Connor Alexander’s Coyote & Crow took home the 2023 Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming during an awards ceremony and celebration at Gen Con Indy. The indigenous tabletop title imagines a far-future world where the peoples of what we know as America never experienced European settlement and genocide, instead growing and expanding on their own.
Alexander, a Cherokee designer who recently announced a new semi-cooperative board game called Wolves, wanted to give First Nation and Indigenous Peoples a fantastical world for telling stories well beyond the dominant Western tradition in roleplaying. Coyote & Crow has garnered a considerable amount of acclaim and awards since release, including winning Best Roleplaying Game and Rising Star: Publisher at Dicebreaker’s Tabletop Awards in 2022.
The Diana Jones Awards is arguably one of the more influential honours in tabletop and claims to “publicly acknowledge excellence in gaming”, largely tabletop RPGs and board games. Instead of heaping accolades on specific titles, the DJA focuses on designers, publishers and influential figures across the industry - past winners and nominees have included community leaders, journalists and whole movements such as actual play.
Coyote & Crow has positioned itself as a publisher beyond its flagship RPG, carrying the mission of decolonising the tabletop space by introducing new concepts and ways of playing. Wolves centres its gameplay on traditions of gift giving, drawn from Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific Northwest. Alexander also published Naasi, a dice-based push-your-luck game pulled from inside Coyote & Crow’s universe.
The Diana Jones Award once awarded winners with a resin pyramid containing the charred remains of the notoriously bad Indiana Jones board game, hence the name. Over the pandemic, the committee asked past year’s winner to ship the physical award to the new recipient. Reportedly, the original award was lost in transit and the organisation is actively seeking its retrieval. In the meantime, a new pyramid-shaped award was on hand and ceremoniously given to Pandemic Legacy designer Rob Daviau, who accepted the win on behalf of Alexander.
The night also honoured the 2023 Emerging Designers class comprising four designers and artists. First started in 2021, the Emerging Designers initiative “amplifies the voices of up-and-coming hobby game designers, with a focus on creators from marginalised communities,” according to the official DJA website.
This year’s winners include Terminal designer Kayla Dice, cultural consultant and designer Sen H.H.S. who recently contributed to several upcoming Pathfinder sourcebooks, prolific freelancer and designer Anthony Joyce-Rivera and Erin Roberts, who most recently wrote the Written In Blood adventure for Dungeons & Dragons’ Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel.
More information on the Diana Jones Award, its winners and how those are selected can be found on the organisation’s official website.