London, 2nd August — After much debate, the shortlist for the fifth annual Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming has been announced.
The award is given to whatever the Diana Jones Award Committee believes has best demonstrated ‘excellence in gaming’ in the previous year. This year the committee has shortlisted three items. In alphabetical order, they are:
CODE OF UNARIS
(role-playing game designed by Gary Pratt, published by Goldleaf Games)
Code of Unaris is the first Internet ‘Chat’ role-playing game to use the medium, instead of just being in it. Gary Pratt’s design ushers in a new era of games which turn the text interaction into part of the system through “hacking.” Hacking means changing words as you see fit, as permitted by the rules. Playing Code of Unaris through Chat allows people easy, fun access to role-playing without feeling stifled by the computer screen, as hacking brings them closer to each other’s words even than many table-top games allow.
DOGS IN THE VINEYARD
(role-playing game designed by Vincent Baker, published by Lumpley Games)
Vincent Baker’s Dogs in the Vineyard is as spare as Greek tragedy, and almost uniquely among roleplaying games, it is designed to tell stories of similar power. Using the classic framework of the Western, it sets the scene for characters who must act decisively to restore morality to a world overgrown with sin. The moral argument, neither handwaved nor infantilized, is the heart of this game. Combining the best of character-driven, psychological roleplaying with careful attention to setting and conflict design, in Dogs in the Vineyard Baker produces an uncompromising exploration of justice and responsibility, and a virtual master class for game designers in hitting what you shoot at.
TICKET TO RIDE
(board game designed by Alan Moon, published by Days of Wonder)
Ticket to Ride is a masterful work by a veteran designer at the height of his powers. Nothing about the game can be faulted: the rules are simple and clearly explained, the strategy is intriguing, the gameplay is balanced, engrossing and tense, the components are beautifully produced, the design is polished till it gleams, and the whole demands to be played and replayed. The addition of an online version with free access for purchasers of the physical game is the flourish on the icing on the cake. Not only is Ticket to Ride the best introduction to the pleasure of playing board-games in years, it shows the elegant art of games design at its very best.
About the Award
The Diana Jones Award was established in 2000 to celebrate the principal of excellence in gaming. Each year the Award is given to the person, company, product, event, trend or item that in the opinion of the committee has best demonstrated ‘excellence’ in the field of gaming in the previous year.
The award is announced and the trophy presented at a ceremony the day before the opening of Gen Con Indianapolis (this year on Wednesday 17th August). Winners receive the Diana Jones Trophy and the admiration of their peers. The award is administered and decided by a mostly anonymous committee of games-industry luminaries in three countries.
Previous winners of the Diana Jones Award include Peter Adkison, former CEO of Wizards of the Coast; Jordan Weisman of FASA and Wizkids Inc.; Ron Edwards and his game Sorcerer; and the games Nobilis and My Life with Master.
A fuller description of the Diana Jones Award, plus all the previous winners and shortlists, can be found at the award’s website: www.dianajonesaward.org