By Nick Capozzoli
The New York Videogame Critics Circle is proud to present its fourth annual Knickerbocker Award for Best Games Journalism, part of the New York Game Awards on January 22nd at SVA Theatre at &:30 p.m.
The Journalism Award will be given to one journalist or critic for distinguished contributions to the field during the voting year. The selected journalist will have best demonstrated traditional journalistic values, including–but not limited to–work that illuminates, contextualizes, entertains, exhibits lucid writing, sound reasoning, wit, integrity, et alia.
The Short List of Nominees
Matters of representation are the opposite of niche, for they can reveal flaws in the foundation of prevailing thought. That means they’re everyone’s responsibility, as Iddamsetty’s piece makes plain, a fact that must be reconciled with if our art is to be humanized.
Read: How Video Games Demonize Fat People
There are stories hidden between frames, between pixels, between the decimals of a version number. And as Jeremy Young’s inquiry into a Donkey Kong high score record shows, acts of journalism can be surgical enough to intervene and find them there. Jeremy’s Forum thread is linked to in this piece by Owen Good below. (Owen Good is not nominated.) Young’s Donkey Kong forum inquiry wiped out Billy Mitchell’s long standing high scores.
Context: King of Kong’s Billy Mitchell’s high scores wiped out by Twin Galaxies
“This just feels like last month. And the month before that,” says a source in Farokhmanesh’s crucial exposé of developer overwork. They may as well be describing the inertia of labor rights in the games industry at large. The company profiled did not survive the year. That, too, is an old tune.
Read: Toxic Management Cost an Award-Winning Game Studio its Best Developers
If being American means affiliation, on some level, with its gun death cult, then being an American who plays popular video games can feel like a slow realization you’ve been wearing its standard-issue robe and Nikes. But maybe, as Hamilton writes, “over the course of decades, we slowly fall out from under the thrall of something we didn’t even realize had enthralled us to begin with.”
Read: Real Guns, Virtual Guns, and Me
Nathan’s reporting-back on the NBA 2K league strikes a perfect tone for coverage of a nascent eSport, skeptical yet not unkind, wherein a commissioner may be “well-suited” to bewilderment, and top-flight pros putting in 16-hour days must “battle to convince their families and partners” that their career is viable.
Read: The NBA Really Wants you to Watch People Play a Basketball Video Game
If a game is so incoherent that it evinces no headshot—that is to say, no “single, unifying anecdote”—how can a critic distill it for their readers? Smith begins by asking that question, but he’s already got a crafty solution chambered: anecdotes that distill that incoherence itself.
Read: Far Cry 5’s Hyper-videogamification
William Audureau, Maria Kalash, Mathilde Goanec & Dan Israel
As #MeToo wends through each new field, the idiosyncrasies of their sexism stand out (as does the bleakness of the commonalities). As intrepidly reported by these outlets, here the problem is at perhaps its most juvenile. (Note: NSFW photos will be at the link.)
Read: Quantic Dream, un Fleuron du Jeu Vidéo Français aux Méthodes de Management Contestées
Les errements de Quantic Dream, Pépite Française du Jeu Vidéo
NSFW: Drôle d’ambiance à Quantic Dream
“Core gamer,” “meritocracy,” “culture fit.” Words like backfiring shibboleths—the group deploying them distinguishes itself, but not for the good reasons it probably imagines. D’Anastasio’s reporting reveals them for what they truly mean: a culture built to stymie women.
Read: Inside the Culture of Sexism at Riot Games
Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Natasha Singer, Aaron Krolik, and Michael H. Keller
Games are technology, with all of tech’s attendant issues, like reconditeness, and a sort of breezy attitude towards privacy and permissions. That makes the patience and clarity of the Times’ investigation invaluable: parents need the information, their children need the safeguarding.
Read: How Game Apps that Captivate Kids Have Been Collecting Their Data
The award is being administered in accordance with the following guidelines:
The award is made available to anyone who has created a journalistic work on the topic of video games during the awards year
Eligible works include, but are not necessarily limited to: Features, Editorials, Criticism, News Reports, Reviews, & Previews
Written, audio, illustrative, and video works are eligible
Circle members will be ineligible for the award
Circle members cannot cast a vote for staff at their respective sites
No prize (financial or otherwise) will be associated with the award beyond the New York Game Awards Trophy
No sponsorship will be associated with the award
Circle members are expected to vote solely in accordance with the award’s principles.
Nick Capozzoli is the Chair of the New York Videogame Critics Circle’s Journalism Committee.