My head is swarming with thoughts after reading all the posts since I dropped in last, so I'll just do a random brain-dump
I'm really surprised this is so controversial. I do see the arguments people are presenting, but I'm just surprised.
I think there is a point of view that hasn't been discussed much, and that is of the newcomer to this whole OELVN thing. That was the main reason I started the awards. We've all been on the inside, if you will, for a while now, but what about someone who is curious and new?
Let's say I'm new and curious about the original VN thing. I get pointed to/stumble upon the Ren'Ai Archives. What do I see? A HUGE list of games, and no real way to tell which ones are any good. In fact, I'm sure some of them suck. I don't want to waste my time playing a crappy game, and I want to see a decent representation of the genre. Honestly, with nothing much to really go on, I'll probably pick the game with the best art.
From the newbie example, I think not having any distinction between games at all can hurt all of the games. Newcomers will have their first experiences of the community's production determined through superficial criteria, leaving good games with less-polished art unplayed, and many people might be turned off altogether if they happen to pick a bad game. This would prevent them from trying any others in the future.
I know I just heard people (esp. mikey) cringe when I used the term "bad game" or "suck", but the reality is that in most people's eyes, some of the games are pretty bad and suck. Within the community, we do not condone panning and insulting them. Rather, we give constructive criticism and encouragement. This is something I really like about this community
However, many more people who are potential future members of the community, or are just random newbies, are not at that place yet. They want to know what a good game to play is.
We would be kidding ourselves to claim that all games are equal (I know this isn't quite what has been said earlier, but there's sort of that tone). It's kind of like saying people are equal: Yes, everyone has innate worth as a human, just as all completed VNs are a significant accomplishment. However, would we say Saddam Hussein and Mother Teresa are equal? Certainly not. I'm proud of Tales of Lemma, but I would freely admit that Ori, Ochi, Onoe and Songs of Araiah are better. Yes, they each have their strong points and weak points, and some might like ToL over O3 or O3 over SoA, etc etc, but in general, I'm guessing that's how most people would feel. And we learn how most people feel through the voting. We don't learn anything like "Crappy Game X sucks" or "everyone hates X", though. (And I would, of course, hate to see that kind of dialogue.)
It's inevitable that as the community grows and interest in these games grows, people will make comparisons. By conducting an award in a positive spirit, it can preempt or provide a counterbalance to someone who might decide to make a review site with "game X gets 1/5 stars" and "game Y gets 4/5 stars".
The opt-in contest idea is intriguing.
I think it's easy to get swept up in the Lemmy thing thinking it will change the whole community, but remember that in a week or so it will probably fade away until it's nomination time in 2010 ^_^; So I don't think it will have a big negative competitive effect.
Also, I'm not married to the idea of the awards. It's not like I get anything out of it besides the fuzzy feeling, and I lose a bunch of time. If a lot of people think it's a bad idea, I'm open to dropping it.
This thread has gotten quite interesting
(Please keep this civil, everyone.)