Indie developer Mike Bithell responds to a Develop story on the number of UK IGF nominations and why it doesn't matter where indies come from, live, or have their laptops plugged in

IGF, and why it doesn’t matter where the nominees come from

IGF, and why it really doesn’t matter where the nominees came from, live, or have their laptops plugged in

I like to read the internet when I’m meant to be working. I like to get pointlessly irritated, and use words like ‘silly’ and ‘daft’ about things on twitter. Well, today on Develop, I saw something that made me spit out my tea in disgust. It got all over my Union Jack mousepad.

It was this: Poor showing for UK indies as US dominates IGF awards

Because five less UK developed indie games were nominated for IGF this year, we are falling behind. We are being outperformed by US indies. I think that’s a silly argument to make, and Develop have been kind enough to let me step on here and whine about it to you, the casually browsing reader.

I’m going to put aside the obvious criticisms to throw at the numbers here (games are made by multiple people of different countries, games take more than 12 months to make, entry is elective, Terry is Irish) and focus on the core argument.. that we’re competing on a national basis.

We’re not. And that’s sort of the point of the IGF. My game was competing against the hundreds of other people like me, audacious enough to make games without publishers. I wasn’t doing it for my country. I leave that to sports people and Piers Morgan.

Indies rock, we are a diverse, weird, cool group. There are white nerdy straight guys like me, but we’re kinda not as big a deal here. It’s a big melting pot of naivety and genius in equal measure. Making arbitrary statements about which country is winning gets our backs up because that’s the old way, that’s a world of venture capitalists and annual reports.

We’re way more interested in the games.

We’d much rather celebrate those of us who are doing interesting and cool things, wherever they’re from. That’s why we like the IGF list. I’ll be honest, I’ve played less than half of them, which makes it way cooler than any of the wall of ‘best of 2012’ lists I’ve waded through in the last month, hoping to see a rectangle based platformer. I can’t wait to work my way through the games that are nominated.

But there’s more. The IGF is a sampling, a taster menu to share with the world at large. There were hundreds of cool games out last year, many of them happened to be made on this landmass, many weren’t.

I’d humbly suggest you stop reading my nonsense and go play one.

Mike Bithell currently works as lead designer at Bossa Studios, and also developed indie puzzle-platformer Thomas Was Alone, which was twice named as an honourable mention in the IGF nominees list for excellence in audio and visual art.

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