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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Real Vs. Fake RPG Awards

I'm in quite a rush today, between answering a bunch of defensive criticism from OSR guys on G+ and theRPGsite due to the other day's blog entry.  I think the really funny part is where people claim that my criticism of the OSR-hardcore and of people like James Maliszewski is just me trying to "become pope of the OSR" or something like that.    That's amusing.
If I wanted to be the pope/gatekeeper/magical-princess/whatever of the OSR, I would do what Maliszewski did, and tell all the OSR-hardcore exactly the stuff they already wanted to hear; instead of doing what I'm doing now, and telling them all stuff they don't want to hear.

Anyways, that's all prelude to the little thought I had today, where I hope to piss off a whole other segment of people: I had someone recently ask me about the value of RPG awards from a marketing perspective.
I said that the value was largely negligible, particularly for a small-press publisher that doesn't get products on bookstore/gamestore shelves.  There may be some effect to being able to put a sticker on your front cover saying "Winner of ENnie award best new game 2014!" or something like that.

But then I realized, even there, does it matter? Does the average gamer even know what an "ENnie" is?

So here's my statement: I think that if you had a book on a store shelf that had a sticker saying "Winner of Ennie Award", and another had a sticker saying "Winner of Kenny Award", there would be no difference.
Or, you know, the cooler looking sticker would make more of an impact. But a totally fake and made-up RPG award sticker would have precisely the same sales impact as the not-made up (but in certain senses just as fake, meaningless, and partisan) Ennies.  And of course, I don't just mean the ENnies, but pretty much any RPG award there is.  Because they're all meaningless shit.



Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + H&H's Beverwyck


  1. That makes me feel better for being too lazy to submit my game in time to be considered.

    I think if your game is really below the radar, then anything-even a minor award-can help you bootstrap it. But your basic point is sound.

  2. Isn't that basically true of any award though? Does having an Academy award help sales of a movie?

    1. I think at the very least, the average movie-goer is quite aware of what an Oscar is, and it carries certain weight.
      On the other hand, I don't think the average gamer would know the difference between an Ennie and an invented award.

    2. Yes. According to most sources a movie can expect 20% more sales after winning an Oscar.

  3. Anyone who has been to Gen Con in the last 10 years knows what an ENnie is.

    Yeah I do look at products that win the ENnies. In fact the Saturday after the awards are given I go to the booths to see what the product is all about. The publishers I have spoken with are almost unanimous, getting an ENnie gives them a boost is sales. Especially if they are lesser known.

    If you are a small publisher then the effect can actually be huge.
    Heck I was nominated for an ENnie and saw an immediate boost in hits and sales. It has tapered off a bit but I am not 100% sure it is statistically different yet than the same period in pre-nomination hits.

    Also getting an ENnie is one of the criteria for getting a bio page up at Wikipedia. And I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that having a Wikipedia page linked to your site/blog/store will get you a significant boost in hits and sales.

    Maybe the ENnies or awards in general do not have the same intrinsic value for everyone, but to some they have quite a lot of value.

    1. How many people have been to Gen Con in the last 10 years? I've never been to any game conventions and have no plans ever to go to one. Too many guys with beards and body odor.

    2. The whole "make up awards/magazines/etc. so that we can get on wikipedia" circle jerk that has been done by whole groups is pretty disgusting. And I think an "emperor has no clothes" moment is called for.

    3. Over the last 10 years, hard to say on unique visitors, but they have been growing steadily and last year the nearly hit 60,000. So even if this hobby is in the millions that is a good chunk.

      Circle Jerk if you like, but Wikipedia is still where millions of people go everyday to get information. Hell one mention of Amber Benson and her association with the Ghosts of Alboion RPG and hits on my site go up 5% on my Ghosts of Albion page from Wikipedia traffic. Not at all bad for a game I wrote nearly 10 years ago.

    4. I'm not denying the value of having a wikipedia page. I'm condemning the fraudulent means by which self-serving assholes manipulate Wikipedia's rules to let their obscure games get a page (by giving each other fake awards or making references to each other on fake magazines where they all reference each other just to grant the ILLUSION of renown) while other (possibly better known) people and games get banned or block by some of these same guys pretending to be "just enforcing the rules of wikipedia".

  4. Don't have a Wikipedia page (or an Ennie) but somebody actually mentioned Otherverse America on, mentioning the Midwives (cyborg gynecologists basically) on the "Swiss Army Appendage" page because of their shapeshifting cyberlimb. I found that one day browsing the site and it was possibly the proudest moment of my game design career to date.