Designer and artist Jeeyon Shim has won the Diana Jones Emerging Designer Program for 2021, the first year this specific honour has been a part of the organisation's annual awards.
The Diana Jones Award committee announced August 4th that Shim had been selected from among the pool of nominees. It describes the Emerging Designer Program as their way to spotlight promising designers in the tabletop space, especially those from marginalised communities, and to assist them as they continue.
“It is our goal to create a program that provides both access and support to those designers that have historically been excluded from the larger industry conversations,” the official website reads. “While we recognize this program is only a first step in that process, our organization is committed to pushing forward, learning from mistakes, and improving the industry we love.”
We are pleased to announce that @jeeyonshim is the winner of the 2021 Diana Jones Emerging Designer Program! The co-creator of Field Guide to Memory, Jeeyon is a groundbreaking game designer, multimedia artist, and outdoor educator based in California. https://t.co/r4ej9kIYn3— Diana Jones Award (@DianaJonesAward) August 4, 2021
Shim is best known for co-creating the connected path game Field Guide to Memory with Shing Yin Khor. Both designers’ work on that title and since have endeavored to connect the player with the physical implements of the game, providing them emotional space to consider what it means to tell stories with objects but also to provide a keepsake afterwards - hence them often described as keepsake games.
Her other work includes The Shape of Shadows, which involves a magician’s apprentice searching for their mentor while coming into their own power, and the forthcoming Last Will and Testament of Gideon Blythe about a family legacy perhaps better understood as a burden and curse.
“It is my honor and privilege to accept the Diana Jones Emerging Designer award!” Shim said on Twitter. I'm truly touched to be recognized by the committee for my work as a game designer, especially in the inaugural year of a new program.”
Other nominees for the Emerging Designer Program included: designer Omari Akil, co-founder of Colorway Game Labs; Jennifer Kretchmer, an author, actual play performer and accessibility advocate; and Roll20 game designer Gabe Hicks, who also works with Mythic Grove to platform smaller tabletop creators. Shim made sure to shout them out as part of her acceptance, saying that they "directly inspire" her as an artist and creator.
The Diana Jones award is an annual celebration of “excellence in gaming” selected by a panel of anonymous judges from across the industry. Its focus on people rather than titles sets it apart from honours suchs as the Spiel des Jahres and As d’Or. The main award - a pyramid containing the melted remains of an universally panned Indiana Jones RPG from the ‘80s - has not been announced for 2021, but the nominees include legendary Cyberpunk designer Mike Pondsmith, wingspan designer Elizabeth Hargrave, and Nigerian board game company Nibcard, among others.
The winner is usually presented as part of Gen Con, though it isn’t clear if that event will take place digitally given the convention’s mixed online and in-person presence due to continued COVID-19 safety concerns.