Nibcard, a multifaceted tabletop business and initiative based in Nigeria has taken home the Diana Jones 2021 Award, as presented during this year’s Gen Con. The company was chosen for its being at the forefront of the country’s budding scene and fostering growth through multiple ongoing projects.
The Diana Jones award is awarded each year to “publicly acknowledge excellence in gaming” within the analogue space - board games and tabletop RPGs. It differs slightly from similar awards such as the Spiel des Jahres and As d’Or in that it doesn’t select a title released that year, instead focusing on groups or individuals whose influence “ has benefited or advanced the hobby and industry as a whole”, according to the award’s website.
Nibcard is the creation of Kenechukwu Ogbuagu, who founded it in 2013 as a way to publish and manufacture board games from Nigerian designers and distribute them across Africa. At present, it has helped create 33 titles through a combination of connecting resources, aiding in iteration and often directly manufacturing the games from its headquarters.
In 2016, Nibcard organised an annual board game convention with the hopes of providing an opportunity to grow the tabletop community in Nigeria and the rest of West Africa, spread awareness of games produced in that region and network with other artists creating within their space. AB Con expanded three years later to include a youth-centered portion featuring design workshops, competitions and promoting the benefits of tabletop games in kids’ lives.
“Nibcard is much more than a local company doing well,” the Diana Jones committee said in its shortlist announcement. “It’s a strong and original voice in publishing, creating a community of new makers and players across Africa and setting an example to the rest of the world of how to use games to make a difference.”
Other finalists included R. Talsorian founder and Cyberpunk RPG creator Mike Pondsmith, Big Bad Con’s 2019 Babble on Equity Project and PoC Programming, Wingspan and Session Zero online. A full list of nominees can be found here. The award itself is fairly notable for being a perspex pyramid with a burnt scrap of the infamous and short-lived Indiana Jones RPG from the 1980s. All that can be read is “...Diana Jones”, hence the tongue-in-cheek name.
The Diana Jones organisation, which is composed of 13 members selected by folks across the tabletop industry, has not yet released an official statement - the win was announced September 16th on Gen Con’s Twitter account as part of its opening day celebrations. Last year’s award took a different tack by presenting it to the collective Black members of the tabletop community - a move that some hailed in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the resulting protests, while others criticised for its handling and wording in presentation.
A new honour created in 2021, the Diana Jones Emerging Designer Program, went to artist and ecological advocate Jeeyon Shim (Field Guide to Memory, The Shape of Shadows), who showcased what the committee called “a rising and impactful talent.”