The Lizzies are the Australian IT Journalism awards, presumably named after the fact that the first ever journalist to cover the information technology industry in Australia was a lizard who made a nest in a ‘press’ hat and hissed angrily until it was given an employment contract. I refuse to investigate further.
The point is that video games are included under “IT Journalism”, and so every year, Australia’s increasingly-precariously-employed videogames journalists make their way to Luna Park to enjoy an open bar with the secondary thrill of finding out who gets to take home a trophy.
It rules to get nominated for the Lizzies. They are, even with all the criticisms I’m about to write, the most exciting and prestigious award for games writing in Australia. It’s a thrill to see your name up there and to feel like your talented and hard working peers think you’re hot shit.
But despite all that, the Lizzies kind of suck. Here’s why, and how to fix them.
Games are treated as an afterthought
Everyone seems to have a different opinion on what the Lizzies are “for”, but let’s be real for a second and admit that the Lizzies are a big networking party for people in the tech PR and marketing industries. That’s the bottom line. Anything else is a bonus.
The corollary of this is that even if the Lizzies do, by chance, happen to function as a useful award ceremony, or a way to notice up and coming talent, video games writing inevitably feels very ‘tacked on’ because the primary objective of the evening is to secure sponsorship budgets and promotional placements for printers or whatever.
If you don’t like that description then take it up with capitalism. I don’t make the rules.
Last year, video games categories made up two (2) of the twenty-three (23) categories at the Awards. That clearly sucks, and it’s obviously unreasonable to suggest that two (2) categories can comprehensively cover all of the people in the videogames writing scene in a fair way – yet that’s how it’s been for years and there’s no sign of changing.
We need more categories
The lack of entry options means that video games writers from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives are thrown into the same pool and expected to compete for the same couple of awards, which makes no sense.
It is clear that a videogames writer working in a freelance capacity doesn’t have the same resources, time or security as someone who is permanently employed. It would be unreasonable to expect them to compete with someone who receives a full time salary and clearly has more bandwidth to put out the kind of things that win awards.
Most of the people working in PR and marketing – again, it is worth stressing so we keep the context in mind, the vast majority of people whom The Lizzies are intended for – are full-time employed and earning much better money than video games writers, because our industry sucks shit and blows ass. This is a problem unique to the videogames space here.
To recognise this, the ‘Best Gaming Journalist’ category should be split into two distinct categories: ‘Freelance’ and ‘Full Time’.
Additionally, ‘Best Gaming Outlet’ should be split into ‘Corporate’ and ‘Indie’, to recognise the fact that a small underdog website like Player2.net.au is not competing on the same level as fucking IGN, for fuck’s sake.
The current categories need to be broadened
The overwhelming bulk of video games writing in Australia is reviews. Yet for some reason, reviews are not counted as journalism for the Lizzies and cannot be submitted for the ‘Best Gaming Journalist’ category.
This is fundamentally stupid in an industry where reviews make up – at a conservative estimate – 75% or more of all long-form videogame writing content. The Lizzies are for people in PR and Marketing, so it’s easy to see why they wanted it this way, but it’s also absurd and needs to change. #joab2020
Winners should sit out for a year
My good friend Mark Serrels who is cursed by an ancient and powerful lich to win the Best Games Journalist Award until Azathoth eats the very sun will probably take issue with this, but if I had carte blanche on the Lizzies I would prevent winners in one year from entering again the next year.
Is it because I am a huge asshole who is jealous that he only gets ‘Highly Commended’ year after year and has never actually won? Yes it is partly that, but mostly because the shrinking pool of paid video games writing in Australia means that a smaller and smaller amount of high-profile, securely-employed people are concentrated into the one category.
This is a problem for the long-term health of the Lizzies -and the videogames writing profession as a whole – and the solution is to forcibly rotate winners in and out, whether they are individuals or companies. You can still come along for the open bar obviously.
If you make money from your site but you don’t pay your writers you should not be allowed to enter the awards
You fucking heard me.