The 2010 Spike Video Game Awards was the worst television show ever broadcast, tying it with the seven previous Spike Video Game Awards. Consequently, my deconstruction and destruction of the 2010 award ceremony was one of the fifty most popular articles in the history of this web site, attracting over thirty visits from seven different users. And I’d do it again. And I will!
For one more night, I renege on my promise to provide commentary and opinion that betters the human race. It’s time to go minute-by-minute and dissect the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards, the latest installment in the yearly, two-hour video game advertisement that poses as a celebration of the industry. Coming at us like the yearly Call of Duty game, we know this event is going to suck and we keep buying into it anyway. Well, time to do this. Time to suffer permanent brain damage so you don’t have to!
Saturday, December 10, 2010, 8:00 p.m. EST – The opening scene informs us the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards™ will contain footage from Mature-rated games and “scenes of intense violence”. No big deal. Gross and disgusting violence won’t faze me. I expected that this program would make me sick. In the United States, this showcase of Mature-rated games is rated TV-14, the rating below TV-MA, once again proving the censorship nannies are fucking assholes. See, if you play a Mature-rated video game, it’s for mature audiences. If you watch footage of a Mature-rated video game, it’s appropriate for young adults. It’s been mentioned on numerous occasions that the international audience is having trouble finding a legitimate broadcast of this event. Simple answer: Companies have to tone down the gore in their games and products to abide by local custom and law. It’s easier to block your awards show and its Mature-rated games from a global broadcast than tinker it for the sensibilities of those outside North America.
8:00-8:03 – Some dude on a couch: “So listen, um, I’m hosting this year’s Video Game Awards, which is a huge honor. Well, it’s a medium honor.” But wait, he’s talking to Hugo Strange, one of the antagonists in Batman: Arkham City! And Hugo just injected a hallucinatory agent into our fearless host! So yeah, a computer rendering (that one would reasonably assume is a hallucination) has just injected our fearless host with hallucinatory medicine. This sounds like a spree killing in the making. Through the power of drugs, Future Charles Whitman is sent on a magical journey through games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Lego Star Wars, Batman: Arkham City, and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. Unfortunately, the writing crew is not sent to the school where they learn that fan service itself does not constitute entertaining or witty writing. Future Charles Whitman concludes his trip through video game land by stating that “Gamers never quit!” and decides on his proper weapon for making it back into the real world: A Portal Gun. With the help of bright orange lighting and a pulley wire, he “portals” through the virtual world and into the Spike Video Game Awards. Knowing full-well what kind of video games will be announced tonight, I expect that the end of this opening montage will be the last time I hand out points for creativity.
8:03-8:04 – Who cares what the host’s name is? You don’t have to tell us that! We have “exclusive world premieres” to human centipede straight into your face! A new game with Tom Clancy’s name on it? Fuck yes! “The next game from BioWare.” Wait, what? Next game? Fuck yeah, BioWare is making a new game! I thought they were shutting down! Another Transformers game? Only the fourth to be released in six years! And there’s more? Mass Effect 3? Diablo III? Metal Gear Solid Rising? Awesome! This show is like the Super Bowl of video game commercials! And considering I only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, that’s fucking awesome! Fuck yeah, capitalism! Down with the enemies of great deals and low, low prices!
8:04 – Our host is some dude named Zachary Levy. I don’t know who this is. This is the price you pay for swearing off scripted television about five years ago. At least the dude sounds like he wants to be here. That makes him a fantastic upgrade from Neil Patrick Harris, the host of last year’s event. Let’s see how long Levy’s enthusiasm holds up when he starts delivering dialogue courtesy of the Spike Video Game Awards Writing Team, best compared to “The guys who played with LeBron James in Cleveland” and “Guys who scrub the toilets at the Cambodian detention cells where they program the next Dora the Explorer game.” Fan voting is a huge part of this event, so I will leave you to decide which comparison is more demeaning.
8:05 – Levy: “Gaming is bigger than ever, it’s more diverse than ever. Statistically, forty-two percent of gamers are now women. Which means that half of those are actually women.” Crowd laughs at a lousy joke, a lousy joke that perpetuates all of the perceptions this awards ceremony should be looking to smash. Well, nothing about this event has changed!
8:05 – Levy: “As a gamer myself, I’m crazy-excited about tonight. Honestly, from The Black Eyed Peas Experience, will.i.am™. From the PlayStation Vita game SoundShapes, Deadmau5 will be performing all night.” Announce you’re a gamer, hype musicians. That’s the Spike Video Game Awards way. It makes them mainstream, or something. If you replace “gamer” with “fan of passable music entertainment”, the will.i.am™ name-drop remains out of place.
8:06 – Levy: “…tonight, we are going to be using some amazing augmented reality technology.” Oh, they did this last year, too. I forget what they called it at the previous show. “Augmented reality technology” is code for “we’re too cheap to create actual props, so we’ll digitally impose them in the broadcast.” Last year, Neil Patrick Harris made it clear that only the television audience could see these computer graphics. This has not changed and will not change. You will understand why this is important in a little bit.
8:06-8:07 – Levy gives a shoutout to the men and women who build the loud, bloated, unchallenging video games that define the industry’s “best creations” of 2011. I place “best creations” in quotes because I haven’t seen and don’t expect to see a mention of Serious Sam 3: BFE or Dark Souls. If you’ve been following retail video game industry sales and watched “teh most anticipat’ed holiday seasen EVAR!!1” break even in the United States, it’s more interesting to think of this industry event like that Havana 1959 New Year’s party as seen in The Godfather. That’s because word has just made it out that the Cuban revolutionaries are about to win the war and the partygoers will be scrambling for their lives. Any crowd of video game developers that cheers for Activision, the developer responsible for eighty percent of all pending litigation in the Western Hemisphere, deserves what’s coming to them.
8:07 – “Tonight, you are the real superstars. But only tonight, so don’t get cocky. Because nobody’s going to remember who you are until next year’s show.” The sad truth of Zach Levy’s joke is that the people who run the video game industry want this. Marginalize the worker, tout the brand. It’s the reason that the National Football League and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (sports leagues featuring high rates of injury and roster turnover) market the league rather than their players. You don’t want to market “the next big thing” if there is a chance he snaps an ankle and paying audiences never see him again. When Activision releases the next Call of Duty game, they don’t want you to think of Vince Zampella and Jason West, or Infinity Ward, or Treyarch. Individuals sue people. Companies stage mutinies. Activison wants you to think of Activision. Activision doesn’t change unless it goes bankrupt. The names of the men, women, and companies developing their games do.
8:08 – Immediately after trumpeting employees as the driving force of the video game industry, Levy informs the nominees to “keep your acceptance speech short” and that violators will be teabagged. Seriously. Levy “goes over the time limit” and is teabagged by a man in army regalia. This goes on for thirteen seconds, thirteen seconds that could have gone towards honoring the employees. Family Guy claims the joke went on for too long. Just so we’re keeping track: Musical groups, sexual innuendo, the games themselves, that floating pile of dog shit in the Atlantic I read about on Snopes, video game developers. In tonight’s event, that is our established order of importance.
8:10 – Levy: “When I played Portal 2, I thought I was going to have an aneurysm…and even though it took me hours to get past some of those challenges, it’s still one of my favorite games of all-time.” I’d love to see what would happen if you got this man in a room with 1989’s Prince of Persia or 1992’s The Lost Vikings. You make it sound like the developer detracted from your enjoyment of the game because you were not capable of solving the puzzles. The fact it took you “hours to get past some of those challenges” is not a developer problem. It is an input problem.
8:12 – And will.i.am™ stumbles out of the gate. Literally. He almost busts his ass going down the stairs.
8:12 – will.i.am™: “I play games, I’m in games, I love games, I know games…” Last year, Olivia Munn begged a live audience to believe similar things. To prove it, she mentioned her resume, that she was “on live television, in a bikini, choking down hot dogs to give gamer dudes around the world boners.” will.i.am™, the onus is on you to prove the things you say.
8:12 – will.i.am™: “…and I know how big of a deal it is when I say that PlayStation has a huge top-secret project coming out soon.” Sorry, you lose, will.i.am™. PlayStation is not a developer, publisher, or hardware manufacturer. PlayStation™ is the ultimate interactive entertainment device for use in your living room. It Only Does Everything™. Duh. Even an Xbox 360 owner is smart enough to figure that out.
8:12-8:14 – It’s our first “supar-exclusiv world parmier”. From world-class development studio Naughty Dog, it’s The Last of Us. Looks like Sony marketing got all the checkmarks they wanted. “Brown-haired, bearded male protagonist”, “inoffensively-dressed teenage female sidekick”, “post-apocalyptic dystopia”, “zombies”, the promise of co-operative play, “narrative-driven entertainment”. This is probably a good time to mention that Naughty Dog’s original plans for the Uncharted franchise were closer to their previous franchise* (the Jak series) and the fantasy elements present in their Uncharted games were mostly a “fuck you” to Sony, who desperately wanted Naughty Dog to create a franchise that would tap into the “realistic shooter” market. Keep on telling Sony to eat it, Naughty Dog.
8:15 – Announcer: “And now, from the upcoming film Battleship…Brooklyn Decker!” Haha, yeah. That’s how I want to be announced as and remembered. “Introducing, the star of the hit movie Battlefield Earth, John Travolta!” “The girl who puts the balls in Rollerball 2000, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos!” “The star of The Chevy Chase Show, Chevy Chase!”
8:15 – Best Action-Adventure Game
Nominees: Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Batman: Arkham City, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.
This is where we would normally mention that Skyward Sword wasn’t even at retail when its nomination for the Spike Video Game Awards was announced, but we already know the show is a sham. Exposing the sham is more entertaining than dwelling on its outcome.
Winner: Batman: Arkham City. The game also wins ‘Best Xbox 360 Game’. Be prepared to follow the logic train. There will be a test at the end of this article.
8:16 – This is now the second time the camera crew has cut to a cameo of Hulk Hogan. I think they may be checking every couple of minutes to make sure he is still alive. Or maybe they’ve mastered the art of subliminal advertising, making sure Hogan’s “Impact Wrestling” shirt is front and center in any camera check. For those of you who want to know what this “Impact Wrestling” is, I can explain it this way: Ten years ago, World Championship Wrestling collapsed and folded because the main event talent was yesterday’s news. In 1999. Those guys now run Impact Wrestling and feature themselves at the forefront of the promotion. It is a terrible wrestling show and I encourage you to stay away from it. The end!
8:17 – Well, this event accomplished its goal of marginalizing employees. Rocksteady co-founders Jamie Walker and Sefton Hill are accepting their award and professing their passion for video games. All I can wonder is when some guy in army camo is going to thrust his balls in their faces. No, that does not make me gay. If someone went up to you during fourth period gym class and said “the football team is going to thrust their balls in your face” and you spent the entire class on lookout, that would not make you gay. It would mean somebody is going to thrust their balls in another man’s face. You get what I’m saying here? A man’s balls–forget it, moving on.
8:18-8:22 – Looks like they took complaints about the commercial breaks seriously. Our first stop in the action is at the eighteen-minute mark. Either that, or Spike TV is going under and nobody wants to advertise on their crappy network. That would be a preferable scenario.
8:22 – Levy: “Alec Baldwin, you have not been on Words With Friends for like four days. What’s the deal? Must be traveling.” Apparently, the writing team held a contest to see who could come up with the joke that would age the fastest. It is the only thing they have ever succeeded at.
8:23 – Levy: “We know that online gaming is the greatest thing since slicing your opponent’s head off in Mortal Kombat.” Okay, that was actually pretty clever. Not a laugh-out-loud moment, but solid stuff.
8:23 – Levy: “The worst thing about online gaming? Douchebags.” The crowd applauds. Oh boy. Let’s see where this monologue is going.
8:24 – Levy: “If your idea of fun is teamkilling your entire squad just for kicks, you’re a douchebag.” Actually, it depends on the way you kill your teammates. Creative teamkilling makes you a comedian. “Playing Sim City” in Warcraft III ladder games, for instance, is hilarious. Immediately destroying your base at the beginning of the game is not. But here’s the truth: If your ally is trying to kill you, you slaughter him until he gets the point. His nonsense is just another roadblock to victory. If the form of teamkilling cannot be overcome through any legal means (for instance, an opponent who uses a glitch that crashes the game), you quit the match and go find another one. Good game rules allow some people to be assholes and better game rules allow people to deal with it. Deal with it.
8:24 – Levy: “If you think glitching or cheating in order to win actually makes you a winner, you’re a douchebag.” Ah, the crusade against ‘glitching’ continues. Victimize the player, not the company. It’s not the developer’s fault for programming game-shattering bugs into their product. It’s the player’s fault for trying to win by any means necessary. Just like backstabbing and teamkilling can be funny, not all glitches are detrimental to the game. If you cannot deal with the glitches that enhance the quality of a game (See: Halo 2‘s BXR exploit, StarCraft‘s Mutalisk-stacking, Super Smash Brothers: Melee‘s wavedashing), that makes you a bitch and a pussy. I hate to say that, but you are a bitch and a pussy. Unfortunately, there’s more money in appealing to bitches and pussies than the skilled players that will do everything in their power to manipulate a rule set. And now you know why nebulous, possibly-legally-indefensible “spirit of the game” provisions are becoming popular in video game End User License Agreements. If you set up a society where people are told never to break the rules and told that they should always listen to authority, it becomes more profitable to discourage the remaining intelligent people from breaking your game systems. Developing games for an audience that wants to be constantly challenged is much harder than developing games for an audience that obeys the rules.
8:24 – Levy: “And if you think for one second that online anonymity is a license to act like a racist, sexist, foul-mouthed bigot, you’re a douchebag.” Act like? The internet is just a manifestation of our actual personalities. So go fuck yourself, Zach Levy.
Just kidding, Zach. You’re doing a much better job than Neil Patrick Harris. Not that his failures are hard to top, not that you have much to work with here, but your enthusiasm and energy wins by default.
8:25 – Our first “Character of the Year” nominee is The Joker. While The Joker accepts his nomination, Harley Quinn breaks a Spike VGA Award in half, leading the Joker to lash out. “Do you know how hard it is to win one of these things?” Last year, Ezio Auditore da Firenze won an award for “Best Dressed Assassin”, Kratos won an award for “Biggest Badass”, and Master Chief, Samus Aran, and Marcus Fenix won awards for “Strongest Heroes of All Time”. Just sayin’, Joker. Just sayin’.
8:26 – LL Cool J is in the house, or hizzy, or hizzle, or whatever they call it on 4chan these days.
8:26 – LL Cool J: “Your winner for the Most Anticipated Game, Mass Effect 3!” Yup. We’re still handing out trophies to the developer or publisher with the largest advertising budget.
8:27 – Announcer: “World Premiere!” The Spike Video Game Awards fails to understand what a “world premiere” is. “World Premiere” implies “never before seen, heard, or mentioned”. Mass Effect 3 was on parade at last year’s event.
8:28-8:29 – It’s a new Command and Conquer game! And BioWare is making it! Oh wait, they’re not. Command and Conquer: Generals 2 is being produced by “BioWare Victory”, a brand new development studio featuring the BioWare name.* I don’t know why they couldn’t get Westwood Studios to make the next Command and Conquer game. What are they up to? Did Electronic Arts shut them down? Why did they do such a disappointing job on Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun? Am I posing hypotheticals to aggravate a percentage of the people reading this article? Am I doing it for my own personal amusement?
8:29-8:30 – We’re going backstage with Felicia Day, who is apparently the new Gamer Nerd Flavor of the Month, or something. As far as I know, she’s at least interested in video games. That’s a huge improvement over her contemporaries. Anyway, in the name of charity, Felicia and a co-host are going to launch themselves at a velcro wall featuring scattered point values, an event advertised as the Spider-Man Wall Climb. Because when I think Spider-Man, I think “launch self at wall and go splat”. Depending on the point values, they will donate a certain amount of cash or goods to the Child’s Play charity, an organization that donates video games to children in hospitals. I don’t know what the point values mean, I wasn’t paying attention, fuck this, I love the kids, but this show is the reason they have cancer in the first place.
8:35-8:36 – Nolan North, erm, I mean, Nathan Drake, accepts his Character of the Year nomination while stranded in the desert. And I’ve got nothing interesting to say about it.
8:36 – A computer-generated Batman swoops over the “augmented reality” stage set created for the Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year nomination. An audible crowd noise ushers in the “augmented reality” of a flying Batman’s overhead arrival. So you remember how I said that the live audience cannot see any of these computer generated models and characters? Yup. The “audience” is “cheering for things” they cannot see. They’re piping crowd noise into the event. It’s all bullshit! Maybe that explains why this audience is laughing at jokes and cheering for things.
8:38 – Levy: “When he’s not breaking hearts on-stage, he’s breaking records on Call of Duty, star of his own Nintendo DS game, and member of the Grammy-nominated Jonas Brothers…” Just to clear up any notion that “star of his own Nintendo DS game” means something, here are other properties and franchises that have been the star of their own video game: Purina Dog Chow, the Ouija Board, Silly Bandz. Cancelled games have featured the California Raisins and Bill Clinton’s cat. Rhythm games have starred Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Smurfs. Quaker Oats once developed a video game. You ain’t special, kid.
8:38 – Kevin Jonas: “The economy is in the toilet, politicians can’t be trusted to solve anything, and it seems that the nation is being overrun by rogue groups of citizens threatening their own brand of justice. It’s a new and a dangerous type of terrorism, and we’re all pretty much screwed.” So, um, uh, buy our video games? Jonas stops for a split second before delivering the next line. Was he merely exasperated by the horrific silence of the crowd or was he expecting them to laugh?
8:38 – Jonas: “And of course I’m talking about Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Patriots.” No, trust me, we got the message, man. The end times are coming. Holy shit. Anyone else get a sudden urge to play Left 4 Dead or Fallout?
8:38-8:39 – It’s come to this. You know how Michael Moore gets corporations to distribute his anti-corporate films because those distributors can’t pass up on the money? Corporations now develop video games featuring narratives that corporations have become too powerful for governments to deal with and only ruthless rogue factions can deal with those corporations. Lol.
8:40 – Levy: “E.A. Sports is giving fans the chance to pick the football player who will grace the cover of the new NFL Blitz.” If you were interested in this game, I’d just like to remind you that the NFL has already put the axe on the late hits made famous in the Midway incarnations of the franchise.* Since, you know, that would present the image that American football is a brutally violent contact sport. Can’t have that. Check out the World Wrestling Entertainment games if you want to see what “sports organization asserts creative control over their video game” looks like. It’s not too pretty.
8:46-8:48 – It’s our Game of the Year nod for Skyrim. Look at the last five winners: Red Dead Redemption, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Grand Theft Auto IV, BioShock, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. There is a very specific type of video game that the video game industry wants to honor in these events: Box-office smash hits for “mature audiences”. That scratches Batman: Arkham City and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword from contention, because those two games are “for kids”. That’s not necessarily the case, that’s the perception. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is too same-y for an awards ceremony that gave its predecessor a Game of the Year nod. That leaves Portal 2 (the game whose predecessor is being taught in schools*) and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the gigantic, interactive medieval game world that became the second-biggest video game release of 2011. There is absolutely zero chance that Skyrim does not win Game of the Year tonight. Skyrim is the game that presents what the industry wants to sell to its audiences.
8:48 – The “stars” of some Comedy Central show called Workaholics are here to drown out the announcer who was telling us their names. The troupe proceeds to discuss “our favorite game, Alan Wake“. One of the speakers says Alan Wake is like “playing a horror movie written by Stephen King and directed by Albert Hitchcock”, which merely confirms that you don’t let book writers and movie directors design video games.
8:49-8:50 – And we’re already on to an Alan Wake sequel. It’s not as surprising as you think. Remedy Entertainment spent a good five years developing the first Alan Wake. Can’t let that game engine go to waste.
8:50 – Robot Chicken creator Seth Green: “Here’s why I like the creators of The Legend of Zelda: They were so confident about their game they call it a legend before anyone even played it.” I’ll be honest. I double-checked my video game books and the internet to see if he was making a statement of fact. I’m a goof.
8:51-8:52 – Wow, that was about as thoughtful as a ninety-second The Legend of Zelda tribute could possibly be. Compared to the rest of this show and what it represents, that brief montage was a god damn monument.
8:52-8:53 – Shigeru Miyamoto, lord and master of the video game universe, appears on-stage. Yes, that Shigeru Miyamoto. He gets his predictable and completely-deserved applause. Poor dude. Couldn’t be more nervous if he tried. He’s trying to speak but the words won’t come out. I don’t blame him. If you traveled five-thousand miles in a plane to the United States, sat down for dinner with filthy Americants, and your first impression of an American awards ceremony involved a dude shoving his balls into another man’s face, you’d be nervous, too.
8:54 – Immediately after a thoughtful tribute to one of the most important figures in the history of the video game industry, Felicia Day is backstage preparing to play Fruit Ninja. Live. This is your video game industry, gentlemen, and that is a real sword. Day alternates between slipping on the floor, slicing fruit on a slippery floor, and commenting that the floor is slippery. There is about a thousand things that could go wrong here. Fortunately, most of them would end the show. Unfortunately, none of them happened.
8:55 – Somebody named Carrie Keagan informs the audience that they are tracking Twitter using the VGA Twitter Tracker. So right now, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is trending the most. I don’t know what this means. The only thing I can think of is that The Weather Channel does the same thing. Seriously. Somebody on live television announces that ‘sun’, ‘cloudy’, ‘windy’, and ‘rainy’ are all trending on Twitter. Twitter is fucking useless. Stop using it.
8:59 – Wheatley accepts his Character of the Year nomination from outer space. Once again, much like Wheatley for most of the duration of Portal 2, I have nothing interesting to say.
9:02 – Oh. Tony Hawk is back. *scrounges to see what he wrote last year*
9:10 – Voice-over: “New level unlocked for Tony Hawk.” In what? How far his career as a video game spokesperson can fall?
Nope, we’re going even lower this year. He’s not even here to peddle his own franchise. Tony Hawk is here to peddle Spider-Man. It’s amazing how a video game company can get people hyped for a new Spider-Man game when the last one was released a little under two months ago.
9:02-9:04 – You know how everybody took a look at the trailer for the Battleship movie and tried to figure out what the hell alien technology and a third-rate knock-off of Master Chief have to do with a lousy board game? (Oh, yes, Master Chief is in the movie now. You didn’t hear about that?*) I feel the same way about The Amazing Spider-Man. Apparently, Peter Parker fucked a copy of Mass Effect 3 and had a baby. I’m terrified to look at any comic book message board and discover whether or not marketing’s demand to include more robots in Activision video games violates the canon of the Spider-Man universe.
9:04 – Hulk Hogan waves his hand, holds his ear to the audience, and immediately requires two more surgeries. “FLARGL FOOFL HULKAMANIA FARFL VITAMINS, DOOD.” Rather than acknowledge a man who was “too old to wrestle” about fifteen years ago, this is an excellent time to yell at Volition and THQ, the tandem that gave the world Saints Row: The Third. I know you have to do things to attract consumers to your games. I suppose that celebrity voice acting is one way of attracting that attention. I would go with “make a really fucking good video game”, but that’s just me. I’d just like to mention that when you ask Hulk Hogan, the guy possibly responsible for half of the cocaine consumption during the eighties, to voice a mild-mannered Luchadore who has found his inner zen, it is a waste of resources.
9:04-9:05 – And now it’s the time of the show where we go through and announce the winners of those meaningless categories. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception wins ‘Best PlayStation 3 Game’. Sorry, Arkham City. You already got ‘Best Xbox 360 Game’. Your quota for awards has been filled. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword wins ‘Best Wii Game’, as no other Nintendo Wii games were released this year. Mortal Kombat wins ‘Best Fighting Game’, and I have it on good word that the Shoryuken community wants everyone to play The King of Fighters XIII, and that if you don’t, you’re a complete asshole. (Correction: Reader tataki informs me they’re not as unanimous on this as I thought they were. They still recognize the game as a gem.) ‘Best Independent Game’ goes to Minecraft, with the world failing to understand that ‘crappy content creation software’ does not constitute a video game. ‘Best Song’ and ‘Best Original Score’ handed out to Bastion, ‘Best Individual Sports Game’ to Fight Night Champion, and ‘Best Pretty Much Everything Else’ going to Portal 2, once again affirming that Skyrim is winning Game of the Year. Everything else won awards. It will soon be Skyrim’s turn. Good thing we got all of these announcements out of the way…
9:05-9:07 – …because we have more bad comedy to dispense, the LittleBigPlanet 2 Cakeinator Challenge! That’s the actual name of this sketch. Conveyor belt. Cupcakes. No hands. Twenty-five points a piece. Fuck my. Life. Felicia Day won, but I’m not sure if she cheated or not because I skipped over the segment entirely. Last year, I ran out of things to talk about during the second hour and assumed that I was just getting sick of watching the show. I assumed I was partially at fault. Nope. Apparently, everyone performing at the show just stops giving a fuck after the first hour bombs.
9:12 – Marcus Fenix accepts his Character of the Year nomination and I don’t give a fuck.
9:13 – Levy: “We have some social gamers here tonight in the audience and I just want to take a second to introduce you to all of them.” The camera cuts to six men at a table playing video games on their cell phone, all ignoring each other. Nothing wrong with that. I ignore people who play social video games, too!
9:14-9:17 – The Black Keys perform music on a video game show. Levy stresses that “contrary to their name, none of them are actually keys.” Does the fast-forward button on my remote qualify as a key?
9:17 – Credit to the smoking-hot chick in the foreground. She’s checking her hair, or smelling really good, then realizes Zach Levy is right behind her and live and on camera, and pulls one of those “Oh crap, I’m ruining the shot! Smile!” moments. We’re obviously okay with this, because she’s good-looking. “BUT MIKEY LOWELL I THOT U YELLED AT SPIKE VIDEO GAME AWARD FOR BEING DEGARDING TOO WOMEN?” Meh.
9:17 – Zach Levy is discussing the passionate gamers who like to voice their opinions. The show cuts to one such person that did such a thing and put it into a format that could be processed onto YouTube. His name is “The Black Baron”. He’s black. Choice phrases include “so-called motherfuckin’ video game awards show”, “Who decides this shit?”, “I’m gonna put my foot so far up somebody’s ass that they’re going to be coughing up my fucking toenails.” It’s so cute when people realize this event is a paid infomercial for the video game industry!
9:18-9:19 – Levy: “So now, we take this very seriously, we invited Mr. The Black Baron to the show.” Yeah, the Spike Video Game Awards takes this so seriously that of all the critics, all the people who could possibly go on your show and criticize the ceremony, you chose the person that you could instantly delegitimize through a YouTube video. Yeah, you’re taking criticism seriously, guys.
9:19 – Levy: “And to show [The Black Baron] how much we care, we sat him next to Spike TV executive-in-charge Neil Sherman, we’re sorry Neil, we don’t want you to freak out.” So this is the guy who is responsible for the dreadful programming on this network. Sherman offers to shake The Black Baron’s hand. The Black Baron answers with a staredown. Hilarious. For all the hopes and dreams this awards ceremony has killed, I don’t think it’s ever seen an actual homicide. I love people who live, eat, and sleep their gimmick.
9:19 – Segment cuts to a second video, where The Black Baron informs us that “they finally straightened the fuck up”. And from here, he commends the choices for 2011 Game of the Year. I thought the dude was fighting the power. He’s just a fanboy who hated the choices. Oh well. Can’t win them all.
9:20 – The Black Baron chews out Sherman for perceived injustices and Baron claims that he would have piledriven Sherman through the stage if he was present at last year’s ceremony. Hey. Gotta commend a man for piledriving what he believes in.
9:21-9:23 – Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. It’s a video game. It will get bad reviews and nobody will give a crap. Pre-order it now.
9:28-9:29 – Our final Game of the Year candidate is The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. I can’t wait to start reviewing Zelda games on my web site. You guys think my Super Meat Boy review pisses off everyone who looks at it? Wait until I shank Ocarina of Time and the decade of three-dimensional Zelda mediocrity that followed it.
9:30 – A sloppy, drunken mess of an awards show deserves a sloppy, drunken mess of a man. Charlie Sheen, ladies and gentlemen! “You’re locked in a tense showdown wherein either you or the other guy is going to die in a pool of blood. Then the phone rings and it’s your agent going, ‘Hey, they want you to present some award, are you interested?’ And I’m like, ‘Hey, what’s it pay?'” On a scale from one to ten on the Unintentional Comedy Scale, that has to be a twelve. Sheen might as well said “This show fucking sucks!” and walked off stage. The scary thing about this segment? Sheen mentions that “you or the other guy is going to die in a pool of blood.” Where did Sheen say that he was talking about a video game?
9:31 – Best Shooter
Nominees: Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Gears of War 3, Rage. I don’t see any mention of Serious Sam 3: BFE or Hard Reset. Good. I hate those games. So unrealistic. I played Quake III Arena at a friend’s house one day. So dumb. Just a bunch of people bunny-hopping around, shooting each other with long-distance weapons. So glad to play Call of Duty when I got home. Oh, and my friend? I dumped her. Stupid noobs.
Winner: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Embrace mediocrity. Embrace the chalice. Rise.
9:32 – Hey, it’s Robert Bowling again, Community Manager for Infinity Ward! (Me and other Community Managers never get along well. There’s a reason for that: Community Managers have to bullshit whether they enjoy bullshitting or not. Robert Bowling is one of those people.) Who cares about the other two guys accepting this award? Robert Bowling is here! So that’s why there are counter-snipers in the rafters.
9:32 – Robert Bowling: “On behalf of everybody at Infinity Ward studios and Sledgehammer Games who are still out at the studios working hard every day updating this because you never stop in this day and age in development of constantly updating and doing everything…” The audience of game developers collectively rolls their eyes as if to say, “Tell us about it. We are slaves.” I love Robert Bowling’s use of “still out at the studios”. It seems like a subtle reference to Zampella and West, the former heads of Infinity Ward, the guys who took most of the studio with them. I wish them well in suing the shit out of Bobby Kotick’s Activision. It’s like Bowling is saying “Yeah, the guys that are still here, the people who aren’t fuckfaces, they’re doing a great job.”
9:32 – Oops! Bowling talks for too long and Sergeant Lipton is ready to rub out the competition. Bowling does what he does best: Runs for his life. Filthy dodger.
9:33 – Oh my God, it’s Jerry Rice, the star of his own video game, Jerry Rice & Nitus’ Dog Football! Yes, this is a real game.* It’s dogs. And they’re playing football!
9:33 – Back to NFL Blitz. “But only one [NFL player] will be immortalized as the first digital cover athlete in E.A. Sports history!” They’re telling the truth here. What Electronic Arts doesn’t want you to know is that “Cyber Kordell Stewart” and “Cyber Warrick Dunn” have already had their moniker in the NFL Blitz franchise, when it was previously published under that now-defunct Midway moniker. Oh, and Ray Rice was voted the cover athlete. Not that you give a crap, not that anyone gives a crap. I don’t even think Ray Rice gives a crap. Maybe his mom does. Nah.
9:34 – Zachary Levy is backstage and asks the audience if they know who owns Georgia the Cow. Yes, it’s a live cow. That’s a whole lot of work for a bad FarmVille reference and a gigantic ratings drop.
9:34 – You. Cliffy B. You. Where’s my Unreal Tournament 3 that doesn’t suck? Your company made the best first-person shooter of the last seven years and then you ruined it. And rather than play Unreal Tournament 2004, I’ll complain. That’s what computer gamers do. We bitch on the internet until the torrent has finished downloading. Deal with it.
9:34 – Cliff Bleszinski, with the quote that no jaded video game fan will take out of context, author’s emphasis added: “…and while we’ve had amazing success with games like Gears of War and Infinity Blade, we decided it was time to switch it up a little bit, do something a little bit different, a little bit fun.”
9:35 – Their new game is called Fortnite. If there’s one thing Epic Games is good at, it’s chasing the money and making it look like they’re not chasing the money. Their original claim to fame was the Jazz Jackrabbit franchise. Once platforming on the personal computer dried up, they went after the first-person shooter market. Once the computer gaming market dried up, they went after the console shooter market. Now they’re stashing their chips. Infinity Blade will secure a hold in the mobile phone market, Fortnite will go after the Minecraft and Team Fortress audiences. Stupid businessmen, going where the money is, grumble, grumble.
9:36-9:41 – I’m going to go ahead and point out that this is the fourth four-to-five-minute commercial break in the last forty minutes. I guess I was wrong about that “Spike TV couldn’t get any sponsorship and they are going down in flames” thing.
9:42 – American Pie star Seann William Scott: “We are so stoked to be announcing the winner of this year’s Gamer God award.”
Jason Bates: “This year’s award goes to a company who is solely responsible for thousands of hours, I have spent fighting dragons and hunting for my gold, on my computer, I mean, of course.” Oh fuck. They’re giving the award to Blizzard. Oh, how my video game love child grew up and started ignoring me in favor of people who blindly purchase their products. Getting old sucks.
9:42 – Scott: “These are the guys who brought you Diablo…” *crickets* “…StarCraft…” *crickets* “…and a little game you may have heard of called World of Warcraft.” Okay, I don’t really care for Diablo at all. But let’s get this straight: No love for StarCraft. No mention of the Warcraft real-time strategy games, the games that were popular enough to foster the genre spin-off that you now provide raucous applause for, the game that has doomed the MMORPG genre to over a decade of absolute mediocrity. As a wise philosopher once said: “Marge, get me my gun.”
9:43-9:44 – A montage of Blizzard products ensues. In order: Diablo, Diablo II, StarCraft, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, World of Warcraft, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, World of Warcaft: Wrath of the Lich King, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria. Do you see which games are missing from the list? It is over, Blizzard. We are through. And Michael Morhaime, I hope you enjoy being a billionaire. Because when I’m done with you, your Community Managers will ban my StarCraft II account from the Battle.net forums. But they’ll have to clean up that spam. And that will waste their time. You have been warned.
9:44 – Pictured, left-to-right, the co-founders of Blizzard Entertainment: Frank “Do you really want chat rooms?” Pearce*, Michael “I can’t think of anything to say here” Morhaime, Allen “Fuck, I really should have stuck around for the public stock opening” Aldham.
9:46-9:48 – Blizzard totally sucks at telling stories now, but they still rule the world of computer-generated cutscenes. Good grief. Oh, right. I’m supposed to be pretend angry at Blizzard. My bad.
9:49 – For whatever reason, Zachary Levy is ‘exhausted’. His exhaustion is showcased by a helpful on-screen Health Bar. After eating a cold piece of turkey, drinking a beaker of sports drink, and rubbing a ‘medpack’ against his chest, he’s back to full health. A regenerating health joke would have been much more creative, original, and ultimately amusing. Which is saying something, because that would have sucked, too.
9:50-9:51 – That was a BioShock Infinite promo. This is my apathy. I can explain that apathy with a comment from the lead developer of the game.
“I may have said a few uncharitable things about the PlayStation Move. They [Sony] said “Ken, look, we want to make you a believer. And I was like, “Look, dude. Irrational [Games] we don’t do [gestures golf motion] that, that’s not our thing, and we don’t do [gestures tennis motion], we don’t do [gestures dancing motion] that. You know, we do [gestures controller motion] this. We do this, you know, core games. You know, DualShock stuff. And then they said something that struck a chord with me: “We’re not talking about this, and that, what we’re talking about removing this barrier of entry that people who love your story and love your worlds, who love the idea of BioShock but they just can’t get their head around [the controller]. What if they could play your game? What would you wager if you could get those people on-board to try your game as well as your core audience?”
Ken Levine, E3 2011 Sony Press Conference; June 7, 2011
I’ll be a skeptic until further notice.
9:52-9:55 – This may be the last commercial break of the night, but with five minutes left to go in the event, I’m not so sure.
9:56 – Narrator: “Three weeks ago, these guys had the mixed martial arts fight of the year.” Well, obviously, that qualifies them to announce the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards Character of the Year. Well, scratch it. At this award ceremony, “punches people in the face for a living” probably makes you overqualified.
9:57 – Game of the Year. Levy, with a statement that is truer than anyone will ever admit: “I don’t know how the judges decide except for bribery…”
Nominees: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Batman: Arkham City, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Portal 2.
Winner: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Congratulations to Todd Howard for designing a video game. I enjoy waking up in the morning and knowing that I am always right.
9:58 – Narrator: “Skyrim also wins ‘Best RPG’ and developer Bethesda Game Studios wins ‘Studio of the Year’.” All the while, generic pop music featuring the lyrics “Come on, come on, come on, hey!” blares in the background. There’s is two minutes left in this show. They have been discouraging award winners from performing lengthy speeches all night. I think the song was chosen far more carefully than we could ever give credit for.
9:59 – And to kill the show, we end with that nutbag who thinks he’s a movie director, Hideo Kojima. I’m being too harsh to the man. Metal Gear Solid 4 is still the best video game I’ve ever watched. And he wants to share the truth about Metal Gear Rising. Kojima is also a nervous wreck. He puts out three words and five nervous laughs in twenty-five seconds. Miyamoto, Kojima, relax. It’s chill, brah. It’s chill.
10:00-10:02 – We’re running late, but who cares? Everyone loves Raiden, right? Oh, this isn’t the Raiden from Mortal Kombat. This is the crappy Raiden from Metal Gear Solid. This is the Raiden that cuts bitches. This is the Raiden in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. I’m sure this is going to make the internet happy. Rising has transformed from a Kinect slash-a-thon into a formal beat ’em up. What’s to be worried about? This game is being produced by Kojima Productions, and…
10:02 – Developed by Platinum Games, oh God, fuck yes. The guys who made Bayonetta and Vanquish are making a Metal Gear game. Let that sink into your fucking heads for a second. Do not listen to the Metal Gear Solid fanboys. They are fucking morons. Hideo Kojima brings them love and the internet wants to break his legs. Idiots. Remember that comment I made about developers refusing to make video games that challenge their player base? I change my mind. This is why they don’t want to make games that challenge their player base. Because the ones that think they have it all figured out are the dumbest ones of them all. They’re the ones who tune in to the Spike Video Game Awards to mock a show and give it the free publicity it needs to come back for another year.
And I will be there to keep on writing about it. Fuck my life.
Conclusion – This show sucked and I feel dumber for writing about it. Much like last year’s show was a farce (and the seven shows before that one), the Spike 2011 Video Game Awards has once again taught us that if your game can’t earn an award, you buy it. To sign off on the faulty logic that powers this video game event:
– Batman: Arkham City defeats The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to become ‘Xbox 360 Game of the Year’.
– Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception defeats The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to become ‘PlayStation 3 Game of the Year’. Skyrim was not nominated for this award.
– Portal 2 defeats The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to become ‘PC Game of the Year’. Skyrim was not nominated for this award, either.
– The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim defeats Batman: Arkham City, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, and Portal 2 to become ‘Game of the Year’.
The moral of the story? Fuck Skyrim, stop being a bitch, go play Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls. When you’re standing in line to replace your broken controllers, you will thank me.