The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, a member-funded, not for profit organization, seeks to elevate the profile of games -- particularly through its yearly Interactive Achievement Awards ceremony, which runs alongside DICE, its Las Vegas executive summit which takes place every February.
The president of the Academy since 2004 is Joseph Olin, formerly an executive at Eidos and Microprose, and an advocate for gaming in all its forms. Recently, Gamasutra had the chance to quiz Olin about the state of the video game industry -- starting off with a discussion of the Academy's somewhat controversial
AIAS Awards showcase.
Admitting that companies do pay a $1000 per title submission fee for inclusion in the awards show, Olin said he didn't believe it was a barrier:
Only if they let it be. Only if someone lets it become a barrier. For most game development companies, even independent studios, a thousand dollar admission fee to participate in the awards does not seem to be a barrier for them, and membership fees... corporate developers start at $1000, and that would take you to a revenue of over $5 million. For a small 5 to 8 man shop, they're not doing 5 million in revenue.
So we don't believe that this structure has been a barrier and without going back and reliving the discussions of Capcom’s decision not to participate in the Academy... our Board of Directors basically stand by the Academy's policies that have been in place for going on four years now, and it seems to work for all of them, and it only seemed not to work for a couple of publishers, and we continue to believe that the things we're doing for this year in terms of our programs... that every major publisher will consider submitting their titles. And as far as the process itself, it’s the peer panels that choose the games to review.
The interview also covers Olin's thoughts on the state of the industry and where it's headed:
They know what they want; they are educated, sophisticated, savvy consumers. And I think that game makers are really... I'm not sure struggling, but I think they are challenged to come up with ways to do things without losing what they believe to be the core audience. And I think the new gamers that are coming up... the hardest challenge I can think of today would be if they went out and bought a Wii and Wii Fit... what would be the second game we tried to sell them? I don't know what that would be. I suppose we could come up with about ten in 10 minutes, but...
You can now read the full feature
, which spans a range of topics from whether beautiful graphics are still important to Nintendo's "Wiisearch" advantage (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).