I scrapped the original post I made about The Game Awards 2019, because it was nonensical bullshit. Don’t expect this to be anything else, but after finishing it in a hurry, I came back in a hurry to write it all over again because I had one question that I didn’t answer to myself; What’s the point?
The point I see in these game awards if effectively a trifecta, three points that drive any sort of Category of the Year thing, especially in mass media entertainment thing like video and computer games. The first point is marketing. This might sound cynical, and it kinda is, but despite the Game Awards having 80 outlets and influencers pitching their token in, these games are have been selected by selected outlets around the world. This carries prestige and name recognition with it, and I doubt anyone really bats an eye at the whole thing. It sounds good enough with a global opinion being shared by so many different kind of people and cultures. You got to be one of the nominees, these people got to be on the advisory board, this company’s games got on the nominees list. Of course, after the fact the winners can flounder around with tacky stickers claiming to be the game of the year. Whatever it takes to drive a bit more sales. Sure, developers themselves can’t submit games, but that never prevented reveals and advertisement being inside the event itself. Then you have the fact that most game media doesn’t write to its target audience anymore, but to the industry. There is a skewed bias that goes unrecognised. How many of these have played any 2019 DLSite games, for example? Shit’s full of great indie titles.
Second is supposed prestige. Games have none. Despite however much current core users want to argue for games being art, the general opinion doesn’t really care or doesn’t think them as art like films are. Game award events like The Game Awards tries to mimic the Oscars in many ways and some have positioned it as such, but it simply lacks the same punch. There is no glamour in these events. People sleep in the audience. Nobody but the main hosts dresses smartly. The design-scape, colours, sounds, everything yells how mundane and everyday this really is. The Oscars are bullshit on their own right, but at least there is Hollywood glamour. There is decade long prestige there that gaming lacks. Both as a hobby and as a form of entertainment. The sheer difference in impact of the visuals is so striking, that whatever The Game Awards does, they make it look like a goddamn low-level rock festival rather than something that should uplift the medium in the eyes of the audience.
This is not to say game awards or the like can’t have prestige to it. You just don’t get it like this. Not outside the core audience itself, unlike the Oscars or whatever Book of the Year award your country has. If they would play games as part of the long-running game culture and position themselves as such and concentrate on elements that are unique to games themselves rather than Oscar mimicry, which really is point 2.5, you’d have something that would raise interest outside the core market. Instead of presenting the unique elements and genres of games, you get Content provider of the Year. A Youtuber, blogger, eSports coach or player should have jackshit to do with awards about games. Give awards to Best Team of Coders or something, but there’s zero percent chance any of these people even considered coding worth an award at any point.
To be honest, there really isn’t a third point in itself. Self-importance in itself shouldn’t be a point, but it ends up being one. At least the Oscars are driven by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Despite them effectively being part of the Hollywood system, at least there is some kind of resemblance of jury who know the film industry and probably have worked there for some length of time. Games don’t have anything like this for whatever reason. Most likely because it is so new and there is no driving force that would put up at least a facade of some kind of organisation that would drive the culture and arts of electronic entertainment and games. The Game Awards is a spiritual successor to a TV-station’s awards event, which was to drive up viewership. It might want to argue that relegating its nominations process and everything around it to the gaming media makes it more objective, but it lacks the final step of taking into notion the sheer amount of consumer data they have in their use. The consumers can vote count 10% of the whole deal, which is effectively pissing into the ocean.
You can see the self-importance in the nonsensical nature of the categories. Instead of having categories specific for games, like best controls, best coding etc. you have stuff like Best Esports coach, something that has absolutely nothing to do with games themselves. Sure, it has something to do how well you play games, but that is beside the point of a game award gala. The Oscars don’t give awards to the best speech trainer or the like. You could have more categories for difference genres, more categories to promote the games as art more than what appears to be surface level jerking to what other event was the best. That’s what it all really end sup being.