The Highs and Lows of This Year’s #TheGameAwards
Last Friday is the second outing of the Game Awards, following Spike TV’s now-defunct Video Game Awards (and the horrible mess of the VGX). While there are other awards in the video game industry that matter (like the DICE awards), the Game Awards differs by being closer to heart to mainstream audience, presented as a show, along with musical performance and such.
There’s also the spectacle of “exclusive world premiers”, 10 to be exact as confirmed by show runner Geoff Keighley. And discounts for games that are nominated. So this also runs as a shilling (read: promotion) run for all the viewers to buy these games if they haven’t.
Whether you’re in the camp of “a celebration of games and honouring the game devs” or “a major shilling event by major game publishers”, there’s a few high points and low points that are worth discussing.
The Best Sports/Racing Game Category
Take a look at the nominees:
FIFA 16 (EA Canada/Electronic Arts)
Forza Motorsport 6 (Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Studios)
NBA 2K16 (Visual Concepts/2K Sports)
Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 (PES Productions/Konami)
Rocket League (Psyonix)
What happened. This is not blaming The Game Awards, but it’s a saddening trend in the industry for me. The idea of merging these two categories, with only one title that strictly adheres to the racing genre (Rocket League can be lumped into both, because it’s a sports game using cars) shatters my feelings as a gamer who started playing games from racing titles.
We need more racing games! At least for the mainstream/AAA level. There’s plenty of hardcore racing simulators on the PC, but racers need more love.
But thank God the new Need For Speed didn’t get a nomination. On launch, that game is atrocious (It’s a bit better now thanks to updates). At least they didn’t shoehorn titles to pad or make the nomination list longer.
Speaking of which..
The Nominees For Best Fighting Games
This what would happen if Racing games got its own Award category, but a smaller list. Take a look at this list:
Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- (Arc System Works/Aksys Games)
Mortal Kombat X (NetherRealm Studios/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
Rise of Incarnates (Bandai Namco Entertainment)
Rising Thunder (Radiant Entertainment)
While I love that these other games got nominated and recognised, these titles would probably too niche and oddball for the juries in comparison to the polished Mortal Kombat X. MKX has won the award before the show even starts!
How Many Awards Got Swooped By With Just An Announcement?
And I do mean literally. There’s a pre-show that tries to build up hype by montages and commentary, and before the show even starts, awards are handed straight-away! Super Mario Maker won something, MKX won, to immediately announcing the new characters for its next season of content.
While I like lumping together awards for games that one multiple awards in one go (it saves time), but just barely mentioning some of the awards then quickly swooping them under the rug feels not right to me. It’s better to read down a list on any game website. Give them more screen time too,(but not more shilling screen time!)
Oh, there’s plenty of shilling for this year’s awards show. On in particular is..
The Star Wars Battlefront Shilling
Star Wars Battlefront wasn’t a nominee for any awards. Star Wars Battlefront also don’t have any world premier or announcements. But they do make their presence felt.
As the camera cuts into the AMD Green Room, I was expecting a room full of AMD promotions. Turns out, it’s a room where in the background you can see people playing Star Wars Battlefront (instead of watching the show?) and each time it cuts there, the host, a Youtuber no less, will ask about opinions on the new Star Wars Battlefront.
I guess this is how “native advertising” works. It doesn’t outright feel like an advert, but now I don’t feel any of the conversations they made there were genuine, most of them probably designed to promote stuff.
But then that’s just me.
Greg Miller Winning An Award? But His Speech Though..
Speaking on odd choices of categories is the Trending Gamer award. How do you judge this? And how do you judge the “best”? There’s also a category for best e-Sports team and player, which makes no sense.
Only until doing research for this write-up I discovered that there are fan-voted categories as well. So that make sense.
But at least when Greg won, he gave one rousing speech. And surely the best award acceptance speech of the show. Have a listen (video via Kotaku)
(Maybe take some time today to let the credits roll and appreciate the men and women behind the game we love to play)
Undertale Got Robbed
Best Indie game has plenty of good picks. I was personally rooting for the small quirky RPG Undertale. I haven’t played it, nor do I have intention to play it (I did watch a Let’s Play of it), but the impact I saw from people having experience it is astonishing, moreso than most artsy, minimalist games.
But to see them not winning in favour of Rocket League (who apparently won another award for best sports/racing too, and had an announcement that it’s coming to the XBone) is a bit sad. Maybe the devs, or rather, that one guy who made Undertale, couldn’t afford shilling something, or the impact is just a small niche compared to Rocket League’s massive mainstream appeal. Whatever it is, Undertale deserve credit for doing something different to the classic RPG formula, and writing. But it’s okay though, because..
Indies Pulling It Through
I did not expect more indies getting recognition than they should have, and deservedly too. Best Art Direction goes to Ori and the Blind Forest (the only non-realistic looking game in the nominees. Surprise, Surprise). Her Story, the “low-key, avant-garde” game bag two awards, Best Narrative and Best Performance. For a game that hinges on the performance of the one actress, her and her alone, to tell you a gripping narrative, is a huge achievement in and of itself, even if the performance is not the best.
Not too shabby for an indie game, and I suppose these categories are where indies can shine. They can try crazy stuff that won’t sell as much, but contributes to a more diverse games industry, and more different games for more different people.
Coincidentally, the Games for Impact award went to Life Is Strange. It’s published by Square Enix, but the episodic adventure has some indie vibes to it. So that counts too, I think.
The Witcher 3 Got Robbed?
Here’s the context in video:
If you messed up pronouncing the winner, why not say it again? But what a coincidence that both representatives are seated close enough to fit in a frame both with differing expressions.
Tribute to the Late Satoru Iwata
A good tribute. Aside from the blaring techno music playing to introduce Reggie Fils-Aime on stage, that is.
How (Sadly) Not Many Care About Westwood Studios
A great tribute. The two men honoured by Industry Icon Award (Louis Castle and Brett Sperry, co-founders of Westwood Studios), are being credited to not only planted the seeds of the RTS (real-time strategy) genre, but MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) too.
But didn’t Dota started from a mod of Warcraft III, a game by Blizzard? Why Blizzard got no credit?
They brought people from Blizzard to talk about Westwood Studios too, who they are inspired by, and rivalled. To see even Blizzard acknowledging the roots and give credit to the legendary studio (that are unfortunately among the many casualties of EA-owned studios). Sad thing is, if you follow the chat on streams like Twitch and YouTube people could care less.
Seriously though, since the game industry is relatively young compared to other medium of entertainment, it’s good to preserve and remember its history. Then we can appreciate what we have, and inspire more innovations of how we have fun, or experience, games.
Not-So Earth Shattering World Premiers
No Ninja Turtles game by Platinum announced. A Batman game by Telltale game. Some “super secret” DLC for Goat Simulator. Shadow Complex Remaster (free on PC! Sign up for an Epic account first), among others.
Then, PSYCHONAUTS 2, but then it’s being crowdfunded with Fig, which may put off some red flags for some due to the studio’s reputation of handling development with crowdfunding.
Not Earth shattering for me, but I guess people out there are pumped to see some Far Cry Primal footage and other promised world premiers.
Geoff Keighley Calling Out Konami’s Pettiness
Geoff Keighley, the master of shillers, the Dorito Pope, the guy behind the the whole show, who works on deals to get world premiers, who reminds us some games nominated for the awrads are on discount, straight up calling Konami out. (video by Kotaku)
An act worth condoning. Good show, mate. Best moment of the whole show. Also, great job of the booing, audience!
So, Is It A Good Show?
Depends on what you’re looking for. It’s not cringe-worthy, it’s not gripping on attention when the announce the winners either. The show shines when they are honouring the developers, and oh does that shine on bright this year. But plenty of outright advertising makes it feel off.
In terms of award winners, most of them are rightfully deserved, except a minor few. But nothing controversial.
But personally, I don’t feel it’s worth tuning in the livestream, unless you are bored and want to join in the zeitgeist as people livetweet and such. Better off wait for gaming site (like you are doing right now, wink, wink) to cover the best moments, and reading the award winners in a list is much more informative than the way it’s presented.
So here’s the list of winners, courtesy of GamesRadar:
Game of the Year – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Developer of the Year – CD Projekt Red
Best Independent Game – Rocket League
Best Mobile/Handheld Game – Lara Croft Go
Best Narrative – Her Story
Best Score/Best Soundtrack – Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
Best Performance – Viva Seifert (Her Story)
Games for Impact – Life is Strange
Best Shooter – Splatoon
Best Action Adventure – Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
Best Role Playing Game – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Best Fighting Game – Mortal Kombat X
Best Family Game – Super Mario Maker
Best Sports/Racing Game – Rocket League
Best Multiplayer – Splatoon
Best Art Direction – Ori and the Blind Forest
Esports Game of the Year – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Best Fan Creation – Portal Stories: Mel
Trending Gamer – Greg Miller
Esports Team of the Year – Optic Gaming
Esports Player of the Year – Kenny “kennyS” Schrub
Most Anticipated Game – No Man’s Sky
So would you tune in to The Game Awards next year? Do you even care about The Game Awards? Share your thoughts in comments.
[This article originally appeared on the author’s personal site, meckronos.wordpress.com]