geoff of the year
i woke up at midnight just so i could catch THE GAME AWARDS - geoff keighley's annual awards ceremony specially catering towards game developers and fans alike. ten years ago i guess this was a smaller event, but i started watching it annually from 2018 and that year had a pretty big reveal from nintendo (the first smash ultimate DLC announcement, JOKER from persona 5). so i was on board! this could be exciting for more reasons than just the awards being handed out. i had no reference of what the Industry At Large was like, i only really cared about the game news, so it was adequately entertaining for me as a fan of videogames.
now it's been five years, i've been watching this stuff annually each year, and to say it's gotten worse would be an understatement. maybe it's my own personal experience - five years ago i was just a school kid, but now i've had three years of game design education with another three ahead of me and over that time it's gotten harder to view the game awards as literally anything other than advertising. however exciting an announcement or trailer may be, it's still all promotion unrelated to the actual awards; y'know, the namesake of the entire event. and it's fine to have ads i guess, as far as i could tell they never felt oversaturated or anything, but the frequency and density of advertising has reached a ridiculous height this year in particular.
2023, this year, has been ENORMOUS for videogames. it's no exaggeration to say it's been packed with blockbuster after blockbuster - tears of the kingdom, baldur's gate 3, mario wonder, alan wake 2, starfield, pikmin 4, street figher 6, armored core 6, most of which i haven't played at all but i can tell they were huge deals, not to mention the news we've gotten about Literally Grand Theft Auto Six. it's been a big year! and in the midst of all this, no E3. as of last year, the biggest game expo just ceased to be, and now geoff keighley's SUMMER GAME FEST has taken the reins of the big news event scene, i guess. at this point every publisher and developer just does their own thing, whether it's a presentation event or just releasing trailers - again, GTA6 - while the tradition of major publishers holding their own lengthy conferences at an organized trade show event has died out. this has caused issues!
this year, a lot of the biggest news has just happened through social media and trailers, and if it hasn't then there's no lengthy E3 presentation to show it at anymore. all the news that we see in THE GAME AWARDS would have likely been reserved for something like that, but now it's all crammed into one four-hour show hosted and produced by our guy geoff. i don't think his management of the show is at all malicious, he really seems to love videogames, but in execution it can be such a mess.
last year i stayed up for a 7 hour livestream in which i watched all of the 2022 game awards with my friends. it was a slog, i felt really exhausted and bored by most of it, and there were technical issues with my internet which meant i saw all of it in like 240p. it wasn't great! one of the standout moments of the show was when the voice actor for KRATOS from god of war went up on stage and had a 10 minute speech while, of all people, al pacino just stood and watched on the side. it was comical how long it was, but it was nice that someone with such a key role in this cinematic triple-A game could express their feelings about receiving the award. you know, a SPEECH, like award ceremonies tend to have?
this year, the same guy went up on stage to present an award, and there was a whole gag about how he just took So Long last year and that (i'm paraphrasing from memory here) there "wouldn't be any ten-minute speeches this time". he wasn't wrong! because all the developers and folks who won awards only had thirty god damn seconds to give out their speeches!
to fill in the time left by these comically time-restricted award speeches, we got a load of trailers and ads for games i really didn't feel much for. like, yeah, they're cool, and i was impressed by a whole lot of these games, but considering how we got ten minutes of hideo kojima and jordan peele on stage advertising their new game while the Literal Award Winners of The Game Awards that flew out just to be there only got half a minute, it's easy to see a bit of a misbalance in standards here.
i wasn't paying attention to this while watching, for what it's worth. i spent about 20 minutes away from my desk so i could bake a giant cookie, which i then ate while the show was going on. i also played a bunch of SUIKA GAME - the real game of the year (sorry baldur's gate) - so i could multitask and prevent myself from getting bored, so it's fair to say i wasn't really paying the most attention. after the show i saw people posting about how ridiculous it was that award winners got so little time while kojima and the guy who played shang chi got so much stage time. matthew mcaonoaucgghey(?) was there for at least a couple minutes before cutting to a trailer for a game he's gonna star in, while literally eiji aonuma was prompted to "wrap it up" after thirty seconds of giving a speech for literally the legend of zelda: tears of the kingdom. i complained a little about TotK for not really being my dream BotW sequel, but come on, man, that's an icon of game design getting deprioritized so they could make room for a clash of clans ad. not to mention the number of awards they gave out one after the other in quick succession, awards that definitely should get the spotlight like BEST INDIE GAME, BEST RPG, the PLAYER'S VOICE award, why did these all get the boot in favor of promoting the fallout tv show?
well i mean. i know why, it's because of money and whatever, but it feels so illegitimate to host an awards show for game developers only for 80% of the runtime to be promotional material. it's more of an E3 show than anything else i've seen this year, because E3 no longer exists, and it just makes me feel bad for the actual artists and designers in the audience who most certainly have earned the spotlight at the biggest awards show curated for them, just sitting there to see literal real life zionist neil druckmann win the "WHO WON AT MAKING THEIR VIDEOGAME INTO SOMETHING OTHER THAN A VIDEOGAME" award.
on a more positive note, the alan wake guys seemed like they were having a lot of fun. i haven't played either alan wake game, but now i want to. and, finally, i'd like to express that the game awards really don't matter to me (or anyone who knows what's up). there are far too many good games releasing, and geoff can't possibly cram them all into one show to celebrate. one of the nominated indie games wasn't even indie, so this stuff definitely isn't credible. it's entertainment first, i guess.