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A small amount of mildly investigative journalism into the IGF 2009 judges.

When writers decide what makes a game innovative it seems that they pick writing 9 times out of 10.

Kriss Daniels, Blogger

April 11, 2009

6 Min Read

There is no secret that developers have no respect for games journalists, I personally consider them mostly useless and barely removed from the audience. I suspect the IGF awards are no more representative of the innovation happening right now in games than the random top ten picks every games journalist produces when they can't think of anything else to write.

First my reasoning.

1: The film industry considers, animation, to be second class members of the wonderful film elite. eg http://www.cartoonbrew.com/ideas-commentary/animations-2nd-class-status.html

2: Film awards are seldom handed out to animated features, despite some of the best and highest grossing films being animated. One very simple reason for this is that many of the judges are actors and actors do not like the idea that films are being made that do not give actors valuable face time on screen.

(as a side note, animated films could be considered very similar production wise to art heavy games, remember that when next you hear how great the film industry is and how the games industry must copy it.)

3: Actors believe films should contain prominent actors, and judge accordingly.

4: Writers believe games should contain prominent writing, and judge accordingly.


With that in mind and my suspicions that one of the biggest problems with the IGF awards is that many of the judges are primarily writers. I have simply gone through the list of IGF judges for 2009 to see how many of them could be considered fully entrenched in this old media.

Personally, I may be overly conservative and should probably mark more of these people as writers but lets give them the benefit of the doubt. Feel free to disagree with some of my classifications but I doubt you will be able to knock the number of judges who are writers down to less than 50% no matter how much you argue.

So I make the IGF judges to be comprised of  26 writers and 16 people who are possibly not. Again I want to stress that I feel I am being generous to these 16 people.

These are 26 people who you could remove totally from their relevance to games simply by dangling a good book deal in front of them. They would be gone in a second, killing trees as fast as they can and they would not look back. At least one of them is only there because they got a book deal about games.

That's a judging panel of 62% writers, call it 42% if you only want to count the *18* self confirmed journalists.

Is that a healthy thing in a new medium, for its innovation and self promotion to be controlled so much by creative members of an old one?

I feel that the games that these judges have chosen speak for themselves.

You can make up your own mind but at least scan the list below and notice how many self confirmed journalists it involves.

Finally I apologise if the above is badly written; my mistake for not being a writer.

Below is the list of 2009 IGF judges with the people I count as primarily writers in bold. This list is taken from here http://www.indiegames.com/blog/2008/10/2009_igf_announces_full_judge.html

notes: my experience with games designers is that they are frustrated writers, hence the tendency to mark them as such.

If your name is on the list and marked as a writer and you wish to convince me that you are not, please communicate this fact to me without using words.


* Jonathan Blow, Number-None (Braid creator and previous IGF honoree)
* Ian Bogost, Persuasive Games (author, columnist and social game developer)
- Raigan Burns, Metanet (IGF winner and N+ co-creator)
* Tom Buscaglia (IGDA board member, indie-friendly game attorney)
* Russell Carroll, Reflexive/GameTunnel (Wik maker's indie marketing expert, indie website EIC)
* Heather Chaplin (veteran game journalist, Smart Bomb co-author, PBS contributor)
- Jamie Cheng, Klei Entertainment (Eets creator, Indie Games Summit speaker)
- Mark Cooke, Grasshopper Manufacture (former Nihilistic staffer, long-time IGF judge)
* Brian Crecente, Kotaku (Gawker-owned game weblog's chief editor)
* N'Gai Croal, Newsweek (Level Up blogger)
* Mark DeLoura (former Game Developer magazine EIC, industry veteran)
- Phil Fish, Polytron (Fez and GAMMA co-creator, IGF award-winner)
- Kyle Gabler, 2D Boy (Experimental Gameplay Project contributor, World Of Goo co-designer)
* Kieron Gillen, RockPaperShotGun (PC Gamer contributor, Phonogram graphic novel author)
* Chaim Gingold (Spore editor design lead)
* Chris Grant, Joystiq (EIC of leading AOL-owned game blog)
* Kyle Gray, Electronic Arts - Tiburon (Henry Hatsworth team leader, Experimental Gameplay Project contributor)
- Alec Holowka, Infinite Ammo/Bit Blot (co-creator of IGF Seumas McNally Award-winning title Aquaria)
- Rod Humble, The Sims Label/EA (Head of The Sims franchise, The Marriage art-game creator)
* Soren Johnson, EA Maxis (Designer for Spore, lead designer on Civilization IV)
* Chris Kohler, Wired (Game|Life weblog editor)
* Dave Kosak, GameSpy (veteran IGF commentator, GameSpy journalist)
* Elan Lee, Fourth Wall Studios (ARG creator, 42 Entertainment co-founder, ilovebees designer)
* Tony Mott, Edge Magazine (UK game magazine EIC)
- Petri Purho, Kloonigames (IGF Grand Prize winner with Crayon Physics Deluxe) 
- Chris Rausch, SuperVillain Studios (Order Up! creator, Fl0w PSP version developer)
* Chris Remo, Gamasutra (Gamasutra Editor-At-Large, former Shacknews EIC)
* Brian Reynolds, Big Huge Games (Alpha Centauri, Rise Of Nations designer, former IGDA board chairman)
- Brian Robbins, Fuel Industries (Casual game creator/evangelist, long-time IGF judge)
* Sam Roberts, IndieCade (Slamdance Games curator, indie festival stalwart)
* Margaret Robertson, Lookspring (Former Edge editor, BBC columnist)
* Jim Rossignol, RockPaperShotgun ('This Gaming Life' author, Wired contributor)
- Andy Schatz (Former IGF finalist with Venture Africa, IGF Awards presenter)
- Kellee Santiago, thatgamecompany (IGF Student Showcase winner with Cloud, Flow/Flower co-creator)
- Mare Sheppard, Metanet (IGF winner and N+ co-creator)
- Steve Swink, Flashbang Studios (Jetpack Brontosaurus developer, IGF/Indie Game Summit co-organizer)
* Stephen Totilo, MTV News (MTV Multiplayer weblog editor)
* Tim W., IndieGames.com (Independent game website veteran editor)
- Matthew Wegner, Flashbang Studios (IGF/Indie Game Summit co-organizer, Off-Road Velociraptor Safari developer)
* Mick West (former Game Developer magazine columnist, Neversoft co-founder)
- Don Wurster, Gastronaut Studios (Small Arms co-creator, Indie Games Summit speaker)
* Derek Yu, Bit Blot (Aquaria co-designer, TIGSource website editor)



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