Indie vs. Indie

Rock Paper Shotgun has a great (and lengthy) article up about various conflicts and controversies surrounding the Independent Games Festival. As we've seen play out in other media (music, film, etc.), the divide seems to boil down to indie games as alternative business model vs. indie games as non-commercial grassroots activity. Phil Fish, creator of the highly-anticipated Fez, comes off as particularly acerbic.

  1. I don’t particularly think that there’s some big IGF conspiracy or anything, but from what I’ve been reading lately, it does sound like they need to sit down and take a serious look at certain things. I wonder if their problem is that they’re just trying to be too much to too many different groups of people. Refining the different categories in the competition might be a helpful step to reduce that a bit. And what seems to be the easiest fix that they could make would be to get a pool of “alternate judges” so that if a certain game doesn’t get rated by at least half of its judges, these alternate judges would step in and rate it, until each game that entered had a minimum number of judges look at it.

  2. I don’t think there’s any sort of conspiracy either — and I also don’t think the selection of games is in any way bad — but it sounds like the first-round judging system does tilt things toward already well-publicized games simply by virtue of (from what I gather) allowing any judge to pop in and rate any game they choose. On the other hand, I suppose this could provide counter-balance for a game like Johann Sebastian Joust, whose five randomly assigned judges could very easily have all been people who wouldn’t appreciate such an experiment, though again that only works for a game that has already had that level of good/wide press coverage.

    (It also sounds like it’s less of a rating system and more of a nominating system, strongly encouraging a judge to stop playing if they feel there’s no way the game is worthy of a nomination since no further evaluation is needed. Not sure if that’s a problem or not. In years past some people complained because they thought they’d be getting meaningful constructive feedback even if not nominated, but I think that may no longer be explicitly promised.)

    But, yeah: creating some new categories sounds like a smart idea (maybe even a category for amateurs the way there is one for students, though defining that would be tricky), and having backup judges in reserve to pick up the slack makes total sense.

  3. I enjoyed this as a bit of an outsider looking in; I like video games a lot, especially indie games, but I’m not remotely involved in the industry and usually don’t follow things that closely until they’re out of beta (or better yet, on sale for 75 percent off on Steam). So yeah, a lot of this was totally new to me, but interesting!

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