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The GMAs: a warning from history

Posted on October 28, 2012 by RevStu

The quotes below come from an April 2007 piece entitled "And The Winner Is", concerning the inaugural Games Media Awards of later that year, written by Kyle Orland for The site no longer exists, but you can still read the article via the ever-handy Internet Wayback Machine.

""We actually found a lot of people in the games media don't feel well recognized by the industry they served," said Stuart Dinsey, Managing Director for Intent Media and the brains behind the awards show. "We felt this was a good way to give them some of that recognition and have a great party for everyone to get together at the same time."

"As for the all-important judging itself, Dinsey said the exact process was still being tweaked. Dinsey added that he'd like to get votes from "all the leading companies" in the games industry, probably by asking PR representatives to consult with their colleagues and place a vote to represent the company as a whole. Dinsey said the exact makeup of the judging panel will be kept secret until after the voting is done, to prevent any quid pro quo situations from developing."

But the mere specter of industry voting was enough to give some members of the press pause about the awards. "The games industry are the last people who should be voting for awards in games journalism," said British game freelancer Kieron Gillen. "It's a bit like the prisoners voting for who's their favourite prison guard." Gillen said he worries that the industry voting will make the award one "you wouldn't want to win…. because it's basically shorthand for 'Lapdog Of The Year award'.""

(Despite these comments, Gillen accepted a GMA that very year, and this month pocketed the "Games Media Legend" prize to bookend it with. He attempted to justify his instant U-turn the day after the 2007 award by saying "The awards don’t really matter. PRs are fine. They’re just people." In a fine twist of irony he now pontificates at highbrow public events about how independent games journalism is of PR, and is also a judge in the "Games Journalism Prizes" awards, along with a number of other "concerned games industry types", several of whom are also GMA winners.)

Now the owner of the PR-driven GMAs uses their power to censor journalists with legal threats for expressing honest opinions and accurately quoting people's own public comments to illustrate a valid and fair point. Now maybe we're just old and bitter (well, there's no "maybe" about it), but it seems a pretty odd way of "recognising" games journalism to us. Unless, that is, you ponder who voted on the first GMAs (and still vote on them now), and start wondering to yourself exactly which industry it was that Stuart Dinsey meant when he said "recognised by the industry they serve".

14 to “The GMAs: a warning from history”

  1. Kieron's a judge in the GJPs, he's not running them. The only people involved in the running are me and Keith Stuart (who is a multiple GMA-winner, yes). Andy Payne from Mastertronic / UKIE is helping us with the commercial side (because we want it to be non-profit but we don't know where to start) but is hands-off otherwise. 
    I'm aware that we have a lot of games journalists judging games journalists, but I'm doing my utmost to introduce fresh faces to leaven the judging panel. Any tips on keeping it clean and minimizing conflicts of interest are totally welcome.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. (I've just remembered that I have, kind of, won a GMA – the magazine I worked on, OXM 360, won the pretty meaningless 'best Xbox magazine' as I was leaving in 2007. All shall have prizes!)

  3. CdrJameson says:

    Presumably he does the  "Games Journalism Prizes" as a counterbalance to the PR-sponsored fluffery. 
    I'm always suspicious of competitions since I found out that there is an entry fee for many of them.  Marketing departments of companies love this sort of thing, just winning awards so they tend to enter lots irrespective of quality.  
    It did put some tarnish on my old BAFTA nomination (although I've just checked on the website and you only have to pay if you enter more than one thing, or are late –,2468,BA.html )
    Still, it all pales compared to that that Nobel Peace Prize I recently won.

  4. RevStu says:

    "Kieron's a judge in the GJPs, he's not running them"

    Duly corrected. Though that still doesn’t alter the fact that it’s like having the Vichy Government decide who gets the Legion d’Honneur. You want tips on “keeping it clean”? Start by booting everyone who’s accepted a GMA and didn’t send it back this week. Because all of those people are forever stained, in the same manner and with the same material that Monica Lewinsky’s dress was.

  5. Freak says:

    Kieron Gillen about the silence regarding the Robert Florence Incidence on Rock Paper Shotgun:
    A reader: Penny Arcade is an exception. The majority of mainstream sites (sadly including RPS) haven’t whispered a word about it. We know your connections with Eurogamer but this silence is deafening. We don’t talking about tweets here, we are talking about an official post stating your point of view about the most important news of the week. Is asking too much?"
    Kieron Gillen: Yes. Clearly.
    EDIT: I’m being facetious because frankly when the site that’s co-owned by the man who’s made more noise about this than anyone else is being talked about as complicit, it’s fucking ludicrous.

    A reader: Who talks about complicity? We are asking for an official post in RPS about the biggest story of the week that includes one of your writers. Once again: Is asking too much?

    Kieron giller to other reader: "I mean, every fucking piece of coverage links to John’s site. He’s the *source* for most of this. He’s published Rab’s response, ffs.
    Talking personally (and talking personally as someone outside the editorial team), it just seems too late for anything large on the site unless it had a radically different angle (or the situation developed further). The Sunday Papers would have been the place to include it, but I find it hard to argue when Jim says he just feels too depressed to write about it."

  6. Addled says:

    "a warning from history"
    How exactly does equating the GMAs to Nazi Germany carry the discussion forward, Stu?

  7. RevStu says:

    Yes, that's exactly what I said.

  8. Addled says:

    That's what you implied, yes.

  9. Nightingales says:

    Games journalist TOO DEPRESSED to do job. Shame Kieron never suffered this sudden onset ennui before putting pen to paper on that unfortunate NGJ business. He’s Hunter S. Thompson as played by Lauren Harries.

  10. Freak says:

    Tom Bramwell, Eurogamer editor, another depressed critic. Depression, the great excuse of game writers:
    "First of all, I want to apologise to Eurogamer's readers for not saying anything else about why I edited Rab Florence's column last week until now. There are a bunch of reasons why I've not said anything. One is that removing paragraphs from Rab's column is the most depressing thing I've had to do in five years of editing the site and I still haven't gotten over it."

  11. craig says:

    I'm disappointed with how easily and quickly KG sold out. he has even convinced himself he's in the right with his long winded chin stroking. shame. he always did have a touch of the "head up the arse" syndrome with his pretentious streak, but i liked him and his work until his later years and this sort of thing. once he dropped his knickers and opened wide for the pr cock he changed too much and used his powers for evil. now being their pet liar and pr person in turn, trying to convince everyone else there isn't any problem at all, holding back any fixing of the problems.

  12. Mathmos says:

    RPS (the original four) have always been quite dutiful to the industry, with at most very muted and circumspect reservations toward bad industry practices, while at the same time always chiding their readers for "entitlement", paranoia, and irrational "anger". Their coverage of under-exposed projects remains stellar, but they've never been hard-hitting in their criticism of anything coming from a big studio.

    But a cursory glance at other areas of journalism show that kind of "access" mentality at work. RPS and gaming media are hardly exceptional.

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