2019 marks the 5th year of Geoff Keighley’s Game’s Awards, it’s the most mainstream version of an award ceremony the industry has to offer, think the Oscars but Video Games. It’s as Geoff likes to continually proclaim a celebration of games, with Awards decorating the achievements made by companies and individuals in the industry, it’s also become a spot to announce ‘world exclusive’ titles and products, but it seems that this year the show moved away from honouring the massive strides made in the industry and instead become an avenue to become one big advertisement.
Sure, since its inaugural year the game awards has always had its fair share of new games announced but it always had moments to honour someone from the community who had made an impact, like in 2015 when Geoff Keighley himself called out Konami games for holding Hideo Kojima hostage in his office, or when Reggie gave a heart-wrenching speech about the late Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. Not to mention the recognising of people who worked in the community to push positive messages throughout the years, like influences and e-sports organisations and teams.
The announcement of new games felt like an added bonus to an awards ceremony that was still very grounded in one simple message ‘A celebration of games. This year though felt like everything was put on the back burner for the awards ceremony to grab as much cash as it could from developers looking for a spot to get eyeballs on a product, and I get that. That’s how business works but when your actual awards are taking a back seat to pushing more advertising through it’s a bit of a shame.
There is a way to have these big advertising spots feel genuine. The show did open with Microsoft announcing its next-gen console Xbox Series X that’s a look into the future of games; something that will sit in homes around the world for several years. When you’ve got back to back to back trailers that dwarf the screen time for industry greats and moments to honour the games that made a difference this year, there is a problem.
One of my biggest gripes was the way some awards were given out. The camera cut to Geoff Keighley standing on a balcony somewhere in the auditorium listing off three or four nominees and winners in diverse categories rapid-fire, and glossing over the contribution they have made to the industry in the past 12 months. Awards like Content Creator of the year where someone who is involved in the entertainment aspect of Games talks about the lens they see-through. In 2016 Boogie2988 was given the opportunity to talk about what the industry and gaming have done for him in his life that has been filled with depression and physical ailments.
It took until the second last presenter Reggie-Fils Aime the former President of Nintendo America to touch on how big the industry is, how it is helping the medical and scientific industries, and how independent developers are just as important as the blockbuster studios. We need these voices to not only legitimise the prestige of these awards but to get the opinions of Industry veterans who have such respect for the present and future of gaming.
As a viewer it feels like a slap in the face to sit and watch advertisement after advertisement to then sit through another three advertisements showing off current products available in stores, to see a 4-minute award and acceptance speech and rush right back to the ads. The world exclusive hype of games like ‘Ghost of Tsushima’ felt lacklustre when unveiled.
If the Game Awards and Geoff Keighley want to legitimise a space for Gaming to be honoured and revered by its Media count-apart then a change to the formula is needed where industry greats can speak to its audience about the year in review, the strides it has made and the impact that the community has had on the greater world. For now, it seems ads and money-making will take persistent.
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