VGX: For immature audiences only

  • Posted December 10th, 2013 at 04:52 EDT by Anthony Chambers

11. That is how many Video Game Awards (Now VGX) Spike has broadcast since the inaugural awards show in 2003. And for some reason, it still seems far off from building a foundation that establishes credibility with those who produce video games and play them. Something’s gotta give.

The industry is growing up, but spectacles like VGX hinder that growth and perpetuate a stigma of immaturity. You have heard the negativity surrounding the show from gamers and other gaming sites. Some granted, and some not. But what we have to remember is that video games are big business. They’re covered by everyone.

Paul Tassi, a contributor to Forbes magazine, has attended the VGAs before. His statement, that the show “...brought in truckloads of B and C list celebrities and forced them to present awards they clearly didn’t understand” is no understatement. It was one of the biggest complaints about previous shows. That is why Spike stripped it down, broadcast it online, and essentially shot itself in the foot.

Jonathan Leack, a writer for Crave Online, wrote “At times the show was downright hilarious, while other times it was tragic. I've never seen so many people speak into a microphone who are either severely intoxicated or suffering from sleep deprivation in one day, let alone in three hours.”

We don’t know if people (aside from host Joel McHale, possibly) were actually intoxicated. They probably were sleep deprived. Producing a show like this is no easy feat, which is why I applaud Geoff Keighley and his team for working at it. But is this what people assumed while they watched VGX?

It does not help that five minute into the show McHale made a joke about transgenders.

Samantha Allen, a writer for various sites such as Kotaku and Salon, voiced her opinion on the progressive site The Border House. On the site she wrote, "a joke like that is politically ill-advised. It violates the comedic wisdom that one should punch up rather than punch down. It not only repeats the exoticizing [sic] focus on transgender people’s genitals, it also casts transgender identity itself as something scandalous and laughable."

One can assume that McHale has no remorse for the joke. Anyone who has seen his show "The Soup" knows that this kind of humor is the norm. But that does not excuse it, especially when the show is the representation of the industry as a whole. You will never hear that joke on any other kind of televised awards show.

Aside from tasteless jokes, the awkward dynamic of Geoff and McHale is another polarizing topic. Tassi wrote that McHale,”appeared to do his best to try and sink the entire event in what can only be described as “hateful presentation.” William Usher of Cinema Blend had a different take as he wrote, “McHale stole the show with the sort of awkward laughter you would expect from a less-than-sober Larry David. The alternative would have been sitting through an insipid and boring show that wouldn't have been any different than a Bonus Round on Game Trailers.”

The show should have fallen back on its bread and butter, content. Premieres like No Man’s Sky and Tomb Raider Definitive. Videos featuring the likes of Broken Age and Titanfall. Interviews with developers and publishers. It is tough to balance being informative with entertaining (The Oscars and Golden Globes even have their issues from time to time), but I would love a bigger focus on content; and the people in the industry.

A focus on luminaries is a tall order in an industry that does not have many (if any) household names. Casual gamers do not know who David Jaffe, Ken Levine, or Cliffy B are. Why not bring these pioneers to the forefront and showcase them? I want to see the developers I admire. The ones who are an inspiration to present and future game ... (continued on next page) ----

Anthony Chambers is a Staff Writer for PSU. When he's not obsessively reading about video games and playing them, he is producing short films. You can keep up with his random musings on Twitter at @hey_chambers.
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