Miniature Indie Scandal

Miniature Indie Scandal: Independent Games Festival finalists were announced today. This year the iPhone submissions used "TestFlight," a distribution system for unreleased mobile applications. One of the unintended consequences was that developers could see data about how the judges played their games, and for at least one hopeful group (see link above), out of the eight judges assigned to them it appears one never installed the game and two installed but never launched it, this despite the $95 submission fee they felt should have guaranteed a fair look. Brandon Boyer, IGF chairman (formerly of OffWorld; soon: VenusPatrol) responds at length in the comments

Note: I’m pretty sure that while the complainant’s website describes their submitted game as an an unfinished iphone port of SkySoft’s 1992 lost Gameboy classic, this is just a bit of Gothic-style metatextual play and theirs is actually an original game (though indeed not yet released to the public).

Also note: I have no dog in this fight except for strongly sympathizing with Stephen Orlando (of the one-man Robit Studios) for his truly outstanding Treasure Adventure Game getting shut out of all categories. (He also shows up in the comments section <a href="here.)

  1. [looks like I messed up the html at the end there. link still goes to the right place.]

    Another note: if I recall, before Brandon Boyer was in charge the general criticism was that the judges were almost entirely made up of mainstream games industry professionals, that being reflected in the finalist choices. My guess is that’s been corrected, given Johann Sebastian Joust‘s grand prize nomination.

  2. Update: 2010 IGF judge and 2011 IGF jury member Adam Saltsman (developer of Canabalt) offers a substantial comment on this related Google+ page. While covering similar ground to Brandon Boyer’s earlier response, his may come off as a bit more sympathetic and a bit less defensive. One key takeaway: while he does think judges should have an obligation to spend a good chunk of time with each of their assigned entrants, he puts the $95 entry fee in perspective by pointing out that it’s a ridiculously small amount for 8+ man-hours of devoted playtesting.

  3. As someone who’s got absolutely no opinion one way or the other about the IGF, I’m a bit shocked that this guy declined their invitation to talk this matter through before making his post. It’s not like talking the problem through with them and at least hearing their side of things would have prohibited him from making his blog post, if he still thought it was important. It just makes him sound like someone who was more interested in being outraged than in fixing things.

  4. Yeah, I suspect they may have recognized the attention the blog post would get them and didn’t want their resolve tempered by human contact.

  5. I wasn’t sure if was worth a whole new post here, but Brendan Caldwell at Rock Paper Shotgun has filed a pretty excellent (and lengthy) article about some of the IGF controversies.

    It does seem that the key to the larger controversy breaks down into indie-game as business model vs. indie-game as counter-cultural movement, with the IGF forming around the former paradigm and the Pirate Kart folks (for example) forming around the latter.

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