VGA. VGX. Whatever you want to call them, they’re always a mess. The writing is always terrible, awards take a back seat to trailers for games that are months away, hosts refuse to take the medium seriously, and Geoff Keighley is always left alone to put out the fires as everyone goes out of their way to sabotage any plans he might have towards legitimizing the show.
The Spike TV Video Game Awards have been a load of bunk since their inception in 2003 — remember Madden NFL 2004 winning Game of the Year over Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker? Save for the exceptionally rare exception, such as their one and only Hall of Fame induction for the Zelda series in 2011, the precedent has been long set for an unwatchable show.
Gamers everywhere spent much of their time during and after this year’s show talking about how awkward the entire production was. They were right, of course, but that was hardly a surprise. At what point do we stop putting eyes on this shitshow?
Some of this year’s lowlights: Joel McHale telling a transphobic joke in the opening minutes, Reggie Fils-Aime giving eager Wii U owners nothing more than a Cranky Kong announcement, Pewdiepie being present at all, the Game of the Year award being presented in the second hour of a three-hour show, and general condescension towards the demographic that VGX claimed to be aimed at.
None of it came as a surprise, and yet we watched it in droves. There was plenty of snark to go around on Twitter and Facebook as the show aired live on Saturday, but why? I don’t mean that as a rhetorical plea for positivity, but quite literally: Why were people watching what they suspected would be terrible, and why didn’t they change the channel when their supposed fears were realised? Is it masochism?
It certainly wasn’t for the awards, which have never been the highlight; Spike even dropped the pretense and dropped “Awards” from the name. It probably wasn’t for Joel McHale; he’s great on Community and all, but who’s watching three continuous hours of bad programming when he’ll get 30 minutes of total screen time? I’ll admit that the prospect of a potentially great new game announcement can be enticing, but I was able to watch the trailer for No Man’s Sky — a brief and wonderful respite — on YouTube minutes after it aired.
Whatever someone’s reason might have been for watching VGX this weekend, it’s never going to get better. I mean, what reason does Spike have to go out of their way to make positive changes if people keep watching it anyway? Everything’s fine far as they’re concerned, because no one would be watching and talking about it if it wasn’t.
The cycle will surely continue turning come December 2014, and gamers will piss and moan about how they’re not looking forward to watching whatever Spike calls it next year. But rather than participate in the farce, why not take the three hours and put the time into actually playing the games that the show is pretending to honor? Why be a cog in a broken machine when you can stay out of it entirely?