The Game Awards: Why We Need Them and Need to Be Better with Them

The Game Awards are a show that brings together the celebration, discussion, and ire of gamers every year, for better and worse. For some, it’s a throwaway event that feels more like a multi-hour promotion for AAA games and publishers looking to get attention, while others see it as a display of the games industry finally maturing. Regardless of where you or anyone might stand on it, the Game Awards are a show that is something the industry needs to take place. Yet at the same time, all of us in front of and behind the camera of The Game Awards need to take better care at how we view it and approach putting it together. Nothing in any industry is perfect, but everything can strive to get a bit closer to that for the benefit of everyone.

The industry needs a night like The Game Awards to not only put on a display for the general public but to also attract more people to gaming as a whole. While unfortunate to admit, there are still parts of the world that look down upon gaming as a childish hobby, not being given the same reverence as things like movies or music in pop culture. Having a mainstream award show that attracts massive attention around the world in the same vein as the Oscars or Golden Globes shows the world that video games is as viable of an entertainment medium as anything else, and not just because of the massive amounts of money it brings in. The show when handled at its best can give those who have been involved in gaming a chance to celebrate the art form and spectacle that video games have become and continue to evolve into over the years, with a rich history and level of respect that every other entertainment medium has garnered over time.

But all of this can only be fully realized when we all change our overall perception of the show and how we push to put it together. The business of putting on a show like The Game Awards is a harsh reality that many refuse to see or understand, constantly viewing it as a shill event for cheap promotion and self-gratification among outlets and publishers, often taking jabs at Geoff Keighley for attempting to make it all work. The truth is that no event or spectacle comes cheap and you can’t make things like this happen without the economics of it all.

Ads are always going to be part of any awards show, exclusives are always going to attract more attention to the show, and the larger industry players are always going to have a presence there in one way or another. It’s the same things you can say about any other awards show in any form of entertainment. The sooner we all get over this and stop using it as a reason to poke fun at or discredit the show, the easier it will be for all of us to move toward improving it in ways we want to see it thrive. You can’t ruminate on what’s wrong with something without eventually getting over it to see what can be done better. Let alone see the boogeyman in every ad or choice of nominees and winners we just don’t like or agree with.

And yet, one of the biggest points of contention for The Game Awards is how relevant the winners and nominees from the show are. This always stems from who gets nominated and how they are nominated, with the result always being a debate on who or what deserves it more. The nominees and winners of The Game Awards are decided by committee, with representatives from large outlets deciding on every category. Often these people don’t get to play all of the games within the nominations or play enough games to accurately decide which games go into which group of nominees. This can be a major problem and the source of constant tension for gamers watching the show, making everyone look bad in the process.

While we will never find a way to get everyone to agree on the same thing, no awards show ever does, the show can make a better effort at having the categories of the show more accurately reflect the games that stood out that year. A pure action game that has fighting within it SHOULD NOT be nominated in the fighting game category, just because it has fighting in some form. A person should not be nominated for best content creator of the year when they don’t make original content, and so on and so forth. Better and more concrete criteria for the nomination categories should be defined for everyone. This way throwaway nominations can be avoided. Letting instances like that slide can hurt the overall impression of the award show and make it seem amateur in comparison to others like the Oscars or Grammys, or any other entertainment awards show that The Game Awards is always compared to. One can say anything about other awards shows, but they get their nomination categories right more often than not.

At the same time, those who cast a vote on the show need to be heavily encouraged to play more games or have a wider palate of titles they have played throughout the year. The show has always had a problem with reps from different outlets not playing certain games that were front runners of the year or popular among the masses within different genres, leading to weird or repeated nomination choices for certain games over others. With things like this time is always the enemy, but it doesn’t have to be. Outlets on the voting committee need to have their representatives play more games throughout the year if they’re making choices about this.

While some games will eventually be nominated for multiple categories for various reasons, the same 4 or 5 games can’t be the only ones most have played in every category. It looks awkward for the show and gives the impression that those voting on the winners don’t have enough of a perspective on the year as a whole. Time might not always be in abundance, but voters need to make the time to play the games that are most relevant for being nominated.

There’s so much more about The Game Awards that can be improved upon, despite a lot of the good the show has established over the years. The live performances, the honoring of industry veterans and icons, as well as showcasing of some of the best aspects of video games to the general public. It’s an ongoing evolution of something that displays a reverence for our favorite medium, even though it’s not perfect. Whether many want to admit it or not, The Game Awards is something we need to be great. Because without it going on every year, we won’t mature together as an industry in the way we’ve always wanted to see in the years to come.

What are your overall thoughts on the Game Awards? Do you like watching the show or following the results every year? Post a comment down below and tell us where you stand on it!

Jakejames Lugo

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