The Game Awards is tonight, and it is bad. It’s a showcase of adverts wrapped in the anxieties of an industry embarrassingly desperate to be taken seriously by mainstream culture. The awards are worthless. However, many of those adverts will announce new games, and they might look cool. Don’t take The Game Awards seriously as an awards show and ah sure, it’s fun enough. It’s like a cross-platform, cross-publisher E3 bonanza but in December. Come on, you can watch the stream here.
The Game Awards starts tonight at 5:30pm Pacific, which is 8:30pm Eastern, and 1:30am on Friday for us here in the UK.
Awards host Geoff Keighley has said around ten big revelations are coming at tonight’s show. I’ll be staying up late (well, getting up extra-early) to cover them for RPS as they come in. Pleasant popsters Chvrches are performing tonight too, presumably singing their song from Death Stranding. And Green Day are playing as well, because someone has to please the middle-aged dads I assume are the target audience. Also, there are awards.
I cannot over-stress how empty The Game Awards is as a set of awards. It has the most banal and broad focus, devoid of courage or conviction. Across 29 categories, The Game Awards draws predictable lists of nominees you’ve heard of then gives an award to one because sure, yeah, they’re all good. The winners will never be exciting, interesting, challenging, or shocking. You will only discover anything new if you’re out of touch with games, and if that’s you then please know this is the least interesting way to catch up. It’s banal by design, in part because the Advisory Board which “helps guide and advance the mission of The Game Awards” is almost entirely representatives of huge companies and platformholders like Activision, Microsoft, and Google Stadia (plus Hideo Kojima, for luck).
The awards aren’t even accurate. Untitled Goose Game is nominated for Fresh Indie Game, the award for “a new independent studio that released its first game in 2019” despite the fact that developers House House [disclosure: they’re pals of mine] released Push Me Pull You commercially in 2016. Fresh Indie Game, by the way, is named that because it’s sponsored by Subway, the sandwich shop chain whose current branding is built upon the word “Fresh”.
When people refer to this hollow advert-o-rama as “the Oscars for gaming”, they are inadvertently delivering a sick burn on the state of gaming.
I’m not saying our advent calendar is perfect (there are always more great games than we can fit in) but at least we have something to share. The Game Awards might as well pick winners by having Andy “The Pie Man” Smith throw trophy-shaped darts at a list of the year’s best-selling games.
But, y’know, if you want to watch adverts — and I do like good adverts — The Game Awards is good for that. The games being announced tonight were to be announced one way or another, so may as well have them in one big glitzy lump.