For the past few years, at the end of the year we’ve awarded the “Blogger of the Year” title to a writer who has inspired and impressed us. This year, we decided to do things a little differently.
Instead of nestling the award at the end of the very long year-end roundup, we’re giving dedicated space to honoring our award winners. As a result, we’re skipping Blogger of the Year 2016, and moving straight onto the Critical Distance Awards 2017 – and we’re recognizing achievements in three categories, instead of just one.
Journalist of the Year | Heather Alexandra
In the words of one panel member, seeing Heather’s journey from hard-working freelancer to Kotaku journalist has been amazing. The support for Heather from our nominations panel was overwhelming. She has expressed her informed views on games in a wide variety of media forms, from blog posts to feature articles to videos and podcasts. Heather’s skill, insight, and voice have contributed immensely to the field, and it’s a delight to be able to honor her work here.
- Flow – Minicrit – YouTube
Alexandra delves into the zen-like state of game engagement
- im null – The Arcade Review
This article uncovers the nihilism and mystery of an unusual title.
- An Important Part Of Video Games Happens Offscreen, In Our Imaginations
A remarkable discussion of ellipsis in game narrative.
Video Essayist of the Year | Chris Franklin
The video essay is on the cusp of a renaissance at the moment, and in many ways its language is still being worked out by those working furtively at its frontiers. Franklin’s Youtube channel Errant Signal is something special. It combines excellence in both form and content, with succinct videos that make clear arguments and are always a joy to watch. Without his contributions, video-format games criticism would look very different today.
- Errant Signal – Dark Souls III Pt 2 (Boss/Story Spoilers) – YouTube
A collection of short and sweet essays on Dark Souls III
- Errant Signal – DOOM 2016 – YouTube
Looks at how DOOM creates a sense of pace and power without reiterating the same well-trodden mechanics as the original game.
- Mafia 3 (Spoilers) – YouTube
Franklin gives an overview of Mafia III’s approach to historical storytelling.
Blogger of the Year | Miguel Penabella
Miguel Penabella’s work is multidisciplinary, informed by discourses about art, cinema, and literature. As I have looked back over his work during 2016, it hit home how skilfully Penabella builds on particular themes across different pieces of writing, without making any single article less comprehensible on its own terms. It’s this delicate balance between seriality and singularity that makes blogging a difficult medium to work in at times, and Penabella appears to navigate it with ease.
- In praise of travelling slowly in Shadow of the Colossus – Thumbsticks
Penabella discusses not just the slow pace of movement, but its specific impact in the carefully-honed contexts of specific emotional moments.
- Opened World: Nowhere Fast – Haywire Magazine
Three Fourths Home is discussed in conversation with other recent games that make expressive use of American landscapes and nature.
- opened world: queerness & movement – haywire magazine
A queer reading of a game about cars, bringing in notions of passing as examined in LIM and in Bonnie Ruberg’s reading of Octodad.
The Critical Distance Awards were decided by a panel of judges made up of Critical Distance contributors and award winners from previous years. Judges were instructed not to vote in a category if they had a financial conflict of interest with any of the nominees. Current Critical Distance contributors were not considered.