The Game Awards Is Not an Award Show

Last night was The Game Awards. Geoff Keighley’s annual extravaganza that he loves to claim is the Oscars of video games. A celebration of all the games that came out in the past year and all the hard work that the devs of those games put in. Except it isn’t. Now I’m not saying that game devs don’t get recognition for the games they make because they do. Awards are given out. But The Game Awards doesn’t celebrate the games of the past year and it doesn’t treat them or the devs with respect. The truth is that The Game Awards is not an award show, it might look like one, it might claim to be one but it isn’t. Whether you call it a grift, a bamboozle, a hornswoggle or any other word you can think of, The Game Awards are an elaborate trick except they aren’t good at hiding it anymore. They aren’t even trying to hide it. This is not an award show, it’s a show designed to hawk wares and get you excited for things to consume. It is not a show designed for celebrating the past year of gaming.

The Game Awards were just over 3 and a half hours long. They felt double that. Zack Snyder’s Justice League had a quicker pace than this so called award show. People like to complain about the length of other award shows like the Oscars but The Game Awards were longer than the past couple of Oscars and it’s been like that for at least a couple years. Out of that 3 and a half hours, if you edited the show down to just awards being presented and accepted, the show would have been 15 minutes long at best. That’s because out of 30 award categories, only 12 were given an acceptance speech. If you’re not good at math, that’s less than half. To top it off, all those speeches were 30 seconds long. That’s right, on the night that is supposed to celebrate the games that came out this year, winners were only given 30 seconds to accept their award before they had to get off stage and make time for the next game trailer. It Takes Two won Game of the Year and game director Josef Fares had to rush through his speech because of that 30 second rule. What should be a big accomplishment that he should be proud of, and he certainly seemed proud, is diluted because he had speak at ×2 speed.

Before I even start talking about the trailers, I have to go back to the fact that only 12 awards were presented to winners who were given a speech. The show is called The Game AWARDS, and yet over half of their awards were given out like they don’t matter. On three separate occasions, a group of awards was just quickly listed out in the span of 30 seconds with no fanfare. On another three separate occasions, awards weren’t even given the dignity of being mention. Three times, as winners were walking up to give their 30 second speech for an award, an announcer casually mentioned they also won another award. So if you’re wondering whether you missed the part where they announced Best Sports/Racing Game or Best Community Support, you didn’t because they weren’t announced, they were mentioned in passing as if it were a fun fact. Why did they do that, because they needed more time for trailers and less for awards but the message ot conveys is that those awards don’t matter. According to The Game Awards, Sports/Racing games don’t matter. Keighley wants this show to be the Oscars of gaming but could you imagine if the Oscars skipped over the winner of Best Director and instead just had the announcer casually mention it in passing. People would be furious over the disrespect.

Is it possible that some of the award winners weren’t there so they couldn’t give a speech? Absolutely but a lot of people were there, ready and able to accept their award and they weren’t given that opportunity. It Takes Two won three awards, Josef was only given a chance to accept one of those. Best Family Game was quickly announced along with four other awards in quick succession and the camera cut to Josef sitting in the crowd clapping. If he os there to accept the award, why is it being skipped over? The answer is because this isn’t an award show, it’s only pretending to be. They gave out awards on the pre-show before everyone had even gotten into the building and taken their seats. If this show is meant to celebrate these games, why aren’t the winners of every award allowed to speak to their peers to accept the honor? Why is Best Audio Design, an important element of a video game, relegated to a portion of the show where half the audience is empty and the winner makes their speech to only the viewer? Once again, the answer is because this is not an awards show.

So, if The Game Awards aren’t an awards show, what are they? Simple, it’s a marketing event. This is a show with the sole purpose of selling you video game that aren’t out yet. Some of them are years away, some of them didn’t even have release dates. Some of them didn’t even have gameplay. It’s a show meant to generate hype but not even the good kind of hype, it’s meant to generate empty hype. It shows you something cool that is a long while off, then it drowns you in more stuff until by the time the show is over, you don’t even remember what you’re hyped for. Not that it matters because it won’t come out for years. Is it cool that Remedy is making Alan Wake 2? Yes. But it’s coming out in 3 years at best so why should we care now? More importantly, why is a game that is 3 years away, more important than the games that did come out this year? Was the Hellblade 2 trailer cool? Yes, but did it need to be longer than every acceptance speech combined?

The Game Awards might give out awards but they treat those awards with all the reverence that other shows treat a commercial break. At any other award show, the commercials are when you take a bathroom break but at The Game Awards, you take your bathroom break during the actual awards. It isn’t a show that honors the games that came out in the past year, it’s a show that disregards them in favor of the games that have yet to come out. It’s the equivalent of those old family sitcoms where they would show a child imagining their parents ignore them in favor of the new baby. Only in this case the baby hasn’t been born yet, it’s still in the womb. Are announcements cool? Sure, sometimes they are but there’s a handful of shows a year that are specifically dedicated to them so why do they need to take over an awards show. At The Game Awards, the awards are the least important thing.

There’s a lot of other problems with The Game Awards. Like the fact that the jury is made up of game journalists instead of actual people in the industry like devs, or performers, or writers, you know the people that make the games. There’s the fact that it generates hype by getting viewers to vote despite those votes counting for basically nothing. There’s more nitpicky problems like the fact that Geoff makes himself the host every year despite not having great stage presence and the fact there are at least a dozen other gaming personalities that are more qualified to be a host. The biggest problem remains the fact that Geoff’s priorities with The Game Awards isn’t giving out awards, it showing trailers and generating empty hype. He acts like this show is the Oscars of gaming but it’s barely the MTV Movie Awards of gaming. The truth is, there’s a lot of gaming award ceremonies and while The Game Awards might have the biggest audience and be the most extravagant, it is by far the least prestigious. The awards mean nothing because they treat them as if they mean nothing. They are a facade that must be done with as quickly as possibly to her to the next commercial. The Spike Video Game Awards were more prestigious and respectful towards videos games. At The Game Awards, the most important words are not “and the winner is”, they’re “World Premiere” and it’s pathetic.

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