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And the winners are…

April 13th, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · No Comments · Media

Kyle Orland has some details and opinions on the freshly announced Games Media Awards, a new initiative from British publisher Intent Media. Industry people (maybe some press) will vote on which games reporters are the best in Britain and honor the proper publications. Expect lots of prizes for the good (but often overpraised) Edge. Orland and Kieron Gillen both correctly note the potential absurdity of the industry deciding who covers it best. Where is the International Games Journalist Association in this? If we need awards shouldn’t there be greater recognition from people who actually do the work?

I have no idea how this awards ceremony will be broken down. Best review? Best interview? Best original reporting? Most effective use of nicknames? Fewest gratuitous bikini pictures? Though I still wait for the day when a game journalist earns the Pulitzer for Criticism, this is a fair half-step providing they actually honor good work.

Not that there’s anything wrong with prizes. I haven’t won a trophy since high school and the mantle is a little empty. Vote for Goodfellow in ’08.

Orland goes on to suggest that, in any case, the real winners are people whose work gets linked to and commented on.

[M]ore than money, the greatest award a journalist can receive is the positive attentions of his peers and readers, and the Internet provides the ultimate democratic form of recognition in this regard. Every link from a blog or comment from a reader is a form of recognition that’s worth more than some artificially constructed award. While the correct credit for a piece can sometimes get lost in the tangle of the web, the most interesting pieces tend to get the attention they deserve through the unorganized system of linking and commenting.

Orland is absolutely correct when he says that peer recognition is the big thing. But I tend to get that recognition and affirmation in emails or AIM chats with colleagues more than in the link-o-rama of the net. It’s certainly cool when a reader emails me to say “Good job on X” or even when a publisher/developer thanks me (though I usually feel icky afterwards.) But when a writer I respect says “Good on you” that means something different. But this is almost never in the comments.

I still love comments and links. They are usually positive attention from peers and readers, and I’ve only had to delete two or three comments in the couple of years I’ve done this. (No, it’s not a democracy. Call me a “douche” in a content-fee comment and away it goes.) They are recognition that I write this stuff for somebody or a handful of somebodies.

But I’m not going to pretend that they are democratic. People comment on and link to what they find interesting to them more than on what they find good. The most linked stories on Flash of Steel are my eulogy to CGM and my thoughts on the 2006 policy on booth babes at E3. The first has 18 comments, the second has none. Neither is especially good journalism – one is a wail at the loss of a friend and the other is a “what does this mean?” type commentary.

One of the problems with the Internet as democracy is that people can only vote for you if they know about you. Just ask Bill Richardson. Not that I think this small blog deserves more recognition – traffic is growing at just the right speed thank you very much – and my niche is a comfy one.

And look at the blogs, forums and websites you visit. Played out top ten lists get passed around and commented on more than good interviews. The console horse race is covered more seriously than the design implications of the horse race, and comments reflect that. And the print media is completely screwed in all of this unless the content ends up online where someone can read it for free. This month’s Games for Windows magazine has a very good interview with John Carmack and another story on the creators of Facade. Have you seen these talked about anywhere? Even the GFW forum is devoid of solid commentary on these pieces beyond one guy saying “I liked Facade a lot. Thanks for the story.” I have little faith in the Internet democracy to recognize good work that’s more than a link away. Judging from the comments on many of the larger newsblogs, many don’t even click the link.

The MCV Game Media Awards will be announced on October 11. Tune in then to see who the industry thinks are the best gaming journalists in the UK.


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