Gaming Needs A New Awards Show

When Baldur’s Gate 3 creative director Swen Vincke took to the stage to accept Game of the Year at The Game Awards last night, he was rushed off by a “Please Wrap It Up” message on the teleprompter while honouring employees who passed away during development.


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On the verge of tears, Neil Newbon had to awkwardly shuffle off as the same teleprompter reared its ugly head – each winner (those allowed on stage at least) were given just 60 seconds. Hideo Kojima and a Muppet had more time to talk than Newbon did when he was accepting his Best Performance award. That’s not to mention that Innovation in Accessibility was relegated to the pre-show, rather than the main event, while categories such as Best RPG and Best Indie were rattled off in quick succession with zero room for speeches or recognition.

The Game Awards isn’t a celebration of the industry, it’s a marketing reel that uses awards as a gimmick. This year alone, we’ve seen over 6,000 layoffs in the industry, while iconic developers such as Bungie are reportedly at risk of even more. The biggest night of the year for celebrating devs saw no mention of this catastrophic industry-wide haemorrhaging of talent, rushing through awards and speeches to make room for ad reels for games that wouldn’t exist without the same people who are being pushed out.

Kojima spoke for around eight minutes, while Newbon was rushed off stage after around one.

The Game Awards are not fit for purpose. It functions more as an extension of Summer Game Fest and Gamescom Opening Night Live, rather than traditional award shows such as the BAFTAs or Oscars. But it’s gaming’s flagship ceremony – winning TGA Game of the Year is the ultimate prize. It has a responsibility to be so much more, and yet it failed worse than ever.

It’s in the name. Awards. It should be about rewarding the talent that brings all of these games to life, the same games that we all get so excited to see for the first time at these huge events. Much as we celebrate the directors behind our favourite films, the actors bringing to life the characters we fall in love with, and the writers who pen the scripts that break our hearts. It’s a moment to recognise talent and the artistry of the medium.

Christopher Judge was ragged on for his long, heartfelt speech last year when he accepted the Best Performance award, with it even becoming the butt of the joke repeatedly this year. The shorter speech limits almost felt like retaliation for Judge daring to take the time to show gratitude and allow himself to be vulnerable.

This year was even more blatant in its disregard for such raw moments. Music cues worked alongside the teleprompter to push people off stage, giving them no way to avoid the countdown while pressuring them from the second they stepped foot in front of the audience, stilting their acceptance speeches. Everything was fit to a tight schedule that left crumbs for the people this night was actually for.

The Game Awards has always been overtly an ad reel, teasing the biggest games to come as Keighley brings on his close friends and favourite studios to chin-wag. His adoration for Hideo Kojima is plain to see and is reflected in how different the rules are when he makes an appearance. For years, people have called out the lack of respect for the people who make the games, the unwillingness to take any stance whatsoever, and the hypocrisy. This year was the breaking point.

The Future Class, handpicked as a representation of gaming’s driving forces into the next generation, penned an open letter to Keighley asking for him to acknowledge the crisis going on in Palestine during the event, to which he did not respond.

The people making the games today are not given the respect they deserve, hurried off stage as though their speeches are an annoying obligation, and the future of the very medium TGA claims to celebrate is being sidelined. The cracks have never been clearer in how shallow this awards show is. It won’t change or improve, something made painfully obvious with each passing year. We need a new awards show.

The Game Awards is essentially the winter equivalent of an E3 event. It’s a big showcase of what’s to come, an opportunity for devs to get their games in front of a wider audience. It does a good job of doing that, but it’s not what the event is billed at. It merely uses the awards as a means to add a sense of prestige, despite the categories having unclear rules that even Keighley won’t set rigid guidelines on – just look at Dave the Diver qualifying for Best Indie.

Something new has to take its place, something wholly dedicated to honouring developers, actors, and everyone who helps make these games. Splicing such a show with an E3-style presentation doesn’t work, there’s not enough room for the two. When The Little Mermaid remake debuted at the Oscars, it was met with resounding backlash for detracting from the ceremonies – and that was the one and only trailer screened.

If gaming wants to be taken seriously, to stand as a true art form among the silver screen – something Keighley stressed right at the beginning of this year’s event – it cannot use the biggest awards show of the year as a way to sell toys and dangle shiny keys. But TGA will never be anything else, leaving a void that’s aching to be filled.

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