LAS VEGAS--Last night at the MGM Grand, SpikeTV handed out its First Annual Video Game Awards. Hoping to further market itself to the desirable 18- to 34-year-old male audience, the fledging "Network for Men" hosted a blowout party. Television, film, sports, and music personalities were in abundance, dancing, singing, wrestling, and even stripping as they proclaimed the power, allure, and substance of games. An edited version of the VGA awards will be broadcast on SpikeTV tomorrow, December 4, at 9:00pm, ET/PT.
In his signature deadpan style, former Saturday Night Live player David Spade presided over the event, which featured appearances by Lil' Kim, Jaime Pressly, DMX, POD, Orlando Jones, and Cedric The Entertainer. Actor Ray Liotta also turned up to accept the Best Performance By A Human award for his voice work in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
The VGA winners, officially chosen by online polling, were an equally eclectic bunch. Football favorite Madden NFL 2004 won Game of the Year, while the classic sci-fi shooter Halo took home the Best PC Game prize. Final Fantasy XI won Best Online Game, while True Crime: The Streets of LA dashed off with the Best Action Game honors.
However, the VGAs were not without controversy. The critically panned Enter the Matrix's win for Best Game Based on a Movie was somewhat of a shock, considering it beat out such acclaimed titles as The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which won for best "fantasy" game. The selection of Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball for Best Animation also raised more than a few eyebrows.
The VGA ceremonies were held during a three-hour taping Monday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, with an estimated audience of between six and seven thousand nearly filling the hall. Reflecting the current video game marketplace, it encompassed a wide range of ages and genders, skewing toward teens, but still attracting many thirty- to forty-something couples.
The crowd was treated to a carnival-style variety show that featured a bout between wrestlers Ray Mysterio Jr. and Chris Jericho (the masked one was victorious), an appearance by porn star Jenna Jameson (who briefly flashed the crowd), and some live tomfoolery by former Jackasses Steve-O and Chris Pontius (who, after sitting on a huge block of ice, gave the crowd a scaled-down Full Monty). Excited audience members hooted and hollered, and, appropriately, offered taunts to the wrestlers.
The VIP section offered a cross-section of the industry, but it was heavily populated with marketing, PR, and biz dev types. Agents Larry Shapiro and Seamus Blackley of CAA, and Keith Boesky of ICM; marketing bosses Tony Kee (Ubisoft), Will Kassoy (Activision), and Peter Dille (THQ); Greg Zeschuk of BioWare, Grant Collier from Infinity Ward, Stormfront Studios founder Don Daglow, Kevin Bachus (formerly of CEG), Microsoft's Frank Pape, and EA's top music exec Steve Schnur, among others, sprinkled the tables positioned toward the front of the stage.
And there were the awards, which were handed out as follows:
- Best Animation: Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball (Tecmo)
- Best Performance By A Human: Ray Liotta in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (Rockstar)
- Best Game Based on a Movie: Enter the Matrix (Atari)
- Most Addictive: Soul Calibur II (Namco)
- Best Action Game: True Crime: Streets of LA (Activision)
- Pontiac/GTO Driving Award: Nascar Thunder 2004 (EA Sports)
- Best Fantasy Game: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (LucasArts)
- Best Sports Game: Tony Hawk's Underground (Activision)
- Best Fighting Game: WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain (THQ)
- Most Anticipated Game: Halo 2 (Microsoft)
- Best Handheld Game: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (Ubisoft)
- Best Online Game: Final Fantasy XI (Square Enix)
- Best First-Person Action: Call of Duty (Activision)
- Best PC Game: Halo: Combat Evolved (Microsoft)
- Game of the Year: Madden NFL 2004 (EA Sports)
- Best Music: Def Jam Vendetta (EA Big)