by the Head of the Jury (to be revealed later)
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While I am writing these words, the city is filled with people in fancy clothes, eating typical Carnival sweets and throwing pieces of paper all over the walkway. In the merry winter period that separates New Year's Eve from Easter, while most of the scene people are either finishing their Christmas leftovers, enjoying the new video card they got as a present, or working hard to possibly get their entries done for Breakpoint, some other sceners enjoy themselves re-watching all the previous year's highlights in order to pick candidates, nominees and winners for the Scene.org Awards.
At the time of writing, I have no clue about this year's nominees. They'll be selected right before ZINE 13 will see the light of day, so I'll provide you with some insights on how the whole jury process sort of works.
Phase 0 - Choosing the Jury
As part of the Scene.org staff, there's a team of people committed to setting up the Awards every year. They take care of every detail, from getting the statues done and delivered, to printing out diplomas, and arranging the sponsorships to pay for all the expenses. But I won't go there, since what concerns me, as the head of the jury for 2007, is to get the jury up and voting.
The first thing on my list is to find jury members. The previous year's jury list works as a starting point; first, a few members have to be removed, for a number of reasons. Those include being very inactive during the previous jury, or having lost interest or commitment. Additionally, we decided to refresh the jury by not calling back people who had been in since the very first edition of the awards. Once last year's list has been pruned, it's time to select new members. The main idea behind the jury selection is picking a recognized, experienced demoscener, trying to cover each country, each skill category (so that we have enough graphicians, coders and musicians) and, possibly, as many demo platforms as possible.
"The critical point is to not let any
good release slip off the radar."
Phase 1 - Picking the candidates
This is an easy one, and it consists of putting together a list of relevant releases, for both the public and the jury to consider, so they can pick the nominees and the award winners. The critical point is to not let any good release slip off the radar, which might happen with entries that were released at minor parties, or that run on exotic hardware. To make the process even more solid (the jury is generally expert enough not to miss the good stuff) a "public candidates" selection process has been implemented on Pouet, allowing Pouet users to choose entries they would like the jury to include in their list of candidates. When the list is done, it's time to buy popcorn and beer.
Phase 2 - Picking the nominees
This is the hard part, when the jury has to watch all selected entries in order to pick "The Big Five" which are going to be nominated as viable winners in each category. Since the people selected for the jury are sceners with great skills and experience, conflicts of interest may happen because of their releases being candidates. In order to keep the process clean, jury members are not allowed to vote for their group's releases (just in case you were wondering). The Condorcet vote-counting method takes care of the other possible anomalies. Usually, some discussions pop up on the jury mailing list, concerning various issues.
"The people selected for the jury
are sceners with great skills
Typical topics included this year:
- Debris vs Lifeforce
- Speculations on the total lack of groundbreaking 64 kB entries as opposed to the bucketload of outstanding 4 kB releases
- Ferner being strongly hyped by the general public
- Which entries really belong to the "best effects" category or rather to "best direction" (this included another discussion on Debris)
- Groups having their breakthrough performance or just revamping old scene farts under yet another group name (yes, you two Finnish fatasses too)
- People on Pouët not getting the point, and nominating entries in absolutely non-matching categories (like Suicide Barbie and Lifeforce ending up in the candidate list for "best animation", thus requiring manual filtering by the head of the jury). This was a bit upsetting, because everybody thought that the Pouët tool was a good way to take better consideration of sceners' opinions, while in the end it resulted in people nominating Debris and Lifeforce in almost every possible category.
- Jury members flaming each other for various reasons. This is the fun part, actually.
So, after this painful process, nominees are picked for the scene at large to complain about, and start endless discussion threads on how the Demoscene is dead, boring or controlled by a certain nordic conspiracy. So go through the list, now!
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