It should be no secret to you by now that we at That Gamer Hub are huge gamers. Not only gamers that play a couple of online multiplayer shooter game while yelling insanities at young kids (who should not be playing these games anyway). Still, some of us refuse to sit back even once a year and celebrate gaming by watching video game awards ceremonies taking place throughout the year just like a movie addict would watch the Golden Globes and the Oscars (as well as all the less popular ceremonies). I do understand that many gamers just do not care enough to watch these but I believe there has to be deeper reasons.
To be honest, you don’t have to look very far to understand why gamers don’t really care about these special events. Here are the problems that I think should be fixed with some of the biggest award ceremonies.
Video Game Awards (VGAs)
Let’s start with the big one: the Video Game Awards. Hosted by GameTrailers and SpikeTV, this awards ceremony has been offering the total opposite of what a video game award ceremony should normally be about: the games and their creators. As a fact, last years’ VGAs featured multiple game announcements and trailers as well as many crazy segments featuring Felicia Day (such as Fruit Ninja-like fruit cutting with swords). However, it did lack something really important in my opinion: actual awards being given away to people of the gaming industry. Game awards were barely mentioned throughout the night which I felt was a huge disrespect to game developers (artists, designers, programmers, testers, etc.). I even felt that the first time Hall of Fame award given to Shigeru Miyamoto was only an excuse to get this industry giant to their show and get higher ratings because of it. Of course, Miyamoto is without a doubt one of the biggest game designers of all time, but keep in mind they gave him this award for the work he put into creating The Legend of Zelda 25 years ago. While it is a bigger franchise, I just don’t understand why this award was not given to him for Super Mario Bros. (who is a much more iconic character in the video games industry than Link or Zelda).
I know Spike probably wanted to go the MTV Music Video Awards route with celebrities cameos and ridiculous segments to appeal to a wider audience. It might sound very formal, but celebrating those people’s hard work should be the main reason why this sort of ceremony is created.
Independent Games Festival (IGF) Awards
Being a huge Indie Game lover, there is absolutely no need to tell how much I love the IGF Awards. Taking place right before the Games Developers Choice Awards, this ceremony celebrates the more “underground” game development scene. Being a great way to discover new and amazing games (thanks in part to the Nuovo and Student awards), there is simply no other event like this one in the industry which is why I cherish it so much. So, there shouldn’t be anything wrong about the IGF Awards, right? Sadly, there is one big issue in my opinion: unfinished games can win awards in the same categories as well-finished and released games.
See, I do understand that independent video game development is much different from “traditional” games’: development teams are usually smaller and the development cycle can be more difficult due to multiple issues (such as financial ones). Most Indie games developers cannot spend much of their time promoting their games since they are hard at work creating them. Winning a prize serves any of these developer well, getting people’s (and most specifically publishers’) attention to their games and making it easier for them at launch (from a sales/funding perspective). However, having games win awards before it is finished makes no sense to me in my opinion.
In fact, quite a few games have won awards or were nominated before even being completely finished. Both Retro City Rampage and Cobalt Excellence in audio were nominated for Excellence in audio last year even though none of them are released as of today. Even crazier is the case of Polytron’s Fez. While the game does look impressive, it won Excellence in Visual Art back in 2012 and won the IGF Seumas McNally Grand Prize last week. While the game was indeed mostly completed when it was submitted for the 2012 IGF Awards, it sure was not back in 2008. Movies usually don’t get awards four years before they are released because of their special effects work during production and so game shouldn’t either. I would at least suggest that games shouldn’t be able to win awards until the game is finished or that games shouldn’t be allowed to enter twice, which would make it more fair for other developers.
For some strange reasons, Minecraft also did win prizes last year (Seumas McNally Grand Prize and Audience Award on the IGF Awards as well as many Game Developers Choice Awards at GDC) but was not nominated in any category in 2012. The game was not released when it won those awards but was launched in between the 2011 and 2012 award ceremonies.
Many video game awards do things right in my opinion: British Academy Video Game Awards (BAFTA), Game Developers Choice Awards (GDC – aside from last year’s Minecraft nonsense), the Canadian Video Game Awards, and many others. I just think both the IFG rules and the VGAs format should be changed to make it both more fair for game developers as well as more respectful toward the people creating the awesome entertainment product we all love. Most of these ceremonies are already on the good track: they are just missing the mark by a few inches.