If Spike doesn't care about its awards show, why should we?

Editorial: One step forward and one step back doesn't get you anywhere.

Editorial: Spike made headlines this year when it announced it was pressing the reset button on its yearly video game awards show, rebranding the event the Spike VGX, taking it off cable TV, and claiming to overhaul the show in such a way that games--above all else--would be the focus. But was any meaningful progress made?

For what I wanted from an awards show that claims to “celebrate games,” it still wasn't very good. It sent the message that we're an industry that celebrates b-roll and explosions over meaningful discourse. And if Spike doesn't care about its awards show, why should we?

This isn't to say that genuine progress wasn't made toward growing the show and bolstering its credibility and appeal. Spike certainly made strides this year, none more important than changing the format from a painfully on-message over-the-top made-for-TV spectacle to a more direct, straight-to-the-gamer approach. I commend Geoff Keighley and the team at Spike for this and I look forward to how they approach the show in 2014 (if there is a show in 2014).

In the past, my biggest criticism with the show was how it put celebrity ahead of content. So in the days leading up to this year’s show, I was happy to hear a representative from Spike say, "We are stripping away anything that takes time away from world premieres and interviews with the community of game developers that the fans want to hear from."

No doubt people like Jack Black, Adam Scott, Samuel L. Jackson, Zoe Saldana, and Neil Patrick Harris helped give past shows the kind of mass appeal necessary for a cable broadcast, but their appearances came at the expense of games being front and center. Escaping from cable TV allowed this year's show, at least in theory, the freedom to go deeper with developers and talk more directly to gamers.

During the three-hour show, we got up close and personal with a handful of developers like the dynamic duo of Abbie Heppe and Vince Zampella from Respawn Entertainment (Titanfall) and Sean Murray of Hello Games, which may have stolen the show with the upcoming sci-fi game No Man's Sky. To some, video games may be a simple product, something that’s created and sold because there’s a business opportunity to do so. But for most players, video games are more than that; they’re the product of creativity and passion. And anything that highlights and promotes that enthusiasm in a meaningful way is OK in my book.

But Spike failed to deliver on the promise of remaking its show with the interests of gamers in mind. The entire event still felt like a commercial. And it sent the message to the masses--because like it or not, this is the show the mainstream audience associates with games--that we still have a lot of growing up to do. That may be true--and the game industry is only but an infant compared to music, movies, and TV--but there are smarter ways to grow up.

Co-host Joel McHale of Community fame did not help the cause. He looked and sounded disinterested throughout the entire event, and at one point, he even said, "[If] I could go home early that would be great." It was a joke, sure, but there's truth in all comedy. Some of his ad-libbed jokes, concerning the female orgasm, Ryan Seacrest, and references to his own genitalia, both didn't fit and fell flat. (Check out this entire NeoGAF thread for more).

Games like BioShock Infinite, Gone Home, and The Last of Us, which took home awards this year, are thought-provoking and mature games that are worthy of celebration on a more profound level than jokes about penises. Not all jokes are going to land with everyone, of course; that would happen regardless of the host. But is it too much to ask that a co-host care about what he’s doing? I’d suggest getting Chris Hardwick to co-host next year. He knows games, has experience in a hosting capacity, and is genuinely funny.

Spike's annual awards show also suffers from a multi-faceted self-created identity crisis and this year's event brought that issue to the fore. Is this an awards show? Is it a news event? A trailer extravaganza? These are all things gamers would conceivably care about independently, but put together in this way, the elements combine to create a bit of a convoluted hodgepodge.

Spike seems intent on combining the parts to create a more compelling whole, but the result leaves each segment feeling instead like an incomplete part.

And for an event featuring so few bombshell announcements to make the time investment worthwhile, three hours seems excessively and unnecessarily long. I'm curious to know how many people streamed the show for more than 2 hours continuously. I think a more compact and focused program in the 90-minute range would be ideal. Trim the fat, and let the substance thrive.

The show wasn't a bastion of brilliance by any stretch of the imagination, but it did improve upon the borderline-unwatchable shows of years past. Still, I can’t escape the feeling that this year's show was one step forward, one step back. And standing still gets you nowhere.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

261 comments
Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@LordCrash88 @xsonicchaos @megakick

I am getting the impression that you take any opportunity to rag on GameSpot whenever you can.

Firstly, I would opine that compared to past GameSpot GOTY events, the ones in recent years are becoming increasingly deflated. I do have the impression that GameSpot's staffers are treating them with less and less enthusiasm and instead using the time for that to do other things, like actually playing games. (They should be, in my eyes. I consider these awards to be rather frivolous.)

But really, you somehow comparing them with Spike TV's awards show? I had seen parts of that show, and I would tell you this: where I treat GameSpot's GOTY with cold apathy, I find the barely veiled pretence of enthusiasm for video games in Spike TV's show to be vile.

 

Personally, I wouldn't even consider them comparable.

John Martins
John Martins

Now you know how we feel about GameSpot.

Dustin Young
Dustin Young

Never liked Spike's VG award show. Always seemed awkward, disingenuine and poorly put together.

CraZkid37
CraZkid37

It was ok. I miss the show though. But why do they talk like its impossible to do a TV awards show and remove a lot of the bullshit?


I was surprised to see Joel Mchale as a host. He was a bit awkward there. Geoff looked a little uncomfortable with him at times, too. He was great though and did the show with ease. The whole GTA music performance was dreadful though... especially when they were doing their bit earlier before they performed - that was just a mess.

Michael John Schmidt II
Michael John Schmidt II

Im sorry your jealous Logan Farley, but no reason to hate just cause you dont have the talent. Cant be good at everything.

CalamityKait
CalamityKait

I watched a video of it last night.


Joel McHale, whom I love on Community, was terrible in that he wasn't funny and obviously didn't care about the games being honored and promoted.  It's not entirely his fault - his main job as host of The Soup is mocking the people in the clips shown.  This is a tone that works well on a TV show that makes fun of sitcom cliches, and on a show that makes fun of talk shows, but not when the purpose of the show is to celebrate the subject.


My other reaction was the same one I have to just about any awards show.  Why spend the majority of the show's time on things other than the awards, the nominees, and the winners?  Get rid of the comedian/host or at least hire a game journalist to host the thing, get rid of the trailers and promotional interviews that comprised the majority of the show, and then concentrate on the nominees, awards, and acceptances.


Two thirds of the show was trailers and interviews with game company representatives about their upcoming projects.  These would have been tolerable if the interviews had been conducted just by the game journalist guy, but McHale was there interjecting sarcastic comments at the same time.


Again, I like McHale and think he's very funny in his element.  He was badly out of his element at the VGX awards.

19Gam3NErD91
19Gam3NErD91

 "The show wasn't a bastion of brilliance by any stretch of the imagination, but it did improve upon the borderline-unwatchable shows of years past."


I think he should have reversed this sentence. yeah, can't believe he considers prior shows borderline-unwatchable compared to this mess

decebal
decebal

I haven't watched any of them. I only care about the Game Developer Choice Awards and IGF.

King_Wii
King_Wii

I have purposely not watched the VGA/VGX now since the first one. I heard the bad jokes and the fact that the hosts weren't taking the content serious back then and I just dropped it. Then again what did I expect from Spike, that channel doesn't even take itself seriously.

DarthLod
DarthLod

Spike TV shows are for the same guys you see in Gen Chat in MMO's insulting everyone and gloating about themselves like immature egomanics. All they understand is boobs, childish humor, and explosions. This is why the awards suck because it is catered to the dumbed down idiots alot of us can't stand in gaming.

Garm31
Garm31

Naughty Dog got Developer of the year. If they were the developer of the year, then surly The last of Us is game of the year?. GTA V got it because it's a multiplatform title. GTA V was awesome. But game of the year? Nope! They didn't want to offend Xbots by giving TLOU what it deserves.

blackothh
blackothh

yawn.......i have not cared about spiketv in many years

kbaily
kbaily

It really seems like we went from one extreme to another.  First it started out as this huge, bloated mess sponsored by Mt. Dew and for years a lot of us admit that the only thing worth watching was the reveals so everything was scaled back and it felt like a long episode of Attack of the Show.  It felt very half assed and cheap despite focusing on the developers and games and honestly Spike should just give this up.  The ratings for each VGA were lower and lower each year and I was honestly surprised they even bothered doing a show this year.

Hurvl
Hurvl

"One step forward and one step back doesn't get you anywhere" No, but if you do it several times it looks like you're dancing: You put your right foot out, you put your right foot in...

xxmavr1kxx
xxmavr1kxx

They need to just drop the whole celebrity host thing. They said they did, but they went from what people would call A celebs to B. If they are going to continue on this patch, and make it more about talking to Devs, and showing trailers there is no need for a celebrity host anyways. They just need to put two hosts in place that are in the Gaming business. Take a couple people from some gaming sites, at least they will have some knowledge on the topics. 

Anigmar
Anigmar

The show looked like some cheap cable show someone was running from their basement. The interviews would have been better if the guys showed some interest, all they did was look bored and half-ass some bad jokes. Overall a big fiasco.

Nergathh
Nergathh

Geoff Keighley is soooooo boring get him off and have someone with more emotions. Also they should reduce the world premiere stuff it was mostly just new trailers. I would be more intrested in like honorable mentions, invite other developers that have achived success this year for interviews that is not focused on marketing to people.

stuff238
stuff238

I like how big of a tool Geoff is. He would not tell the audience what games he liked or didn't like, where Joel was like "I hated every single game tonight except one". At least Joel was honest. Geoff was too scared to hurt anyone's feelings. It took Joel like 5 minutes of bugging him before Geoff would admit he wanted Titanfall the most.

Geoff is a wimp, Joel is a god. Joel and No Mans Sky were the only things worth watching. Joel made the show watchable.  People that hated Joel are nerds simple as that. Your just jealous because Joel is a cool guy who gets laid and he made fun of nerd gamers.

LordCrash88
LordCrash88

True, but the GOTY bullshit on Gamespot isn't really better....

Ehggsz
Ehggsz

I've seen far more impressive annual awards here on Gamespot in years past, as well.  The whole thing has become a bare-bones "game of the year" trophy, and not much else.  Reserved for a single game, it has become a title so bloated, other awards have become either minute in comparison or simply removed completely.  The town's not big enough, I guess.  I looked forward to "best use of a certain control type", "best horror game", and "best supporting character".  Good games were recognized even if they didn't win "game of the year".

xsonicchaos
xsonicchaos

Yeah, well, nice editorial and all, but it is true that GameSpot doesn't care much about the video game awards either. This whole... stuff that's going on with awarding games every few days, yeah, it's awful. Oh, wait, you were talking about "we" the gamers. I agree, we shouldn't care.

noandno
noandno

This can't be Eddie!

Logan Farley
Logan Farley

Some stupid youtubers arnt going to make it any better.We dont need people who have never worked a day in their life because they not only get paid by youtube they also get their games and consoles free. They dont deserve fame or anything for that matter.

3v1LR0n1N
3v1LR0n1N

i only watched the first 5 minutes of the first VGA and i already didn't like it, so i turned the channel and never looked back.. and I am glad i did, because from what i keep hearing every year is that it gets worse and worse... dropping the A for an X not only doesn't make sense... but doesn't help one bit in my opinion

shingui5
shingui5

Well guys, there's always the BAFTAs.

Dan Offerdahl
Dan Offerdahl

GameSpot, hypocritical as it gets.... "if they don't care, why should we" is the question they pose but clearly they care to write a story about it.

Penguinlord1
Penguinlord1

Never even heard about the VGX until just now, and I've been playing games all my life. Guess it's good I didn't know.

BFG-28
BFG-28

too bad i wasn't able to watch the show live as i live in a different part of the world with a different timezone,lol. trying to download it through torrent.

Christopher Plata
Christopher Plata

Why the hell were they putting GTA 5 as Best XBOX Game? Its cross platformed

Pierce_Sparrow
Pierce_Sparrow

Never taken it seriously. It's not like the Academy Awards or Grammy's, where genuine officials make the calls. Besides which, gaming is something of a difficult medium to award. Games are never really based on persons talent. In music, TV, and film, a single person can carry the torch. Even if a film stinks, a single actor, director, or screenwriter can give the film some merit. In gaming, a games merit is based on multiple talents. No one ever really praises a single voice actor if a game sucks. And no one ever really points out a particular piece of game art that a single person may have designed. It happens, but it's rare. Gaming is a collective art, so awards for gaming seem a tad silly, unless it's in an academic setting. But a place like Spike TV is almost laughable. The whole thing is a circus. I was more interested in the previews of other games than any of the actual awards. As far as I am concerned, it's all a big joke.

codac
codac

Adam Sessler Chris Hardwick combo cut it to 90min and eliminate 'celebrities'..developers and gamers are the celebrities at this event. BOOM numbers go up.

 We're a multibillion dollar mainstream industry now, we don't need Doritos, Jay-Z, or Conan to make money and get ratings.

antiheroeco
antiheroeco

And you think is only Spike's fault?. All game media outlets(yours as well) sound the same to me, everything is like  fucking commercial for the publishers. You are always afraid to ask the hard questions, to make the publishers think the answers and give a explanation to their actions. Joel McHale may not be the most charismatic guy on the planet, but he saw right through the video game industry last night in only 3 hours, and He noticed how that show and everything else is just an excuse to kiss ass from major studios, who could blame him for not wanting to stay there? 

spikepigeo
spikepigeo

Geoff Keighley is a souless, sellout husk of a man. Replace him with someone that cares about games, not Doritos and Mt. Dew, and you might have a good awards show. Also, Jeff Winger is fine in Community, but at the games show it was, like the article stated, extremely misplaced.


As for the Chris Hardwick suggestion. Yes. Yes, yes, yes and yes. If he can take time from Comic-Con and the Nerdist to do this show (don't see why not) then you might have a funny, for-the-gamers program on your hands.

SnuffDaddyNZ
SnuffDaddyNZ

I don't care about any game awards period.  Review sites who have access to far many more games than the general gaming consumer are always going to come up with a game of the year award which will most likely differ from your own personal opinion.  That's because they play everything whereas we only get to pick from the games we played.  Keeping that in mind, the best game I played this year was Mists of Pandaria - which will never be eligible for anything other than best expansion pack which is a shame.  On the other hand I didn't play any other MMO's this year, and there's probably one that's better for that very reason.  So opinions will obviously vary considerably on that basis.


Since expansion packs don't qualify my pick for Game of the Year is GTA5, even though the game is short it was the most complete experience to be had this year by far.

bubba_1988
bubba_1988

This is not the Eddie Makuch I know, seriously who was your ghost writer?

Elyobo
Elyobo

@CraZkid37 As a GTA fan I agree with you. I would have preferred if those rapper douches weren't there...

King_Wii
King_Wii

@DarthLod I genuinely dislike Spike as a channel so I know what you mean.

King_Wii
King_Wii

@Garm31 I dunno I think GTA V was worthy of the title Game of the Year. I know plenty of people who don't play games who broke down just to try out GTAV. I think you just really liked The Last of Us and you're hurt that it didn't win. I don't think it has anything to do with Xbox fans. GTAV sold in the billions of dollars it was obviously a financial win so I'm not surprised to see it win Game of the Year.

Coren_Larken
Coren_Larken

@Garm31 That's like saying the same film will win best director AND best film. The two don't always go hand-in-hand. It most likely had nothing to do with offending fanboys.

xxmavr1kxx
xxmavr1kxx

@stuff238 Wrong. I think his comedy is shit. His show " The Soup" was utter garbage, and he would have been forgotten if it wasn't for Community. His humor is more for a roast than an awards show.


His don't care attitude with his not so well timed punchlines made him seem like he wasn't interested at all to be there. Maybe he was pissed because it wasn't being broadcast on cable. The most interest he took in was in the game of thrones game. Thats the only time I enjoyed him, but he could of pushed harder than he did. He had telltale cornered a couple times when he was asking about the game of thrones, and they clearly didnt watch many episodes because they had no answer. So the only time through out that show where his rebel host attitude actually would contribute to the show he backed off.

gamingnerd121
gamingnerd121

@shingui5 Are they even a good alternative? The awards always seem to favour mainstream.

3v1LR0n1N
3v1LR0n1N

VGX = VGA with an "edgy" name because of the X.... its a shitty videogame award show by spike tv

spikepigeo
spikepigeo

@bubba_1988 LOL seriously. I was convinced until now that Makuch was a robot programmed by Gamespot to create troll-bait articles. 


It has an opinion?!?!?

decebal
decebal

@King_Wii @Garm31 I agree with you King_Wii with the exception of the "financial win" statement. If financial win had anything to do with Game of the Year, Call of Duty, Skylander and Fifa would have won every year in the past.


shingui5
shingui5

@gamingnerd121

The BAFTAs tend to treat the subject matter with more respect then these VGA awards do, mainly because the concentration is on the developers, the awards, and the games winning the awards.

It's less fanfare and dudebro appeal, and more 'heres an entertainment medium, and here are the awards we are giving out'.