The Diana Jones Award committee, responsible for one of the tabletop gaming industry’s most prestigious peer-selected awards, has named Bianca “momatoes” Canoza as the winner of its Emerging Designer Program for 2022. Canoza, who makes her home in the Philippines, will receive a trip to Gen Con in Indianapolis.
The committee, composed of a semi-secret collection of industry veterans, has been awarding the Diana Jones Award since 2001. Winners can be individuals, games, or even movements within the tabletop industry as a whole. The inaugural Emerging Designer Program began in 2021, with the stated intent to amplify “the voices of up-and-coming designers.” The first winner was designer Jeeyon Shim, whose particular style of keepsake games earned her accolades across the industry — including here at Polygon.
Canoza is an author and a visual designer best known for ARC: Doom Tabletop RPG, which Polygon named as one of the best tabletop RPGs of 2021. From freelance writer Chase Carter:
ARC mechanizes this tension with a real-world timer that counts down to the end of each game. ARC’s Doomsday Clock is set at the beginning of a campaign and advances in real time. A four-hour campaign is literally only four hours long. Players suddenly have a very real action economy to deal with. Short rests, which pass by in the blink of an eye in other systems, mean taking five real-world minutes away from the table as another pivotal narrative moment slips beyond the event horizon.
Spells and abilities may also require players (not characters) to perform rituals, such as closing their eyes for three minutes to gain True Vision or agreeing to every request for half an hour in order to sway a guard’s mind. This melding of perspectives, alongside an impeccably designed, genre-agnostic ruleset, makes playing ARC feel like an ice bath — bracing and invigorating.
Other finalists include a broad cross section of powerful independent voices working in the space today. They include Fertessa Allyse, a game designer and a producer at Funko Games; game designer Nick Butler, author of Tidebreaker; designer and illustrator Miguel Angel Espinoza, director of visual design at Magpie Games; game designer Julio E. Nazario, designer of Holi: Festival of Colors and CTRL; and Sara Thompson, the writer and game designer behind the Combat Wheelchair.