These awards were created to bring recognition to the folks in the RPG industry who brought games out into the market through their own resources and talents: small press RPG designers and publishers. Too often independently produced RPGs are overlooked by gamers and game awards for games produced by companies with far more resources, both in manpower and budget. Small press publishers, though they may lack in high production costs and huge print runs, often make up for it with innovative designs and a passion for creation. There is nothing wrong with the large-press design, and this isn't meant to "Stick it to the Man". Rather these are to reward, and help promote, the designers who went from concept to publishing by their own hard work. The Indie Awards are for these individuals.
Save for one sub-award, the Indie RPG Awards are voted on solely by other Indie RPG designers and publishers. These awards are peer awards, not popular awards.
This is the highest honor of the Indie RPG Awards. It is awarded to the best overall independently-produced RPG released during that year, as chosen by peers and members the gaming community. It is given to the RPG and the designer who made it. Everything which makes a game good; from game elements of story, setting, rules, innovation, and overall game design; to physical qualities like graphical design and layout, are taken into account for the awarding of this honor.
Along with the title of Indie Game of the Year, the game's designer also will win a pool of money, or "Grand Prize". This money, collected through donations to these awards, is meant as an incentive, or a small cash advance, for that designer to make more quality games in the future. The total pool of money gathered for the awards will be updated continuously on the main page for these awards, and is collected through donations and advertisements.
The Indie Game of the Year Award is the main honor of the Indie RPG Awards. There are, however, smaller awards that are also given out, called Sub-Awards. They award games, supplements and individuals that contribute to certain fields of the Indie RPG Experience. They include the following:
This Sub-Award honors the best supplement for an existing independent RPG. It is judged on the same standards as the Indie Game of the Year, but applies to game supplements rather than games themselves. This can include additional rules, setting information, or anything that enhances an existing game. The supplement may be for purchase or free.
There are so many quality free RPGs on the Internet that, even though free games are considered for the Indie Game of the Year Award, they really deserve their own category. This category honors the game designers who make their works of passion and then offer them for free. Note: If a free game wins the main award and this Sub-Award, the runner up for this Sub-Award is chosen instead.
This Sub-Award is dear to my heart -- it goes to the designer who makes not only excellent games of rules and settings, but makes excellent games that are readable, entertaining, functional, and catchy to the eye. It could be through primarily layout and desktop publishing skills, followed by the use of art (not necessarily the best art, just art used to maximize the effect of the layout), innovative or creative new methods of game layout, clarity and readability of the text, materials used in the construction of the game, or, in the case of PDF games, the most effective use of all the features of PDF publishing. This award goes to the game or supplement that shows off the best "Mad Graphical Design and Layout Skillz".
This is a unique and very subjective Sub-Award. It goes to the designer who displayed the best support of their 2003 published game. This could be through the creation of forums or mailing lists about their game, their response times to questions about their games, the designer's use of marketing to get the word out about their game, the organization of the game's website, and of course support materials like free downloads, rules, starter kits, materials, adventures and supplements.
This Sub-Award is awarded to the game that stretches the RPG experience in new ways. It may be a particular innovative mechanic that has never been used in other games (or never been used as well as previous games), or it changes the dynamics of a regular game group (the standard 3-6 players and one gamemaster). Or, it might even turn the concept of "RPG" on its ear. Innovation and exploration is what this Sub-Award honors.
This Sub-Award is the only award in the bunch that is decided by popular vote. In the summer, anyone will be eligible to vote for this award. People who want to support their favorite games of the previous year will be entitled to vote for the game that they thought was the best, the most fun, etc.
Any questions about these awards? Please feel free to contact us from the Contact Us page.