Online Nickname(s):@ClayNotestine

Introduction and Platform

Hello, my name is Clayton. I’m a graphic designer and writer who curates and showcases the wide world of tabletop roleplaying on Twitter, discord, and other websites through a company called Explorers Design. I come to our hobby from the professional design world. I’ve worked as a writer and art director on projects like JetBlue Airlines, Netflix, World of Warcraft, Burger King, and very briefly, Hasbro. I plan to port my professional obsession with product design, art, and writing to the ENNIES.

Why do you play/run RPGs?

Entertainment. I play roleplaying games to enrich my perspective, challenge my beliefs, and experience new things. More importantly, I play RPGs to be with funny and extraordinary people.

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?

The Explorers Design studio is reserved for tabletop game design. I won’t have help, but I have a smart and eternally-patient black lab to keep me company.

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 have a master’s degree in copywriting and branding, and I’ve worked professionally in creative agencies and studios for the last decade. And I used to co-run a small, nimble little tabletop game convention called BASHCon for three years in Northern Ohio with roughly 1000-1400 regular attendees. I also have a spacious closet with empty shelves for the games.

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/fanperson”?

I’m most interested in games that show strong creative vision—the tighter the ideas, writing, and design, the better. This means most of my work has been in the indie sphere. I’ve liked: Scum & Villainy, Wanderhome, Torq, Odyssey, Mork Borg, Mothership, CBR+PNK, Blurred Lines, Trophy Gold, Brindlewood Bay, and more.

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?

I’ve played City of Mist, Scum & Villainy, Trophy Gold, The Inbetween, Eclipse Phase, Heart: City Beneath, Dungeons & Dragons 5e, Dungeon Crawl Classics, and a whole mess of homebrew.

Briefly summarize the criteria you will use for judging products in the different categories.

Originality. Craft. Impact. Originality is all about the newness of an idea, perspective, or technology. Craft is all about polish. How well-made is it? Does it show diligence and respect for its intended audience and the materials used to make it? Finally, Impact, does it make the world a better place, influence others, or expand the hobby in a new way?

How will you judge supplements or adventures for game systems whose core rules you are unfamiliar with or you believe are badly designed?

I will focus on the craft and originality of the supplement or adventure. I have biases in comparing it to other products, which every judge must recognize and measure.

How would you like to see the ENnies change? What should remain inviolate?

Production. The structure of the ENNIES isn’t changing. Instead, it should focus on its display. How well are the nominees presented? How professional and accessible is the website? What can the ENNIES do to lift the RPG industry by being a good representation of it? I think we can do a lot to improve the ENNIES as a product, making it a better partner to the games it promotes. As a judge, I’d be willing to write a commentary on my selections to give audience members context and appreciation for peoples’ work.

BONUS: (optional) If you were an RPG, what would it be and would you play it? 

I’m Trophy Dark except instead of horror it has the blackest cold brew coffee imaginable. I wouldn’t play it. I’d hook it up via IV.