VGAs, heir to the video game award throne (dur), we need to talk. I feel like you’ve missed the point of awards ceremonies.

When the Oscars began waaaay back in 1929 it was to fix an image problem Hollywood had. Germany was killing it cinematically and Hollywood was a group of degenerates making naughty films. Things like the alleged rape and murder of a teenage girl by Fatty Arbuckle dominated the headlines. Bare breasted ladies paraded across screen. Talkies were becoming a legitimate thing but they were controversial and had people in the rural US nervous. Hollywood needed to say they were here and they were real and they were better than Germany and they weren’t going anywhere.

So the Oscars were created. It was a classy affair. People dressed up. They were on good behavior. It was all about presenting a respectable front to the haters of the US in the 1920s.

The Oscars blazed a trail. They said that these new and organized entertainment medias could be judged on artistic merit. There could be winners and losers and prestigious pictures and crowd pleasers. The Tonys, Emmys and Grammys? All rode on the cultural coattails of the Oscars.

Then the award shows propagated. Golden Globes and MTV Music Video Awards and American Music Awards appeared. MTV then created the MTV Movie Awards, an ode to populism that was more jokes and skits and crazy antics than actual award ceremony. It was–is–the antithesis of the Oscars.

And VGAs? Buddies? You’re the MTV Movie Awards. Despite a great panel of judges (a mix of male and female video game critics who know their stuff) and some very smart categories (Best DLC? Best Multiplayer? That’s awesome. Heck next you’ll do “Best Environment Design” and “Best UI” and those will be awesome too.) you’re pandering to the populist demographic. You’re forgoing prestige for ratings.

Which I get. Mama gotta eat right? You need to make money or it’s a waste, and you’re technically part of Spike TV, which never met a boob on a trampoline it didn’t like. So a little pandering is certainly in order.

But the VGAs have become straight up pandering with a side of stupidity. And what’s worse? It’s not even pandering to gamers! It’s pandering to pop culture’s idea of gamers. Which apparently involve sex obsessed dudes who like bad jokes and outdated internet memes.

I cringed watching the VGAs because they were just that–dare I say–lame? I can’t even muster indignant rage over the exclusion of 40% of the gamer demographic (that would be women). Or the misuse of the awesome gamer nerd sauce that is Zachary Levi and Felicia Day.

Right now the video game industry needs a makeover. We all know it. Employees in the industry complain about the students coming in wanting beds and beer pong for their offices instead of better wages and hours. Epic Games president Mike Capps talks about the immaturity of the business side of things and people assume he’s talking about socially immature programmers. The big video game trade shows are 3/4 games and 1/4 booth babes.

And a serious (but still fun) video game awards ceremony will help that image problem. Instead of pandering to famous people who don’t give a hoot, that one dude from a teen movie from the 90s and guys who rarely change the channel from Spike (understandable ONLY during Star Trek marathons) maybe next year Spike and you guys could get legit. Cut down on sophomoric things like tea bagging, put nominees on the floor instead of up in the bleachers and make it about the video games.

Also give Mark Hamill a live time achievement award because the dude just retired one of the most iconic voices of the last thirty years and deserves props.

Alternatively I hear there is this channel, G4, and they were originally the “video game” channel. Maybe launch a prestige ceremony there. Keep it fun, but mature. That would help G4 with the accusations that it’s abandoning women gamers and gamers as a whole to cater to the Spike crowd and it would help you with the image problem the VGAs enforced this year. Win pr win people.

If all else fails just promise us you’ll never tea bag Zachary Levi on stage again. I cringed for the dude.

But I loved him for this rant later. Preach it holder of my nerd heart. Even if I have some issues with guys using douche as an insult this was an inclusive and awesome speech that any good gamer can agree with. THAT’S appropriate video game awards humor. More rants about bad players and less tea bagging award winners.

Sources [Game Industry via Escapist, Kotaku]

  • Hear, hear!  I don’t watch the VGAs because…I’ve seen them before, & they are terrrrrrrible.  Which is the same reason, by the way, that I don’t watch…Spike, or G4, despite being in their demographic.  No, in fact, I’m better than “their demographic,” because I’m older & have more money to spend.  But instead they give us this pile of sick, which– like Alex says, isn’t for even the lowest common denominator, but the Insulting Stereotype of the Gamer.  I know there are gamers with taste– all the well considered retorts to Ebert’s poorly considered comments about games & art are proof of that.  Where are THOSE voices?

  • Anonymous

    There a huge difference between the VGAs and the Oscars.  The VGAs are more like the Golden Globes.  The Oscars are judged by a group of peers, the Golden Globes are judged by journalist and critics.  The Developer Choice Awards would be more appropriate analogy to the Oscars. 

    I worked as a Game Critic, then jumped the fence over to being a Game Developer, I have different standards now then when I was a critic.