The ENnies and Quick-Start Rules

Yesterday’s post and similar posts on other blogs started quite a discussion in the RPG blogosphere. It even lead to the start of a small campaign to promote the two products that are considered “truly free” by our standards. Rob Lang even created a logo for that campaign but was asked by Denise Robinson, Business Manager of the ENnies to cease using the ENnies logo in that way.

So, are quick-start rules that bad? No, of course not. As far as I understand it, nobody is against quick-start rules themselves, even if some of the posts we wrote sound like that. Quick-start rules are a great way to learn about new commercial games, perhaps even give the rules a try before buying the whole thing. I posted about several quick-start rules in the past and I will probably do so in the future. But quick-start rules are teasers, demos, advertisement if you wish.

Now to the ENnies “Free Product” category. Both completely free RPGs and free quick-start rules fit that category, no doubt about that. Heck, it’s a pretty broad category. If it’s free for the customer, it fits the category. And perhaps that is one of the main problems here. There are a lot of RPGs out there, that are given away for free, but not to advertise a commercial product, but as the real deal. Heck, there are even games out there released under a CC license, that you may freely share and use for your own projects. But alas only two made the list of nominees.

The probem is, that a lot of great games/websites/podcasts/etc. are missing from the list of RPG products that have been submitted to the ENnies. Why? I can only speculate, but I believe it’s because a) people don’t know that they can submit their stuff for consideration, b) they were discouraged by some of the submission terms and/or the legalese on the submission forms, or c) they just lost faith/interest in the ENnies.

And it’s not only the “Best Free Product” category that left me wondering what the heck the ENnies guys are smoking. “Best Website” is even worse. How can you put sites like Critical Hits (a multi-author blog), Dungeon-A-Day (a subscription-based service that provides you with roleplaying material like encounters, dungeons, etc.) and Obsidian Portal (a hosting service for you campaign site incl. wiki/blog/etc.) into a single category? The RPG blogosphere alone should get a category for itself. Especially since the ENnies have been funded by ENWorld in the past, I expected them to understand the web better. But alas they don’t.

So, what can be done to improve things in the future? I’ve seen a couple of good ideas already, including plans to create the categories before the submissions are sent in. It’s mindboggling that nobody has thought of this before. Another good idea is to allow 3rd party submissions, especially for the “Best Electronic Product”, “Best Free Product” and “Best Website” categories. Perhaps this would help to get more submissions.

Ok, that’s enough ENnies for today. Hey, at the end of the day it’s just another popularity contest. 😉