Origins Awards Proposal Away

As part of my work with the Origins Awards Task Force, I was asked to develop at least three different proposals for the GAMA board to consider and put before the GAMA voters for consideration. I just sent off the first last night. Here it is:

Origins Awards Task Force: Proposal 1

Mission Statement

The purpose of the Origins Awards is to recognize excellence in gaming products.

Submission for Consideration

Any publisher or Academy member can submit the name of any eligible product for consideration during the course of a year. Such submissions must include the name of the product, the year in which the product was published (usually determined by copyright date), and the names of the key creatives (limited to five or fewer) involved in the product.

Submissions for a year open on January 1 of that year and close on January 31 of the following year. These are stored in an online database that is accessible to all so that anyone can confirm whether or not a product has been submitted in a particular category.

The Academy

Any person with a published credit for writing, design, sculpting, illustration, graphic design, editing, line development, or brand management in three or more gaming products is eligible for admission to the Academy. Admission to the Academy is free to those eligible. Upon admission to the Academy, each member must declare areas of expertise.

Academy members may purchase a supporting membership for $30 (or some other nominal fee to be determined). This grants the supporting member several benefits:

1) A vote weighted three times that of nonsupporting members.
2) A four-day badge to Origins.
3) Seating in the Academy supporters area at the Origins Award ceremony
4) Admission to the Origins Awards post-ceremony party.

Hall of Fame members are considered supporting members for life. Individuals who are named winners on an Origins Award are made supporting members for free for the following year.

Academy members are asked to declare areas of expertise when they join the Academy. They can change these at any time at least 30 days before the awards round of the voting.

The Academy Chair

[Note: This section requires a change to GAMA’s current bylaws. In the case that such a change cannot be effected, the current bylaws regarding the Academy chair shall remain in place.]

Each year, the Academy members elect a chair from their own number to manage the Academy on behalf of GAMA and in conjunction with the GAMA staff. The chair’s duties involve overseeing the Origins Awards process and ceremony, vetting admissions to the Academy, and arbitrating any disputes between jurors or juries.

Candidates for the chair can declare themselves at any time after Origins. The election shall be held over the period of days exactly four weeks after the beginning and end of Origins.

At any time, the Academy membership can call for a vote of no confidence in the chair. This requires a majority vote to pass. If it does, the chair shall step down immediately, and an election for a new chair shall be held within two weeks.

Jury Formation

A jury of knowledgeable people is formed for each of the major categories. The members of each jury are appointed by the GAMA Manufacturers Division, the GAMA Retailers Division, the GAMA Wholesalers Division, and the Academy. Each of the GAMA divisions sends one person to each jury. The Academy sends two, plus two alternates who may be called upon to fulfill the duties of any other juror who cannot do so or if there are duplications among the other appointees.

If possible, no jury should feature two or more jurors who work for the same company at the time of their appointment. The body of jurors should come from backgrounds as diverse as possible. The Academy chair is charged with ensuring this to be so. To help with this, Academy jurors are appointed after all others.

Any person can submit his or her name and credentials to any of the electing bodies for consideration for serving on a jury. Others may nominate credible people as jurors, but the prospective jurors must accept such nominations.

These appointments are announced at the GAMA Trade Show for the awards to be held the next year. Contact information for each juror shall be listed on the Academy website. In the first year, appointments should be made immediately.

No member of a jury can serve on the same jury for more than once every other year. Nor can a person serve on more than one jury at a time.

Jurors are granted a supporting membership in the Academy for free in the year that they serve as jurors.

Nominations Round

During the course of the year, members of each jury are expected to monitor new releases in their category. Publishers and other interested parties are encouraged to send copies of eligible products to the members of the appropriate juries upon publication to give the jurors as much time as possible to examine the products.

The jurors are encouraged to discuss the various products eligible in their category on an ongoing basis both through electronic means and in meetings held at conventions. After the end of the submissions period for the year (January 31), the jurors engage in final debate about the merits of the products before them. By February 28, they cast votes ranking their top 10 products in order. The top five vote-winners are the nominees in that category.

If there is a tie for fifth-place, all tied products shall be granted nominations. A product must have at least two votes to earn a nomination.

An independent accounting firm shall certify the votes [assuming this can be done at a reasonable price], and the totals shall be made public. They shall be announced during one of the banquets held on the first day of the GAMA Trade Show. The GAMA Lounge at the GAMA Trade Show shall make every reasonable attempt to feature a display of all nominated products for all attendees to peruse.

Awards Round

The full Academy votes on the nominees in the final round. The votes of supporting members count three times as much as those of regular members. Voters rank all nominees in their declared areas of expertise in order of preference.

An independent accounting firm shall certify the votes [assuming this can be done at a reasonable price], and the totals shall be made public. They shall be announced at a ceremony on Friday night of Origins. The nominees and the winners shall be prominently displayed in an area right in front of the entrance to the exhibit hall.


Collectible Card Games
Best Collectible Card Game
Best Collectible Card Game Expansion

Roleplaying Games
Best Roleplaying Game
Best Roleplaying Game Supplement

Best Miniatures Game
Best Miniatures Line

Best Board Game

Best Card Game

Best Wargame: Defined as a game that strives to accurately represent a major historical or present-day conflict. Includes all historical miniatures games as well as traditional war-based board games.

Best Gaming Periodical
(Includes magazines, comics, play-by-mail games, etc.)

Best Gaming Fiction
(Includes novels, anthologies, stories, films, etc.)

Best Gaming Accessory
(Includes dice, cases, game-aid software, soundtracks, etc.)

Defining Categories

In all cases, it shall be up to the juries involved to determine which games fit into their assigned category. A product can only be eligible in one of the standard categories.

In case of a dispute, the Academy chair shall make the assignment. If possible, the game shall be placed into the category in which the publisher has marketed it. If the game can be placed into more than one category in this fashion, the Academy chair shall judge which category fits best.

Special Awards

Vanguard Award: Given to an innovative product, especially one that doesn’t fit well in another category.

Rookie Award: Best first product from a new company or designer.

For both of these awards, the juries can, if they wish, nominate a product for each. The nominees are put before the Academy for a yes/no vote for each. A nominee must garner a 51% approval of all votes cast to win the award. Games that win these awards are still eligible for awards in the standard categories.

Game of the Year: For this award, the Academy members rank their top 10 games from the lists of game nominees in order of preference. The winner is the game with the most votes. The Game of the Year always wins in its category as well.

Altering the Awards System

[Note: This requires an alteration to GAMA’s bylaws. In the event this cannot be made, the GAMA board should ratify a continuing resolution that re-implements this process each year at Origins as its first post-election action.]

The Origins Awards system as put forth here cannot be substantially altered without a majority vote of the Academy, to be ratified by the GAMA board. No alterations can be made to any particular round once voting for that round has commenced.