New Statesman bloggers nominated for Games Media Awards

Helen Lewis and Phil Hartup shortlisted.

New Statesman videogame writers Helen Lewis and Phil Hartup have been nominated in the Games Media Awards.

Lewis is shortlisted for mainstream magazine writer of the year, and Hartup in the blogs category for Killing Time, where he has written about being embedded in Eve Online, the secret of scary games, and asked: what if you feel sorry for the people you're shooting?

New Statesman contributors Simon Parkin and Cara Ellison have also been nominated. You can read Parkin's essay on game violence and Ellison's satirical "There's No Sexism in Gaming" on the New Statesman site by following the links.

Lewis said: "People thought it was weird when they first started noticing articles about videogames in the New Statesman. But we treat television, film and theatre as serious cultural subjects, so why not games? It's been a pleasure to publish so many talented writers over the last year, in a range of styles. The best videogame writing is up there with anything else other genres produce. Phil's blog has been a huge success for us and his articles are regularly among our most-read. It shows there's an appetite for funny, incisive, intelligent commentary on games, even if the games themselves are sometimes quite silly."

The winners will be announced on 10 October. Here are the nominations in full:

 

SPECIALIST WRITER – PRINT

Michael Gapper, Edge

Rich McCormick, PC Gamer

Gillen McAlllister, Gamereactor

Matthew Castle, ONM

Jason Killingsworth, Edge

Joel Gregory, OPM

 

SPECIALIST WRITER – ONLINE

Christian Donlan, Eurogamer

Jon Blyth, OXM

Keza MacDonald, IGN

Simon Parkin, Eurogamer

Andy Kelly, CVG

Steve Hogarty, PCGamesN

Rob Crossley, CVG

Oli Welsh, Eurogamer

 

NATIONAL NEWSPAPER WRITER

Matt Kamen, The Observer

Keith Stuart, The Guardian

David Jenkins, Metro

Lee Price, The Sun

Dan Silver, Sunday Mirror

Talal Musa, Daily Mail

 

GAMES MAGAZINE

PC Gamer

Edge

GamesTM

Xbox 360: The Official Xbox Magazine

Gamereactor

Retro Gamer

 

MAINSTREAM MAGAZINE WRITER

Rory Buckeridge, Nuts

Julia Hardy, Front

Matt Hill, T3

Daniel Nye Griffiths, Wired

Simon Ward, Zoo

Helen Lewis, New Statesman

Jonathan Pile, Shortlist

 

GAMES WEBSITE

IGN

Eurogamer

Videogamer

Rock Paper Shotgun

Pocketgamer

CVG

PCGamesN

VG247

 

GAMES BLOG

Midnight Resistance

Killing Time

Ready Up

Fifasoccerblog.com

Average Gamer

The Game Jar

 

GAMES VIDEO

OXM Breakdown

Videogamer TV

The Blurb

Feedbackula, Gamespot

PlayStation Access

SB.TV

Yogscast

 

GAMES RADIO/PODCAST

Adam Rosser, Radio Five Live

Guy Cocker’s Podcast

This is my Joystick

IGN UK Podcast

Gamespot UK Podcast

OneLifeLeft

 

COVERAGE BY A MAINSTREAM WEBSITE

Askmen

Digital Spy

BT Games

Sci-fi London.com

Sabotage Times

Huffington Post

 

RISING STAR

Daniel Krupa, IGN

Bex May, AskMen

Sam White, Future

Vaughn Highfield, Pocket Gamer

Ben Griffin, CVG

Cara Ellison, Freelance

 

TOP TWEETER

Steve Hogarty @misterbrilliant

Andrew Kelly @ultrabrilliant

Gav Murphy @cymrogav

Glans Gruber @gamewank_jim

Rob Crossley @Rob_Crossley_

Sean Bell @CaptainToss

Lee Bradley @Lee_Bradley

Martin Gaston @squidmani

 

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“We don’t BeLiviu”: how Romania is rising against corruption

Night after night, activists gather in Victory Square to demand the resignation of the government.

For much of the year, the large tarmac square in front of the main government building in Bucharest is little more than a glorified roundabout, busy with traffic and surrounded by towering, communist-era blocks on one side and a wedge-shaped park on the other.

But when Romanians gather to protest, as they have done these past weeks in record numbers, it becomes a place of pent-up frustration; against the ruling class, the direction in which the country is heading and the way many politicians continue to use the public purse as a source of cash for their personal use. This was not how it was supposed to be, ten years after the country joined the European Union.

On 31 January Romania’s new government, in power for less than a month, sneaked in a piece of emergency legislation during a late-night session to weaken the punishment for abuse of power, negligence while in office and conflict of interest. In effect, the move decriminalised some forms of corruption, if the financial damage caused amounted to less than roughly £38,000.

Many Romanians and international observers saw it as a brazen attempt to help politicians facing legal problems, prominent among them Liviu Dragnea, the leader of Romania’s largest political party, the Social Democrats, and the president of the Chamber of Deputies (Romania’s House of Commons). Dragnea is facing trial for supposedly getting colleagues added to the public payroll even though they do not work for the state. He is one of many public officials facing a day in court; in fact, he has already faced the courts, earning a 2015 conviction for electoral fraud that barred him from becoming prime minister despite his party’s strong showing in parliamentary elections last December.

The backlash against the ordinance was swift, as night after night tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, and, once, half a million took to the streets to protest. On 5 February, between 500,000 and 600,000 people protested across Romania, with 300,000 in the government square alone. Demonstrations have also taken place in 50 towns and cities in the country, as well as in the Romanian diaspora.

The government backed down on its immediate plans and repealed the decree, but trust was by then long gone. Protests are now in their third week and, despite snowfall, show little sign of ending.

“This government needs to go. You can’t be elected in December and have hundreds of thousands on the streets in a month,” said Dorial Ilie, a 33-year-old PR worker, one cold evening in the square.

Romanians are fed up with corruption. The country sits 57th in Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index – up from 69th place in 2014, but corruption remains endemic, and Romania is near the bottom of the list when it comes to EU countries.

Despite the efforts of the country’s much-admired National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA), set up in 2003 and responsible for the successful prosecution of thousands of politicians, civil servants, judges and business leaders, there is a sense that the rich and powerful still operate as if they were above the law. This was certainly not helped by the attempts to change the anti-corruption legislation.

“They had been planning to do this for years,” said Dan Popescu, a 46-year-old priest protesting in the square, echoing the sentiments of many of those around him.

The demonstrations, the largest in the country since the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989, have been an impressive display of people power in a country that is increasingly using the streets as a communication platform. Large-scale protests in Romania also brought down the last elected government in November 2015, after corruption was blamed for a fire in a Bucharest nightclub that left 64 dead, and before that, mass protests during the 2014 presidential election, this time over mismanagement of diaspora voting, arguably helped tip the balance in favour of the now-incumbent, Klaus Iohannis.

Protesters are hoping for a similar impact this time around, although, having survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on 8 February, the new government shows little willingness to depart.

At the same time, most of those gathering night after night in Victory Square – as the drab square outside the government building is officially known – are still loudly demanding the resignation of the government, but would probably settle for the resignations of Dragnea and the prime minister, Sorin Grindeanu.

After so many nights standing out in the cold, protesters have become very creative. Elaborate banners filled with puns (“We don’t BeLiviu”) have appeared, as have messages written with lasers and projected on to nearby buildings. Some have shone the Batman symbol on to the roof of a nearby museum, a funny (or perhaps desperate) plea for help. The national anthem is often sung. On Sunday, a sea of protesters held up pieces of paper coloured over their phone lights to create a vast Romanian flag.

Despite these touches of humour and inventiveness, there is a steely determination evident and it has only grown since the first night or two.

On 13 February the national parliament approved a referendum related to the fight against corruption, as proposed by the protest-supporting president. But most of those on the streets these past weeks would argue that they have already given their opinion on the matter.

Many Romanians are increasingly frustrated that they have to head out to protest time and again in order to hold their elected officials to account. Few believe that the present political class can change. “They’ll try again, in another way. Maybe in parliament, where they have a majority,” said Ioana David, an administrative worker for a construction company.

Even so, she – like so many others – is likely to continue to go out into Victory Square in the days and perhaps weeks ahead, in order to make sure her voice gets heard.

This article first appeared in the 16 February 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times