Please Be Judgemental

This last Saturday, the ENnies opened up nominations for judges for the 2020 award season. This is a self-nomination process, so anyone who feels they fit the criteria and can meet the expectations of the position can nominate themselves. Judges will be voted on at the same time as the categories for this year’s awards, and the 2020 ENnies Judges will be announced at this year’s awards banquet at Gen Con.

There is a bunch about serving as an ENnies judge this past year I can’t talk about because of NDA. But what I can say is that I am extremely glad I had the opportunity to do it. It was a different way of looking at the TTRPG industry than I had ever had before. It was also a bunch of hard work. “Sure, Brent, such hard work reading game books that showed up for free on your doorstep or in your inbox. Poor baby!” Okay, that’s a fair comment, and I can’t say that the additions to the collection of the Canadian Library of Roleplaying Games wasn’t welcome. But in the same way a video game quality assurance tester doesn’t just sit around playing video games all day, this wasn’t recreational. Every book I received got the same amount of attention and scrutiny, because really, that was only fair. That includes the books that weren’t really in my wheelhouse as far as genre or topic. And reading 400+ books critically in the space of 9-10 months? That is work, however much enjoyment came from it as well.

All of this is to say, I enjoyed my time as an ENnies judge. But at least for 2020, I have decided not to re-nominate myself. I have projects I’d like to work on, and projects I am already working on, which may cause a conflict of interest in the coming year. Add in some other things I’m working on that don’t directly conflict, but need some of that precious space in my calendar that all that ENnies reading took up, and it just made sense to step back.

The main reason I’m stepping back for right now, though, is that the ENnies doesn’t need me right now. Oh, it still needs Judges, and I look forward to seeing the next five step up. But it doesn’t need someone like me. It needs someone like…

Okay, hold on, let’s make this easy. I need all the cis straight white men to sit down for a moment, or go grab a coffee or something. This next bit isn’t for or about you. Cool? Cool.

Wow, there’s a lot more room in here. Anyway…

You. The ENies need someone like you. If you’ve felt marginalized at any point in our hobby, if you don’t feel you’re seeing enough of yourself in our games, if you don’t think TTRPGs are doing enough to be inclusive and accessible, the ENnies need you. It needs LGBTQ2S+ judges, it needs Indigenous judges and judges of colour, and Sweet Baby Jane does it need women and non-binary judges. And it’s never going to not need them!

Certainly, the awards have had their problems, I don’t think anyone could deny that. And while the voting platform isn’t perfect, it is the only one where the fans get to vote on their favourite games, products, designers, and companies, as well as know who all the judges are. We aren’t a shadowy cabal making hidden decisions, I’ve been right out in the open talking about my work through most of this past year, answering questions whenever they come my way. Those two things make the ENnies so important to our hobby, and I believe something we need to grow.

I also know that the folks behind the scenes also want to see the awards grow and become better. But there is very little way that can happen while all the judges are, well… *gestures at myself*. They need you to nominate yourself, to put yourself on the ballot. Heck, I need you to do it, so I can vote for you. I give you my word right now, as long as you aren’t another version of me, I’m going to throw my full support behind you. I want you on the judge’s committee. I and the rest of the TTRPG hobby need you on the committee. Please nominate yourself now!

That’s it. I really don’t have anything else to say, so let’s wrap up there. Can you let the white fellows that went for coffee know we’re done? Thanks!

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