Comment & Opinion

Fear and chocolate: How it feels to judge a Big Indie Pitch

From the eyes of a first-timer

Fear and chocolate: How it feels to judge a Big Indie Pitch

A by-product of writing about games for a living is that people will often ask your opinion on them.

"What do you think about this new game?" people will say, as you fumble to come up with a coherent thought about a game which, in my case, you probably have not and will never play.

This is fine in the context of a chat at the pub or wherever it is human beings interact these days, but in a professional setting, such as when you're a judge at an indie video game competition, the task becomes that bit more daunting.

In the deep end

I am a young writer, both in age and time spent in the industry.

My opinion does not currently carry much weight. There are not scores of people waiting to rip me to shreds for saying I didn't like a big release.

So when I sat down to judge the Big Indie Pitch at Apps World London, armed with an orange pen, an iPad to lean on, and a box of chocolate Heroes to ease everyone's nerves, I very nearly had a panic attack.

The people asking your opinion are not your mates after a couple of pints. They're the people making the game. You are literally holding their livelihood in your hands. That's scary.

Ric in action at the Big Indie Pitch

You're there with a press pass wrapped around your neck, scribbling notes they can't see. They probably have no idea who you are. But the assumption is that you are an expert of some kind.

Having only been a professional writer for six weeks, it was hard to think of myself as an expert.

Having only been a professional writer for six weeks, it was hard to think of myself as an expert. It was harder still to consider that what I said could affect the direction a game takes.

What if you can't find anything to like? Can you honestly look a young developer in the eye and tell them that their game is no good?


Writing a review is easy, in this regard. You can sit behind a screen and spit acid until you've reduced the product into a collection of volatile metaphors. To do the same while the creator is sat across from you is not an enticing prospect.

I was lucky. The games on show, while largely rough around the edges due to still being in the early stages of development, all had positive aspects to talk about.

And my fellow judges, all of whom I had met for the first time that day, were lovely, offering a few helpful tips and generally helping to keep me calm as I dove headfirst into being an "expert".

(As an aside, my top three games of the event eventually went on to be the top three overall, which goes some way to validating my opinions.)

I would definitely do it again.

I always relish the opportunity to play interesting titles before most people have even heard about them, and it's always fun to meet the people behind them and put a person to the game, rather than just a company name.

That said, I might reconsider bringing a box of chocolates next time. Especially if there's going to be a camera watching me work my way through them.

The next BIP event will be the Very Big Indie Pitch at Pocket Gamer Connects London 2016.

There's a vBIP for mobile games and another track for VR.

You can sign up for both of them here.

And as part of the deal, short-listed developers will get two tickets to Pocket Gamer Connects 2016.


Ric is the Editor of, having started out as a Staff Writer on the site back in 2015. He received an honourable mention in both the MCV and Develop 30 Under 30 lists in 2016 and refuses to let anyone forget about it.