The general responses I received from people when I asked about the VGA’s is that it’s not worth the effort to watch. I should simply disregard it as an award show in general. Yet I decided to give it a shot (as this was my first year watching it). Mistake?
Like most overhyped award shows, the overall product that was showcased on SpikeTV was a bit of a disappointment.
However… it’s SpikeTV. This is a network that believes the only things men care about are cops, boobs, stupid stunts someone can get potentially killed in, and more boobs. Granted, I believed this was true of all men too (just like the only things women care about is cooking, knitting, and showing off their boobs)!
For such a network to exist in the first place and continue to “strive,” they must be hitting their mark. So, it’s not surprising that when they produced the VGA’s, they put as much effort into it as they do to their regular programming. They believed they were rightfully catering to their demographic; I’m sure that’s why they started the VGA’s in the first place.
The problem with the VGA’s, and there are plenty, is that it’s just a series of commercials (the exclusive trailers) with bad writing to fill in the space to make it equal two hours. Put it more commercials, for ad profit, and only give out a few awards = that’s the VGA’s.
The actual awards and acknowledgment come second.
So, we have to look at the VGA’s for what it really is: a marketing tool for big-name developers to hype their games and for SpikeTV to get as many viewers as possible for revenue. Is it possible it can someday be more than that (since it doesn’t look like it’s disappearing)? Does it even have that sort of potential? Can it be a balance of entertainment and recognition?
The Entertainment Part
The people who attend (minus most of the presenters) and watch the VGA’s, are people that actually care about games. There may be those few others who watch it to see their favorite comedian Dane Cook on stage, but those people are just morons anyway so we can ignore them (Kidding! Maybe…). Because gamers care about their industry, it’s easy to see why choosing to have “big name celebrities” who know almost nothing about games as opposed to real gamers for the show upsets a lot of people.
But, you can’t be mad at SpikeTV for trying to get “celebrities” to show up at their event. It builds hype and some sort of prestige for the show. They want ratings and celebrities bring ratings.
What they seem to forget about the gaming industry is that it works differently than the movie and music industry. People who love games will watch the show because they are passionate for the games. They won’t be more inclined to watch a show because of some big star, especially if that celebrity doesn’t know the difference between Call of Duty and Farmville. The actual content is what viewers tune in for, which is why most people claim they watch the VGA’s for the trailers – Although these same trailers were immediately put on GameTrailers.com, so you can’t use that as your only excuse.
Just the same, people who don’t care about games will probably not sit through a two-hour award show about them, even if they want to see a certain celebrity.
So, if your core audience is onlygamers of every gender and background, SpikeTV needs to start acknowledging and catering to them to be taken seriously and make a better show. I don’t know if Spike knows this, but a better show means more people watching your VGA’s!
For the most part, the script for the show was just bad. A lot of the presenters looked like they didn’t want to read their lines, or even be there. People who may have actually cared about the show were pushed aside and disregarded.
An easy fix to this: get real gamers (they can still be celebrities! Ice T, Jack Black, and Felicia Day are just a few) and drop some extra cash for a better writing staff. I hear the gaming world is full of them.
Another (cheaper) alternative is hiring us. I say we petition for all of the Sarcastic Gamer crew to host next year’s VGA’s. Can you imagine Doc as the host, Lono taking away the microphone to take his spot, and Dave having to do the all the work behind the scenes while never being on stage? DogsDie will do all the musical performances and Frawlz will fart on cue. Jax will walk drunkenly on stage to interrupt Harley as she announces some nominees. It’d be a spectacular event.
Oh, and in regard to the exclusive trailers, I say those are still important and are a nice add-on to the show. However, it should not be the bulk of the show. Especially when those trailers rarely show any gameplay, or background story (with a few exceptions). It’s okay to want exclusivity and to hype your titles, but it’s important to remember what you’re originally there for.
The Recognition Part
If you’re going to claim your show is an award show, how about giving out some awards? A lot of the announcements of winners were either done in the pre-show or in a 30-second segues into commercials. I honestly had to look up online who won 60% of the categories: like best multiplayer, best adapted video game, and best DLC, to name just a few.
In fact, SpikeTV showcased how much they didn’t care about the actual awards by sending out a press release of the winners while the VGA’s were still going. That seems like a complete disregard for the winners.
In order for the show to actually accomplish what the name proclaims, effort must be put forth (which SpikeTV seems to lack). It’s not hard to put more thought into the categories and even the nominees. Find a better method of calculating winners instead of opting for a popular vote off of a website (which even then is doubtful considering some of the winners). Forming a committee of developers, publishers, even journalists, along with popular votes is a way they can go about it. It may seem like unnecessary work for a show no one cares for, but things have to start somewhere. The VGA’s can evolve from simply entertainment to recognition this way.
There are other award channels out there that do it right, but most of us may not know about them because it’s not a huge televised thing: there’s the Game Developers Choice Awards, the British Academy Video Game Awards (they wear suits and everything!), and the Interactive Achievement Awards by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. These all play close attention to the award-part of their programs, which is how it should be.
Gamers care about games, which also means gamers care about other gamers. SpikeTV needs to start caring about gamers too.
Although these or any awards may not sway people’s opinion on games since every gamer has their own preferences, they do matter (or can). For one, with these award shows gamers come together to celebrate or rage about something they’re passionate about and that can always prompt discussions (hopefully on the intellectual level). Most gaming websites proclaim their game of the year anyway, this just does it on a grander scale.
Secondly, it brings acknowledgment to the industry most of the world still considers “childish” or a “waste of time.” The same people who don’t understand games can start to realize games are making more of an impact on society than once believed. Most importantly, people of the gaming industry deserve recognition in as many forms as possible for the effort they put into the medium they share with us. We show our appreciation to all these people with what we purchase, but having a spiffy trophy doesn’t hurt either.
While the VGA’s are a marketing tool for now, maybe someday a Spike employee will read some of the critical articles out there and suggest good ideas to where the VGA’s can become bearable, maybe even eventually great. Considering the buzz this show prompts year after year, I sure hope so.
To answer my original question, I believe it is possible to accomplish both entertainment and recognition in the VGA’s so everyone wins (or is at least content). It’s up to SpikeTV to make it happen. If they can’t, you got fumbling idiots and flashes of cleavage to look forward to next year. Just like everything else on television!