Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint, about rewiring things and punching people, and now I'm working on a new one called Heat Signature, about sneaking aboard randomly generated spaceships. Here's some more info on all the games I've worked on, here's the podcast I do, here are the videos I make on YouTube, here are some of the articles I wrote for PC Gamer, and here are two short stories I wrote for the Machine of Death collections.
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I just read Zach Gage’s post proposing some changes to the IGF. My summary of his problems with the current system would be:
Generally I think b) is fine, but I do agree that over-celebrating single games is needless, and I think the categories themselves are a pretty rigid and inadequate way of capturing what’s worth celebrating in games.
Zach’s suggestion is to change the categories to reflect game length/type, and have developers choose one category to submit for. I’m not wild about this because a) the categories are still rigid and don’t capture gaming’s diversity of form, and b) a developer could screw themselves by miscategorising their game, which is not the skill we are trying to evaluate or award.
As it happens I’ve been thinking about a different kind of award ceremony I’d like to see ever since the BAFTAs in 2013, and I think it would address a lot of this.
Gone Home and The Stanley Parable were both nominated for the narrative category, and I thought: “This is ridiculous. Here are two games that did different things brilliantly, and we’ve invented a system where we have to say ‘You two are competing at the same thing’ and then, worse, point to one and say ‘You lose!'”
Also Gunpoint lost to GTA V, so clearly the system is deeply broken.
I think the solution to the rigidness of categories, the judging problems therein, and the artificial pitting of specific games against each other, is all the same thing: make the categories freeform.
Here’s the awards system I’d like to see:
I don’t know if this is for the IGF, it’s just how I’d do it. It doesn’t solve the ‘multiplayer and huge games are hard to judge’ problem, and I’m sure it’d give jurors its own set of challenges – though hopefully more interesting ones.
Update: this is pretty close to what Rock Paper Shotgun do for their end-of-year Advent Calendar, though the categories there are more genre-focused than I had in mind for this.
LTK: So, basically the format of Rock, Paper, Shotgun's advent calendar? I think that's as good of an idea as any.
The only question is whether to limit the number of games that get nominated. Do all jurors have to agree a game is worthy of an award? Does there need to be a limit to how many games get an award? If there's a massive inflation of the number of IGF awards, that might diminish the prestige of the awards somewhat.
Tom Francis: Yep!
And yes, there'd be a set number of games to be awarded, however many we think is enough without becoming devalued. There would be more than currently, but I think the specificity of the award makes it a more effective recommendation too.
Not all jurors have to agree about an award, it'd just be a case of anyone proposing them, discussing, seeing how many people agree, and then awarding the X games with the most support.
JJ: This seems like a similar system to how CBR does their best comic book lists each year. They basically decide the best 100 comics and then give each of them a unique title.
JJ: Oh no fail wrong line. It's Comics Alliance. http://comicsallianc... ...2014-list/
Alan: The IOCCC issues awards this way, and seems to work pretty well. That said, they don't have a formal ceremony.
Jason L: Not to mention the Tom-involving Crate and Crowbar's end-of-year listcast. The idea seems to be in the air right now, in general causing fun and merriment and precision - a bit of a strange brew from the outside.
T.G. Frumm: Heh! This is basically how Penny Arcade used to do their "We're Right!" awards, but this one'll be more than just the two of them for jurors. I've been wondering how that system could scale up to have more people involved, so I'm all for this.