jones Award and its
extraordinary trophy, plus details of all the previous winners and
shortlists, can be found at the awardâ€™s website: www.dianajonesaward.org