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Ste Pickford: Radical rethink of game BAFTAs needed

Indie developer sees the video game awards as biased towards AAA titles

Indie developer Ste Pickford, one half of The Pickford Brothers, has spoken out about the flaws he sees in BAFTA's video game awards.

"In video game awards, the equivalents to Transformers 3 win everything," said Pickford on Spong. He points out that while in the film industry it's the small budget films that grab the awards, in video games it's the big budget titles.

"The awards appear to be set up to help market successful AAA games, rather than to highlight excellence per se."

He believes one of the reasons could be the barriers to entry.

"For those of you that don't know how it works, BAFTA judges aren't tasked with seeking out interesting video games to bestow awards upon."

The awards appear to be set up to help market successful AAA games, rather than to highlight excellence.

Ste Pickford

"Games have to be submitted to BAFTA by the developer or publisher, for a fee of around £475 (which includes a £225 registration fee if it's your first time)."

He argues that this is a significant amount of money to small indie developers (and nothing to a big publishing house like Activision) and so the BAFTAs simply become a marketing exercise for the publishers.

The system of categorising games by genre also present a problem for small developers.

"To celebrate and encourage excellence we should be on the lookout for games that break genre rules and defy convention," he said.

"Categorising awards by genre deliberately excludes and marginalises such games, and instead celebrates more-of-the-same products, which is the exact opposite of BAFTAs stated aim of "educating and developing the taste" of audiences."

According to Pickford, categorising the games by platform is also biased, "ghettoising non-console games." And while there are awards for Design, Original Music, Performer, Story, these ignore the majority of people working on the titles, like level designer or programmer.

The Pickford Brothers will not be submitting their title to the BAFTAs this year.

"After a couple of days weighing up the pros and cons of submitting we decided to save our £475 and not bother this year, which is why Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint has no chance of winning a BAFTA."

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Rachel Weber

Senior Editor

Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.