An eclectic mix of games, designers and events vie for hobby-gamings most exclusive trophy


From another long and eclectic collection of nominees, the secretive committee of the Diana Jones Award has distilled a shortlist of five contenders that it believes best exemplified ‘excellence’ in the field of gaming in 2015. The Diana Jones committee is proud to announce that the shortlist for its 2016 award for Excellence in Gaming is:

ConTessa, an organization

ConTessa is fresh, passionate organization dedicated to getting more women to play, discuss, and create tabletop roleplaying games. They started out as a blog dedicated to this purpose and quickly developed a series of free online seminars, hangouts, and events to bring women into the RPG fold. Last year they moved into face-to-face encounters by launching a track of their own inside Gen Gen, the largest tabletop gaming convention in the world, innovatively creating a con inside a con.

Eric M. Lang, a game designer

Eric M. Lang is the prolific designer of a staggering collection of board and card games whose volume is exceeded by their quality and acclaim. His deep love of games, gaming, and gamers inspires his co-designers and publishing partners with such grace and good nature that it’s impossible to feel the worse for failing to live up to his example. A very small sample of his achievements include Blood Rage, Dice Masters (with Mike Elliott), Chaos in the Old World (a 2010 Diana Jones nominee), and Living Card Game designs for properties including A Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and Warhammer 40,000.

Fall of Magic, a story-game by Ross Cowman, published by Heart of the Deernicorn

Fall of Magic is Ross Cowman’s elegiac fantasy game about loss, travel and discovery, all played out in a slowly unfurling landscape full of genuine wonder and weird surprises. The game marries a peaceful, carefully paced aesthetic with tack-sharp design elements that are smarter than they look. It’s hard to get more fantastic or magical than an actual scroll. As a hand-crafted object, Fall of Magic’s cloth-map-as-setting powerfully evokes its themes, and sets a lovely bar for production – small press or otherwise.

Larpwriter Summer School, a course organized by Fantasiförbundet (Norway) and Post (Belarus)

Larpwriter Summer School is a week long intensive course on larp design. Organized annually since 2012 in Lithuania, the curriculum is packed with lectures on design and theory, design exercises, educational games, and playing larps. The summer school is attended each year by around fifty students from around the world who have very little or no experience in larp design, with a crew of twenty people teaching and running the practicalities. The summer school has taught a new generation of designers, developed design theory and tools, and built an international network of alumni – who are all invited back each year. The alumni have gone on to create not only larps, but numerous larp festivals to showcase their works.

Pandemic Legacy, a board-game by Rob Daviau and Matt Leacock, published by Z-Man Games

The Diana Jones Award shortlisted the first Legacy game, Risk Legacy, in 2012, but Pandemic Legacy is such a leap forward from that forerunner that it more than deserves its place on this list. The game brings in elements and influences from other genres inside and outside traditional board-gaming to create an experience where the whole is greater than the sum of its amazing parts. A Pandemic Legacy campaign is an experience unlike anything else in gaming, and the waves it has created are felt across this and many other areas of interactive entertainment.


The winner of this year’s award will be announced and the Diana Jones trophy will be presented at the annual Diana Jones Award Party, to be held at the Cadillac Ranch in Indianapolis on the evening of Wednesday 3rd August—the night before the Gen Con games convention opens to the public. All games industry professionals are invited to attend.