The Critical Distance Awards 2017

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.

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.

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.


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.

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