History & Future of The Game Awards | CryMor

History & Future of The Game Awards | CryMor

The best game of the year. The best direction for a game. The best direction for vocal narration in
a game. The end of the year rolls around, and we all
come together to celebrate and argue over which game is the best, and why everyone else
is wrong. Since gaming is a huge part of entertainment,
one thing we’ve seen pop up over the years is attempts to do gaming award shows–an Oscar’s
or Emmy’s for video games. These have come in many different forms, from
basic People’s Choice-style awards like the Golden Joysticks, to industry awards like
the Game Developers Choice Awards at GDC or the Game Critics Awards at E3. However, none of these have managed to achieve
that Academy Awards level of success. Enter Geoff Keighley. Keighley has been around for a long time,
longer than many people realize. Most people will remember him as the host
of GameTrailers TV from 2005 to 2013, others still will remember him as the replacement
host on G4TV, but Keighley got his start somewhere else. At just 14 years old, Keighley was given the
opportunity to write lines for celebrities for Cybermania ’94: The Ultimate Games Awards,
the first video game awards show broadcast on television. In fact, it’s his words that William Shatner
narrates when reading the nominations. While Cybermania was considered a failure,
a farcical comedy show tangentially related to gaming with little serious attempt to be
anything other than entertainment first and foremost, it has enough of a glimmer of potential
that Keighley would make it his life’s work to achieve a video game awards show worthy
of the industry, and the passion of the gamers it services. And so, while you *might* know him from GameTrailers
or G4TV, you probably do remember him as the host of SpikeTV’s Video Game Awards, the
VGA’s–or in it’s last year the VGX’s. The Spike Awards were a glitzy, glamorous,
Hollywood attempt at producing a Game Award Show, and in many ways it was successful. In the ten years that the VGA’s were on
the air, almost 100 games were announced or teased, hundreds of celebrities and dozens
of musical performances were featured, and almost two dozen categories were awarded. Today, Spike’s Vector Monkey award, with
designs provided by the Studio of the Year winner from the year prior, are sitting in
trophy cases in the lobbies of dozens of developers around the world. Of course, if it were truly the best Awards
show, why isn’t it still on the air? Well, that’s a complicated discussion with
no single answer. Gamers didn’t really love that celebrities
and “Red Carpet” affairs were being given higher priority than the games themselves. Gamers certainly didn’t appreciate the “Games
are for Geeks” jokes and general campiness of the shows. There was an air of jokiness and disdain around
the fact that these were awards being given out to what were obviously considered to be
nothing more than toys, and in fact the show itself often had a feeling of exactly that–an
awards show for the best selling toys, surrounded by commercials designed to sell more of those
toys. Red Carpet interviews had B list celebrities
joking about being huge Frogger fans, and then showing up on stage to give out awards
to games they didn’t understand, awards that were chosen by people nobody knew, and
surrounded by advertisements. In 2013, the complaints that the show was
over-commercialized and under-appreciative were addressed by Spike and their owner Viacom
by changing the VGAs to the VGX. Or VGXs. It’s hard to know how to refer to it, as
it was designed to be a hashtag on Twitter more than the name of an award, and as the
show was cancelled after one year we didn’t get enough exposure for the awkwardness to
eventually disappear. And they were awkward. Hosted by Joel McHale instead of Geoff Keighley,
whether because they thought they needed to maintain at least some level of Star Power
in order for people to tune in, or because they didn’t believe in Keighley to be “funny”
enough, McHale almost single-handedly tanked the entire event by being easily the most
spiteful awards host in the history of awards shows. From attacking the show, to making fun of
guests, the entire thing was so painful to watch it’s no surprise that this was the
first, and last, VGX. It was a watershed moment for Geoff Keighley,
however. The incredibly hostile show proved that bringing
in celebrities simply to have celebrities didn’t work, and that video games didn’t
need star power to be cool. This combined with incredibly poor taste jokes,
and the awkward pacing, where Game of the Year was announced an hour in, followed by
two hours of advertising, proved that Spike wasn’t the place to understand them. So, Keighley quit. Keighley took his passion for game award shows
and decided to try his hand at doing it independently. Putting up the initial investment himself,
Keighley reached out to all his contacts in the industry and The Game Awards were born. A 5000 seat arena in Las Vegas was rented
out, a new statue was created by Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop, and a board of the largest
game developers and publishers was put together to act as Advisors for the show. While that might immediately sound like a
conflict of interest, those developers and publishers are only on the board to establish
procedures and collectively agree on what media sources are allowed to vote. This, of course, is a different kind of conflict
of interest, but in general it’s all pretty aboveboard–and considering that you need
the industry to support the event, it might be the only way it could even be done. That’s not to say concern about Keighley
isn’t warranted. He’s been at the center of some less than
tasteful promotions, to the point where he has his own page on knowyourmeme, and a “Controversies”
headline on wikipedia. People have lost their jobs, lawsuits have
been filed, and careers have been ruined thanks to actions taken by Keighley in pursuit of
his dream. However, The Game Awards 2014, the inaugural
showing, was a success. Not a profitable success, but a success. At least 3000 people showed up to fill those
seats in Las Vegas, and almost two million viewers watched the event on streams across
the internet–almost double the people who watched Spike’s VGX 2013. Those numbers have only gone up, and now The
Game Awards has become the premiere video game award show in the world. Games like Breath of the Wild debuted their
first gameplay reveal at The Game Awards. Steam, the Xbox Live Marketplace and the PlayStation
Store offer sales on the nominated games before, during, and after the Show, and the Show itself
is streamed on consoles and Steam, and you can even submit your vote for games through
Google, Alexa, Discord, and more. It’s hosted moments that have become “Major
Gaming Moments” like Josef Fares rant about microtransactions, and debuted From Software’s
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice before the name had even officially been revealed. Last year, it saw over 19 million views and
20 million tweets, and trended #1 worldwide. This year, we’ll see 10 new games revealed
during the show, including a heavily rumored Aliens game, Alien: Blackout, from 20th Century
Fox. It’s fair to say that Keighley has accomplished
his goal of making an awards show that has the respect of the industry, and the viewership
of the fans. But where can he go from here? The Game Awards is still a highly commercialized
event, and still manages to feel amatuer at times. There is a pervasive feeling that every award
comes with a Sponsored By tag, and, necessary or not for industry acceptance, it’s still
a sad feeling. That being said, there are a lot of positives
to the format. The Game Awards are able to use their clout
and influence to highlight emerging markets, introduce new award categories to adapt to
changing gaming trends, and provide a baseline expectation for professionalism in an industry
that’s grown up with the people it serves. As The Game Awards grows and expands, it’s
not impossible to imagine that when it reaches nearly 100 years of annual shows like the
Academy Awards, that it will be as established, as accepted, and as prestigious. Plus, it’s not like the Oscars are any less
commercial. There’s also got to be something to say
about the fact that The Game Awards grows in viewership every year, when traditional
awards shows are seeing the lowest numbers in their history. In fact, last year they were within 20% of
achieving the same viewership as the Oscars. Perhaps we’ll start seeing the Oscars premiering
new trailers and mini-documentaries in between speeches, instead of the seven hour long self-congratulatory
backpatting session it is today. I certainly can’t imagine a video games
red carpet, where we ask Cliffy B who he’s wearing. The future of The Game Awards is probably
a mix of these, however. It’s showing great strength and growth,
but it’s not the only game in town, and right now it’s highly dependent on a single
person. If Keighley is caught up in a major scandal,
or decides one day that his passion is actually farming avocados, would The Game Awards continue? Additionally, Keighley has said he intends
to start showing more backstory and in-depth reporting on the subjects of the awards given
out–and there’s some questions about how willing an audience is to sit through a longer
show with even less time devoted to actual awards. In the end, there’s only so much self celebration
that an audience is willing to participate in, and the worst possible outcome is a future
where people check their favorite gaming news site for a summary of the winners and interesting
trailers. Do you intend to watch The Game Awards this
year? We’ll be co-streaming it live on Twitch
like we do for every major gaming event, and we’d love to have you join us there with
the rest of the CryMor community. There’s a lot of games up for awards, and
I’ve made some predictions–both on what I think should win, and what I think actually
will win. Join us and let’s see how accurate our predictions
are. If you liked this video, then you can watch
another one in the corner right now, and as always, we’ll see you on the next one.

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12 thoughts on “History & Future of The Game Awards | CryMor”

  • Don't forget to join us this Thursday as we Co-Stream TGA and talk about how wrong they were to give that game the award, only on Twitch.

  • Many tune in to the vgas because of the reveals, like myself. The music performances must go. Pretty sure is impossible to run the show without the sponsors I dont mind look at youtube now, lol. Why Kojima loves Geoff? Its pretty creepy

  • The Game Awards is bullshit and the evidence for this is that Assassin's Creed odyssey nominated for several categories.

  • Nice breakdown of the history I had no idea about this as I don't actually invest in game awards shows. Interesting stuff. I knew about Keighleys reputation a bit though.

  • lmao I almost forgot about that joel mchale game show that was the funniest thing ever

    my favourite thing Keighley has done are those large written pieces on the behind the scenes of large games, iirc he did good work on Portal 2 and MGS

  • I'm for sure going to watch. I may not necessarily root for many of the games nominated this year, but supporting the game industry the best I can is what I set out for. Here's hoping Cuphead wins game of the Millennium!

  • Anything is possible for the Dorito Pope! But seriously I'm impressed he's done so much for event. That still doesn't mean I'm gonna watch it. Catching the summary and new trailers after the fact is all I plan to do.