I watched the Spike TV Video Game Awards mainly to see the trailers for upcoming releases—three of which are sequels to some of my favourite games in recent memory. On that end, they delivered, with the first plot details of “Batman: - Arkham City”, “Mass Effect 3” and “Uncharted 3”. Yet the issues, more than years past, were evident this year.
It is tremendous that video game developers can be recognized for their work by millions of people watching the show. Yet the VGA’s have been nothing more than an infomercial for the next blockbuster release. The winners are also nothing more than payoffs for companies and celebrities for being a part of the show.
Neil Patrick Harris won the award for “Best Performance by a Human Male” as Peter Parker in “Spiderman: - Shattered Dimensions” while hosting the show. That was also one of the only two nominations for the game (the second being Best Adaptation whereas the game is not an adaptation of any specific comic book or movie).
This is not the first time a host has been rewarded for their participation. Jack Black won a similar award in 2009 for Brutal Legend.
While I did not agree with the Game of the Year nominees, that is a subjective matter and up to the people in charge. The issue though, is in consistency.
Assassins Creed Brotherhood beat out Game of the Year nominees God of War 3 and eventual winner Red Dead Redemption, as the Best Action Adventure Game of 2010.
Nearly a third of the awards were announced in the span of 30 seconds before a commercial. For comparison purposes, that was the length of the teaser trailer for “Insane” by Guillermo Del Toro. “Insane” is three years away, with a 2013 release date.
The director found it suitable to designate the remainder of the time to let Neil Patrick Harris converse with Spiderman, sing a musical number (Spoilers included with no warning) and let Olivia Munn yell at him with no reason whatsoever. Harris was a few seconds away from catapulting a chicken into some pigs.
Let’s not forget the comedian who was banned twice from his X-Box Live account for threatening to behead someone’s mother and also assuming people masturbate to the God of War games in the internet era.
The video game industry, Neil Patrick Harris says, is larger than any other media outlet, including movies. Harris also says “Call of Duty: - Black Ops” has made more money than Avatar. One would assume the industry would be more respected in mainstream media, yet the self proclaimed biggest night for video games spreads the image of average gamers getting “worldwide boners” whenever they see Olivia Munn on television.
The one thing I was looking forward to overshadow what the mainstream audience needed to see—the developers who put hundreds of hours into making games as good as they are now. Forget the fact that these games are pushing the boundaries of art, entertainment and interactivity simultaneously because the mainstream market only sees gamers as one thing—sheltered people who are afraid of change.
For seven years the Video Game Awards have troubled audiences with minor flaws. This year proved it is nothing more than a marketing machine for video game companies—Nintendo seemingly being the exception.
The video game industry, and gamers, will continue to complain that games are not taken seriously. I will be on that front as well, but when the legitimacy of the most watched gaming event in the world is in question, how exactly can we argue against the likes of Roger Ebert who say video games are not art? Simply put—we cannot.