High five

Enter now, for the last time.

These are the final Kunkel Awards. After five years, our failure has succeeded.

Gaming journalists never embraced these awards. One three-time winner publicly insulted us, tweeting that we’re “a despicable joke.” We enjoyed that, since the Kunkels are the rare contest that asks judges to be brutally honest.

(Still, those judges killed my favorite category, Worst Story of the Year, because gaming journalists were outraged by their withering comments. My favorite: “I’m not sure WTF this is, but it’s not good or funny or useful or journalism.”)

Gaming readers and viewers were friendlier, but we never got more than 400 submissions, despite being free to enter. But at least we failed the right way.

We started the Kunkels because we couldn’t convince more prestigious (and normal) journalism awards to include categories for videogames – not even the Society of Professional Journalists, where I was a longtime member of the board of directors. But I whined enough that my peers grudgingly let us create the Kunkels in 2015. At the time, they wanted nothing to do with it. Now they do.

After watching the Kunkels survive despite of my leadership, and after seeing The Washington Post hire a pair of videogame reporters last year, SPJ has decided to introduce videogame categories next year. I’ve also approached college journalism contests about doing the same.

So like I said, a wonderful failure.


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