A more robust critique of award winners would benefit the industry

Last night’s BAFTAs was a great success, a big showcase of many, many wonderful games, all of whom deserved their place in the limelight and did their part to further push the form and the public’s perception of the form forward.

Congratulations to all involved.

It’s notable though that in the run-up to the event and in the aftermath there are not many dissenting voices to be found to the jury’s decisions. After all if this was the Oscars, or the BAFTAs for film even, there would be many articles bemoaning the admission of a particular title, screaming of bias to a particular genre, or calling out the jury for some perceived slight or blindspot.

Articles wondering if it was all too high-brow or vice versa, whether the academy could reach normal people with these choices. And to what extent the awards should represent work globally or concentrate more on work from the country they’ve been held in.

You see such articles doing the rounds en masse every year when it comes to almost any film awards, it’s a free-for-all for hot takes, and no one is firing blanks, this stuff gets heated.

For games awards, not so much. As someone who runs a games-related awards event, that’s not the worst thing in the world for me! But for the wider industry, does it still show a little lack of confidence towards our own work that we’re not chomping at the bit to focus broader culture disputes, such as the diversity of nominees or violence in the media, against both the shortlist and winners.

This is not a criticism of the BAFTAs. Which was well considered and excellently run, as ever, and I’m certainly not the person best qualified (or best positioned, throwing stones in greenhouses and all that) to make such criticisms, but I do feel that we could benefit from more such arguments existing – and especially beyond the specialist press.

By engaging with the awards in a more combative manner we are actually supporting it, legitimising it with our debate and criticism, so please for the sake of the industry, let’s just get stuck in?

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