Well, well, well.
The nominations for the 2006 Academy Of Machinima Arts & Sciences Awards (The Mackies) are out, and they're ... well, nobody could have predicted the choices, let's put it that way.
The thing about it is, it just doesn't seem a representative sample to me. I don't know what the selection process is for the nomination choices, or even who is responsible for making the decision. I'd love to find out. The purpose of a nominated shortlist, surely, is to make the final decision of the judges easier. The list of nominations should be a list of all the entrants that could viably be considered as contenders for the category title. If a piece is potentially good enough to win, it should be nominated, simple as that. If the nomination process serves as a first-contact filter for entries - if there is anything but the minimum subjective judgement imposed at the nomination stage in other words - then the role of the actual judges becomes rather defunct.
I'll repeat: I don't know the intricacies of the nomination process. I'm not trying to imply that Paul Marino and the rest of the Academy have deliberately not shortlisted those pieces that they personally dislike. I have to admit, though, that I'm baffled and downright angry about this year's shortlist. Partially, I'm confused as to the inclusion of some of the entries, but what's really bothering me is the omisions. There are some pieces (and some people) who really deserve to be on that list, and aren't (or don't feature nearly heavily enough). This isn't just sour grapes from me (although I do think that BloodSpell deserved nominations in more categories that the two we got). Lots of people seem equally upset about this.
If you want an example of the seemingly arbitrary pick-it-out-of-a-hat system of nominations, consider this fact : Phil "Overman" Rice hasn't got a single nomination in the Best Sound Design category. Not one. As far as I'm concerned, Best Sound Design this year should be renamed The Phil Rice Appreciation Award. The Academy should just list all the movies that Phil's done sound for, and ask him which one he wants to win with. There are lots of other people in the machinima community doing great things with sound, but I'm sorry guys ... Phil Rice can kick all your asses before he has breakfast.
Gaming News With Lady Mainframe has been totally snubed as well. A Best Series contender, surely? I love that show, I really do. I think it's one of the best things being done in machinima right now. Doc Nemesis and Binary Picture Show are doing fantastic, consistently professional work on GN, and they deserve to be rewarded for it, with a nomination if not an award.
Several high-profile machinima teams are, shall we say, slightly upset at this year's nomination choices. There have even been accusations of an out-and-out fix.
Like I say, I don't know the full story here. Maybe some of these aren't omisions - maybe they didn't submit. That's their own stupid fault, in that case. But if they did submit (and I know for a fact that some of the pieces I've mentioned most certainly did), then we have to ask the question: what's going on? Is this a fair selection process? Maybe we should be asking for more transparency in the nomination process. Or maybe the Mackies aren't the ultimate accolades that we once thought they were.
This post is personal opinion only, and should in no way be taken to represent the views or opinions of Strange Company Ltd.