Archive for the ‘when’ Category

Over, not out

It took 39 years for a sportswriter to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Those most prestigious journalism awards began in 1917. But it wasn’t till 1956 that a sports columnist won. I hope it doesn’t take four decades for a videogame journalist to win a Pulitzer.

It took only five years of Kunkel Awards for “traditional” journalists to recognize the importance of videogame journalism. You can see it reflected in our final class of winners. Last year, The Washington Post hired a pair of beat reporters to cover videogames, and they’ve cleaned up this year, taking five awards.

Other winners were The Atlantic and New York Times Magazine. Videogames has long been mainstream, but it’s good to see journalism finally catching up.

Starting next year, SPJ’s Mark of Excellence Awards will introduce a videogame category as an experiment. If that works, it’ll likely spread to other contests, because journalists are conservative and uncreative when it comes to their own craft.

It was a real struggle five years ago just to convince SPJ to let me run these awards without any help from them. Now they’re adding videogames to one of their major awards program. If that keeps happening, who needs the Kunkels?

So that’s it. I hope when a videogame journalist finally wins a Pulitzer, someone will ask the trivia question, “Who won the first-ever award for videogame journalism?” Maybe they’ll google it and end up here.

Extending an invitation

You have another week to enter.

Contests and concerts have something in common: They both embrace encores. Which is stupid. If there’s always an encore, and everyone knows it’s coming, why not stay onstage and just keep playing?

Journalism contests work the same way.

Damn near every one of them will extend their deadlines at least a week. It’s so common, the Kunkels don’t bother to fight the silly traditional.

Our original deadline was 11:59:59 pm tonight. Now you have seven more days to enter. And remember, it’s free, easy, and (if you want) anonymous.

Nominate your favorite gaming stories and videos of 2018

The awards you love to hate

The fourth annual Kunkel Awards have just begun, and you’re our only hope.

Unlike all other journalism contests, the Kunkels are free to enter – and you can enter as often as you want.

That’s because the Kunkels are a bastardized People’s Choice award. Anyone can nominate a story or video in any category. You don’t need to be the author, just an admirer. From there, three pro journalists will argue amongst themselves – and they do argue – before choosing the winners.

On this blog, we document the judges’ debates in excruciating detail. No other contest does that. Which is too bad, because I’d love to read about the Pulitzer committee lobbing a few “fuck you’s” at each other. Or maybe that only happens here.

Anyway, in the interest of continuity and harmony, we’re keeping all the same categories from last year, when I abdicated my role as Kunkel director and appointed Brittany Ferrendi, who wisely decided a second year at the helm was a lot like a crystal meth relapse – you don’t need to do it twice, because the rush is halved and the pain is doubled.

Like or hate ’em, the Kunkels are the only video game journalism awards in the entire galaxy. So join us, and complete your journalism training. Nominations close at 11:59:59 pm on February 4.

Nominate your favorite gaming stories and videos of 2018

College gaming journalism 2016

Harvard is stupid.

Two of the 21 entries for Excellence in College Gaming Journalism came from The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper at the richest school in the nation. Harvard has a $33 billion endowment – more than the GDP of Albania. But when it comes to reporting on video games, it’s bankrupt.

One pompous entry began like this…

What do Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, and a cultural artifact from the late 2000s have in common? An invocation of the unconditional duty to love? A paradoxical relationship to rationality? A nuanced position on present day hostility to the reincarnation of Christ? An understanding of the unique location of the demonic within the human psyche – a defiance of freedom to avoid integrated selfhood? The answer, of course, is all of the above.

…which is really about an Xbox game called Nazi Zombies.

The second entry? It’s a news story about Harvard students getting kicked out of a tournament for cheating. Sounds awesome and embarrassing. But as one judge noted, “It doesn’t give me any dates on when the cheating, the disqualification, or the announcement thereof occurred, which is super weird.”

Did it happen the day before? Or a month earlier? How can an entire newspaper staff at such a prestigious institution forget the when in who, what, where, when, why, and how?

Remarked another judge: “Well, whoever wins gets to say they beat out Harvard by a country mile.”

What this really proves is that good gaming journalism is grueling – no matter what your IQ and privilege. That probably explains why the winner in this first-ever Kunkel category works both for her student and local newspaper, covering games and tech for both. Because practice might not make perfect, but it does mean beating the crap out of Harvard showoffs and slackers.

Both barrels

Our shotgun approach.

The second time around is usually a yawn compared to the first.

Who walked on the moon after Neil Armstrong? Who was the second black Major League ballplayer after Jackie Robinson? Hell, who was president after George Washington?

So as quietly controversial as the inaugural Kunkel Awards were, we expected half of the 291 entries from our first year.

But with three days to go in our second effort, we’ve collected 221. Best of all, we’ve noticed entries coming directly from writers and editors at publications ranging from national (Vice) to niche (Polygon) to local (Naples Herald). Last year, nearly all the entries came from readers.

So maybe we’re doing something right. Slowly, but right.

Nominate your favorite gaming stories and videos of 2016


That’s a wrap


Now comes the hard part.

Nominations for the Kunkel Awards closed Friday at midnight. Thank God. We received a whopping 291 entries that cover all five categories.

Starting today, three SPJ judges start reading, watching, and rating them all. We expect that to take 4-6 weeks of their spare time.

About halfway through that arduous process, we’ll release the judges’ Top 10 in each category. Before they choose three finalists, those judges will review public comments, looking for factual errors they may have missed in their own research. (Yup, we’re crowdsourcing our fact-checking.)

Just so you know how judging usually works for any contest…

It’s real easy to cut down to the Top 10, because so many entries simply don’t measure up. But it takes twice as long to cut from 10 to three, and twice as long as that to settle on the winner. Why? Because the differences between stellar entries get smaller and smaller.

So the hard part is also the fun part.

A timely mistake


We weren’t even close.

Valentine’s Day is the deadline for Kunkel Award nominations. Or it was.

We’re moving that up, and it’s your fault.

We’ve received 118 nominations representing 36 websites and webcasters, and it’s not even December yet. That’s way more than we expected, and there’s still a month to go. (All entries must be posted in 2015.)

So the new deadline to nominate a story or stream is 11:59:59 p.m. Friday, January 15. That’ll give our oppressed judges – all of them professional SPJ members but also all volunteers – more time to scrutinize the heavy load.

Originally, we thought we’d need till Valentine’s Day to beg the gaming public for nominations, and if we got 50, we’d be pleased with our first-year effort. We got double that after one week.

So it seems our projections were off by three months and 100 percent.

Want to make life even harder for our judges? Nominate more entries by filling out this form. It’s free and even anonymous if you want it to be.


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