So the other night I went to my friend’s place and discovered that his roommate, for reasons that I’m still not totally clear on, was watching the Spike Video Game Awards. It’s pretty much a known fact that these awards are an abomination – a night dedicated to acting like video games are still an underdog medium despite outselling Hollywood blockbusters by a long shot, and hiring celebrities to act like they’re actually aware of these things. Of course, lots of people watch the awards DESPITE these glaring issues with the whole tone of the show. So what I understand it boils down to, for those not just heckling the whole thing from their sofas, is the awards themselves, and to a much greater extent, the trailers.
More after the jump…
Now, the only thing that really comes out of the awards is people getting pissed off. For most, the whole show is guaranteed to piss you off, so for those people (like myself) the obvious solution is to not watch the awards. I should mention, before getting into this, that I actually had no intention of watching the show to begin with, and only stuck with it until me and my friend TJ decided to go watch old episodes of Aeon Flux in a different room.
There are plenty of recaps available on the internet, so I won’t go into detail about everything. Several times today I typed “How much did the VGAs suck last night” into Google, and was upset that nothing succinct like the graph at the top of this post came up. Luckily, my friend Ric has got us covered on that angle. He also made up an award category which could pretty much replace every section of the award show given the end results – “Game most successful with target demographic.” It would do a much better job of explaining how secondary characters from first person shooters can win “best character”, among other questionable award choices. It would also be silly of me to miss mentioning how the host of the show, Neil Patrick Harris, actually won an award. Don’t awards shows generally try to make sure things like that don’t happen?
On the topic of the trailers, I think it’s almost too obvious to point out that you can watch them all online the next day, and that way never suffer through the stupidity of the show itself. None of the trailers really told us anything that we couldn’t have already guessed about the games. Arkham City will take place in a city, and Mass Effect 3 will be about Earth. Elder Scrolls 5 is… well, it’s called Skyrim, and it’s coming out. That’s about all we know. I actually am pretty interested in the Volition title Insane which will be made by Guillermo Del Toro, but again, the trailer didn’t tell us anything about the game beyond what I just mentioned. None of these trailers were so groundbreaking that it was worth watching Denise Richards pretend to know… well, anything about video games. Hell, since they had both her and NPH, they could’ve at least gone for a Starship Troopers reference, but alas, such sparks of imagination have no place at this awards show.
So, what have we learned? Well, I for one am now quite convinced that Neil Patrick Harris doesn’t play video games. This is kind of surprising to me, because he seems like the kind of celebrity who would, but I think it’s very likely he just doesn’t have the time. Hell, I hardly do either. At the very least, no self-respecting gamer would ever plug Kinect so vehemently, and just like everyone else he had to stress how big a deal video games are, as if anybody even mildly aware of the VGAs would debate that point. What I HAVEN’T learned is why the cast of “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” would be an appropriate choice to announce the year’s best first person shooter, or why an actress from 90210 would be involved with the VGAs in ANY WAY. In fact, let’s just open this question – why all the TV actors? There were literally dozens of great actors doing voices for games this year, even without using someone who WON A VGA AT THE SHOW as the host. Honestly, Fallout: New Vegas alone had Danny Trejo, Felicia Day, AND Ron Perlman. Call Of Duty: Black Ops had GARY FUCKING OLDMAN!
But this leads me to a bigger idea that will probably never be applied but would salvage almost 50 percent of the entire show. See, this year one of the big things about the show was that they applied a cool virtual reality hologram type deal to the whole ceremony which allowed them to essentially put CGI effects on stage which could be seen by anyone watching the show on a screen. This wasn’t really put to much use, but the possibilities with this kind of technology, especially in regards to a video game awards show, are really cool when you think about it. For instance, instead of paying through the nose to get celebrities to pretend they’re interested in video games, they could have had the entire thing hosted by actual video game characters! While this would require more work on the CGI animation department’s part, Spike was already paying them for this stuff anyways, and they would probably end up saving a lot if they switched from celebrities to video game voice actors, even after the extra money they’d have to put into the CGI end of things. And imagine how awesome it would be! The cast of Left 4 Dead 1 and 2 together to announce the best multiplayer! The scout from Team Fortress 2 introducing the musicians performing that night (by the way, this year we had My Chemical Romance playing a song off their new album – not the good one), and then Alyx Vance and Gordon Freeman announcing the best character! Well… only Alyx would talk, of course.
Anyways, in summary… well, the VGAs sucked, and that’s not really a surprise. Why did I even write this article? Maybe Spike will do us all a favour and steal these ideas. Then at least I wouldn’t resent my friend’s roommate for watching the VGAs in such close proximity to me. Hell, I might even tune in of my own free will.