Friday, August 10, 2012

Are the Origins Awards bad for the Industry?

This is a bit late, but I wrote most of it back when the awards were first announced.

I'll admit, it's a sensationalist headline, but I think it's a question worth asking.  As certain elements of gaming get more public exposure, people are going to be looking for ways to distinguish the good from the bad. One way they'll be doing that is to look for the most visible and established awards.

The Origins Awards have the unfortunate combination of being one of the longest running and visible sets of gaming awards while at the same time being an absolute joke when it comes to those categories most likely to be of interest to the larger public.  Specifically the awards dealing with board games.  For an example, let's look at this year's nominees and winners:

Best Board Game

Conquest of Nerath - Wizards of the Coast - Richard Baker, Mons Johnson, & Peter Lee
Automobile - Mayfair Games - Martin Wallace
Hibernia - Closet Nerd - Eric Vogel
High Noon Saloon - Slugfest Games - Cliff Bohm & Geoff Bottone
Pastiche - Gryphon Games - Sean D. MacDonald

Winner: Conquest of Nerath

Best Traditional Card Game

Cthulhu Gloom - Atlas Games - Keith Baker
NUTS! - Wildfire LLC - Matthew Grau
Red Dragon Inn 3 - Slugfest Games - Geoff Bottone, Jeff Morrow, and Cliff Bohm
Star Trek Deck Building Game - BANDAI - Alex Bykov
Struggle for Catan - Mayfair Games - Klaus Teuber

Winner: NUTS!

Best Family, Party or Children’s Game

BEARS! - Fireside Games - Anne-Marie De Witt
Faux∙Cabulary - Out of the Box Publishing - Matthew Nuccio
Get Bit! - Mayday Games - Dave Chalker
Scavengers - Zombie State Games - John Werner
Space Mission - Schmidt Spiele - Matthew Worden

Winner: Get Bit!

Best Board Game is Conquest of Nerath?  In a year where games like Eclipse, Ora et Labora, Mage Knight, and so many other better games came out?  In fact, at the time I write this, there are 67 games listed as coming out in 2011 that are ranked higher than Conquest of Nerath on BGG!

I'm not sure what their exact definition of traditional card game is, but the fact that Yomi isn't at least nominated pretty much negates the validity of the category.  The winner, NUTS!, has a 5.90 rating on BGG right now, where anything under a 6.0 is usually a poor game.

Best Family, Party or Children's Game... first, it's a terrible category that pits games of widely different suitability against each other.  Second, the winner here is the only game on the whole list I actually own, and I wouldn't have nominated it for anything!  It's just not that great a game.

So how does this potentially hurt the industry?  People who don't know any better pay attention to these things, go out and buy the games that win, and then come to the logical conclusion that if the piece of crap they just bought is the best there is, then board games must suck!

Honestly, if Origins isn't interested in improving the way they select awards, then I wish they'd just drop the board game categories and stick to the other areas where they still have some relevance.


librarian said...

"stick to the other areas where they still have some relevance."

I'm actually trying to think of which ones those are...

Fulminata said...

They could do better in all areas, but I think they do OK in most non-board game related ones. For example, The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design was actually a pretty good pick for "best game related publication," although I might have given the edge to Designers & Dragons myself. At least the nominees were worthy.

When I go through the other winners, at least I don't see anything that makes me go "that shouldn't have even been nominated" like I do with the board game categories.

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