In the aftermath of this weekend’s Spike TV Video Game Awards, many people have been quick to condemn them as nonsense, including the likes of Jeff Gerstmann and Wired.com’s Jason Schreier, and I can’t say I disagree with them. They were a fairly obnoxious affair that had as little to do with video games as they thought they could get away with.
A similarly large number of people have taken the opportunity to put forth their own vision of what a respectable video game awards show would look like. While their intentions are in the right place, I’m not sure this is the path we need to be heading down as a medium.
Usually when offering their vision, people tend to cite such award show institutions as the Oscars and Emmys. These events are indisputably classier and more respectful to their mediums than the VGAs were, but that doesn’t mean we need to model our own event after theirs. Both of the given examples have been around for long enough that TV was a dominant form of entertainment media when they started, meaning it’s a no-brainer for them to appear in the format that they do. This is particularly true of the Emmys, which are about television.
Video games, however, have a uniquely different opportunity before them. Video games have only recently become a big enough and mature enough medium for an awards show to even be something we need to think about. Media has changed in a big way since the early days of the awards shows of other mediums, and gaming has no obligation to present itself in the same format.
Maybe the solution to the problem of Spike TV’s annual mockery of our medium isn’t to make a better TV program on a different station. Maybe the solution is to not make one at all. Maybe gaming as an industry needs to overcome its insecurity, and stop relying on mediums like TV to lend it further mainstream legitimacy.
This is an industry that’s worth over ten billion dollars. The time when we needed the help of other media to prop us up has long since passed. Not to mention, the 21st century provides us ample alternatives to traditional media outlets, if we do want to have an event that can be viewed by a mass audience without being constrained by the rules of television.
Maybe all the existing game journalism outlets, who already give out their own individual awards every year, can get together and do one big event every year. Stream it live on Youtube or something. Invite some actual industry professionals, and leave Charlie Sheen at home.
The details of any future alternative to the shambles that is the current VGAs will be decided by people far more important than me. I’d just like everyone to remember that there’s no reason we can’t think outside the little black box.