This is the second year for the Indie RPG Awards, and it has been an exciting trip. It's been a tremendous success because of the help and support of last year's independent game designers, as well as the overall rpg community which supports them and these awards.
You can find out more about what the awards are about, and why I created them, on the main page. Long story short, the awards are a way for all sorts of folks - from Indie RPG designers and other industry folk, to fans of various independent games, to perhaps folks who are curious about independently published games - To gather around and look back on the various games, supplements and zines that 2003 had to offer.
The awards themselves are a byproduct of this celebration. While we're not here to find the Ontologically Best Indie Games, we still think that we can have a friendly gathering of Indie industry folk to gather around and throw their 2 bits in on games that they found to be remarkable for one reason or another.
In the end, awards have little meaning outside the community that gives and receives them: They don't guarantee sales, they don't shake the RPG industry, and they don't mean that one game is objectively better than another. However, they do give a little recognition to the hard-working folks who put their time and sweat into their products of love and labor. And that is enough to matter.
First off, I need to give mad props out to the following folks:
After the preliminary round (you can read the FAQ to learn about voting), all of the 55+ registered designers and industry folk (remember, these awards are voted on by industry peers, not just fans) got a chance to come in and vote for one game or supplement in each category. When possible, they were encouraged to leave positive feedback for their choices, explaining why they picked the game.
When voting happens, the voter is asked for every category if she "is familiar with three or more" of the games in a particulat category. 'Familiar', in this case, is of course subjective; I put the definition to anywhere between "Know enough about the game to explain it to someone" to "Own it/Played it". If a voter indicates that they were familiar with three or more of the games, their vote carried a slightly higher weight: One vote is "3 points", the Weighted Vote is "5 points". We trusted the voters to be truthful, and after reviewing every vote, it's clear that nobody "lied". The item with the most points takes the award for that category.
And just for fun, I'm including all the feedback that was generated in the course of the Final Voting stage. The feedback, more than "points" or "awards", really shows why these games and supplements are exceptional works.