How to Win a Squiddie (and other awards too)!
Despite the title, we are not accepting Squiddie nominations right now. Sorry! In case you missed it, the 2016 prizes have already been awarded. However, we have received a few questions about how we choose the winners and what makes a good candidate. Before we get to that, I want to do two things first: 1) Explain the Squiddies to anyone who might not be familiar with them, and 2) Provide a brief overview of some of the other major annual awards within the greater simming and online role playing community.
- The Squiddie (officially the “Ongoing Worlds Medal for Superior Online Roleplaying”) is presented annually to three entities: one person, one sim, and one sim club. It also consists of three categories: Excellence in Roleplaying, Originality & Innovation, and Facilitating the Community Experience. The award is sponsored by us, Ongoing Worlds, and was first presented in 2013.
- The Squiddie is one of three families of major community-level awards. The oldest is the Simming Prize (officially the “Prize for Simming and Online Role Playing in Memory of Seth Cotis“), dating back to 1999. Originally awarded by the Simming League and later by Ongoing Worlds, it is now bestowed by a group of trustees. It is presented to up to five entities each year and is named in memory of an early influential simming leader. ToS (“Tournament of Simulations”) is the final group of awards. In ToS, volunteer judges from around the community read posts form participating games and choose winners in different categories that may vary from year to year. ToS also dates back to 1999. It is currently presented by Ongoing Worlds, but began in the Simming League as well.
Clear as mud? Fantastic! So here’s how we choose Squiddie winners…
Historically, we receive about 30 nominations annually. Each member of the Ongoing Worlds Board of Advisors (currently David Ball, Leon Archer, Mister Xanadu, Tiberius Creations, and myself) individually reads all of the nominations and chooses what they believe are the best people, games, and clubs to move on to the final round. Individual advisors typically pick around five to 10. While there’s generally a lot of overlap among the advisors on their finals picks, getting selected by even a single advisor is enough to move a nominee into the final round. In that final round, we simply discuss the merits of each of the finalists and eventually come to a consensus decision on three winners. In the past, the nominees and winners have been announced, but not the finalists.
So that’s the how. What about the what?
What are we looking for?
The first thing I recommend before making a Squiddie nomination is to read the write-ups for past winners. What better way to know what we’re looking for than to see exactly who has won past awards and why? In addition to the 2016 winners mentioned above, check out out the 2013, 2014, and 2015 winners too.
There are three primary factors to remember regarding the Squiddies:
- It is awarded to one person, one game, and one club–three total awards annually. Let’s call this the entity type.
- It is awarded to one entity for Excellence in Roleplaying, another for Originality & Innovation, and finally another for Facilitating the Community Experience. Let’s call this the award category.
- Excellence in Roleplaying: Outstanding role play or leadership performance far above and beyond the typical person, game, or club.
- Originality & Innovation: Using a new technology or innovation or combining existing technologies together in a new way to elevate the role play adventure.
- Facilitating the Community Experience: Enhancing interaction, cooperation, and/or collaboration among role players to improve or advance the community.
- It is awarded primarily for events and actions of the previous calendar year. For example, the 2017 Squiddies will be awarded primarily for what happened in 2016.
Here’s an example, albeit an extreme one, to illustrate how all of that comes into play. Suppose during our finals deliberation, we rank the top five nominations as follows (with the respective award categories in parentheses):
- Person A (Excellence in Roleplaying)
- Person B (Excellence in Roleplaying)
- Game X (Excellence in Roleplaying)
- Club Q (Facilitating the Community Experience)
- Game Y (Originality & Innovation)
Guess who wins Squiddies? Not 1, 2, and 3. Instead, 1, 4, and 5 are the winners. The entity types and award categories must match up to produce three and only three winners with all entity types and award categories represented. We’ve never actually had a situation this severe, though it theoretically could happen. In practice so far, the type-category matches have only broken ties. I suppose the moral here is to understand the mechanics & drivers behind any award you’re participating in. Here are three interesting facts regarding entity types and award categories:
- A large majority of the nominations we receive are for Excellence in Roleplaying. We receive the next highest number of nominations for Facilitating the Community Experience receives. We receive the fewest (by far) for Originality & Innovation.
- A game has never won for Facilitating the Community Experience.
- A person has never won for Excellence in Roleplaying
Will any of those change in 2017? We shall see!
How do I write a great nomination?
Now that you have a firm understanding of the mechanics and what we’re looking for, let’s move to the actual write up. First, here’s a NOT-SO-GREAT write up:
“As everyone knows, club X is really great. They do everything top notch. And oh, by the way, club X is really awesome.”
What does that nomination tell us? Absolutely nothing! Believe it or not, we do receive a few similar nominations every year. Another nomination might say something like this: “Visit the website and you’ll see how great it is!” Really? You want us (the judges) to do the legwork for you? No thank you! As with any award nomination, make it as easy on the judges as possible. No, better yet, make it hard for them to not choose your nominee. Here’s a good general template to follow:
Intro Statement: Qualitatively say why the entity should receive the award. 2-3 sentences.
- 3-4 Supporting Bullets: Examples or amplifying information supporting the qualitative intro statement. Stats and figures (quantitative) are effective if available. 1-2 sentences each.
Closing Statement: Wrap the supporting bullets together and speak specifically to the effects or results. 2-3 sentences.
Squiddies are won and lost based on the write up. Write specifically toward one of the award categories (two at the absolute most). As mentioned above, make it difficult for us to not select your nominee. Sell your nominee! With that said, please don’t make things up or exaggerate. We do fact check the write ups. Nominations with information found to be false or misleading are immediately discarded. This is *very* rare, but it has happened.
A note about ToS
Switching gears (I know, from 1st to 5th): The 2016 Tournament of Simulations (ToS) will begin soon. The best advice here is to just enter. If you enter your sim in the competition, what’s the worst thing that could happen? You don’t win. Pretty much the same as if you didn’t enter at all. But if you do enter, you have the potential to win an award. You literally have nothing to lose. Like Nike’s old tagline: Just do it!
A big mistake clubs make is that they enter what they believe is their “best” sim, and only their “best” sim. Then they’re shocked and appalled when it doesn’t win an award. Evaluating sims is a subjective art and always will be. Just because you think it’s your club’s best sim, it doesn’t mean that three volunteer judges will think the same. Instead, enter all of your sims. Cast a wide net. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify. You get the picture. The clubs who have had the most success in ToS over the last five to six years are those who simply entered the most games. Go figure.
The ToS judges are fantastic people who volunteer hours of their time to serve the broader community. In my three years of running the competition, I’ve found them all to be very fair and discerning. I can’t say enough good things about them. With that being said, we could always use additional judges to reduce the overall workload. Why not take a round as a ToS judge yourself? If you are from one of those clubs that enters all or most of your sims, we definitely need your help!
I apologize if the flow of this article was a bit confusing–I more just wanted to get the information out! Regardless, I hope you find it useful–not only with the Squiddies, but with the Simming Prizes, ToS, and other awards too. I can’t wait to read all of the great nominations for the 2017 Squiddies next spring. Until then, let’s role play!