Interview with Ivy of The CRIT Awards: Celebrating the Unsung Heroes
In yet another Gen Con 2023 article, we introduce you to The Crit Awards with an interview with the awards founder and CEO, Ivy B.
If you enjoy tabletop RPGs, you definitely want to keep reading. We have an exciting exclusive interview with Ivy, the brains behind the CRIT Awards. Created earlier this year, the CRIT Awards have quickly become a community favorite, shining a spotlight on the unsung heroes of the tabletop world. From tech runners to game masters, this award ceremony is all about giving credit where it’s due. Sit back, grab a snack, and read our candid conversation with Ivy to learn more.
GeekPost: Can you give us a brief background on how the CRIT Awards came to be and what inspired the creation of it?
Ivy: Absolutely! So, the CRIT Awards started as a conversation in January of 2023, and how we have so many incredibly talented people in the Tabletop gaming community that are doing so much that receive very little recognition. How often do we get to see our tech runners and producers awarded for their hard work? From that conversation, I then hyperfocused for the next two weeks and finished all the social media accounts and the first forms!
GeekPost: How has the reception been since your first awards ceremony?
Ivy: It has been overwhelming in the best way! The amount of love and support I, and my staff have received, not only from those directly involved, but those who asked what they can do to be a part of upcoming years, has been incredible. It was really amazing at the event to see how supportive everyone was of each other, even if someone else won the category they may have been in. Overall, the whole experience has been very supportive of me and each other.
GeekPost: Tell us about the peer-driven voting system; how does it work? What’s the process for community members to nominate and vote for their favorite contributions?
Ivy: Sure! Having the community be a part of the awards was of massive importance to me, and so the way we handled our voting happened in three parts! We first put out public polls and suggestion forms of what categories we should consider, from there, it went to public write-in nominations. After the first round of nominations, I, along with my board, went through 27 hours’ worth of spreadsheets to look over each one.
We have a public criterion of what we look at, and it is listed on our website. We take the nominations and how many a nominee has received and look at it with our criteria to determine our finalists! Our final round of voting was open for about a month, and we received 4,681 votes in total. It was a much larger number than I initially thought we would receive, and I was excited to see it.
When it comes to the community, they can nominate their favorite artists, creators, producers, game masters, and more starting on April 1st, 2024! There will be posts made online and, on our website, pointing you in the right direction of how to vote, an FAQ, and what the board considers when looking at each nomination.
The second round of voting will open on Friday, June 7th 2024! So those are the dates to look out for. I’m really excited to see what new things come up in that duration that people want to highlight!
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GeekPost: How do you ensure that the CRIT Awards is inclusive and diverse, and how do you handle issues that might arise with award nominees and attendees?
Ivy: I think it’s crucial to me that my board is made up of people from all walks of life and creative spaces. I am only one person who can provide a single viewpoint. So, I sought out others who could help me and share their viewpoints and experiences. Some of those people included Milagros, a wonderful queer woman that majored in publishing and writing, Gabe Hicks and Omega Jones as my incredible hosts who gave me constructive feedback and support, as well as asking people who have run large events like Quincy (QuincysTavern). Transparency, communication, and accountability are also major parts of our operations, which is why, in addition to our criteria for finalists, we also have our code of conduct on our website available to the public. It applies to both our staff as well as our finalists and nominees, and any additional support, and it helps set the standard and expectations for all those involved, including the steps taken in case those standards are unable to be met.
GeekPost: Could you discuss the types of categories in the awards and how they were chosen, do you plan to expand categories in the future?
Ivy: Yes, of course! As I previously mentioned, we had 44 categories in total, which was a lot, but all of them were equally as important as each other. I knew that we would be including GM’s (Game Masters) from all different systems, as well as players, but I wanted to include things like dice makers and overlay makers, as well as creators that make supplements, one-page TTRPGs, etc. It was incredibly helpful having the community polled on their ideas of things they would like to include.
We do have the idea to change some of these in future events or potentially rotate the categories we have to be inclusive across all aspects while remaining manageable.
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GeekPost: Can you share some of the most memorable moments so far with the CRIT Awards?
Ivy: Some of the most memorable things were actually a part of the lead-up to the event. One of them was when my staff member, Fish, was up until 2 AM keeping me company during my many spreadsheets and singing to me, as well as Milagros, staying up until 1 AM to finish spreadsheets with me, knowing they had a job interview the next day (Which they ended up getting).
Another thing that was incredibly special to me is the amount of TTRPG creators from all over the world who have felt seen, which is exactly what I aimed for this event: recognition in all aspects of this community, no matter the location. It added to my resolve to keep going.
The amount of people I’ve been given the opportunity to meet through this has been incredible, people that I may have never interacted with in the way we now have, and that’s so special to me.
GeekPost: What challenges did you face when starting the CRIT Awards, and how did you overcome them?
Ivy: Like every event, and especially a first-time event, I can’t say I didn’t make mistakes. I have a solid administrative background from working 8 years in the medical field and some time in probation and parole, as well as community management for 4 years, but things still happen. I think our absolute biggest challenge came in the form of miscommunications, or even lack thereof, between us, and companies, or between staff, or even between myself and others.
It’s something that, once addressed, was corrected, and overall, the event went smoothly. And going forward, we know the expectations and needs for upcoming events.
GeekPost: How does it feel to know you are creating an uplifting community where everyone feels valued? What impact do you think the CRIT Awards has on the broader TTRPG landscape?
Ivy: It feels really wonderful that I’ve been able to use my abilities in this space to bring everyone together for something to support each other, to give everyone a chance to interact and to form connections. If nothing else, I want to be remembered as someone who tried to support everyone in this space, who tried to make newcomers feel welcomed, to instill there is support and a place to belong. I have always strived to be the person I needed when I was younger, and I hope to continue with that passion and drive.
With that, I hope that the impact it has, and continues to strive for, is an ever-growing event that compels us always to ask, “What can we do in this space to inspire, recognize, and uplift?”.
GeekPost: Do you have any advice for aspiring creators in the TTRPG community?
Ivy: Shoot your shot. The worst that you can be told is “no” or be ignored. And I don’t mean go and @ all the creators you want to work with constantly, I mean have a project, have a passion, and work to build that up. Have something you’re proud of, and when you’re ready to send the emails, do reach out and be professional and respectful. Strong communication and respect can go a long way!
Additionally, I know it’s tough not to compare yourself to others, but we all work and grow at our own pace, and it isn’t all about the numbers. Do it because you’re inspired to do it. Your passion and love for something will shine in your work.
GeekPost: How can the public get involved with the CRIT Awards, either as a participant or a volunteer?
Ivy: April 1st, 2024! Go nominate all your favorite people, actual plays, or podcasts! Or just nominate those who you think have earned it! And then come back on Friday, June 7th, 2024, for all the finalists, and vote for them!
If you’re interested in volunteering, we have had staff openings in the past, and we are always happy to chat with you if you are interested at any point! We mostly correspond by email, so send us one with a relevant subject line! I’m happy to chat with you! The email is CRITAwards@gmail.com. We do everything from social media to security to set up and take down, so we’re always looking for more cool people to join the team!
And there you have it. A massive thank you to Ivy for taking the time to chat with us and spill all the tea on the CRIT Awards. If you’ve been hunting for a platform that celebrates every corner of the TTRPG community, look no further. Remember, the second round of voting opens on June 7th, 2024. Whether you’re a creator, player, or just a fan, there are plenty of ways to get involved. Shoot your email to CRITAwards@gmail.com if you’re keen to volunteer.
Let us know what you think in the comments below!