One of the things that many gamers take issue with is twofold problem. Games lack the respect within society of other arts, such as cinema, and this problem isn’t helped by the public perception of programs such as the Spike TV VGX awards show. Last year’s program—while still not generally considered successful—was at least an outlier to the usual routine. Geoff Keighley, the co-host of the show as well a prominent figure in broadcast game journalism, tried something a little different, with a smaller affair that attempted to concentrate more on the developers and less on the flash and bang. This is a far cry from past VGX award years, where hosts such as Samuel L. Jackson lorded over an ADD targeted awards night that had more in common with music video promotion than it did with recognizing the efforts of the artists and technicians that contributed the year’s best interactive entertainment.
It’s been said that what gaming needs is dignity to its awards show, something similar to the Academy awards of American film, and the Oscar night that’s watched by millions of people around the world. The games industry already has this, it’s just that not too many people—even enthusiasts—really pay it much attention when compared to the marketing onslaught of the Spike VGX awards. The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, known by the acronym AIAS, holds its own annual award night. Like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, this is a group of professionals, within the industry, voting on a select group of games in various categories to recognize the best efforts of the year.
The big difference, however, is that the Oscars are considered THE event by both the filmmaking industry and its audience as the height of achievement. It means that the top people within film are acknowledging the top work, whether it was acting, directing, cinematography or even wardrobe and special effects. The AIAS equivalent, the D.I.C.E. Awards, which is held during the D.I.C.E summit, and stands for Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain. This event is held in Las Vegas for the industry itself, and while the results are broadcast to the public, it’s not widely marketed or hyped, even with gamer geek friendly hosts at the event, such as Felicia Day and Freddie Wong. Last year’s VGX awards on the other hand, had a somewhat mortified Geoff Keighley trying—and failing—to peacefully co-exist with co-host Joel McHale, who seemed more interested in belittling gamers and the medium itself, rather than celebrate it. In other words, one event is trying to pay due respect to the people within the industry and what they’ve done over the year. The other is trying to jam in as many trailers for upcoming games as possible while throwing in a host that market research has dictated is “a hit with the kids.”
There’s a serious disconnect going on within the medium of games. Why is it that in film, an awards show is created by and for the industry itself that is still celebrated by the fans, but in games, the creators have their own, more dignified awards show, while the audience has a flashier more insulting one?
Somewhere out there, someone has decided that while we need to honor the hard work of the games industry with respect and admiration, the audience itself just wants loud noise and screaming. Someone out there decided that while the people that run the gaming industry are smart, the people that buy the games are stupid. Filmgoers don’t need to be told what an Oscar is, if they hear a film won an Oscar for best of the year, that’s a widely recognized stamp of quality. On the other hand, it’s assumed that a fan of Call of Duty is neither going to know—nor care—that the D.I.C.E. awards gave the nod to The Last of Us as game of the year, because what they really want to see on TV is Joel McHale make a disparaging remark about people living in basements, before cutting to a new COD trailer, and then an advertising assault of Mountain Dew and Doritos ads.
The big question is, are these people right?