I Don’t Have Any Hope Left That The Game Awards Can Change

Every year I spend four hours watching an endless stream of game trailers and poorly-conceived Muppet skits disguised as The Game Awards, and every year I come away with the feeling that I expected so much more. The tenth annual TGAs were just as advert-packed and egregiously disrespectful to award receipts as all the years before it – and in some ways worse than ever – but unlike the previous nine, I can no longer find it within me to hope for anything better.


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You can outright dismiss award shows as pointless displays of pageantry and hubris, and for the most part I would agree with you, but I have always seen The Game Awards as an important focal point for the gaming community, as much as such a thing exists. You can look at it as rich people patting each other on the back, but the way we regard art is a reflection of our culture. It’s important to take the time to show reverence for the art that most impacts our lives, both for the sake of the artists and for the art we want to see in the future.

The way the ceremony is conducted is also a reflection of the community, the interests and priorities of people who play games, and our values. It’s an opportunity to look at the game industry as a whole over the last 12 months and honor its achievements, yes, but also hold it accountable for its shortcomings. A celebration of art and artists needn’t necessarily be a breathless endorsement of the game industry in its totality, but the way The Game Awards have been conducted makes it feel that way.

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Everyone knows this was an incredible, unprecedented year for great games, as well as a dire, disastrous year for the people who make them. It feels insensitive, even negligent, to hand out awards while refusing to acknowledge the cost. Fans urged host Geoff Keighley to, at a bare minimum, show respect for the 6,000 developers who lost their jobs through layoffs and studio shutdowns while publishers raked in more cash than ever, but he didn’t.

Instead, we got what we always get: fuel for the video game hype machine. There were over two hours of commercials for new games, and roughly 45 minutes of awards during the award show. Most awards were dolled out five at a time without any fanfare, acceptance speeches, or even a cutaway to the recipients looking satisfied in their seats. The few awards that were given a proper presentation were still rushed, the winners only provided 30 seconds to make their acceptance speech before being told to wrap it up.

The celebrity guests, some with barely even a tangential connection to the game industry, were allowed more time to awkwardly riff before presenting their award than the winners were given to accept it. Hideo Kojima and Jordan Peele spent eight and a half minutes promoting their new game while Larian’s Sven Vincke only got two minutes to accept the award for Game of the Year – and was played off halfway through anyway.

This is how The Game Awards has always been, and after ten years of fighting for a better show, I’m ready to accept that this is just the way it’s always going to be. The Game Awards can never be a reflection of our culture and values because it doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to publishers. It belongs to the corporations that don’t want us to talk about unsustainability in the industry and the need for organized labor. It wants us to show appreciation for products, and not the people who made them. Most importantly, it wants to keep us locked into the hype cycle, focused on the next thing to be excited about, the next game to buy, moving forward without thinking about where we actually want to go.

The best thing The Game Awards can do is drop the pretense of being an award show entirely and just focus on gorging us on commercials. I’m done expecting it to mature or evolve into something better. It’s exactly what the publishers’ marketing departments want it to be. Maybe we can come together as a community and make our voices heard in some other way, but that’s never going to happen at The Game Awards.

Next: Gaming Needs A New Awards Show

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