The Nonbinary Tabletop Awards have announced their three winners for the first year of a new, annual program that spotlights and celebrates the work of nonbinary creators in the tabletop industry.
Created by Teatime Adventures maker Snowbright Studio, the Nonbinary Tabletop Awards was first announced in October of last year. Voters who took part in Its inaugural effort have chosen two designers and a content creator as representing “work that uplifts nonbinary gender representation and advocacy” within a hobby dominated by cis men, both historically and contemporarily.
The first winner is the team behind Women are Werewolves, C.A.S. Taylor and Yeonsoo Julian Kim. Women are Werewolves won Best Roleplaying Game at Dicebreaker’s 2023 Tabletop Awards, so this additional honour comes as little surprise. Created as an avenue for communicating the needs of nonbinary people - and the personal needs of the creators - to family and friends, this approachable title uses tarot cards to serve players prompts that explore relationships to gendered spaces and family customs.
“No queer art is one-size-fits-all, and there are as many nonbinary stories to tell as there are nonbinary people,” Taylor and Julian Kim told Snowbright in a press release. “We hope to see games that reflect those differences even as we celebrate each one together.”
Cloud Empress creator watt received an accolade for their work on their Mothership-gone-Ghibli RPG campaign setting that’s equal parts climate justice, critique and loving tribute to fantasy that still leaves plenty of room for tragedy. Where the last work designed rules for directly engaging in the question of gender, watt’s expansive work (which recently announced a pair of expansion booklets) takes familiar assumptions and rearranges them to show that a different world might be even more beautiful.
“Cloud Empress started with a bit of wish fulfilment—namely, the desire to cast magic in the Mothership rules system,” watt told Snowbright. “Like my favourite (and probably all of) Hayao Miyazaki’s works, I tried to create a setting where tenderness and intimate communities existed without turning away from the horrors human beings face every day to survive, live, and love.”
Like so many other creators attempting to carve their niche out of the tabletop industry, Matthew Makak does it in addition to his fulltime job. The last award recipient is the nonbinary, trans-masc co-host of Room 51, a board game YouTube and Twitch channel that he operates with their brother, Justin. Both share an exuberance for the hobby that is leavened by an obligation and responsibility to tackle sociopolitical issues - they believe fun and community care are not mutually exclusive.
“My hopes for 2024 is to see more nonbinary board game content creators, designers, and industry workers, Makak said in a press release. “I often feel lonely as a nonbinary content creator and I don't want to be the only one nor speak for the entire community. We belong here, we play here, this is our sandbox too; I hope folx can see there is enough sand for all of us.”
The Nonbinary Tabletop Awards judged 2024’s winners “based on their representation, support, and/or impact on the nonbinary community,” according to Snowbright Studio’s website. Submissions were accepted over the course of a month to five different categories - advocacy, art, content creation, game design and writing - before heading to a final selection.