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BAFTA Game Awards ‘ghettoises indies’

Ste Pickford calls for end to ‘big-budget preferences’

A prominent indie developer has listed extensive criticisms of the BAFTA Game Awards and its organisers.

Ste Pickford said the glitzy annual event ‘ghettoises’ the triumphs of small-scale independent work, and is too preoccupied with big-budget triple-A titles.

He also claimed the Awards’ genre-based categories are pointless for celebrating the craft of game design, and slammed the policy to charge indies up to £700 to be considered for nomination.

“The awards appear to be set up to help market successful AAA games, rather than to highlight excellence per se,” Pickford said in an opinion piece published on Spong.

“Award categories are heavily weighted in favour of expensive, lavishly produced games rather than spotlighting great work and talented individuals across the broader spectrum of video game development,” he added.

Pickford said that if this approach was applied to film, then blockbusters like Transformers 3 would sweep the awards night.

“It’s not that we don’t have video game equivalents to The King’s Speech. Just like in movies some of the most interesting work is done in small, niche, low budget titles, but these rarely get a look in at the video game BAFTAs,” Pickford said.

“Increasingly these days the truly innovative and interesting work is happening in the indie scene and in lower budget titles, as the mainstream console industry focuses more and more on safe sequels and glossy updates, but the awards, as they stand, don’t recognise this.

“The last few years’ winners’ lists are completely dominated by games from the likes of EA, Sony, Microsoft, Activision and Nintendo; the console manufacturers and the big console publishers. These are people who make all the best-selling, biggest budget games, but are they really the only people who produce excellent and inspiring work?

Pickford opened his opinion piece with praise for the Scottish BAFTA Game Awards, which recently honoured Dundee studio Denki for its critically acclaimed indie title Quarrell.

“It’s precisely the sort of game that I think should be winning awards,” he said.

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