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Spike’s Video Game Awards Show Tonight: Should You Care? December 11, 2010

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Tonight an event will air on national television which since its inception has been a never ending farce, and an embarrassment to the entire video game industry, the Spike Video Game Awards Show.  Started in 2003 with the simple and commendable purpose of being to the video game industry what the Oscars are to film industry.  I was highly anticipating its inaugural event.  Fresh from my first E3, I felt like a major player in the video game industry, and I was really excited to see what I thought was going to be the next step of legitimacy to the gaming industry.

I turned on my TV to the station one hour into the broadcast.  They were going over the list of the most anticipated games for 2004.  Halo 2 was on the list, and when it appeared it got a large cheer from the audience.  Then footage from Half-Life 2 came on the screen and the crowd went absolutely berserk.  You can tell they were all really looking forward to that game, as was I.  As the footage ended, David Spade stood there completely puzzled as to why people were cheering for something he had absolutely no personal understanding of and yet was somehow able to host.  He asked the crowd, “What did you think [Alyx] was going to take her top off?”  I shut the TV off in horror.  Various members of the industry spoke to the gaming press after the event to literally say that they were ashamed they had participated in the event.  I figured it would be over when Game of the Year went to Madden.  I mean no one could possibly screw something up like this so badly and have the balls to continue doing it.  I was wrong.

There’s been so much wrong with this show I don’t even know where I’m going to start.  I’m not going to even talk about who decides the names on the ballots.  “Angry” Joe Vargas already did a really good job at that.  But who decides who wins?  Traditionally it’s been a majority online poll.  If you left it up to a simple online majority poll decision then Megan Fox is going to win best female actress in a video game over someone who actually deserved it, like Emily Rose.  Or Madden will win Game of the Year!  If you want to do it right, there is a right way to do it, and other events have already figured out there needs to be an “academy” to select the game.  It can be formed of the best game critics, independent bloggers, and industry veterans to select the games and cast their ballots.  This would mean heavily marketed and awful licensed garbage won’t get through, and insightful games like Psychonauts or Bioshock 1, which were all praised by the industry, could win.

Who picks the acts?  Traditionally there has been a lot of music at these events and when I say music I mean popular rap music.  I mean if you aren’t switching off your channels after you listen to bad decision after bad decision get called out, listening to what some of the musical acts perform will likely make you do it.  If you want to have musical acts at your show, try taking a page from the Oscars.  They’ll do live performances of songs that were up for award because they were in one of the movies being considered for the night!  You would be more than welcome to perform any musical piece from a game that was up for consideration.  Heck, I’m sure Tommy Tallarico is more than willing to get a whole orchestra together to perform any song from any game that you want, that’s part of his livelihood!

Then there are the comedians who are usually terrible.  When Ralphie May stood up and said the Xbox 360 should be called “It don’t work” did anyone really laugh?  I mean we all know the red ring of death, and had he been experienced in telling technology-centric jokes, he likely could’ve made the joke work, but he didn’t.  Now this is no slam on Ralphie May or comedians in general.  But people have to understand that comedians, no matter how famous they are, are only good in their element.  If they’re used to making jokes based upon their life experiences, asking them to insult a guy is just not going to be funny.  If you don’t believe me, watch the roast of Jeff Foxworthy where three of his best friends, all of which fine comedians, insult him for an hour.  Not once did a single joke they told make me laugh, and usually these guys would.  Inversely, when Dennis Leary was roasted the year before, it was one of the funniest events put to tape.  His peers were expert insult comedians.

If there’s been one positive thing the show has added over the past few years, it has been the world premiere game footage.  This was added around the time E3 downsized, almost turning parts of the awards show into venue to premiere new, highly anticipated games.  This tradition is expected to continue as Uncharted 3 and Batman: Arkham City are both expected to get premiere trailers aired, as well as a few other games.  Other premieres I would consider successful would be the first actual footage of Halo Reach.  Again, this was an honor usually bestowed upon E3, but I guess with the fact that the show downsized, it would make sense developers would space their announcements out.  I was disappointed they’d choose this venue to premiere, as ANYTHING would’ve been more worthy for the reasons I described earlier.

It has been getting better though, just very slowly.  From everything I’ve read so far, I’m going to force myself to give the show one more chance.  The VGAs are coming on tonight at 8pm on Spike TV.  If you’re lucky enough to have a provider which offers you the station in HD, you have a nicer provider than I do.