The Game Awards Don’t Honor Gaming, They Disrespect It.

As the next iteration, WORLD PREMIERE, of it looms, WORLD PREMIERE, we need to talk about, WORLD PREMIERE, The Game Awards. WORLD PREMIERE. You see, WORLD PREMIERE, this is a show, WORLD PREMIERE, that claims to be an award show, WORLD PREMIERE, to honor the art of gaming, WORLD PREMIERE, but does the opposite. WORLD PREMIERE, WORLD PREMIERE, WORLD PREMIERE. Oh I’m sorry, did I give you the impression this would be one thing and then give you a half-assed version of it in favor of flooding it with world premieres? Call me Jeff with a G Keighley then because that’s exactly what he does every year with The Game Awards. It’s a sorry excuse for an award show and an insulting slap in the face to the thing it claims to honor.

The thing about award shows is that their whole purpose is to give out awards and honor the work, the craft, and the people. Televised awards are especially important for this because they give the people who worked so hard to make good art recognition on a wider scale. Game devs especially deserve this because they are so often overlooked. Most of them never get the recognition they deserve for making the games we all love. They are often overworked and underpaid for what they do and yet it’s still common for so many gamers to only acknowledge them negatively. Making video games is really hard, making great video games is even harder but for some reason, devs will still routinely only get called out for bugs or player complaints ranging from petty to outright psychotic. Game devs worked their asses off to make art and very often get more death threats from the people who consume that art instead of any positive recognition. It’s shameful.

That’s where The Game Awards should come in. Keyword there is should. While it isn’t the only video game award show, it is the biggest. Most video game award shows aren’t televised or livestreamed at all let alone to an audience the size of The Game Awards. With an audience of close to 100 million, The Game Awards is the biggest and perfect platform to showcase game developers and honor them for their hard work while celebrating the best games of the year. It not only doesn’t do that, it just pretends to do it while actually spitting in their face. The Game Awards doesn’t honor gaming or those who make games, it Joe Pesci’s them. What does that mean I can hear all the people who haven’t seen Goodfellas asking? Well, go watch Goodfellas when you’re done reading this. I won’t spoil it so I’ll just say that claiming The Game Awards honors gaming is like telling your friend that you’re going to take them to Disneyland but then dismembering them instead. It’s the most disingenuous and disgusting award show out there and that includes The Razzies because at least The Razzies are honest about how awful they are.

There are so many problems with The Game Awards that I could write multiple pieces about it. From the overbearing length, the number of commercials, the host who has the charisma of a crusty sponge, and the hosting ability of a Nintendo server. The thing about those problems is that they are but symptoms of a disease, one which I don’t think has a cure. Well, the host thing is a separate problem that could easily be fixed by simply getting a host that isn’t blander than tepid porridge. But back to the terminal disease plaguing The Game Awards.

Think about award shows you’ve seen. They all have one thing in common whether it’s for film, television, or music. They all have the same format. Nominees are listed, the winner is announced, they give their speech then there’s a commercial break. Sometimes they have comedic bits to make things more entertaining. That’s pretty much how all award shows go. There’s a reason for this. Because all award shows have the same goal regardless of the art form they are for. To honor not only the art but also the people who made the art and give them the spotlight in their moment of recognition. Now think about The Game Awards. They have a slightly different format. The Game Awards go something like this. WORLD PREMIERE, nominees are listed, the winner is announced, they may or may not get to make a speech, WORLD PREMIERE, commercial break. The Game Awards treat the awards and the people winning them like they are less important than the WORLD PREMIERE trailers. That’s a pretty big problem for, and I cannot stress this enough, an AWARDS show. You cannot claim to be honoring an art form and the people who made that art when you are more concerned with showing trailers for next year’s art. That isn’t honoring anyone, it’s treating the art that’s supposed to be honored like a disposable product. Even worse it’s treating the people you’re supposed to be honoring like disposable spokes on a wheel.

A more appropriate name for this event would be The Game Ads because that’s the essence of this event, ads. Now some might said that all award shows have ads as a pathetic excuse for this pathetic event but that’s a straw man’s argument that completely ignores the issue with this specific award show. Every award show does indeed have ads but those ads are commercial breaks used to help fund the show and once they are over, the awards continue to be given out. The problem with The Game Awards isn’t that it has ads, the problem is that it has ads during the show which are followed by commercial breaks. At the Oscars, you’ll see awards being given then a commercial break. At The Game Awards, you’ll see advertisements for games that are coming out next year, and then a commercial break and maybe an award will be given. The fact that it is more likely that you’ll see an ad in between ads than seeing an award is the problem. So when people try to defend The Game Awards by saying all award shows have ads, not only are they missing the point but at a certain point, they are part of the problem.

For the past two editions of The Game Awards, over half of the runtime was dedicated to ads and less than half was dedicated to awards. Winners, when they were given a speech at all were forced to rush through their speeches in 30 seconds to get to the next WORLD PREMIERE. Shipping a good video game is a miracle and the miracle makers so rarely get the spotlight shone on them for the amazing work they do and on the one night that should be about nothing other than shining the spotlight on them, it’s instead shined on ads. Sure all award shows have speech limits but no other award show has the producer who made himself the host stand in front of the camera while he lists off multiple award winners in the span of a minute like they don’t matter so he can show you the next trailer instead. Frankly, it’s sickening.

On a night that is supposed to be a celebration of the art of gaming, Jeff with a G Keighley treats games like nothing more than products to be shilled. Obviously, games still need to be sold and make a profit but an award show is supposed to honor the medium as art and you can’t do that when you’re more concerned with overloading people’s sense with trailers for next year’s games instead of celebrating this year’s ones. Jeff with a G Keighley claims that The Game Awards is a celebration of gaming, he says it’s the Oscars of gaming, an event to treat gaming like the art that it is. Actually, he says it’s better than the Oscars and that’s a nice sentiment considering how unpopular the Oscars are these days. But no matter how many stupid things the Oscars do, at least it’s clear they understand their purpose is to honor film. You’ll never see an Oscars telecast filled with movie trailers or a host creaming his pants for the next WORLD PREMIERE while he flaccidly announces an actual award winner. The Game Awards isn’t an award show, it’s a marketing event.

There’s nothing wrong with marketing events. They give consumers a chance to get excited about upcoming games and they give companies a look into the future of their business. I love E3 and the moments it brings and I’m excited it’s coming back next year. Just call a spade a spade though. Don’t act like something is an award show when you don’t even make a decent attempt at hiding the fact that you’d rather be showing game trailers than giving out awards. It’s gross, and disrespectful and makes the show longer than it should be. The Game Awards is a 4-hour show plus pre-show because even when it’s rushing through awards to get to more trailers, it still has to give awards and that takes time. If it was an actual award show that just gave out awards and had acceptance speeches it would be half the length and would still have ad breaks to fund it.

Jeff with a G Keighley has two other marketing events a year (those are bad too even for marketing events but that’s a different issue) there’s no reason that one big event to honor gaming also needs to be a marketing event. I always hear some people say that most people only tune in for the trailers anyway and that may be true. If it is though and Jeff with a G Keighley truly cared about gaming in any meaningful way other than products to be consumed then he would use his platform to put the spotlight on the devs. If people really are only tuning in for trailers then fine, show trailers but while people are watching for that, he should be giving out awards like a real award show. Don’t flood the show with more trailers than awards, it should be the inverse that way the people who want trailers get that but the games and devs being honored are being given the spotlight they deserve. Jeff with a G Keighley doesn’t do that though, he treats the awards part of his award show like an inconvenience he has to put up with while showing trailers. That attitude rubs off on the audience and it becomes a cyclical prophecy of disgrace.

As I’m writing and publishing this, The Game Awards are two months away. I really hope that this year’s show proves me wrong. I am desperate for Jeff with a G Keighley to prove me wrong and show that he truly cares. But I’ve seen enough editions of The Game Awards to know that all hope is probably lost at this point. So, while I may hope that this is the year where there are more awards than trailers or that this is the year where every award category is presented to a winner (which really is the bare minimum requirement of an award show but I guess no one told Mr. Keighley) I know that hope would be misplaced. I’ve watched enough of his events and been disappointed by enough of the same problems to know that as a gamer who just wants one big night to honor the art of gaming, putting my faith in Geoff Keighley is like putting my wet finger in an electrical outlet hoping not to get shocked.

Published by Matt Fresh

30% Water, 70% James Bond movies. Matt is a writer, gamer, film enthusiast & silly person. The winner of various fictitious awards, he's fluent in English & pop culture references.

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