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Love/Hate: SpikeTV's 2009 Video Game Awards

6:20 PM on 12.17.2009 // Pixelated Lilac

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When videogame culture reaches a point in which it enters mainstream realm, we as gamers sometimes get sensitive to the idea. Our beloved past-time has a special meaning that most pop-culture does not, so to see it even remotely attempt it trying to be like modern pop-culture is a travesty since well ... it's a pop-culture of it's own.

Honestly, I look at my peers' dismissal and I really can't blame them. So far, the mainstream's view of gaming has no regard towards the artistic merit and quality of games. From horrid videogame movies to the whole debacle about “models jumping on the nerd bandwagon” (I still don't get this one) -- when mainstream and gaming mix, it often leads to mediocrity.

Videogame award shows are no exception to this rule. In the past, we've seen most award shows, from past SpikeTV VGA's to G-Phoria's crash and burn in a glorious flames of failure. No matter how much glamour, hype, celebrities and prestige these shows try to cram into these three hour presentations, most gamers, specifically the hardcore ones, dismiss it as a fraudulent attempt at trying to over-commercialize and destroy gaming's personality. We discredit these events and the awards presented at them as nothing more than a tool to promote and appease the masses who care only a fraction of the amount that we care about this industry. 

This year, at the 2009 SpikeTV Video Game Awards, I made an interesting observation: as usual, even before the show began, the general gaming community completely dismissed the awards show as trivial. The key difference I noticed about this year was that when the awards show actually started broadcasting, gamers were actually paying attention. Geoff Keighley, executive producer of ceremony and host of the mostly respected, promised the audience world exclusive premiers and from the looks of it, he was providing. As gamers were treated to Arkham Asylum 2 and the sequel to Force Unleashed, we began paying attention to the awards given. Despite our complaints on the lack of credibility for the VGA's, we were somewhat concerned who won in what category.

It was not until the end of the show where the shit hit the fan. No I'm not talking about The Bravery's performance, I'm talking about Game of the Year. Many other gamers said the award would be given to Modern Warfare 2 just because of his humongous popularity and not because it's quality. I mean, if Jack Black beat Mark Hamill for his performance in Brutal Legend, and Megan Fox won for voice acting in a mediocre game, the rest of the show had to be a mainstream popularity contest right?

Apparently not. Uncharted 2 emerged as the victor in this category, following along with the awards for “Best PlayStation 3 Game” and “Best Graphics”. Soon after this victory, forums all over the interwebs had a shitstorm of fanboy flaming. Some took this as the moment PS3 fanboys had their days. Others were viciously calculating how in a voting based awards system, such “fallacy” could occur. Only one thing was certain to these people:

There will be blood. There will be bitching.

Let's rewind a bit -- I thought that no one cared about the results of this award show. All it took was for them to award a game that was not the most popular title of the year and the awards show goes from a complete joke to an all out war between PlayStation 3 fanboys and Xbox360 fanboys. The irony about this whole situation is that if Modern Warfare 2 had won, there would be a bunch of people dismissing the awards show for giving it to the “popular” game.

I don't know the overall success the show has had -- after all, it's only been a few hours since the original airing [Editor's note: This blog was written shortly after the awards show.] and quite frankly, people are still pretty unhappy with the state of videogame award shows. However, this one moment and award kind of shows how something as simple as an annual award can shake up a gamer's enthusiasm. Uncharted 2 winning was certainly a notable moment in itself.

That being said, I'd like to finish this musing with my critique of the awards show. I'll sum it up in three words: Not enough Keighley.

That is all.

Pixelated Lilac,
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