When the topic of video game award shows comes up, most gamers can’t help but give a dissatisfied sigh. Unfortunately the gaming industry has never had an annual awards ceremony like the Grammys or Academy Awards that we can be proud of. It’s certainly a shame since the video game industry has grown to become one of the strongest entertainment mediums on the planet.
Although this year’s new Game Awards was far from perfect, for many it was a taste of what we’ve always wanted. But before we get into why Geoff Keighley’s new show was a step in the right direction, it’s worth looking into what we had before and why we didn’t like it.
Better Than Nothing, Perhaps…
For more than a decade, all gamers had to look forward to at the end of the year was the Spike Video Game Awards. These usually received overwhelming criticism for, among other reasons, misrepresenting the community via insipid gamer jokes and celebrity apperances that didn’t care about the industry.
Instead of capturing the interest of the entire gaming community, Spike was more focused on their own predominantly adult male demographic. This led to awkward segments such as when Felicia Day ate food in a sexually suggestive way, which proved insulting to gamers and journalists alike.
Spike also gave much more emphasis toward big budget titles instead of growingly popular indie games. After all, who cares about the small indie studios when you can keep the spotlight on blockbuster titles the entire segment? The ‘Game of the Year’ award became especially predictable since you could always count on the biggest triple A game taking home the prize.
Also commonly absent from the VGAs and VGX was the involvement of developers and industry personalities that gamers actually care about. With the exception of Shigeru Miyamoto accepting The Legend of Zelda’s Video Game Hall of Fame award and a few other iconic developer appearances, we often had celebs like Charlie Sheen, Hulk Hogan, and LL Cool J make an appearance instead.
What The Game Awards Did Right!
Even if your favorite game didn’t win an award, this year’s show successfully fixed many of the gripes we had in the past. For starters, an excellent job was done to bring in people from the industry that actually matter to us. This included several moments with legendary composer Koji Kondo, as well as an award presentation for the creators of King’s Quest, Sierra Ken and Roberta Williams. Even the musical guest, Imagine Dragons, played iconic Legend of Zelda tunes before playing one of their own numbers.
We also saw a long-needed emphasis on the indie community as well. Plenty of triple A games like Metal Gear Solid V and Battlefield Hardlines saw mention, but so did indie titles like The Banner Saga 2, Human Element, and No Man’s Sky. The Game Awards sought to do what the VGA’s never bothered to: convey the importance of small budget games as a part of our ever-evolving industry.
But Still Room For Improvement!
Most of us are pleased to have received a game awards show that cut out the terrible celebrity choices, corny gamer skits, and overemphasis on blockbusters. However, there are still plenty of ways that next year’s show can be even better. For starters, it felt longer than it should have been and had too much talking at certain points.
A few of the problems we see at E3 were also evident, mainly the fact that most of the world premiers and teaser trailers had little to no gameplay in them. Good-looking cutscenes are great but as gamers we want to see more than pretty cinematics. We get that time constraints are certainly a factor but having a few minutes of gameplay footage the same way Sony did with Uncharted 4 at their own event couldn’t hurt.
All in all, The Game Awards still have some kinks to work out if they ever want to reach the same level of anticipation as E3 and other popular game events. However, few can deny the huge leap forward. And now we’re actually excited about next year’s event. If things continue in the right direction, perhaps gamers will finally have an awards show they won’t be embarrassed to talk about after the curtain comes down.