The Spike Video Game Awards Don’t Need to Change, YOU Do!


(This is another edition of </RANT>, a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)

Every single year, we have the same old song and dance. Geoff Keighley begins hyping up the VGAs, promising huge news and an improved show that respects the videogame industry. Everybody gets worked up into a frothy lather until one Saturday in December, when gamers across the world feel simultaneously insulted and enraged. Yet again, the actual awards are discarded in favor of inane banter and horrendously embarrassing “LOL VIDEOGAMES” jokes, while meandering quasi-celebrities parade around to share pop culture news that nobody really cares about. The awards, such as they are, get handed out to what is popular rather than what may be superior, and then the inevitable fallout occurs — Twitter ignites with a slew of nerd rage, while chin-stroking pundits pen their smarmy “Why the VGAs need to change” articles.

The awards have been around for a few years now, and no matter how many of those articles get written (and they get written every f*cking year), it should be quite apparent to everybody by now that the VGAs have no intention of changing. Nor should they, really, because at the end of the day it is not Spike TV that has the problem. With the VGAs, Spike TV only does what Spike TV does best — shovel drivel into the heads of idiots. It’s the attitude that the VGAs are, or have ever, been about the gamer community that needs to change.

The Spike VGAs aren’t for you. They never have been, and they probably never will be, because what you want doesn’t make for good television. You want to see a bunch of developers accepting their awards and giving big, insightful speeches that will stir your imagination and teach you a little something about how the best games of the year were made. That’s not good TV. Half the developers have never been in front of a camera in their lives, and even less of them are actually good in front of one. Of the few acceptance speeches that were allowed to air, I don’t think a single one failed to be waffling and awkward. People who are not you don’t want to see that. People who are not you would like to see footballers revealing which footballer will be the footballer on the football game that they’re looking forward to. Because that’s who the Spike VGAs are for — people who watch Spike, drink beer, and watch the f*ck out of some football.

And yes, the VGAs don’t hand out awards to the best videogames so much as they do the most popular. Just look at the games that won — Portal 2 for best PC game, Modern Warfare 3 for best shooter, Skyrim for Game of the Year, Uncharted 3 for best PS3 game. Now, they’re all fine games, but are any of those awards surprising? Of course not. These awards are determined by sales figures and Metacritic scores, not by anybody actually giving a shit about videogames. The VGAs are not about surprising you with underdog victories or promoting games that really need a prestigious leg up. They’re about selling the biggest games of the year to people who only casually play videogames and might not know that “the shit with the dragons and aaawww yeah” is out in stores already. It’s a huge commercial for the games that want — rather than need — the extra marketing. You need to come to terms with that fact.

This leads me onto a very important bit of advice — STOP GETTING UPSET WHEN A GAME YOU DON’T LIKE WINS AN AWARD. So, Modern Warfare 3 won best shooter even though you think it’s a glorified mod. So, Skyrim won game of the year even though you encountered some big glitches. So f*cking what!? You already, objectively, know that the VGAs are a sham and that the awards are determined by no more noble a factor than popularity, so why are you in the least bit bothered? Are you that insecure that you cannot even rationally accept the results of a staged production of a fake award show? Are you so desperate to be agreed with that even a show you don’t care about can anger you with its predictable, obvious, uninspired results? Son, let it go. The VGAs are no less structured and false than a professional wrestling match, and has less than half the respectability. You owe it to your self respect to not care that much.

These are not your awards. These are not your Oscars. This show is not for you. The only value it has for a so-called “hardcore” gamer is the slew of game reveals and trailers, and you don’t even have to sit through the dog n’ pony show to see those. Just keep an eye on your favorite blogs. Spike will not miss your attendance, because it’s not aiming itself at you. You’re not the demographic here. So just get the news elsewhere. If you do watch the show, don’t get upset — just make fun of it. The show becomes vastly more entertaining once you accept it for what it is and laugh at the embarrassing attempts at humor. YOU are the one who needs to change, not the VGAs. You need to stop getting bent out of shape about a show that wasn’t yours to enjoy in the first place. You might as well attack Sex and the City for not appealing to gamers either, since both shows have about the same appeal.

We gamers are amazingly entitled and demand to constantly be catered to. Unfortunately, what we want isn’t what succeeds most of the time, at least in “mainstream” entertainment. You want a more surprising, more agreeable, more knowledgeable set of awards? Again, your favorite blogs will probably have their own. Wait for those. You don’t need Spike to pat you on the head and give you a doggie treat. It’s never going to do that, so stop deluding yourself year after year.

Every year, gamers get up in arms and complain with genuine, unabashed anger. Every year, people who were promised nothing of value act betrayed. Every single damn year, a bunch of game writers muse on the VGAs and offer their oh-so insightful ideas on how it could improve, seemingly unaware of the fact that the show doesn’t need to improve. It is perfect at what it does, and perfect for the audience it’s aimed at — the people who are not you.

The sooner you get that into your head, the happier you’ll be.

If you’re sick of the VGAs, you could always vote in GameFront’s Reader’s Choice Awards!

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14 Comments on The Spike Video Game Awards Don’t Need to Change, YOU Do!

Alex

On December 12, 2011 at 11:26 am

I could see people being upset if winning certain awards came with extra funding, because then when fledgling devs who truly make great games are passed up in favor of AAA drivel, it’d be like sending a food shipment to suburban America instead of to the poor/needy.

But seriously, who the hell cares about a dumb trophy and the “bragging rights” of winning the approval of Spike, who make money off people who think grotesquely pseudo-scientific shows like “1,000 Ways to Die” are worthwhile. It’s like getting mad because your game didn’t win The Big Runny award for Game of the Year.

Red Menace

On December 12, 2011 at 11:45 am

My question is and has always been, who actually watches it? I mean, someone has to be watching it for them to keep bringing it back, who are these “gamers” of immensely questionable character!?

gegner

On December 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm

@Red Menace

That’s a good question. I am a huge video game fan of all types of games and consoles and I have never watched the VGA. I’m starting to think the only people watching it are the ones writing articles on it.

Jude

On December 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Red Menace: People who watch SpikeTV on a typical day probably also watch this show. Probably not hardcore gamers at all, but casual gamers who really were interested in the best-selling games and nothing else.

Taerdin

On December 12, 2011 at 12:41 pm

I couldn’t agree more. If you see something that is terrible, and it doesn’t look like it will ever get better, don’t even bother trying to improve the situation!

That’s just silly. Instead, get used to the crap, and just tolerate it. A message that I think rings true for everyone.

trickfred (@trickfred)

On December 12, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I change the channel to Spike TV precisely once a year, for this. The jokes are always cringe-worthy, but it’s funny in a way to see people that know nothing about games pretend that they do. It’s awkward like a clown-car wreck, and like Jim said, I don’t imagine it will ever change.

G.A.R.B.A.G.E

On December 12, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Your absolutely right Jim. Its perfect for the bracefaced 12 yr old’s and not me. I’m just happy they humored so many. /shareholders comments

Scopique

On December 14, 2011 at 8:03 am

Well, I guess the point could have been made with a little less contrived nerd rage, but the point is sound. Anyone who es about their favorite game not getting the nod, or who really wants it to be more highbrow is either self-absorbed (which NEVER happens on the Internet!), or can find what they’re looking for at GDC or some other industry sponsored event.

My PERSONAL issue with this isn’t about gamers at all: it’s about the NON gamers who might pass by while channel surfing, seeing “an awards show” and wondering what it’s about, and who see video games handled in such an overtly juvenile manner. It may not mean much to an individual what the non-gaming public thinks of gaming as a whole, but despite the success the industry has had in court, there are a LOT of people out there who would still love to pin the problems “with kids” on video games. This show doesn’t HELP non-gamer perception of the gaming industry, or how they perceive US as gamers. If they want to do a video games award show, then power to them! But there’s NO reason why it has to as lame or half-assed as they seem to go out of their way to make it.

yonderTheGreat

On December 14, 2011 at 9:55 am

Sorry to bring facts into this discussion, but the Oscars get approx 100x the audience of the VGAs. The research-allergic author of this piece MIGHT have had CLOSE to a point if the VGA ratings were increasing. Or holding steady. Or only slightly decreasing.

No one respects Spike, obviously, but the VGAs are bad even by Spike’s standards. Let G4 (RIP TechTV) put on their own show, and OH HOLY COW let X-Play run it, not AOTS.

yonderTheGreat

On December 14, 2011 at 9:57 am

Btw, my guess is that CHoedy is the target audience of the VGAs. Call it a lucky guess.

weee

On December 14, 2011 at 10:44 am

It is so silly to complain about complainers. It gets you no where.

Using your same silly logic:

People complain every year about the VGAs and you know this you stated it yourself. So f*cking what!? Right? Let them complain. Maybe covering the gaming news isn’t for you and YOU need to change….

Perdy

On December 14, 2011 at 4:15 pm

So what is a “gamer” then? By your definition, the typical “gamer” is the Call of Duty guy who screams into his headset when he loses and then goes to the club with his “bros” or “watches the f%#@ out of some football” afterward. Really, that represents a minority in gaming.

But you’re right about Spike putting on a show that they feel fits with “Spike,” something the drooling meatheads who love the network would feel “brOK” about watching. In reality, many of the developers… the nuts and bolts guys… who make their games are the same nerdy kids who they used to pick on in high school.

clok

On December 14, 2011 at 4:34 pm

SO this little rant about how “we” are not the people who watch this.. is about just what it condems, stereotyping. Games are not, nor do I think ever where Nerds and geeks as so many want to proclaim so they can wear it like a badge of honer. The social inactive quite often friendless did retreat to games and made no attempt to join ther rest of the “contunied to play a game and refuse to join the crowds who do outside activities, social lives and interacting with the opposite sex (not all but many) Then they proclaim crap like this.. the same people watching it on SPIKE are playing it. WHile I must agree with one thing, code monkies do not make good TV (I am one, so I know I dont want to be on a TV camera).. think you hit that nail on the head.

fearmonkey

On December 14, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I think the Post from Perdy above is spot on.
Essentially the same douchebags that picked on the nerds/geeks in school are now “competitive gamers”, and SpikeTV made a network and Game show just for them….
(note by competitive gamer, Im talking the jock/frat boy types who love sports, competition, talking trash, and act like its a “manly” thing when they frag you, not the nerd/geek guys)
The same guys that used to love getting drunk and starting fights at sports bars while watching a sports game are now getting drunk and talking trash with games like COD.