Online Nickname(s): scholar, fukulo

Introduction and Platform

Hi, I’m James, gamer/food justice worker/occasional DJ. I’ve been a gamer for 20+ years now, covering a wide array of gaming styles and systems. I’ve also previously served as an ENNIES judge, and found the experience of giving back to this hobby that has given me so much incredibly fulfilling.

Why do you play/run RPGs?

There are a lot of reasons that I’ve loved this hobby. Some of the easier ones to explain are:
the creative outlet: I love having a chance to create things, and then share them with friends, whether home brew mechanics, stories that they are a part of, or just stories after the fact of tables long past.
The chance to work through things in a safe environment: Being able to use a fictional character to come to terms with aspects of identity is both very helpful, and also very empowering
Community: This hobby has given me so many amazing people in my life, from people met online who later became IRL friends, to people met at conventions and game days, to locals met in my FLGS while browsing the shelves, this game has given me so many wonderful people in my life, which in turn led to other great things in my life.

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?

Things that have helped me in my past terms have been a decent amount of time in my schedule, an extensive network of gamers both locally and online for playtesting things.

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 believe after a rough patch in my 20s that I’ve become a fairly effective communicator, both in person and over digital means, both in responding and in initiating. I have always been very deadline motivated which has proven to be very helpful in my previous times judging. I am aware of the space requirements needed for judging, and have enough book shelves to make it work, but at the end of the day, i think my most important skill set, other than a broad knowledge of various game systems and settings, comes from my previous time as a judge, having enough experience to know what the job entails, while still coming to it with fresh eyes and enthusiasm.

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”?

This is an ever evolving topic, but some ever green genres are urban fantasy and action adventure games that still manage to pull emotional responses. My personal tastes run towards fast snappy rules light, story focused cinematic games, but I’ve loved games in all genres. My current sweet heart game is Broken Compass, for it’s balance of cinematic action and adventure, with tight yet flexible rules, but people who have known me for a while will all consider me one of the World of Darkness folks, who might be slightly stuck in the 90s.  😉

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?

Last year is a lot of games, so I might just take it down to a microcosm of the last few months.
We finished our second season of Blades in the Dark.
We started our season break game Spirit of 77.
I’ve run a bunch of Broken Compass 1 shots.
I’ve gotten to play in one shots of:

  • Dread,
  • Thirsty Sword Lesbians,
  • Executive Decision,
  • Swords of the Serpentine,
  • a friend’s home brew system,
  • Wisemen of Chelm,
  • High Speed,
  • Low Drag ( nifty little solo rpg)

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

First and foremost is the Fun factor of the product? is it fun to play, does it add a fun aspect to your sessions? after that, rules tightness and innovation and playability, quality and consistency of art, actual build quality, representation and inclusion, how the information in the product is presented are all other things that I will be taking a look at and adding into my judgment of the product.

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

Again the criteria is very similar to what I outlined in the previous question, although a touch broader. Between my own collection ( thank you DTRPG) I have a pretty wide systems knowledge, and even more when I tap my network of gamers, so being unfamiliar with something is pretty simple to fix. Supplements and especially adventures are pretty easy for me to separate from their core rules, because I’ve always kitbashed my home games, drawing from anything and everything that has caught my eye.

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

I’m going to assume this is pie in the sky wishing in a lot of cases, because most of the things I’d like to see change, the ENNIES have made significant progress on over the past few years, but I also understand that the ENNIES are run by a dedicated staff of volunteers, who all have other lives that are (and should be) their priorities. I am a firm believer that their will always need to be more communication with the denizens of this hobby. I do believe that there are a few categories that should be added/dropped from the ENNIES, but understand that that’s very much based on submissions allowing a full spread for those categories (so encourage your publisher and writer friends to submit their stuff if it’s in a category that you feel is under represented).