I’ve started writing a weekly piece about games made in Chicago. This week I chose Injustice: Gods Among Us because it just won best fighting game at the VGX awards. That piece is still coming but for now, I have other things to say. I’ve been fuming over the train wreck that was the 2013 VGX awards. It’s taken me a couple of days to even recover from that mess, but here’s my rant.
You may not have watched the 2013 VGX awards (let’s be honest, you probably didn’t). Let me sum it up for you. It was exactly like the Oscars if every single thing that made the Oscars even minutely watchable was removed and replaced with cringe-worthy silence, terrible humor, and a general sense that the show shouldn’t exist at all. It was hosted by Geoff Keighley and Joel McHale, who could not possibly have seemed more uncomfortable together. McHale is typically a pretty funny guy, but it was clear that he is not a gamer and could not have cared less about the show. His usual sarcastic humor, directed typically at either Keighley or varying off-screen elements (the cameraman, the teleprompter, etc…) fell completely flat. To make it worse, the entire awards show was shot in a studio with no audience, so jabs at Keighley that might have garnered at least a bit of laughter just felt and mean. In fact, for the majority of the show you just felt bad for Geoff Keighley. He looked like a guy desperately trying bail out a sinking ship while McHale just kept shooting more holes in it.
McHale’s misplaced appearance, Keighley’s deer-in-headlights reactions, and the absence of an audience all made the award show feel awkward. More than that, it actually made the show feel unnecessary. It was clear that no one had rehearsed, and that most of the people who were part of it didn’t even care that it was happening. As a gamer I’d love to see games elevated to the same status as films and television. I’d love to see them viewed as forms of art. The 2013 VGX awards was a step backwards for that. It would have been better if there had been no award show at all. What we got instead was a show that consisted of reveal trailers (commercials) a few random awards, and a bunch of people who clearly thought the whole thing was stupid.
To his credit, Geoff Keighley tried to keep things on track. Say what you might about that guy, but he truly is a gamer and I believe that he wanted that show to succeed. At the end of the day though, it wasn’t nearly enough. McHale’s terrible attitude combined with the WTF-ness of the Loiter Squad (I don’t even know what to say about that) so badly derailed any sense of reverence for the industry that the whole show just felt like a big middle finger to the industry.
Ultimately the whole thing got under my skin because I enjoy being a gamer, and I enjoy watching the industry grow. This awards show was terrible and it made me feel embarrassed to be a gamer. What’s worse, if I had made one of those games that won an award, I would have been embarrassed to collect my award. Seriously video game awards, get your shit together next year, you’re ridiculous.
P.S. Here’s a compilation I found of the worst moments. Watch at your own risk.