2020's Diana Jones Award Goes to Black Excellence in Gaming

The Diana Jones Award (so named for the piece of the old Indiana Jones RPG which makes up part of the award statue) is given out at Gen Con every year for Excellence in Gaming. It can go to anyone or anything - a game, a convention, a concept (such as Actual Play which won a couple of years ago). This year, it goes to Black Excellence in Gaming.

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The awards specifically called out the following people as examples:
  • Omari Akil
  • Orion D. Black
  • Maurice Broaddus
  • Allie Bustion
  • Tanya DePass
  • Brandon Dixon
  • Jerry Grayson
  • Sharif Jackson
  • Cliff "CJ" Jones
  • Eric Lang
  • Eloy Lasanta
  • Rich Lescouflair
  • Brandon O'Brien
  • Cody Pondsmith
  • Mike Pondsmith
  • Marcus Ross & Cara Michele Ryan
  • Laura Simpson
  • Chris Spivey
  • Bryan Tillman
  • Allen Turner
  • Aaron Trammell
  • Jabari Weathers
  • Travis Williams
  • Camdon Wright

 PRESS RELEASE



The year 2020 is a special one for the Diana Jones Award in many ways. It’s the 20th year the illustrious award “for excellence in gaming” has been presented, and it happens at a historic time of global pandemic and civil protest.

With that in mind, the Diana Jones Award committee has decided to do something different this year. For our community to continue to grow and improve, we must do better to mend the rifts that pull us apart in our industry and the world at large. Thus, rather than announce a shortlist and a winner, we choose to award the concept of Black Excellence in Gaming. We want to recognize the often-overlooked Black professionals throughout tabletop gaming’s history, up to and including the present day. This is overdue, deserving of the spotlight, and is but one small step.

We have given the award to broad concepts in the past in much this same way. This year, to recognize specific people and highlight their achievements, the committee has selected over two dozen professionals in the games industry as honorees who are representative of Black Excellence in Gaming. Each of these deserving individuals has space held for them on our website, if they wish to be listed there. The committee congratulates them all, and thanks each of them for their contributions to the industry in the face of systemic racism.

The committee would also like to announce the Diana Jones Emerging Designer Award for next year. The new award is intended to amplify the voices of up-and-coming designers. As part of the process, we pledge to make a special effort to seek out qualified and deserving members of marginalized groups as a component of each cohort of candidates.

The Emerging Designer Award includes a free badge and hotel room at Gen Con, and the opportunity to be showcased as a promising designer at the event. This new program will begin with the resumption of Gen Con’s normal schedule, and we’ll release more details as that time draws closer.

We hope this year’s Diana Jones Award and the new Emerging Designer Award will help move our community toward becoming more diverse and inclusive. At the same time, we know this is just the start. Fortunately, our action is part of a wave of such efforts, including those by the Babble-On Equity Project, the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality, and Dissident Whispers, among others. We applaud them all.
Black lives have always mattered, and we pledge to be a better ally going forward.

For more on this year’s award—including an FAQ and profiles of the honorees—please see the 2020 Awards page.
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Cool.
Should the DJA transition more officially to this sort of recognition for it's top prize? As they state, it's not the first time they have given the award to a concept or broad swath of individuals.
 



Sunsword

Adventurer
Cool.
Should the DJA transition more officially to this sort of recognition for it's top prize? As they state, it's not the first time they have given the award to a concept or broad swath of individuals.

I think it depends on the year and I'm okay with that. This year has been so tough that sharing this award with a number of talented people simply spreads a little extra light into the darkness.
 


cool. I'm glad there's a space on the award site devoted to the work of each individual Black honoree. I'm enjoying reading through each one.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
I've thought that "we cannot decide on a winner" is a failure to understand the job description for 'being on an award committee'.
But that does not detract from the work the many nominees did. I am pleased to see there are so many candidates to choose from.
 

Von Ether

Legend
I've thought that "we cannot decide on a winner" is a failure to understand the job description for 'being on an award committee'.
But that does not detract from the work the many nominees did. I am pleased to see there are so many candidates to choose from.

For a while now, the Diana Jones award has focused on a game, concept or a trend, not individuals. Like 2018's "winner" was "Actual Play" and it's nominees were Harlem Unbound, an academic gaming journal, etc. as compared to an actual author of the games or a particular streaming game producer.

2019's winner was a game called Starcrossed, but it had competition with the D&D art book.

So it wasn't that the committee couldn't make up their minds, but to do what they exactly did; call attention to the all time great -- and also the up and coming -- game designers who are black.
 
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