ENnie Awards – Time for Change

When the ENnie Awards were started as a little fan award 18 years ago, we had no idea we’d still be here nearly two decades later. We’re very proud of our awards ceremony! However, we are aware that it has not changed in all that time, while the world around us has. That is why, after 18 years, we feel it is time to revisit the awards program, the way it works,  the tools and methods we use to run them, and bring the entire program up to date.

The ENnies are completely volunteer-driven. The ENnies staff, essentially, is the admin support for each year’s slate of elected judges. The staff doesn’t involve itself in the nomination process and does not choose any judges or any nominees; we simply provide the year’s judges with the tools and platform they need to do their job.

Our goals over the coming months are to ensure the awards are fair, inclusive, and  welcoming to all, while also ensuring that staff, judges, and nominees alike feel safe and reassured that the awards are in good hands.  We also want to ensure that the community, of which we are so proud to be members, is fairly represented, that each year’s judges are fair and impartial, and that we get a great range of different judges year over year.

To that end, we will be reviewing the awards structure. Nothing is decided yet; we need time to consider all options. However, you can expect to see more secure voting systems, changes to the ways the judges are nominated, and more. We will be listening very, very carefully to the community – to you – all throughout these months, and we welcome your input into the process.  If you have any initial thoughts, please email the Business Manager, stacy@ennie-awards.com. We will also be posting a survey within in the next month to get your thoughts on a variety of topics.

Most importantly, the mission of the ENnie Awards hasn’t changed – to provide a fun celebration of exceptional game design, writing, art, and more. They are about making a small gesture and giving a pat on the back to those hard working creators who bring us the books and games we enjoy so much. Game companies are made up of people, and the ENnies are about those people: writers, artists, editors, graphic designers, and so many more, without whom these games wouldn’t exist, whether it’s the awesome cover an artist painted for a new hardcover book, or an innovative bit of rules design in the latest indie RPG.

Thank you,
Stacy Muth
ENnie Awards Business Manager

29 Responses to “ENnie Awards – Time for Change”

  1. Juniper says:

    I hope this means you’ll be enacting safeguards to keep various white supremacists and the like from rigging the vote in their favor.

  2. Zak S says:

    Excellent! I hope this means you’ll be enacting safeguards to keep known harassers like Something Awful and 4chan trolls from disrupting the awards or harassing nominees.

  3. I hope this means you’ll be enacting safeguards to keep alt-right assholes and internet harassing pieces of shit like Zak Sabbath (go fuck yourself Zak, you internet harassing piece of shit) from rigging the vote.

    PS to Zakky: still pissed you’ll never get the Diana Jones award?

  4. NameYourselfCoward says:

    Sad you’ll never accomplish anything? I wish he was the harasser you idiots make him out to be, you gutless children.

  5. Zweihander is an unimaginative brick of a poorly-made warhams retroclone.

  6. Daniel Fox says:

    Confirmed opt-in email voting systems and those which require social media integration to register a vote tends to weed out those who would purposefully disrupt the voting process. I am looking forward to what’s in store for the future of the ENnies.

  7. I have always held the ENnies to be an exemplary form of an ‘industry award’ programme. Entries made by those who’d like to be considered, discussed by a panel of elected judges (who nominate themselves, rather than being picked by someone) to create a shortlist which is then voted on by whoever is interested enough to particpate. Compare virtually everything else in the entertainment world: Oscars, Emmys, Booker Prize, BAFTAs, etc. – all far less transparent and without public particpation.

    Please do not lose this openness as you consider changes.

    Disclaimer: I have had the honour of being an ENnies Judge, and have also been a completely unsuccessful competitor (at, of course, different times!).

  8. Paul Fricker says:

    It’s wonderful that the judges are not from the games industry, but are just ‘fans of books’ (as one judge described himself to me on Sunday evening).

    I was at this year’s ENnies, and I found it to be both emotional and an inspiration. Congratulations to the winners, judges and organisers.

  9. Commodore Jeep-Eep says:


    Follow your own advice, Zak.

  10. Kurt says:

    I do hope we see a positive change. Particular individuals and their supporters have been incredibly toxic for the hobby for sometime now and It has looked like certain publishers have been creating disgusting content to just be noticed and then apply some questionable tactics to rig the vote in their favour.

  11. Mike Evans says:

    So a few things:

    First- Zak is NOT a white supremacist, harasser, or a piece of shit. This tired ass rhetoric needs to go away. Zak gives a shit about the hobby, the people in it, and how people are treated. People who jump on this bandwagon have a distorted, incomplete, or mob-mentality view of the facts and events that have transpired over eight years.

    Seriously it’s time for this shit to stop.

    Second- As someone who has won an ENNIE and received a few snarky toxic “love notes”/comments here and there; people need to fucking breathe.

    The OSR has not hijacked the ENNIES, Reece Carter is NOT a robot/paid operative that we have inserted in to the system (although he is damned tall and an awesome person), James Raggi is sullying or destroying the hobby- especially as all evidence to the contrary.

    You may not dig the OSR, you may prefer a different ruleset/aesthetic and feel- that’s totally awesome… but please stop shitting on people for liking a system/style that others do. Please stop pouting, crying wolf, or stomping your feet because LotFP/OSR/DIY stuff keeps getting nominated.

    If you read the books, look at the art, see the utility and innovation in many (not all) of the products coming out of the DIY/ORS movement- it speaks for itself. This is why these books are nominated. This is why they keep winning.

    Third- Does some of the processes for the ENNIES need to change- absolutely. Organizations should always strive to learn and improve themselves.

    The ENNIES are cool and an important piece of our lil niche hobby- do not berate, be toxic, nasty or vicious to the people involved. These awesome volunteers do this for the same love of the hobby that we all have (hopefully) and deserve the same respect you would show anyone.

    Instead of berating and being nasty- be supportive and excited.

    As a wise man once said, “Kill them with quality.”

  12. Neill Robson says:

    The volunteers are wonderful, no doubt about it but I think Mike Evans might have more than a vested interest in this. He and Zak have both benefited from the old system so is there any surprise they’d push back against fixing a system so many are saying is flawed?
    Also, I can never be supportive of harassers. Sorry.

  13. Zak S says:


    You don’t seem to be reading the comments–

    I said the system *should* change, even though I won awards under it.

    And, of course, I, as always, disapprove of the harassment heaped on nominees and winners each years.

  14. Mike Evans says:

    @ Neill Robson- Lol did I not just say in my comment that I agreed it could be improved upon?

    I’m not pushing back at all. on this being fixed or improved.

    If I win ENNIES- COOL! If I don’t (which btw two of my books were not nominated this year) all that means to me is I have to strive harder to make the best damned book I can- nothing more.

    My comment was directed solely at treating people with respect and being chill and not toxic.

  15. Neill Robson says:

    Mike you were clearly concern trolling and I don’t appreciate being berated by you.

  16. ThunderLizardKiss says:

    Zak is happy for the system to change *now* that he has got what he needed from it.
    Big surprise , huge.

  17. Kelvin Green says:

    I’m happy to see changes to the process; they are well overdue when, for example, books full of pixellated jpegs win Best Presentation just because they are from a popular game line.

    But I’m not happy to see changes made just to keep the “wrong” people from winning awards. I fear that may be the impetus behind this; I hope I’m wrong.

  18. Shane says:

    I’m unsure exactly how the awards work. There are judges and fan votes, how does one affect the other?

    Having a rotating crop of non biased judges from year to year would be good.

    Allowing people to only vote once, with some kind of ID would be good.

    Possibly mail in only.

    I think that the awards are a wonderful thing for the community.

  19. Martijn Vos says:

    Neill, I don’t see how you think Mike is trolling. He’s got probably the best and most honest contribution in this discussion so far.

    I have no personal stake in this; I don’t make anything, I’m not OSR (I know Mike and Zak from G+, but don’t follow Zak and he blocked me), but I think it’s ludicrous to suggest that his and other OSR products are not interesting, innovative and worthy of attention. I’m not surprised to see many wins there. In fact, I think the ENnies do a better job than most awards to be impartial and focused on content.

    It’s certainly accessible to newcomers: see Daniel Fox who got two major awards. It’s hard to see how he could have rigged that, this being his first product and first time on GenCon. He promotes the hell out of it, but anyone can do that. Clearly people love it. Any newcomer or indie game that people love enough can win an award. It doesn’t seem like it’s controlled by industry insiders in any way whatsoever.

    Or is that the problem? Should more awards go to Paizo and WotC? I like that the ENnies shine a big light on smaller publishers.

  20. Guy Alter says:

    Poeple what the hell do you have against the guy? You cant tilt the votes and I for once voted for Zack’s book this year because I honestly think its a better work then most of the other nominated creation! How can a Jewish person be a white supremacyst in any case? It doesnt mix… I am happy I got to know the osr community because they create the most easy to use and most innovative ideas to my oppenion. Any one not liking it should demand more from paizo or wothc (play tons of pf btw)
    No one can hijack public openion. They can just change it.
    Leave the man alone… this fixation is wasting all of your times

  21. Quick Look says:

    Seems like Zak S has done a lot of harassment and disgusting things in the tabletop industry over the years. A quick Google search seems to show it well-documented as well…


  22. Zak S says:

    @Quick Look

    You *literally* just linked to a post that debunks all the claims against me and links to proof that I’m the target of a harassment campaign. With airtight proof from primary sources.

    Like you anon Something Awful folks don’t even read the stuff you post before posting it. There’s a reason voters don’t take your claims seriously.

  23. Kevin Swartz says:

    wow, this deteriorated fast…

  24. Frandy says:

    Any system that lives long enough has people figure out the rules has small groups able to organize and challenge the larger groups.

    I think its not surprising that the year Harlem Unbound cleaned house all of a sudden the rules need to change. People are pointing to Zak but he wins stuff all the time.

    The real change this year was that a bunch of established game designers and big companies lost big to Harlem Unbound.

    I mean, the ENnies talks about diversity but one of their ENtries was a transphobic joke titled product written by the MC.

  25. Jens says:

    “I think its not surprising that the year Harlem Unbound cleaned house all of a sudden the rules need to change.”
    A good point. This change in rules for Ennie voting is just pandering to the particular company that usually wins but didn’t.
    Next year guys it’ll be back to normal. No trouble makers will take your industry awards this time…

  26. “books full of pixellated jpegs win Best Presentation just because they are from a popular game line.”

    Hey Kelvin, there is no Best Presentation category so who were you trying to smear here, exactly? Don’t hold back.

  27. Mark Shipley says:

    Seems like a lot of angst over an award that was always run as a popularity contest.

    Apparently, the wrong people won the contest this time.

    It never occurred to me to vote for the Ennies based upon the politics…real, imaginary, or just a slur…of any of the writers or publishers.

  28. David Wintheiser says:

    I can see a number of possible ‘changes’ to the ENnies without at all mentioning politics:

    – Finding a more comprehensive process for award nominations than a simple fan poll.
    – Finding a better way to ‘vet’ prospective volunteer judges, or changing from a volunteer to an invited judge system.
    – Finding a more sustainable source of income for the ENnies staff rather than sponsorship from gaming companies, which might create conflict-of-interest concerns in some categories.
    – Determining if ‘open voting’ is superior to ‘moderated voting’; i.e.: potentially moving to a system like the Hugos where one needs to be a member of an ENnie organization to cast a vote.

    I can see where some folks might take ‘changes’ to mean political changes, given the emphasis in the original announcement on representation and safety, which seems to trigger certain parts of the community. Nevertheless, comments on the security of the voting system and the emphasis on the current staff being volunteers lead me to believe that more focus will be put into what might be called the ‘operational’ aspects of the ENnies as the ‘political’ ones, simply to ensure that this award, which after nearly 20 years has acquired some prestige in the community, is sustainable long-term.

    It’s a credit to the staff that they’re sharing this info with us; they certainly don’t have to.

  29. Robert Bohl says:

    I’m disappointed that the ENnies didn’t indicate here what issues they had that they felt needed to be corrected. In failing to cop explicitly to the issues they consider to be a problem, they’ve left this vacuum into which people are dumping bullshit.

    From my perspective, the issue with last year’s ENnies are:

    * A murdering Nazi was nominated in the fan favorite publisher category
    * There were no women judge nominees
    * #feminism, a book with games in it, was nominated in the “related product” category

    The response to all three of these issues from the ENnies people I talked to was, essentially, “We do no quality control.” So what I want to know is what steps they’re going to take to recruit women, to prevent Nazis from being nominated, and to prevent feminist works from being put in a ghetto category.

    But I reiterate my disappointment at the fact that this post contains no “mea culpa” for what happened last year, nor does it indicate in any way what issues they’re intending to focus reforms on. It leaves me doubtful that the result will be productive, even as I try to stay hopeful that it will.

    Your lack of specificity feels like ass-covering but I think it’s causing more problems than it’s solving. My apologies if I’m wrong about it being ass-covering, but that’s what it smells like to me.