IGF Awards Change Rules, Still Ignore Writing

Scenes at the IGF offices earlier today.

2012’s IGF Awards caused not a small amount of consternation behind the scenes. A good deal of this was bad sportsmanship, with developers claiming it was rigged against them in various ways that it absolutely was not. But other issues like games that had already won being re-entered did become a more serious issue. However, even before this year’s awards, IGF bossman Brandon Boyer has said that this shall no longer be allowed, with any finalists disqualified for another go. And he scraps the mobile category. And yet, even now, still bloody well ignores writing.

It really defies my belief that with the dropping of a category, the decision has been to increase the numbers of finalists in each from five to six. Rather than, say, listen to what everyone I spoke to at GDC was screaming for: a category that recognises that games very often include writing. Sadly the mechanically-focused awards continue to be blind to this idea, and once again games like To The Moon will languish in a nomination limbo, where judges put it forward for everything else they can think of rather than the one imaginary category it deserved to win. I know this, because I was a judge, and heard many other judges moaning too.

The mobile category has been dissolved since it’s now considered – quite rightly, I should think – that there’s nothing debilitating about being on a phone or a tablet any more that means you can’t compete against PC or console. That may sound odd at first – what about technical excellence, graphics, etc? Well, in the world of indie it tends to be that limitations generate the most impressive results, and generally something that looks splendid on a phone can be far more appealing than something that looks decent enough on PC. Of course, the comparison is still arguably problematic, but this is an awards ceremony – they’re why God invented problems.


As for the prevention of re-entries, it’s a tough call on all sides. Some were annoyed to see Fez winning a second time. Others were delighted to see an inventive game get recognised. But almost everyone was unsure if it should be that way. It means developers have to think a whole bunch more carefully before entering their projects. At the moment there’s a tendency to fling any old shit at the wall and hope it sticks, knowing they can always come back next year if it doesn’t work out. I’m hoping this might cause a bit less of that. What most don’t see is just what utter rubbish people willingly pay real money to enter – literally title screens, or completely broken tech demos – which even they surely know won’t win anything. Perhaps it will at least encourage the more delusional of such entrants to hold off until they have something approaching a complete game.

There’s also good news for students, with Showcase finalists having their stipend increased from $500 to a far more realistic $1,000 toward their flights, accommodation and cold fizzy beverages.

But no sodding Writing category. I mean, I wrote to them about it and everything. Didn’t get a reply. They really don’t like writing. I’ll try again.


  1. Gilead says:

    But any fule kno riting is easy. It am just word, one after another. If you can understand barest meaning, it is suffices to bridge gap between moments of shooting or jump.

    My theory is that not enough judges/developers/journalists read widely enough to recognise when something’s badly written, so while a writing category would be nice, you’d just get complete rubbish winning it anyway.

    • Maktaka says:

      Considering the problems IGF has with judges putting an average of 10 minutes into the titles they review that don’t already have outside buzz, I can’t see a category on writing being judged on anything more quantitative than the kerning of the font.

    • Claidheamh says:

      I don’t think John wants a Writing category to assess spelling and grammar.

    • thegooseking says:

      My theory is that not enough judges/developers/journalists read widely enough to recognise when something’s badly written

      I’m not so sure that’s true. “Good for a videogame” tends to be used as a backhanded compliment for writing, implying that videogames don’t measure up to media. But videogame writing is a very different discipline to writing for other media, so I don’t know how knowing what’s good and bad in other media will tell you what’s good and bad in videogames.

      I will say that any kind of academic analysis of videogame writing per se is in its infancy and has a lot of flaws (though there is no shortage of people trying to apply analytic techniques from other media to videogames, with limited success). That being the case, judges for writing in videogames are necessarily going to have to be more subjective than, say, judges for writing in film. But I’m not so sure that’s a terrible thing.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        Writing in videogames is potentially, theoretically, very complex, but in reality most games with significant “writing” actually ape film to a very large degree.

        BioWare games (etc) are to movies as Fighting Fantasy books are to novellas. It’s perfectly fair to judge the quality of the non-interactive bits as you would the traditional media. Forming a complete judgment of the entire work can be difficult, sure, but poor writing is still poor writing.

    • Jerakal says:

      Actually I think games with dialogue matching Gilead’s original point here might wake a few people up.

  2. ThTa says:

    A writing/story category would make a lot of sense, yeah.
    I’d almost say they’re exclusively focused on the technical aspects of the game itself (ignoring that story can be an absolutely integral part of certain games), but it seems they’ve an Audio category as well.
    If music or other forms of audio can get recognition regardless of the game it’s attached to, then so should writing.

    So please, poke them some more. I’m fairly sure I, along with many others, will appreciate a shortlist of “games with a good story, ok”.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      Even that is troublesome. I mean, I think Dwarf Fortress and Crusader Kings have great stories, but the “writing” in them ranges from procedurally generated to tentatively translated and workmanlike.

      I dunno, maybe I just think it’s silly to have awards in different categories at all. I’d rather just see a list of “several games we thought were pretty fine” and do away with the shortlists and winners and runners up and nonsense. But I’m crotchety about these things.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        I agree, but my opinion of the IGF awards has been and remains: who cares? No seriously, who, besides a handful of insiders?

        I’d bet 99% of people who bought a Humble Indie Bundle or some indie games on Steam has never even heard of the IGF, and certainly don’t know who won what. It’s a microscopic bit of publicity for a few games, worth probably less than a positive review on RPS.

        They’re irrelevant. Let ’em stay that way.

  3. MythArcana says:

    Edit: Actually, I don’t care as much as I thought when I initially wrote my winning comment. Maybe next year then.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Winning comments? If I’d known there were prizes I’d have tried har… well, actually tried!

  4. Hoaxfish says:

    Easy solution to no writing: “Best Game not applicable for our actual categories” award
    For games that appear over multiple years, one win is enough, it’s not really that important “when” you won it… though frankly I question whether QR codes, for example, really count towards being “a puzzle game”.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing a “shittiest hipster attitude” award

    Thankfully they haven’t quite reached the point of needing a Razzie equivalent.

    • Mo says:

      They do have the Nuovo Award, which is exactly that.

      And also, Fez gets *a lot* more complicated (and fun!) than QR codes.

  5. hosndosn says:

    I’d like for them to have a writing category but philosophically, it’s an interesting restriction and one that I can get behind in terms of pushing the uniqueness of the medium. Games focusing too much on telling stories that frankly would be better told in books or movies is one of the biggest problems in mainstream gaming. Everything has to have a “story trailer”… gameplay? Well, let’s just throw in a couple of quick-time events.

    When I think of storytelling in games done right, I oddly think of Dwarf Fortress and Sleep is Death. Story emerging from gameplay, that is.

    Since there are categories for audio and visuals, though, I’d say that writing does deserve its own award. I’d really like to hear an un-PR-filtered response by one of the people in charge of deciding this.

    • Soon says:

      Some sort of narrative award and not one for writing per se makes sense to me.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      That’s sandbox gameplay, something I love, but it has literally nothing to do with writing. In a way, it’s like saying that we don’t need books, we have Lego, with all our made-up stories emerging from it.

      I strongly believe there should be a narrative award. To me it’s truly baffling why the IGF ignore story like that.

      Keep trying, John. Might be I’ll try as well.

      • Salt says:

        I think a fairer analogy would be “we don’t need these lego kits with tiny pages of text in them.”

        Although that has rather prescriptive implications for What A Game Should Be, which I’m not sure I agree with. I find emergent narrative to be generally more important to me than traditional story, but they both have their places in games.

        An award for narrative generally that would effectively (if they were all indie) put Dwarf Fortress against L.A. Noire; against The Witcher; against The Path, would at least provoke some interesting discussion.

      • InternetBatman says:

        In Dwarf Fortress at least, writing definitely informs the sandbox narrative. His brother writes stories and he incorporates those aspects into the game. They want these stories to happen, and they want the game to generate it so they try to make it happen.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          And yet it’s not writing. It’s giving the player more tools to shape up his world.

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        Yeah I’d say it’s a little short sighted to think that somehow emergent gameplay and good writing (in the sense of writing a narrative or plot (which can be problematic in its own way)), are mutually exclusive.

        I’ll keep harping on Crusader Kings 2. The game always starts from the same non-fiction point(s), which involve many details, tensions, and structures which we’d call “writing”. Even more so were it set in a fantasy world. Is defining the stats and traits on those characters writing? At least informed by writing? In Dwarf Fortress, isn’t the in-built arc of a dwarf taken by a mood informed and driven by an idea very much like writing (as internetBatman points out)?

        I would even argue that TF2 has good writing in its hilarious item descriptions.

        I think what we’re learning is that “writing” is too vague a term in a field as wide as games are becoming. It certainly is not limited to games which have a linear story with lots of cut scenes and dialog.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          Writing is anything but a vague term. It’s having a good script. Not a programming script, the one you have on normal boring paper. Crusader Kings 2 has no story, no writing, and no dialogue. It’s story-free and that’s what makes it great. The same can be applied for the rest of your examples. Having good writing doesn’t involve item descriptions (?!), it involves creating interesting and compelling characters and a narrative that grabs a hold of you. None of your examples have that, and that’s because they are not trying to.

          It would be fun to have an award for a best sandbox game, but ignoring games that tell a compelling story is just plain wrong.

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        That’s sandbox gameplay, something I love, but it has literally nothing to do with writing. In a way, it’s like saying that we don’t need books, we have Lego, with all our made-up stories emerging from it.

        That’s hilarious. Actually the argument for awarding writing in games is more like wanting Lego to have some pre-determined storyline for more emotional engagement with the characters. Which would obviously detract from what makes Lego brilliant. But some people see videogames as more like films and less like, you know, games.

        In other words, games should be judged on their strength as games, not on the strength of some intervening text or character dialogue. If the IGF organisers are staunchly opposed to a writing award because they see non-interactive story exposition as a hindrance to accomplished game design, then good on them.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          I can do nothing but disagree. Having an actual story doesn’t exclude it from being interactive, whether it’s that you can influence it (The Witcher 2) or that it happens around you without hurting interactivity (Bastion or Half-Life). I think your argument is completely off.

          And since many games strive to tell a good story, completely and utterly ignoring them is just plain stupid. Awards are supposed to reflect the best of the industry. Since there are plenty of story-driven games that excel in that direction, but IGF just ignore them. It’s like saying that the Academy Awards shouldn’t have screenwriting categories because movies are a visual media, the script is irrelevant.

          I’m with Walker on this one.

    • Keirley says:

      “Games focusing too much on telling stories that frankly would be better told in books or movies is one of the biggest problems in mainstream gaming”

      Care to back that up a little?

      • maninahat says:

        Final Fantasy games, or Metal Gear Solid, rpgs etc. – games which stop the gameplay for prolongued periods, in case your input might get in the way of the game’s terribly important, magnum opus. I would argue that a game that requires a 10 minute cutscene to provide the story, doesn’t deserve anything good to be said about the writing at all.

        I don’t think writing itself should be a category – but story or narrative should.

  6. Phantoon says:

    The more delusional of such entrants? So like… Fez?

    Really, the thing is so poorly defined in the best scenario, and just plain corrupt in the worst, that I dunno why much attention is paid to it.

    • Salt says:

      Yeah, the lack of definition is a real problem for me.

      Phil Fish’s comment at the time of “if you want to win the award just make a better game [than Fez]” doesn’t really work when significant indie games were not involved. For instance I would say that Journey is at least a serious contender, but for whatever reason it wasn’t in the running. Presumably because someone thought it wasn’t sufficiently indie.
      Journey is made by a small studio who have a publishing deal granting exclusivity to PS3.
      Fez is made by a small studio who have a deal granting exclusivity to Xbox360.

      Either Journey was rejected by the IGF or (more likely) ThatGameCompany didn’t think it would be fair for them to enter. So the IGF continues to be seen as the kid’s table, which the more successful developers keep a respectful distance from. That’s a useful niche to fill but without some defined boundaries for who should be entering, it is in danger of becoming a contest to be the best funded developer who is willing to overshadow the students and part-time developers.

      • Terragot says:

        This is too true. The IGF really isn’t relevant.

        It doesn’t even make sense. It’s a competition that’s supposed to support indie games, by taking a $100 dollar fee off of a struggling, wishful, indie developer and giving it to one of the most well known titles around the internet. I don’t see why anyone pays this attention any more, it’s hard to justify it as anything other than a scam. The time to be angry at it has passed and I’d hope the indie community has learnt not to fall into such an obvious pyramid scheme.

      • RobF says:

        You can’t be a judge and enter your game into the competition. Robin (of TGC) was a judge.

  7. Xardas Kane says:

    Quite frankly I don’t think there is a single gaming awards ceremony out there that’s really worth following. IGF struggle to figure out exactly what kind of games they want to give awards to, few people actually care about AIAS, and Spike is just pathetic beyond redemption. The only one I am actually interested in to some extent are the GDC awards.

    • Grygus says:

      Awards shows will always be cluttered with vicious politics. Since I am rarely on the cutting edge anyway with this backlog, I just use things like the RPS year-end list as a guide to what I should probably have played.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      Truth. Awards in general are rubbish, same is true in music, film, TV, and literature.

      Thank the old ones for outlets like RPS and the accompanying forums, or we’d all have to wade through the sea of shit alone.

  8. Discopanda says:

    When you said “Writing”, I immediately thought of journalism. Are there videogame journalism awards? If there were, I would nominate RPS for every single one.

  9. Cinnamon says:

    There should be a category for writing so that unexceptional games that are only differentiated by writing can be exiled there.

  10. Soup says:

    I feel a bit iffy about a writing award. I absolutely love a good narrative but when I hear people gushing over writing in games like Mass Effect (which I enjoyed, the writing just wasn’t very good and there was loads of it) I really doubt that such an award would be given games that actually deserve it.

  11. Dominic White says:

    The IGF is chronically mismanaged. Last year, a developer actually had a system installed in to check how many judges assigned to play their game actually did, and how many played it for more than a few seconds.

    They were assigned 8 judges. Of those 8, 1 never even tried to install the game. 3 installed it but never played it. 3 played for under 5 minutes, and one – just one – played it for a bit under an hour.

    So, effectively, they were assigned 8 judges and got 1. In response to this fairly damning evidence, an IGF judge throws a screaming tantrum, ending with a big (image-macro, even – no joke) ‘Fuck you, YOU’RE the problem’.

    link to unwinnable.com

    Yeah. What little faith I had in the IGF was destroyed at that moment.

    • John Walker says:

      Yes, you might want to hear both sides of that story. Their game was awful, and sticking with it for more than 15 minutes, let alone the full length (which seemed impossible to me – I just constantly died) was a horrible experience. It was never going to win anything, no matter how many people played it, and for how long.

      • Dominic White says:

        And even if the game was too hard, how does this explain/excuse a full half of the judges not playing it *at all*?

        Also, the game seems to have a near-universal 5-star score on the iTunes App Store. Which is actually a really rare score. If something is genuinely awful, it usually gets bombed to hell and back by the players.

        Gameplay video: link to youtube.com
        Looks pretty solid to me.

        The developers paid to enter the IGF, they were assigned judges to play their game, and half of them never showed up. Of the remaining half, only one of them actually made a serious attempt to play the game. What exactly is that $100 paying for?

        • jonfitt says:

          Mandatory feedback even of the “0/10 wouldn’t install” variety would seem to be courteous when someone has paid money to have their game considered.
          Especially if you’re saying that everyone only gets one shot.

          I like the one shot idea, the completion state of some of the IGF finalists last year was ridiculous.

        • Runs With Foxes says:

          Two minutes of that YouTube video was enough for me to dismiss it as a blatant Mario clone.

          • Dominic White says:

            Wait… what? It looks nothing like Mario, other than being in the same genre. There’s some archaic NES game that it does remind me of, but the platforming, and especially the enemy-hopping mechanic with forced movement are definitely nothing like Mario, as are the shooting and health systems.

            There’s a edge of Kirby to it, maybe, but even then, it’s still quite different from that.

          • Runs With Foxes says:

            Nothing like Mario? Let’s see, you do some platforming like Mario, you jump on creatures like Mario, you collect stars like Mario. There are only minor differences. You can ride enemies (kinda like how you can ride Yoshi in Mario), you can shoot stars (kinda like how you can shoot fireballs in Mario), and there’s a health system (so it’s like Mario but easier).

      • Baines says:

        Even if the game was awful, three of the eight judges never played it at all.

        And this isn’t an uncommon complaint. Every year there are complaints that a significant number of judges either aren’t giving appropriate time to a game, if not outright not playing the game at all.

        And every year, people involved with the IGF defend the IGF, without ever addressing the root problems that people have with the competitions.

        The devs for Kale in Dinoland post how they tracked that 3 of their 8 judges never played the game. The devs mention how they felt they had to send multiple invitations before the judges even bothered to get ready to play the game. 1 of the 3 who never played the game never installed it at all and never responded to them. 3 other judges waited until near the deadline to play the game.

        Jenn Frank writes a response about how precious the judges’ time is, gives out a “Fuck you” and a “I don’t give a shit about you” to complainers, and says that if your game isn’t played then it is broken or bad. Even though the defense of the judges was spawned by the Kale in Dinoland piece, Frank never really touches on the issues raised in that piece.

        John, if you are a five minute judge, your response still doesn’t touch on the other judge issues. And even if you hated it, it does seem to still have some issue present in that one judge played it nearly an hour, the Rotting Cartridge article mentions that anonymous beta tester plays were averaging over a half hour. And, as Dominic White points out, this game that was apparently found terrible by IGF judges is sitting on a 5-out-of-5 star rating on the iTunes App store.

    • Mo says:

      I don’t see any problem with “triaging” the entries. If *nobody* plays your game, yeah, that’s a problem. But if one judge plays a game, determines it’s not very good (or you know, isn’t much of a game) then I have no problem with the other judges skipping it over to try more worthy games.

      I think this system works better than just raising the price to enter. That would just discourage University and High School kids from entering would be far, far worse than not putting more time into a game that, as John says, “was never going to win anything”.

      • Mattressi says:

        Why have 8 judges then? What one judge hates, 7 may love (search for Fallout New Vegas on here, for an example). Instead, why not just have the judges do what they signed up to do? If their time is so precious that they can’t even afford to install and play all of the games they’ve been allotted, then, well, they shouldn’t volunteer. If all of the games they’ve been allotted are reported by other judges to be great, will the judge still not play all of them? Or will they happily partake in both sides of a form of groupthink?

        Being volunteers is no excuse. If volunteers can’t meet the demand, IGF should look at another way to make it work. If this is the only way they can get it to work, where judges often don’t even install or play a game they’re meant to review, then their system is broken and I hope it fails.

    • Minim says:

      The image at the end might be a bit much but I’d also side with the judge in that story, the fellow admits to submitting a still buggy game that people playing beta-testing only manage to average a half hour worth of play, and those are folks who aren’t working under a deadline presumably and have all the time in the world, not a judge with dozens of games to try and review in a short time. The fact some never even played it at all, we have no way of knowing if the game cocked up to begin with and never even worked for them at all which the judge points out does happen, particularly after the developer mentions it has bugs. To me that sounds like someone sending in a third-grader’s painting to a major art competition and whining that the judges didn’t spend the same amount of time looking it over as they did a professional submission.

      • Mattressi says:

        To me it sounds like someone committing themselves to something, then not fulfilling their promise. Try volunteering at a soup kitchen, saying that you’ll work 4 hours, then leaving after 30 minutes because your “busy and these people don’t even look that hungry” and see if people hate you. No, awards aren’t dire, but ultimately it’s the same issue – someone volunteers to do something (committing themselves to it), then backs out. They can’t just say that they’re busy and a volunteer, so it’s ok to go back on their word. Don’t volunteer if you won’t do the job properly and to completion. The people who entered paid the price. If that’s not good enough for you to do your job, don’t volunteer.

      • qrter says:

        I’d side squarely with the developer, it seems quite simple – the IGF accepts games in this state (also note that the IGF makes no qualms to accept a 100 bucks from the devs in question).

        If that means some entered games are frustrating for judges, those judges should complain to Brandon Boyer. It’s the IGF’s problem, not the entrant’s.

    • Salt says:

      (In reply to a couple of posts, so doesn’t really fit the comment tree structure, sorry.)

      Triaging of entries does sound like a reasonable thing to do.

      But so far as I can tell that isn’t what was happening here. The judges not installing wasn’t because they’d been told to ignore the game (at least not in any “official” judging system way,) but simply because they decided they didn’t need to bother.

      There is a strong history of IGF giving awards to games that are still in active development, and as such are certain to contain various degrees of bugs. It’s a major part of the purpose of the awards: to give publicity to unreleased games so that they can have success when they are complete.

      Minecraft is an obvious example that won the grand prize with plenty of bugs. Fez won its first IGF award about five years before it was released.

    • Mo says:

      @Dominic: it looks like a competent game for sure, but it doesn’t look like it would win an IGF award. What would you nominate it for? And is it more deserving than the titles that actually got nominated?

      @Salt: From what I’ve heard, all the judges can see the feedback left for a game. So if one judge played it, commented “meh, it’s competent but nothing special”, that’s an implicit triage.

      The most damning argument would be if someone would say, “this game deserved to be nominated but was looked over.” If that were the case, it would be a very serious blow against the judging system. Fact is, nobody has really said that, which means the triaging system actually works pretty well.

      • Baines says:

        Having the other judges avoid a game because one judge didn’t like it defeats the point of having multiple judges in the first place.

        • Dominic White says:

          Yeah, the entire point of having a panel of judges is to get a broad range of opinions on a game. If half the judges never show up, and three of the four remaining only fire it up for a few seconds just before the deadline, then the entire setup seems pointless.

      • qrter says:

        Anna Anthropy has said that the feedback boxes were almost never used to have actual discussions about the games, just to note technical problems. She noted how disappointed she was that there was no real discussion about the games, just a couple of ratings.

  12. DarkFarmer says:

    Nevermind, i really am never going to complain about this again. The igf is fuckin great and every indie should enter it.

  13. Bobtree says:

    Popularity contests lack depth and rigor. Is anyone surprised?

  14. x1501 says:

    What specific titles would you nominate for this hypothetical Excellence In Writing award?

  15. InternetBatman says:

    I disagree on the issue of phone games. The lack of input is a critical problem, and it makes certain genres much better (like canabalt copycats) and others really hard to implement. It’s not fair to place phone-developer at such a severe handicap. Personally I would like to see a different category for each widely used type of input.

  16. Deano2099 says:

    Hang on, it’s only finalists who can’t re-enter right?

    In which case it won’t stop people submitting crap that has no chance in hell of winning as it has no chance in hell of being shortlisted either.

    How about an RPS “Best writing in indie games” award? Maybe co-incidentally announce the result the same day the IGF ones come out…

    In other news, I STILL can’t play Fez, as after two hours, hit a horrid crash bug so can’t progress in the game. And the patch is still ‘on the way’.

  17. hemmingjay says:

    IGF is worthless for as long as they continue to award games that are not, and likely will never be completed. It amounts to nothing more than a masturbatory marketing effort and does nothing to further the image of Indie games.


  18. Roshirai says:

    With regards to the writing award thing? Whatever.

    If the IGF don’t want to do an official one, get some like-minded IGF judges together to put together a list of Writing award finalists and then give away an “unofficial” RPS Independent Writing award or something.

    You can definitely mark me down as willing to kick in $20 toward the prize. Hell, maybe even $50.

    Screw official award organizations. If we want to shine a spotlight on good game writing, let’s shine a fucking spotlight.

    • Keirley says:

      This actually sounds pretty great.

      It’s still a problem that the IGF has no award for writing, but I’d love to see RPS sponsor/organise a Writing in Games award. Even just an annual feature on RPS where John and others write articles highlighting the best writing in games that year.

      • RakeShark says:

        The physical award trophy being a bronzed copy of “Strunk and White” ? ;)

        But seriously, I’d love to see an annual feature deconstructing and ripping to shreds the narrative ability of the year’s best, to see if they are in fact well written.

  19. RobF says:

    I suspect nothing can actually stop the loonies who just enter the truly awful things. From experience running competitions, there’s no stopping them because they don’t see what everyone else sees. That crashing bit of title screen? That’s the work of a lifetime is that. A masterpiece amongst masterpieces. Etc… That game that uses every key on the keyboard to move the character left and collect a star? THAT WAS MY LIFE, THAT. And so on…

    You can’t make rules around that sort of thing easily short of having mandatory psych evaluations or something like that :D

    • JtM says:

      I’m sure some of the entrants submitted shitty and / or buggy games but that shouldn’t be used as a blanket statement to allow competition judges to act with impunity. If a game crashes at the title screen, especially a PC game, it could simply be an unforeseen bug that occurs on some rare driver / hardware configuration that the developer has never seen before. It’s not like most indie developers have a QA team with a diverse set of configurations.

      I’m not saying judges need to jump through hoops to get the software running, but I feel like its unfair to say ‘one title screen crash’ = ‘worst game evar’. Thats just childish.

      • RobF says:

        No, and nor am I claiming it should. Honestly, it’s not a defence of the way some games go unjudged, it’s an acknowledgement that there are people out there who will enter not just buggy software, but utterly shit software too. It happens in every prize competition.

        And I know it’s soul crushing after the 14th one of these if you’re a judge. It’s also sorta the price you pay for having a competition that’s fairly open. There’s no realistic way of stopping this from happening because whatever blocks and rules you put in place, they’ll still come in. And if you try and cut them out, there’s far too big a chance of catching the ones which truly show potential also.

  20. JtM says:

    I entered my iOS game, Crabitron and was initially disappointed with the stats I saw from the judges on TestFlight (3 out of 8 playing, 30 minutes of total play time). I believe that the game isn’t a piece of shit and so I started to buy into the negative comments people were making about the judging process. Then I started to think about how the judging would actually work and decided to sit tight to see what the results were. No honourable mentions (what I was aiming for) or anything, which I found a bit disappointing but the finalists were all great looking games so no big deal.

    The feedback I got after the competition made it clear what I needed to fix before release and showed that most of the judges actually did give it a go and they were very pleased with the game aside from some fairly important issues. The game was also given a few nominations which was nice to see.

  21. NathanH says:

    I guess that looking at the categories they have, they’re all categories that any game can in theory win. Any game should have the potential to be excellent in design, technicalness, audio, visual. Whereas there are plenty of games that don’t have the potential to have good writing (I mean, the writing in the game always has the potential to be good, but there are plenty of games where no matter how apt the writing would be, it wouldn’t be enough to win an award). I have no idea if that is the justification but it’s the only thing I could think of.

  22. Keith Nemitz says:

    I wrote a similar rant yesterday. More power to the indie writer people!!!

    link to gamasutra.com