Your kind, annual reminder that awards aren’t that important

Let’s all politely clap and get on with our lives.

Your kind, annual reminder that awards aren’t that important
Photo by Giorgio Trovato / Unsplash

The ENNIE Awards recently announced their suite of final nominations for 2024, draping no small honor on dozens of designers, artists, writers, publishers, and other tabletop professionals. This is a big deal in our industry, arguably the largest annual crowning of achievement in RPGs short of a book or LARP somehow winning The National Medal of Arts. 

Finalists who attend the awards ceremony at Gen Con in Indianapolis will shoulder into a convention room where glass trophies, medals, and plaques are meted out to very excited artists. We will applaud, either in the crowd or watching the livestream from our homes. The whole production will be exuberant, but limited by the venue—ours is not an industry that can support black tie dress and the Oscars’ entertainment budget.

For now, like an aftershock, we bear witness the wave of criticism, punditry, and vexation over who did and did not earn an ENNIE nomination. This is no different from any other artistic field except that tabletop is somewhat defined (and cursed) by its relatively small and insular nature. Designers and creators bear a paradoxical pride in the scrappy, DIY nature of producing artpunk zines or digital artifacts that all but dare you to play them, alongside a deep and abiding resentment at the lack of success and stability afforded to RPG makers. Awards—and the ENNIES, especially—magnetically attract this whorl of attention that can flood the banks of our social media timelines.Except, that the peanut gallery didn’t assemble this year. Last week, the organization’s panel of five judges published their shortlist to a relatively positive reception. There was little lambasting, few tirades and a generally congratulatory appraisal at the people, studios, and games up for the grand prizes. Are the ENNIES… good? Well, it doesn’t really matter.

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