My road to living room gaming was not paved with the sweet smell of fresh ink wafting from a classic copy of Nintendo Power or Game Informer. Even after I picked up an original Xbox, then the Xbox 360 a few years later, I had no wish to read a gaming magazine. I had no regular interactions with the gaming community in general. One thing I did do every year was settle in front of a television set each December to watch the Video Game Awards.
My dedication is I no way a reflection of their quality. They were terrible. Each year, the list of stars attending who’d never picked up a game controller and their lives grew longer. Seriously, even I, a novice gamer, could tell that some of these clowns didn’t know what Halo was and had no idea there was a yearly awards show dedicated to the medium. Throughout it though, there was Geoff Keighley trying to legitimize the spectacle and find some even ground between the glitzy, high-stakes show that Spike TV wanted to air and the real content gamers craved. Last year’s Joel McHale hosted event was a social media disaster that even someday aliens will mock and laugh heartily with green tentacles covering their mouth openings.
This year’s Game Awards 2014 show came the closest yet. I’d love to know how you guys feel about it, but already I’m looking forward to future shows with this new format. In attendance were video game icons we hadn’t seen in years. There were jokes from video game developers that we could all understand. Of course, this being the Game Awards, there were some pretty cheap laughs, awkward pauses, odd syntax in writing and studio heads who thought they were too cool to speak directly into a microphone.
Keighley’s Game Awards 2014 seemed to be in search of home-spun credentials. Ken and Roberta Williams made their first gaming related appearance in years. I had no idea who they were or how important they were to the industry until I looked up their names. For once gaming icons were on stage. 8-bit music and light shows were on full display. For once, the show wreaked of authenticity; of real guys who loved games putting out their own up-start event.
Technical glitches unwittingly lent the show even more authenticity. Presenters ignoring teleprompters, a fair amount of awardees not in attendance and some of the worst audio I’ve ever experienced on a program made it feel like something video gamers created. Sure, it wasn’t professional quality sound, but that was ok, real gamers spend most of their time actually gaming anyway. Who has time to learn how to correctly level all the different audio inputs. (I’m joking, but next year someone needs to hire a serious audio professional.) Keighley’s decision to work directly with the gaming press and console companies to disseminate a live video stream was much appreciated, even if Microsoft blew it by not making it clear we should watch from the Twitch app and not directly through the Live Events Player.
Everything wasn’t likeable. I’d have liked to see more decent premieres from someone other than an independent developer or Nintendo. I’d have liked for Microsoft to show support besides just sending Larry Hyrb to an event before the show and airing a commercial for Sunset Overdrive. (The Game Awards’ commercials were delightfully humble too.)
I’m in for a Game Awards 2014 with Geoff Keighley producing and hosting. Last night I felt a spark, a momentary connection to an industry I barely have any insight into beyond Xbox Live and high-profile console releases. Let’s just make sure we ditch the 8-bit music though, there’s only so many sounds generated by a Game Boy a man can take.