Games Media Award Nominees for Best Non-Commercial Site All Contain Ads

The MCV Games Media Award winners are set to be revealed this October, and the finalists have just been announced. The judging panel will consist of games industry professionals. When the Game Media Awards were announced, some games journalists criticised the judging process.

Kyle Orland stated:

Journalists themselves are in a much better position to judge their peers than are the game makers and publishers that we’re supposed to be covering somewhat objectively. Even if there’s no chance of explicit coverage-for-votes trading, the danger of industry-picked awards is that they’ll end up going only to outlets that give unquestioningly good coverage to everything. Hard hitting critiques and investigative journalism are unlikely to be rewarded by the companies that work so hard to generate positive coverage and keep secrets until they’re ready to be announced.

Kotaku’s Brian Crecente, a former writer for the Rocky Mountain News, believes, “The last thing game journalism needs is a closer relationship with the industry. It’s already far, far too cozy.”

Kieron Gillen, who has been nominated for Best Writer on a Specialist Magazine stated:

The games industry are the last people who should be voting for awards in games journalism. 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.’

Anonymous game journalist blogger, RAM Raider, was equally critical of the awards, calling it “Yet another opportunity for everyone in the industry to firmly grasp the penis of the person next to them, and wank firmly” (LOL). Recently, RAM Raider pointed out another small problem: the nominations in the Specialist Media Category (Online) for Best Non-Commercial Website or Blog all contain advertising in text and/or graphical form. Displaying advertising means that you are making money or you intend to make money from displaying those adverts, right? The nominees may not necessarily be making a profit from advertising, but having advertising on a blog certainly seems to convey commercial intent.

Destructoid is one of the nominees in this category. It is one of the biggest group gaming blogs on the internet. Most of the content is written by its random community members, with varying quality, and they have a bunch of staff bloggers whose posts are highlighted on the main Destructoid page. Destructoid reports that the site receives 2.5 million visitors per month. They pride themselves on being “an independently-owned community site dedicated to gaming, written by people who love love love love love love video games and like to write about them” and criticise game journalists as “people that feel they need to hide behind their journalism degree to justify their lives”. The site makes money off of its community members, without paying a cent to them, while the “company employs 36 freelancers” who likely do get a cut of advertising revenue. So Destructoid may be independent, but that doesn’t mean they’re non-commercial. Destructoid actively solicits advertising on their site and have a company that manages and sells their “premium” ad space inventory. Sounds commercial, right?

The other nominations in this category are relatively smaller than Destructoid, though fellow nominees UK: Resistance and Wonderland have vast numbers of readers in their own right. These blogs also prominently display advertising, though they probably manage the ads themselves . I enjoy reading both blogs, and I don’t mind adverts because I can ignore them, but I do question their categorisation as “non-commercial” blogs when you’ve got those Google ads staring you in the face.

“Best Independently-Owned Website or Blog” may have been a better name for the category.

  2 comments for “Games Media Award Nominees for Best Non-Commercial Site All Contain Ads

  1. 4 September 2007 at 07:25

    Commercial would mean backed by a company, wouldn’t it? I wouldn’t hold ads against a blog. But then, if we put it that way, then Destructoid would seem to be ruled out.

    Besides, the distinction is a little meaningless. After all, Alice at Wonderland and the mooks at UK:R are both employed in some capacity by game journalism outlets. Don’t their employers (in some sense) subsidize their work? Not that there’s anything wrong with that: they give good independent commentary. But part of the reason that they, and many other game bloggers, can do so is because they are commercially involved with the industry, either as game journalists or (in the case of Koster and Gilbert, to name a couple) designers.

  2. 4 September 2007 at 14:05

    Hm… Yeah… It’s true when you get right down to it. I’m not sure whether the UK: R writers are industry, but I take your point.

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