Special recognition 2017

There’s a first time for everything.

Michael Koretzky, creator and previous director of the Kunkel Awards, submitted his first-ever entry to the Excellence in Feature Writing category. It was on behalf of a journalist he felt went above and beyond. And Koretzky inadvertently disqualified himself.

The series — “Cuba: Where underground arcades, secret networks and piracy are a way of life” by Brian Crecente and Polygon — is a 12-parter covering various aspects of video gaming in Cuba.

“I’m glad I’m not the Kunkel director, so I can nominate [this series] – because it’s the most ambitious series I’ve read since being reluctantly sucked into the gaming journalism world,” he wrote in his submission. “I realize it’s controversial to award first place to a series of stories when the rules don’t say you can, but the Kunkels are nothing if not controversial.”

Unfortunately for him, he’s right; the rules say you can’t submit a series that long. Since our maximum entries per series is three (a rule he wrote himself), his entry was booted from winning the category.

Putting Koretzky’s foible aside, the judges just couldn’t overlook the series’ enterprise.

“How do we not recognize this? This entire series really is what more of the industry should be striving to do,” said one anonymous judge. “It’s exploratory, it’s well written, it’s detailed and genuine. It really hones in on that piece of gaming’s culture, and I’m so here for it. This one has the best discussion of that culture.”

So, they proposed we award the Cuba series separately from any category — but not without jabbing at Koretzky’s expense.

“Koretzky in his arrogance disqualified his own entry on a category he created,” out judge Gideon Grudo joked.

“I’d call it hubris,” another judge quipped.

Grudo seconded that motion: “I agree. My hope is we disqualify without hesitation, and we consider it for a series award. It’s an outstanding package.”

So here it is: The Kunkels are awarding “Cuba: Where underground arcades, secret networks and piracy are a way of life” the Special Recognition award for 2017. Congratulations to Brian Crecente and Polygon.

Will this award manifest itself as a recurring category? I can’t say for sure yet, but one thing is clear: The judges genuinely believe this series is more than deserving of an award.


And with that, the winners for this year’s Kunkel Awards have all been revealed. I wanted to give a warm thank you to everyone who stuck around til the end of my first year as director. Don’t forget to save your favorite video game journalism this year to submit to next year’s awards!

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