BAFTAs, Freud tells TechEye to get stuffed

This is our coverage of the videogame BAFTAs, happening right now – in fact, A-listers Ant and Dec should have just made it past the red carpet at time of typing. I’m not there anymore though, and no, I’m not throwing my toys out of the pram. Here’s why:

First, let me intro by saying I have absolutely no prejudice against PR professionals. There are many, many excellent people in the industry, a lot of whom are under tremendous pressure from bosses and clients to deliver coverage that can very rarely be actually promised. I did PR for a little while, and it’s hard. But that is no excuse to be outright rude.

I was very much looking forward to the Game BAFTA awards tonight – a lot of really talented developers were going to be there, with a swanky dinner planned and an opportunity for networking, drinks, good times and of course, a story. I arrived at 3.45 or so, as requested, to grab my badge. Immediately I was told by the lady at the desk, nothing’s happening for a couple of hours so you might as well go to the bar. So I head to the expensive bar at the Park Lane Hitlon where it’s 4.50 per tiny bottle of beer and wait patiently for a couple of hours.

I get a phone call at about 5.15pm from the PR lass I’d been talking to over the past couple of weeks asking me to come down to the red carpet, which I do. I’m then told that I’m to meet and greet and ask questions to guests as they arrive. Nothing about this was relayed to me. I’m a writer, not a doorman. But don’t I have any questions to ask? said the PR. Well, yes, but I’d rather ask them on my own time rather than pressured into last minute impromptu interviews.

I was told that I COULDN’T leave because everything had been “authorised” and “locked down.” I was patronised and asked what I was expecting in a very sarcastic tone. Well, I didn’t really know: I’ve been to conferences before, and I’ve been to red carpet events before both as a guest and as a journalist, but I’ve never been to the BAFTAs before. The other journalist who was there and penned in, right in front of the red carpet entrance, was from The Guardian. He told me he had no idea what was going on either.

After continued pressure to stay eventually the PR girl told me that I didn’t have to ask any questions if I didn’t want to. That wasn’t really even the issue in the first place, but hey, thanks. If I’m to stand there, and not ask any questions, what am I there for? Is it to make the client look good because there are journalists where there are supposed to be journalists? To this I was told I “didn’t have to be so aggressive.”

I’m about 5’9, skinny and I look about ten years old. I’m not capable of intimidation and certainly I pride myself on being generally quite personable and polite. I asked if I should just come back later, and was told in these exact words, that I “Wouldn’t be needed until 8.30 PM.”

That means I arrived at quarter to 4, waited patiently, only to be told to come back at 8.30 PM. Clearly some real communication issues here.

This post is not an attack on the BAFTAs, it is a factual piece about the rude, misinforming and inept PR staff who were supposed to handle it. I’m glad not to have been “needed” and I’m glad to have gone home.

The Game BAFTAs are a really great thing. It’s important that we push forward the massively growing gaming industry and encourage and reward it. That’s why we’ll still post the winners when they are announced.

It’s just a shame, I feel, that as someone who was looking forward to covering the event, I got the kind of treatment that the PR girls wouldn’t have even thought of giving to PJ and Duncan. That’s Ant and Dec, by the way.

EyeSee: The company in question is Freud Communications. On the website, under ‘our beliefs,’ it says “Sometimes we upset people… We get frustrated by our industry’s reputation.” So do something about it, Freud.


Update: Straight from Freud… “UNCHARTED 2: AMONG THIEVES took home four BAFTAs from tonight’s GAME British Academy Video Games Awards at the London Hilton. The blockbusting third person action adventure won in the Action, Story, Original Score and Use of Audio categories

The atmospheric and immersive BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM brought the hugely popular DC Comics superhero to life and duly took away the award for Gameplay along with the coveted Best Game BAFTA.

The public-voted GAME Award of 2009 was presented to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the first-person shooter released in November which recently became Britain’s second best-selling game ever.

The team behind FIFA 10 were rewarded with two BAFTAs for their innovation and evolution of the franchise; taking away the awards for Sports and Use of Online. The series had previously won the Sports category with the FIFA 2004 edition.

LITTLEBIGPLANET won the BAFTA for Handheld, the PS3 version of the game won the award for Artistic Achievement at last year’s ceremony. LEFT 4 DEAD 2 won the award for Multiplayer, making this the second year running that the series has won in this category.

The visually stunning FLOWER won this year’s Artistic Achievement BAFTA. Lauded by the jury as a ‘triumph… that could only ever exist in the interactive medium’, the game takes players on a swooping journey through beautiful, dreamlike landscapes.
WII SPORTS RESORT won the BAFTA for Family and Social. The original Wii Sports game won six awards at the 2007 awards. EMPIRE: TOTAL WAR, an epic, expansive and innovative progression of the popular real-time strategy series, triumphed in the Strategy category.

The climax of the evening saw Ant and Dec present SHIGERU MIYAMOTO, the creative force behind some of the world’s most popular and enduring video games, with the Academy’s highest accolade, the Fellowship. Accepting the award, Miyamoto-san heralded the burgeoning importance of video games as a mainstream entertainment medium and also spoke of the joy he takes in creating gaming experiences for people of all ages, saying that “Our imaginations and creativity … should be the only limits and that is what makes our industry a joy and a dream to work in.”

As well as recognising those at the peak of their talent, this year’s ceremony also shone the spotlight on three teams of designers just starting to make their names in the gaming world. Three groups of students and recent graduates who had each designed a new game prototype contested this year’s 2009 BAFTA Ones to Watch Award in association with Dare to be Digital. The award was presented to SHRUNK!, designed by The Butterflyers.”