The inaugural Australian Games Awards (AGAs) will be held this Wednesday 19th December but what should be a cause for celebration is fast becoming a source for critisism. #Scofftongate, conflicts of interest, lack of transparency and accusations of plagiarism have all combined to cast serious doubt on the integrity and viability of this promising event. Gamers Classified brings you a brief history of these controversies below.
As Gamers Classified reported earlier, unreleased game Scoffton was nominated for Table Top of the year, despite the criterium for this category being ‘a table top game to have had a major release in 2018’. At the time of nomination, Scoffton from Vamoose Co. was still seeking funding on Kickstarter.
Scoffton is a table top game about ‘a physical locale where one can eat gluttonously’ according to Gavin Vance of Vamoose Co. Players must try to reach the most expensive and delicious foods on offer while dodging waiters who try to fill them up on bread instead. Unfortunately, as of Decemeber 7th 2018, the Kickstarter campaign has been cancelled as it did not reach its goal. Vamoose Co. have released a statement via the Kickstarter page saying that the Health Inspector shut down Scoffton. If you think this is unfair, contact Vamoose Co. to find our how to can help right this injustice.
Jokes aside, an unreleased game which no one has been able to purchase or play yet should not have been nominated as game of the year. This demonstrates an oversight on the AGAs behalf and the need for quality control improvements.
2. Journalist of the Year nominee accused of plagiarism
Journalist of the Year nominee, Derek ‘Dez’ Maggs, has been accused of plagiarising his articles. At the time of this article’s publication, Maggs has not responded to these allegations but the AGAs have via Twitter. It is understood that Maggs has stepped down from this nomination in light of this information surfacing.
Again, this is an issue of quality control. All of the nominees should have been vetted by the AGAs before being announced as nominees. The AGAs aim to be the biggest nationwide award ceremony for the gaming industry and the winners of each category are supposed to be yardsticks by which Australian gaming content is judged. As such, the AGAs have a responsibility to ensure that the nominees and potential winners of their awards do not discredit the industry.
3. Implications for Gaming Publication of the Year category
At the time of this publication, Maggs writes for goto.game. Following the accusations of plagiarism, another goto.game writer, Emma Lo Russo, has defended Maggs’ actions by stating ‘the accusations of plagiarism conveniently miss making the point that this is standard practice by many journalists around the world’. Writers can refer to other publications but should reference their sources. This is called ‘citing your sources’ and is common practice in this industry. Universities commonly use turnitin software to detect plagiarism in students’ work and uphold the integrity of academic writing. Perhaps the journalism industry should consider utilising turnitin as well.
Earlier this year, an IGN writer was found guilty of plagiarism and criticised for harming the legitimacy of the industry. IGN conducted an investigation and parted ways with the writer in question. This response demonstrates that plagiarism is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. It also demonstrates that the decision makers at IGN promote integrity within their organisation.
This has implications for the AGAs because goto.games is nominated for Gaming Publication of the year. If they win, it will call Australian Gaming Journalism into disrepute and raise serious concerns about ethics and integrity in this industry.
3. Uneven competition
The nature of the categories sees international AAA games competing against independent Australian titles. For example, Storm Boy: The Game is competing with Fortnite for Mobile/Handheld Title of the Year. Storm Boy: The Game is developed by independent Australian company, Blowfish Studios while Fornite is an international title from Epic Games which has 700 employees and could be worth as much as AUD $8 billion according to James Batchelor at Games Indusrty Biz. Epic Games has the resources to market its game more aggressively to a wider audience than Blowfish Studios. This is not a fair competition and is akin to matching a Strawweight fighter to a Heavyweight figher. Despite each fighter’s best efforts, one of them has an inherit advantage which skews the odds in their favour. This is not fair competition and limits the potential of the Australian Games Awards to promote Australian talent.
The AGAs will be held tomorrow at 8pm AEDT and will be streamed on Twitch. Gamers Classified will be in attendance and we will bring you live coverage throughout the night across Twitter and Instagram.