Is something rotten with the IGF judging?
By: Jeff Rivera
By all accounts, the IGF (Independent Games Festival) is a great organization that helps tons of independent game developers get their products shown to a wider audience. The IGF holds events in conjunction with GDC, PAX, and other events and expos where they hand out awards based on a collaborative judging process. Each IGF judge is assigned to a certain group of games to play before the event and then they are required to submit votes based on their experience with each game.
Well, in theory that's how it works.
Over at The Rotting Cartridge, a blog post laid out how there are some serious cracks in the IGF judging process. According to the developer, they were able to track how much each judge played their game prior to submitting votes due to the 3rd party software used to distribute the game to judges which relayed stat usage back to the developer. Some judges never played The Rotting Cartridge's game, others only played for a minute or two. On average, their game was played for four minutes by the judges assigned to the game.
In an apparent oversight, the IGF gave developers an inside look into the activities of each judge, and The Rotting Cartridge found that they were given the short end of the stick. Unfortunately, it seems as if The Rotting Cartridge's experience was not unique as other developers are beginning to echo the same frustrations.
You can read the full story over at The Rotting Cartridge, here: http://therottingcartridge.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/whats-wrong-with-the-igf
There's a discussion going on in the comments section about the situation. I personally feel that if the IGF is going to select judges to handle voting, then they need to make sure that those judges are being held accountable. For many of these developers, the IGF can really help them out, and judging needs to be impartial and fair.
There's a fee to enter the IGF, and while it's not a large fee, it's almost criminal to ask for money and then offer a service that is flawed. What needs to happen is either the IGF needs to replace judges that can't commit to fairly playing all games that they are assigned, or another organization this willing to do so should step up to represent indie game developers.
I love the IGF. I think they've been amazing, but this is an issue that can't be left unresolved or brushed under the rug. It's akin to an olympic judge handing out scores in figure skating when they either didn't see the routine or they fell asleep after the first few seconds. We can't have this. I trust the IGF to fix the issue, but as of now it seems like a sticky situation for them.