Yay, another post that is basically me ranting about something. This time the subject is video games. I know, I know, this is an anime blog. But, I think, the main point of the article can also be applied to the North American anime industry as well. Besides, from what I understand, most anime fans are also gamers as well, right? Also, I need a place to vent my disgust.
This past Friday, December 7th, marked the 10th annual SpikeTV Video Game Awards (VGAs) show. While the idea of giving out awards to honor the media franchise that has taken the world by storm in the past decade is awesome, you’d think that 10 years would be enough for them to get the show done right. While most award shows are generally mediocre and dumb, the VGAs to many gamers, is an absolute joke.
The number one reason most people watch the thing is to see new “World Premiere” trailers of upcoming games. To SpikeTV and various game developers, this is basically one big advertisement block to show off. While I am generally happy to see and get excited about a new game, I’m more excited to see if we’re going to really see something “new.” I mean truly “NEW.” In the past several years, we’ve seen the same games top the charts; Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Gears of War, to name a few. During this year’s VGAs, several games’ trailers were shown. However, a vast majority of these were for titles we’ve already been knowledgeable about. I mean it is great to see more for a game I’m already anticipating, but has gaming really fallen so low that new series are near non-existent? Apparently, because two of the trailers also shown that night were for downloadable content to already released games, Assassin’s Creed 3 and Halo 4.
On the subject of falling low, in the initial stages of the VGAs, the 2003 awards saw up to 10 nominees for each award category. One could say that they truly looked at various games back then and considered the nice things about each of them. Today, categories hold as many as four games. In addition to this, categories like “Best Xbox/PS3 Game” only have one console exclusive game among its nominated ranks. Nintendo’s category stands alone with it’s exclusives, considering multi-platform games generally suck on the lower-powered Wii (No offense to Nintendo fans, but that is the truth). At this point, most games are Triple-A titles. So there is almost no reason to choose between one or the other among consoles, aside from the 2-3 actual exclusive titles. These are all games that are chosen among a select group of “Gaming Journalists” that SHOULD know the aspects of what makes a game truly “award worthy.” Yet here we are with many games coming out in a year and only 25% of them are nominated for anything. Here are some examples:
- “Best Graphics”: Let’s pin 1 original game taking artistic creative license and pin it against multiple fantasy/sci-fi realism games.
- “Best Character”: Let’s pin multiple characters against each other, but only 1-2 of them have any actual character.
- “Best RPG”: Let’s not mention ANY RPGs that have come from Japan, even though it may have a more interesting game mechanic and a better storyline (btw, Story is important in an RPG).
Anyway, the point is that the number of games and how they are rated to be nominated and awarded have literally gone down in number and quality. It definitely doesn’t help that all of the listed categories are not recognized on stage like all award shows do.
As for this year’s “Game of the Year” winner, The Walking Dead: The Game, I am actually happy about this. A game with a much smaller budget, from the medium-sized Telltale Games studio won GOTY. This just says that something is off about those “big name” titles out there. And to those who may complain that a “point-and-click” adventure game is not a game, many PC adventure games in the 80s & 90s were made as such. Sam & Max? Grim Fandango? Hell, even Oregon Trail!
Also, the other big award this year was “Game of the Decade.” Sure, let’s team up with Entertainment Weekly and do an online poll for a bunch of games without giving voters the reasons why they are on the list in the first place. It reminds me of voting for whether a local courthouse judge should stay in office. If I am oblivious to their impact, I’ll just vote for whatever. Which is basically how this played out. No mention was made on-stage as to why the nominees and winner, Half-Life 2, were selected. That’s like giving a Lifetime Achievement award without the corny montage of the recipient.
Moving on. As someone who studied the going-ons of animation and video game development, I can definitely say that I respect the work and effort of everyone involved to make this stuff we so easily consume. But the sheer amount of disrespect given to game developers and the people who work towards making their respective games great is unbelievable when it comes to the VGAs. This year I saw something undeniably stupid. Why give out awards for certain categories in the Preshow? Among the 25-ish non-“of-the-Year” awards, some of these awards were given to their recipients on the red carpet itself. Two of these awards being “Best Performance by a Human Male/Female,” awards that have a rocky past from the 2011 VGAs. Mark Hamill (Batman Arkham City’s Joker) and Tara Strong (Batman Arkham City’s Harley Quinn), both exceptionally amazing actors for all of their respective roles, attended the 2011 Awards show as nominees for their respective categories. It was not until AFTER the show that they were notified of being the winners. For two amazingly talented performers after the hard work they have done as iconic voices behind the game, to be disrespected and not given rightful honors is disgusting and unprofessional.
As much as I like Samuel L. Jackson, the only reason he was given the honor of hosting the 2012 VGAs is simply because he is Samuel L. Jackson. He is an amazing person, no doubt. But stop it with the celebrities, who have admittedly claimed to not be playing the latest games, to host and/or present awards. Also, some of these so-called hosts with microphones in their hands talking to guests are horrible, wannabe nerds that know nothing of video games outside of Call of Duty and other big-name titles. We do not need this silly entertainment of cheap humor with video game references, sexuality skits and “live-action game-teabagging.” See, the “real” celebrities of this event are the developers. I’m not saying to make these guys into celebs, but give them all proper honor and respect to give/receive these awards just like they do at the Oscars. This time block is 50%-BS entertainment, 40%-World Premiere trailers, and 10%-Awards. There is something seriously wrong with that.
This actually happened on public television.
Game Industry, it is stuff like this that you are supporting that makes parts of society think gaming and the gaming community is a joke. It is stuff like this that make some critics say that video games are not art. It is stuff like this that is killing the industry overall. We, your core audience, are not stupid. If we want to improve the social outlook on gaming, as well as the quality of games themselves, stop making it so easy to be looked down upon.
If you want to be taken seriously as a media, as an art form, as an industry altogether, take your audience and consumers seriously. If you change your ways, we’ll be forced to change. Even if you get all those so-called hardcore multiplayer Call of Duty kids mad, you should know that you will be doing the world a favor by changing the way the world games. Remember when we could pick up any game and it made in a way that it was different from others? Right now, all I see are M-rated shooting games being sold to little 5th-grade Jimmy and Russel so they can brag at elementary school about their KD-ratio. Right now, all I see are overly-interactive dating simulators creating arguments about one’s sexual preferences. Right now, all I see are games that are ruining the next generation.
I truly believe games are meant to immerse us into fiction, like books do. Captivate us, like movies do. And move us, like music does. Video games are an art form and a means of entertainment. We need to keep that balance. At this rate, gaming is dying a slow, cancerous death. If we have to go through a gaming recession just to fix all the wrongs of why the gaming community has gotten out of hand, I would gladly accept that.
So, are the SpikeTV Video Game Awards worth it?
– Pros: Exciting trailers for upcoming games!
– Cons: Did you even read everything above?
Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to play my personal Game of the Year: