Online Nickname(s):healsdata, /u/magedefying on Reddit

Introduction and Platform

I’m Jonathan Campbell (he/him) and I live in the Philadelphia suburbs with my wife and five cats. I’ve been playing, buying, and enjoying TTRPGs since 2000. In that time, I’ve primarily run the “current” version of D&D for my friends with one shots and a Savage Worlds campaign thrown in the mix. I’ve also had many opportunities to play other games at conventions such as Philly Gamescon and PAX Unplugged. My shelf is chock full of indie games from Kickstarter and Itch that I’ve read but may never get to play.

Professionally, I work in software development. This has given me the skills needed to evaluate products and features that I haven’t seen before, consider user experience, and advocate for the customer.

Platform? If you’ve having fun with a game, its a good game for you! I’ll judge products based on how well they enable fun for the target audience.

Why do you play/run RPGs?

For fun! I was introduced to the hobby by the friends I still play with. I enjoy the collaborative storytelling, needing quick improv as a GM, and making memories that last as long as any good inside joke.

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?

My jobs is a pretty set 40 hour work week and my only real responsibility outside of that is my five cats. It leaves me considerable time for my hobbies, which are role-playing, board and video games.

My wife and regular gaming group would be happy to help test products if that’s permissible.

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 director of engineering and have had a reporting line of up to 60 engineers spread across 10 teams, all working on different release cadences. As you may imagine, this requires constant communication with my peers (product owners, IT/operations, etc.) Honestly, these items align very closely with my job requirements.

In terms of storage, my wife and I own our own home and have plenty of storage space available. I’m currently looking at our bookshelf of ~200 board games and think a few more products would fit easily 😀

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”?

My friend group prefers the crunchy, combat-driven nature of D&D but I’ve been able to win them over with a few story-telling games like A Quiet Year and Dialect. Outside of that group, I usually sign up for FATE-based, PbtA-based or similar games at conventions.

For a game to exemplify what I like, it needs to have both crunch and storytelling. Although I haven’t played it in a bit, Savage Worlds is probably the right blend for me.

In term of being a fanboy, no. I tend not to delve too deep into any particular property or fandom. I’m pretty adverse to the “edition wars” or “best game” debates that erupt on Twitter and Reddit. I just want folks to have fun with games!  (Although I did get to meet Jason Morningstar once over a game of The Warren at PAXU and he was nice 🙂

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?

The Deep Forest
D&D 5e – Homebrew
FATE Condensed
D&D 5e – Adventures League

I can’t say that I particularly loved or hated any of those games. FATE Condensed is what I played with my friends remotely during the pandemic, so that’s probably my fondest memory of the last LONG year.

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

I think the FAQ lays a lot of great groundwork here, detailing things like “writing” = prose and descriptive text, not necessarily nitpicking for editing mistakes.

Honestly, given that I’m a big of a digital nerd, I’d probably make a spreadsheet with a scoring rubric based on the FAQ and perhaps criteria that other popular, important awards programs use. Then as I was going through each product, I’d assign it a value in each category so that each product was scored solely on its own merit and not comparatively to other products.

My initial thoughts on categories comes from the Best Game part of the FAQ: art, writing, rules, feeling, play-ability.

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

In an interview I saw years ago, Robert Ebert talked about reviewing movies based on their intended audience. A movie like F9: The Fast Saga won’t appeal to critics and auteurs, but it should be judged for what it is — a high-action, summer blockbuster.

I think this applies to supplements and adventures. I’ve never played a game using the Cortex System, but if a book is written for that system, it should only be evaluated as something targeting fans of that game. (The one caveat being if the supplement purports to be “a bridge for D&D players” or “newbie friendly”).

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

I don’t know that I have a strong opinion here. I’ve primarily seen the ENnies as a voter in the past and there’s been great improvements to the voting site since the first time I voted. I love that ranked choice voting is used and that steps are taken, when possible, to prevent the results from being a pure popularity / name recognition contest.

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

It’d be a game of non-musical bards (lawyers, poets, motivational speakers) navigating a world of introverts, propaganda and social media. I’m definitely down to play.