The yearly IGF controversy


There’s always something, it seems – I suppose that it being big enough to have detractors is a sign of success. This year the integrity of the judging process is called into question by developers the Rotting Cartridge.

Competitions like the IGF can be great fun for all involved, but the stress and hardships can easily get to you no matter what your part is. If you are arranging, it becomes a matter of putting together a big event while placing your trust in a large number of developers to produce entries, and a large number of professionals to judge them fairly – neither of which you can be sure of. Judging can be an arduous and thankless task where disappointed entrants will press you for information on why they did not win. Being an entrant has the chance of giving some payout but it can feel more like a lottery where you have no idea if your game was judged fairly or disliked because of the personal taste of the judge who happened to be assigned.

I have been on all sides of this so going into it I figured I would not want to take sides, but I can’t remain completely neutral. Sure, the judges could have taken their duties more seriously and at least made sure to pass them on if they couldn’t live up to their promise. And yes, the people behind it all should have had accounted for an increase in entries and maybe been a little more professional about responding to the criticism. In the end though, I have to agree that fundamentally the IGF is a competition and if even the developers themselves did not expect to be nominated for anything then maybe they should not be too disappointed when they were not. If they’re just after publicity or focus testers, there are better ways to spend $100. Complaining about the possibility of games being ignored feels like a poor argument, to their credit the Rotting Cartridge mostly advocates more transparency in the judging process which I certainly can see no fault in.

As the chart above shows, the IGF has been growing more and more every year since 2005 (and before that for as long as there are records) so I do not think things like this will affect the success of it. Even bigger events like the Oscars have it worse since it is fully up to the movie makers to make sure that members of the academy get to see their movies and a lot reportedly vote without having seen all of the movies in their category. Considering that publishers and platform holders seem to be in love with “award-winning” developers and metacritic scores, I do sometimes wish IGF and others would consider the impact they are making more thoroughly. Bringing in politics into it would remove focus from the games though, and that would undermine the integrity of the competition more than anything.

In other GDC related news, developer Scott Anderson started a blog about the failure of the Shadow Physics project, even though he claims not to have learned a lot from it I am looking forward to an interesting read. I also enjoyed reading about the Great Middleware debate, it brings up a few points on both sides that may seem obvious but are surprisingly unknown. I’ll hopefully get back to that at some point.

Posted on Mar 08/12 by Saint and filed under General game development | No Comments »