VGX: Video Games Deserve Better
Awards shows are prevalent in any form of media. Movies have the Oscars, Television shows have their Emmys, Musicians have the AMAs, VMAs, Grammys, and so on. It's a gathering, where the best of the medium come together to celebrate their greatest achievements, take home a wonderful trophy, and the victor gets to stand in front of their peers, thank their fans, and at the end the night know that they triumphed against the rest of their competition. Winners feel honored. Losers cheer on the winners, and hope to do better next year. It means something.
For those that love video games, what is the equivalent of all these star-studded celebrations? Yes, there are the Golden Joystick Awards, which are great! There are a handful of awards shows that do video games justice, however, if you Google "video game awards shows", one name pervades the search. The Video Game Awards, on Spike TV. Oh. Now, aptly titled VGX, where X stands for... I'm not sure? Change? Xtreme? Naughty things?
For those unfamiliar with the Video Game Awards, here's a brief history of the show. It started in 2003, and was produced by Geoff Keighley, from Gametrailers.com. The show operates like most awards shows do, but it also has live music, trailers for upcoming games, interviews with developers, and celebrity appearances. It's meant to be a celebration of the year's best video games.
I like the idea of an awards show for games. I also respect Geoff Keighley and Gametrailers, immensely! Truth be told, I think Geoff Keighley is the only thing that VGX does right. Everything else? Video games deserve better than this.
Video games can entertain for longer than any movie. They can make us think, make us cry, make us question. They allow us to take part in a journey, the way movies, books, and television can't. We have an active role. Without the player, games don't exist. It's a medium unlike any other, and it deserves an awards show unlike any other, to celebrate and commemorate all the hard work that goes into creating them.
Here's what I think needs to be done.
GET OFF SPIKE TV
Seriously, of all the channels to broadcast the biggest awards show, that celebrates the year's greatest testaments to video games, why would you choose Spike TV? With shows like Entourage, Playbook, MMA Uncensored, The Joe Schmo Show, Deadliest Warrior, Hooters, Spike Guys' Choice Awards, 1,000 Ways to Die, Jail, Cops, and many others, Spike really doesn't scream games to me. Sure, they have shows related to games, but when I think of video games, Spike TV is one of the last channels that come to mind.
Anything would be better than Spike TV. I think being on that network hinders the identity of video games, and furthers the stigma of the game being nothing more than a childish, adolescent, play thing. VGX, as of 2013, has decided to broadcast online. Why not broadcast it directly from Gametrailers.com, live? Or create a site specifically for the one purpose of streaming the awards shows, live, where fans could meet and mingle, and vote on their favorite categories?
GET INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS TO ATTEND
When you see the Emmys, the audience is filled with actors, actresses, directors, and their family and friends. Why not have the people that have poured their lives into the games be there, to watch, and accept the awards?
Invite EA, Bethesda, Gearbox, IGN, Capcom, Sony, Destructoid, Double Fine, Microsoft, Bioware, TellTale, Gametrailers, Penny Arcade, Rev3Games, Nintendo, Irrational Games, Sega, Valve, and other publishers, developers, and industry professionals. Turn the Video Game Awards into the E3 of awards shows!
HOSTS THAT MEAN SOMETHING TO THE COMMUNITY
Or at least know about video games. Forget the celebrities. As gamers, we don't care if some well known celebrity of comedian hosts the show! Bring a host that we care about and can identify with. Someone that loves games, talks about games, and actually wants to be there. I mean, right now, just have Geoff Keighley host! I don't understand the need for some celebrity that has no knowledge or respect for video games, and the medium as a whole? The Oscars don't go out of their way to have well known faces --from the video game community-- host their show, so why should we?
Great hosts would be like Adam Sessler, Chris Gore, Morgan Web, Anthony and Ashly Burch, Dodger, Mikey Neumann, Felicia Day, Day9, Troy Baker, Jennifer Hale, David Hayter, or any of the well known, talented voice actors/actresses that lend their voice to the characters we know and love. Someone with spunk, presence, and a passion for video games! Please?
GIVE A SHOUT OUT TO INDIE DEVS
I will admit that Spike does have a great list of categories. But what about Best Indie Game,Best Indie Soundtrack, or Best Indie Developer? The little guys need love too, and some of the best games I've played this year weren't by any AAA studio. I'm sure a lot of people would agree with me.
Wonderful achievements like Dear Esther, Skull Girls, Knock-knock, Contrast, Journey, and Unfinished Swan deserve their chance at recognition. Or what about best Song, Best Composer, or Best Soundtrack in a video game? Which brings me to...
LIVE SHOWS SHOULD HAVE CREDENCE TO GAMES
Don't bring in Miley Cyrus, or One Direction, or Kanye West, or any other musician that has nothing to do with video games. Don't parade singers in front of a screen, showing game play, or video clips, in the background. How about actually bringing music from the game, to the stage?
Get the composers, the people that played the instruments, who poured their soul into the music, and let them perform for the crowd! These men and women have crafted melodies so powerful, that they can evoke an emotional response to a GAME. We hum them. It gets stuck in our head. Seeing it live, during a show? Why not! Or, do something like Video Games Live, and make the awards show the greatest gaming spectacle you'd witness, all year!
Not for the entire show, of course. But have live musical performances, ala Video Games Live, peppered through out the night. You know?
HAVE VOTES CAST BY THE AUDIENCE
According to the www.spike.com/vgx website, only Most Anticipated Game, Character of the Year, and Best Mobile Game allow users to vote. That's it. Seriously. The rest are “Council Voted”. Of course, we've no idea who this council is. Yet, they determine which games win. A pox to that, I say!
Video games are about audience participation. Without it, video games are meaningless. So why not take a note from that, and have the votes cast by the community? Have the polls open a few months in advance, and have them stream in until the live shows starts. Get the community, and the ones passionate about the medium, to get their voices heard. Let us vote, and make them count. It could be the presidential election of video games! Wait? You know what I mean.
I understand that this would be an immense undertaking, and would require a lot of money to pull off, to pay everyone involved. Not to mention timing, and booking these people, and setting up the event, and the venue and on, and on, and on. But, I'm sure the Spike Video Game Awards, or VGX, take a lot of time, and a lot of money, to dish out something that really doesn't matter to the network or to those of us that love video games. It isn't taken seriously.
Leaving the fate of video game awards to Spike and VGX is sad. It's been going on since 2003, and hasn't worked. Ever. The Video Game Awards should be a celebration, that is looked forward to by every gamer. A celebration that every fan anticipates seeing.
Games need a voice from people that love, develop, and create them. Actors hand awards to actors. Musicians hand awards to musicians. So why not take back the awards show, for those that love video games, by those that create video games?