Introduction and Platform
Hi. I’m Kurt Wiegel. I’m a professor of chemistry and a husband and proud father of three. I’m an aging gamer now – 43 years old (“The Gamer in Winter?”), and I’ve been gaming for 34 pretty continuous years, and I’ve been lucky enough to find a way to balance my work, family and hobby. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been involved in an on-line RPG review show: Game Geeks on YouTube, and I was thrilled to have been elected as an Ennies judge since 2012, and I’d greatly enjoy the opportunity to do so again. One of the things I love about my hobby is the wide diversity of products and opportunities that it offers- so many stories and so little time. We’ve always had a “no negative review” policy at Game Geeks, something I’d continue here if reelected to the Ennies.
Why do you play/run RPGs?
RPGs are like a drug for me. The ability to sit down and spin a story with my friends, to explore the range of schemes, emotion and occasionally dismemberment is an exhilarating experience, especially when contained within a “safe zone” of a rules structure. I mainly run (because there were many years when if I didn’t run, we didn’t play) games: I like anything with a strong narrative focus. My wife says its also a conduit for the voices in my head.
I’m especially excited to see other uses for RPGs: I have a former player who uses games in the troubled youth home at which he works. It’s a great method for connecting to the youth and helping them face their issues.
The ENnies requires a major commitment of time and energy. What resources do you have that will help you discharge these responsibilities? Will your gaming group or other individuals be assisting you? Does your family support you?
I have a very supportive wife and family. I’m used to balancing family life, work and my hobby. For game review and playtesting, I have an active, creative and diverse game group- they will be very active in helping me examine and analyze the products I would review.
Judging requires a great deal of critical thinking skills, communication with other judges, deadline management, organization, and storage space for the product received. What interests, experience, and skills do you bring that will make you a more effective judge?
I’m a scientist and teacher by trade, and as such I’m very accustomed to critical thinking and communicating to diverse audiences through a variety of methods. I always have to work towards deadlines as a teacher, researcher and family man. Having been a judge in 2012, I feel that I have a good handle on the time and commitment needed for this undertaking. I have a dedicated “Man Cave” in our basement for storage and a safe spot to run and hide when I want to read.
What styles and genres of RPGs do you enjoy most? Are there any styles or genres that you do not enjoy? Which games best exemplify what you like? Do you consider yourself a particular system’s, publisher’s, or genre’s “fanboy/fangirl”?
I enjoy playing any game that allows for telling interesting and intricate stories. I tend towards running and playing “rules-light,” more narriative-focused games, such as Unisystem, CORTEX and BRP. Like most gamers these days, time is a precious non-renewable commodity. Since Game Geeks began, I have gained an appreciation for more rules-oriented games, such as Savage Worlds, Mutants and Masterminds, FATE, Spycraft and Fantasycraft. My favorite genre is the modern fantasy/horror genre, ranging from Buffy and the Dresden Files to Call of Cthulhu.
What games have you played in the past year? List up to 10 RPGs you have played the most. Which ones, if any, have you loved or hated?
Wow so many from this last years awards program. Here are the big ones:
Call of Cthulhu
Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition
Briefly summarize the criteria you will use for judging products in the different categories.
I would start by considering each game on its own merits- some games are a principally rules with minimum setting, and many are more interesting settings with little rules bolted on. Reading and digesting each game is critical to being able to judge each one. Games that are truly epic in scope (very large) are often the most interesting to read and rewarding to understand. For me, PDF products have no substantive difference compared to print books. I think innovation is critical to our developing hobby- games have evolved tremendously from our roots in fantasy wargaming. I like to see games that try something different- I’d rather see a product aim for the fences and fall a little short than play it safe and reiterate what we’ve already seen hundreds of times before.
How will you judge supplements or adventures for game systems whose core rules you are unfamiliar with or you believe are badly designed?
There have been very few games I’ve ever encountered that have no redeeming values. I’d get the core rules for any product from a system with which I’m unfamiliar. I think that’s key for understanding a game, even one which is mainly setting. The PDF market is ideal for getting games that are out of print, as are auctions sites like Ebay. Stores like Noble Knight Games also have tremendous stocks of out of print games.
How would you like to see the ENnies change? What should remain inviolate?
I’d like to see a category for best story, or best story arc for an adventure. Otherwise the categories and policies are well designed and shouldn’t be changed. I’d be very interested in a “best kids game,” or “best beginners game” being introduced. A lot of older gamers (myself included) have kids becoming interested in the hobby.
BONUS: (optional) If you were an RPG, what would it be and would you play it?
My life as a game would be a very strange combination of comedic Call of Cthulhu and Glee. Yes Glee.