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Saturday 23 August 2014

VGX - Not the Oscars gamers deserve

The re-branded Video Game Awards miss the mark again.

Frank Whelan

Published 09/12/2013 | 12:52

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Trevor, one of the characters in Best Game winner GTA5

For years the VGAs (Video Game Awards) have been the nearest thing the games industry has had to the Oscars, but each year gamers are left with a sense of disappointment.

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In previous years, the VGAs featured a parade of minor celebrities who knew little about games, but did lend the feel of an award show. This year, as the VGX, the celebrities were missing, as were the audience and any hint of glam.

 The criticism levelled at the VGAs was mainly along the lines of too much focus on irrelevant celebrities and not enough focus on games. With the VGX, an effort was made to remove some of the fluff, but unfortunately the substance wasn't there to fill the void.

The VGX went with a coffee-shop studio setup, with no audience and a noticeably lonely echo whenever someone on-stage clapped. The concept may have been a more intimate experience, but host Joel McHale (star of the hilarious Community) delivered his lines with apathy. Why should the viewers want to watch when the host doesn't seem to care about being there?

In the past, the actual awards were always seen as somewhat secondary to the sneak-peeks of new games. This year there were a few reveals, but not enough to make the show must-see TV.

  • Nintendo announced the release date of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and showed new playable character Cranky Kong.
  • TellTale Games (behind the fantastic Walking Dead games) are due to work on a Bordlerlands companion game and more exciting, a Game of Thrones game.
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition was announced for Xbox One and Playstation 4, arriving at the end of January 2014.
  • No Man's Sky by Hello Games was the only real surprise game announcement. The impressive space exploration game is being developed by a team of only 4, demonstrating the quality indie developers can strive for.
  • New trailers were shown of The Witcher 3, Titanfall, Destiny and Thief, amongst others.

Not much in that list to keep gamers interested, but most of the big studios will be saving announcements until next year's E3.

Without the hot exclusives, VGX only had the actual awards left to bring in the viewers.

  • Game of the Year - Grand Theft Auto V
  • Studio of the Year - Naughty Dog
  • Character of the Year - The Lutece Twins, Bioshock Infinite
  • Best Shooter - BioShock Infinite
  • Best Action-Adventure Game - Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  • Best Sports game - NBA 2k14
  • Best Independent Game - Gone Home
  • Best RPG - Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
  • Best Fighting Game - Injustice: Gods Among Us
  • Best Driving Game - Forza Motorsport 5
  • Best DLC - Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
  • Best Xbox Game - Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
  • Best Playstation Game - The Last of Us
  • Best Nintentdo Game - Super Mario 3D World
  • Best PC Game - Gone Home
  • Best Handheld Game - The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
  • Best Casual Game - Animal Crossing: New Leaf
  • Best Mobile Game - Plants Vs Zombies 2: It's About Time
  • Best Voice Actor - Troy Baker as Joel, The Last of Us
  • Best Voice Actress - Ashley Johnson as Ellie, The Last of Us
  • Best Soundtrack - Grand Theft Auto V
  • Best Song in a Game - "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" , BioShock Infinite
  • Most Anticipated Game - Titanfall

There are few surprises on the list, but what was surprising was the painful lack of enthusiasm shown by host McHale when winners were announced. There were a number of moments that were akin to a slow hand clap.

The awards show is not completely without merit, despite its many flaws. A number of interviews, with the likes of legendary game designer Tim Schaffer, prove interesting, especially when the interviewers go off script and awkwardly fail to connect.

With the games industry still lacking a singularly important award show, such as the Oscars or the Emmys, the opportunity still exists for VGX to improve their formula and regain credibility, but this year's show definitely lost a life.

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