The Diana Jones Award is an annual award created to publicly acknowledge excellence in gaming. The award was first made for the year 2000, and the first award ceremony was on August 4, 2001.
The committee of the Diana Jones Award has released the shortlist for its 2006 award. This year the shortlist contains six nominees that in the opinion of the committee exemplify the best that hobby-gaming can offer. In alphabetical order, they are:
The Game Chef Contest was invented at the Forge website by Mike Holmes in 2002, based on an earlier contest at Gaming Outpost run by Clinton R. Nixon and Jared A. Sorensen, and is now an annual event, run independently at its own website by Andy Kitkowski. Each year the competition has spawned a number of powerful, widely diverse RPGs and semi-RPGs and is now one of the best break-in points for new game designers and small press publishers. One of its strongest features is its development of a community of review and interest in one another’s projects. Game Chef now serves, effectively, as a grass-roots equivalent of the Origins Awards. The results not only reward the past year, but generate effort and participation toward the upcoming year.
Ireland has a vigorous hobby-gaming community and a strong tradition of local conventions. These often climax with a charity auction that raises astonishing amounts of money for good causes, particularly given the size of the conventions. In 2005 Gaelcon’s auction made €31,000 (US$40,000)—that's US$80 per attendee—and the smaller Warpcon raised €12,000 (US$15,000), making its parent society the biggest charity fundraiser at University College Cork. This extraordinary spirit of generosity not only helps the needy but also publicises gaming to the wider community in a very positive way, making it less obscure and more approachable, which may explain why the Irish games scene is so full of life.
Trading card game
Published by Wizards of the Coast
The latest core set for MAGIC provides a superior CCG experience, especially for casual players. While avoiding the complicated card mechanics of the expert-level sets, 9th Edition offers an array of solid, exciting cards and strategies. In 1993, the ‘Alpha’ set of MAGIC promised hundreds of cards, differentiated by color, balanced by cost, and fun to play. More than any set before it, 9th Edition delivers on those promises. The cards represent the distinct flavors and abilities of the colors. The rares, commons, low-cost cards, and high-cost cards are cost-balanced. Headache-causing abilities such as banding are out, and slick abilities such as ‘fear’ are in. While publishing high-end sets for entrenched MAGIC players, Wizards hasn’t forgotten the rest of us.
Altered reality game
Published by Mind Candy Ltd
Part collectible card game, part altered reality game (ARG), PERPLEX CITY blends the best of two very different forms and breaks the mould for both. ARGs have been around since the late 90s, but till now have been fixed-length events mostly used as marketing promotions. In contrast PERPLEX CITY has an open-ended storyline, is commercially self-financing, and is unashamedly accessible to casual and hardcore players alike. It combines an engrossing, immersive puzzle-based game and environment (created in part by award-winning novelist Naomi Alderman) with a vibrant online community, extraordinary real-world events, and a prize for its ‘first season’ of $200,000. Above all it’s simply great fun. PERPLEX CITY sets a standard that future ARGs will struggle to match.
Role-playing game by Patrick Kapera et al
Published by Alderac Entertainment Group
With SPYCRAFT 2.0, Patrick Kapera demonstrates the full-throated power of the OGL d20 engine. This book is a unified whole, featuring mechanically thorough yet fundamentally elegant and interesting rules for espionage games of all stripes. That’s not mere marketing speak; Kapera has eschewed the thin broth of windy GMing advice and tired invocations of mood in favor of clear, effective rules-based dials for adjusting game flavor and feel. His commitment to engineered rules to affect actual play is evident throughout. Every important system has a rule, every rule meshes with the others. There are plenty of innovations to watch, from the use of a car-chase subsystem to model everything from seduction to computer hacking to the introductions of real, game-affecting stats and systems for larger organizations and intricate subplots. Its Stress mechanic is also one of the few game systems to usefully adapt and improve on Sandy Petersen’s 25-year-old Sanity rules. All that, plus it’s very pretty.
Board game by Ananda Gupta and Jason Matthews
Published by GMT Games
TWILIGHT STRUGGLE is a brilliant first design from Ananda Gupta and Jason Matthews: a two-player game about the conflict between the USA and the USSR during the Cold War. It’s more of an area-influence game than a wargame so it appeals to a wide range of gamers. The game uses the card-driven mechanics of games like WE THE PEOPLE and HANNIBAL, but raises this system to new heights. Every game is different: sometimes the USSR player can achieve an automatic victory in the early game, sometimes the USA player can win in the mid or late game, and sometimes the conflict goes right to the end of the last turn. Simple, elegant design leads to an engrossing play-experience that’s often historically accurate and always enjoyable.
The winner of the 2006 Award will be announced on Wednesday 9th August, at the annual Diana Jones Award and Freelancer Party in Indianapolis, the unofficial start of the Gen Con Indy convention.