This is a transitional year for the Indie RPG Awards -- as they passed from the hands of founder Andy Kitkowski into those of myself, John Kim. At first, it seemed like a natural fit since I keep track of nearly all Indie RPGs for my RPG Encyclopedia. However, I have never run an award in my life, and only knew indie RPG makers through online conversations.
As such, my goal for this year was not to re-make the awards, but first and foremost to simply maintain them and fill in Andy's shoes as best I could. I have learned a lot of lessons along the way -- the most important of which is to start early because just a few life twists can tear any schedule to shreds.
This year has seen an outstanding one for indie RPGs. We've seen much new innovation as well as improvements to the standards of production -- attested to by newcomers like Mark Smylie's Artesia RPG or Andrew Kenrick & Merwin Shanmugasundaram's Dead of Night.
Indeed, it is intimidating to see the hordes of new games and new creators flood upon the scene, especially if you take into account all the new free games which appear. The Game Chef contest alone generates hundreds of free game entries. There were many games missed in this year's registration process, unfortunately.
It was really simple: Some 80+ peer reviewers from all walks of life and all backgrounds (all of whom designed games themselves or worked in the industry, either independent or mainstream) were invited to vote for each of the awards. Each judge had three votes for each category, and each vote they had had a weight: 5, 3, and 1 points respectively. We tallied the games and supplements that received more than two votes, and made a list of the winners, in order.
A vital tradition of the Indie RPG Awards is to indicate why games earned their awards rather than just listing winners. In a field with little advertising, it is vital to raise awareness of the games. So along with the votes, we ask for feedback from the judges on their choices. This, mixed with other quotes from peers and reviewers on the games, is included with each games' listing.