While technically yes, a number of awards were given out at last nights 2023 Game Awards, including high profile games like Baldur’s Gate 3 and Alan Wake 2 honored, the show itself has descended into a parody of everything it’s often accused of being.
For years, The Game Awards’ host and creator Geoff Keighley has tried to build up the show into the video game Oscars blended with the now-dead E3. And while yes, publishers absolutely do want to win the awards, and many fans care about who wins, the way the show devolved the last few years in particular culminated in what we saw last night. Where to start.
- Easily the worst thing the show did was rush through a dozen and a half of the “smaller” awards, with Geoff Keighley quite literally shouting them at the screen, rapid fire. You could blow through Best RPG, Best Racing/Sports Game, Best Multiplayer Game and Best Art Direction before you could finish a sip of the drink you no doubt needed to get through the evening. These awards are significant achievements for each game that wins them, and no one involved in these “lesser” categories gets to make an acceptance speech, and they’re not acknowledged for more than a split second. It’s callous and beneath something at least claiming to be an award show.
- Ah, but what if you do win a “real” award? Well, you get essentially 30-45 seconds to make your speech, which seemed like a hard limit after Christopher Judge’s sprawling eight minute Best Performance speech last year. But that led to ridiculous, almost insulting moments like Astarion actor Neil Newborn having to rush through his heartfelt speech, or Alan Wake’s Sam Lake, Sam Lake getting played off early.
- This is in contrast to the way Geoff treats…everyone else. There are no limits on meandering celebrity intros, something the show has become once again obsessed with, finding validation from Hollywood as Matthew McConaughey graces us with the news he’s voicing someone in a game. Or Simu Liu is given five times the length of an acceptance speech to talk about how he hurt his foot. Finally we ended on the show having Timothée Chalamet, for some reason, present the most important award, GOTY, though to his credit he avoided annoying swagger like we should be honored he showed up. But why was he there in the first place? The show is regressing to the days of Spike TV’s VGX awards when we were supposed to be past all this.
- Then there are what I will call Geoff Obsessions, namely his recurring Muppets segment, which again, uses up the amount of time that could otherwise be given to more stage awards and actually honoring the creators. And as much as we all love Hideo Kojima, Keighley giving him the stage every single year for some extensive feature about a nebulous project for a 15 minute interview feels ridiculous against the relentless pace of the rest of the show. In general, if you are talking about a new or upcoming game you’re promoting, between your trailer and possibly an interview, we’re talking 5x the time any individual award is given on stage. And we had at least four of those segments where Geoff spits out 4-5 award winners in forty seconds.
- And, of course, there was not even an attempt to acknowledge anything other than “games bring us together!!” as the overall sentiment of the show. Everyone kept waiting for Geoff to at least mention the nearly 10,000 layoffs the gaming industry has seen this past year, and they kept waiting for the entire show because it never came up once. Neither, naturally, did the Game Awards’ Future Class petition for the show to recognize the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. I suppose some of the winners could have mentioned these issues in speeches were they not given little more than the time so say “thank you.”
I actually have said that I thought The Game Awards has really improved the last few years in particular. Yes, it’s always been an advertising showcase, but there was something in there that felt like it was trying to be a real awards show and honor games and creators. This year there was barely any of that at all, and it felt like any façade of this being about awards went out the window in favor of Hollywood stars, muppets and Hideo Kojima. It needs to do better.
This year’s Game Awards, the annual celebration of gaming culture and the year’s best titles, was a full-on parody of itself. The award show, which is typically an important occasion for video game fans, fell flat as its host Geoff Keighley embraced a comical approach to the event.
The show opened with a 13-minute prologue featuring Keighley and several celebrity guests, including the actor Hannibal Buress and the comedians Tim Robinson and J.J. Watt. The skit featured the trio trying to redeem themselves for failing to give video games their due respect in the past. Unfortunately, it was full of cheesy, pop culture jokes that fell flat with many viewers.
Throughout the ceremony, Keighley further embraced his comedic role. During the acceptance speeches, he often quipped about the nominees’ names, made wisecracks about video game stereotypes, and pretentiously declared that he’s the only person who truly understands the power of video games. It felt like he was trying a bit too hard, as the comedy wasn’t well-received by many viewers.
The awards show also failed to recognize some of the biggest titles of the year, such as “No Man’s Sky” and “Vampyr”. It was further overshadowed when the Game Awards partnered with Esports Insider to give awards to top Esports figures, such as Tobias “TobiWan” Dawson and Peter “ppd” Dager. It came off as pandering to the Esports crowd, rather than simply celebrating the year’s best video games.
Overall, the 2018 Game Awards felt more like a parody of the ceremony rather than an event worthy of celebrating the best of gaming. While the comedic segments certainly provided some lighthearted moments, it came across as unprofessional and disrespectful to many viewers. The show has a long way to go before it becomes an event worthy of its prestigious title.