So the question is: Why have I watched this show four years in a row? Why do I do this to myself? Well, part of being the premier internet troll on the internet is seeing what the casuals are up to, and there’s nothing more casual these days than ranking video games. I guess console video game developers have no problem throwing a party in honor of themselves when they have been getting their ass kicked all year. But enough about that. Let’s see what the television has to say.
Saturday, December 7, 2012, 9:00-9:01 p.m. – Hey kids! Remember the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo? Remember how the lead protagonist in The Last of Us shot his pleading, defenseless adversary in the face with a shotgun? Remember how the crowd exploded in raucous applause? Nothing’s changed, kids! The live crowd responds with applause and cheers as Eric Cartman violently bludgeons an animated Bilbo Baggins. South Park is rated TV-MA and it just showed why. Oh, right: This video game award ceremony is rated TV-14. I hear censorship is a funny thing.
9:01-9:02 – And Eric Cartman introduces our host, one Samuel L. Jackson. And just in case you don’t know who that man is, the announcement is followed by thirty seconds of famous Jackson movie quotes, as played over the loudspeaker and shown on the gigantic projector screens. Because if there’s any way to show your industry is not in love with violence, it’s by explaining that “When you absolutely, positively, got to kill every motherfucker in the room; accept no substitutes.” As a virtual unknown to the general public, Jackson announces himself to the world by quoting the obscure indie movie hit Pulp Fiction, altering his monologue on “great vengeance” to discuss zombies, aliens, and killshots. I have an odd feeling that Jackson’s personality is going to dominate this event. Apparently, the best way to promote video games is to play second-fiddle to a movie actor.
9:03 – Jackson warns the guy working the “bleep button” to keep his ears open, and finishes his thoughts by saying this is going to be “one heck of a good time, motherfuckers”. Gotta love the corporate suits. “Motherfucker” and “shit” are good for censored consumption, but Samuel Jackson used “heck” instead of “hell”. Can’t offend the Christians. Apparently, Jackson hosted the Spike Video Game Awards from 2005 to 2007, which I didn’t know about because it happened before I was born. I could imagine being really tired of this act if I had already seen it three different times.
9:03 – Jackson: “So, sign on, and you can vote on what’s gonna happen tonight. That’s right: This is the only show you can actually play.” Wrong, Mr. Jackson. Cybermania ’94: The Ultimate Video Game Awards also allowed the viewers to vote, and considering that the event was the highest rated television show in American history, you should know this. Do note that, in discussion of Mr. Jackson, I feel a budding apprehension to refrain from variants of “No, you dumbass!” It’s much easier to castigate [previous hosts] Neil Patrick Harris or Zachary Levy than Jules Winnfield.
9:03 – Jackson announces that a whole bunch of viewers are going to be winning prizes during the course of this event.
9:03 – Jackson: “Thank you GameStop!” I really hope this is the last time I ever hear those words.
9:04 – As if this show couldn’t be any more fantastic, Jackson will be using Twitter during the event, presumably to entertain discussion of Georg Hegel and A Critique of Reason. Taking a quick look through his Twitter feed, the only thing I can say is…pick a number between one and six, because that’s the number of exclamation marks at the end of every sentence.
9:04-9:06 – As always, our look into the bland, unchallenging games of tomorrow are billed as “World Premieres”. Please note that many of the games “introduced” in this format have already been announced and revealed, even at the previous Spike VGA event. Enter South Park: The Stick of Truth. It seems fitting that a major publisher on the verge of bankruptcy (THQ) is spending tens of millions of dollars to create a game which recreates the visual style of a crudely-animated cartoon. Then again, say what you want about licensed video games, but a series that pulls no punches, pushes boundaries, and doesn’t respect its audience is always prime for the video game treatment. Yeah, the old South Park games have a dreadful reputation. Those games also co-opted established genres and did little with the source material, a series of cash-ins that were befitting of the Acclaim publishing label.
Oh, and one other thing: When introducing the “new kid”, they completely missed the opportunity to skewer the focus testing in today’s video game industry. I am disappointed by the lack of a brown-haired, bearded nine-year-old.
9:07 – From television’s The Walking Dead, actress Danai Gurira: “This is the day you feared the most.” I laughed out loud. Great stab at this event. Keep the comedy coming. Apparently, this audience is a bunch of Walking Dead marks. The mere mention of a crossbow gets cheers and applause. Perhaps the video game industry should include a crossbow in one of their games? Has there ever been a single video game with a crossbow?
9:07-9:08 – Best Shooter
Nominees: Borderlands 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Halo 4, Max Payne 3.
I would rather not heap praise upon a game that I haven’t played yet, but if Far Cry 3 is not the Game of the Year, then something got screwed up at some point in development. But obviously, we couldn’t nominate that game, because it was not on the market when the VGA 2012 game nomination process began. (Ignore that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was in a similar situation and got a Game of the Year nomination.) Anyway, let the mediocre shooter award commence.
Winner: Borderlands 2. Because when I think of a genre which has been defined by its skillful combat, I think of loot- and stat-based progression. Spare me the chat that “The writing in Borderlands 2 is really awesome.” On my list of “What’s Important In a First Person Shooter”, that’s down there with “Is it compatible with the Rock Band drum controller?” and “Can I buy the downloadable content with food stamps?” Also, every year, I remind people to keep an eye on which games get awards. This will be important when something wins “Best Multiplayer”. I guarantee you that it will not be Borderlands 2 and it will lose to something that it beat for this award.
9:09-9:10 – Parks and Recreation‘s Adam Scott: “Now they say this next one is supposed to be the future of gaming, but I’m a skeptic.”
9:10-9:13 – Predictably, the “future of gaming” appears to be the most heavily-scripted video game experience to-date. The developers have concealed this scripting by putting you in the place of a crippled protagonist who cannot even get up to his feet and walk. I can only wonder how fans of modern shooters will deal with the faster pacing. A trip to the internet reveals that Phantom of Pain is an elaborate marketing ploy for the Metal Gear series. Many people have pointed out that the bandaged protagonist looks like Snake, but it also wouldn’t be a Metal Gear Solid game without somebody hiding under every table they come across. Or maybe I’m just bad at the games. Shut up.
9:14 – It’s that time of the year where our digital heroes suck somebody’s dick to win a meaningless award. Because when I think “glory hog”, I think Master Chief. Actually, to 343’s Credit, they run with the idea and play up his selfless service, which then crumbles under the realization that Samuel Jackson will be handing out the award. These elaborately-produced, voice-acted segments are wonderful insight into a video game industry that complains they do not have any money and will be going out of business by the end of the week. Well, I guess THQ is, but they’re the exception.
9:20-9:22 – And coming out of the commercial break, we’re thrusted into a comedy routine involving “the heads of every game company”. The unintentional comedy scale rises to new heights as the head of this meeting (a man in a suit and a Master Chief helmet) muffles that “this meeting is now in order”, casting this game executive get-together as a meeting of pure evil. “Future Sam Jackson” busts into the room and vaporizes one of the unruly executives. Electronic Arts’ stock doubles on the news that it was John Riccitiello. Not to be outdone, “Future Neil Patrick Harris” shows up to save the day, but realizes this is not the meeting for the Tony Awards. Seriously, I’m not making a bad joke. The writers are. Meanwhile, Future Jackson explains to the lone female executive that he is “the president of the fucking world”. This turns her on. But the video game industry has been whored out for years, so this is nothing new.
9:22 – Samuel Jackson hands Executive Master Chief a compact disc and states that “It saves the gaming world by using future technology.” I wish I was making this up.
9:22 – Jackson: “It makes all games better, cooler, and more badass.” The technology is ‘Sam Jackson Mode’, a harder-than-hardest difficulty setting. Congratulations, Samuel, you just traveled back to 1957 in order to kill Adolf Hitler. If you wanted to save video games by making them harder, you’re about a decade too late.
9:23-9:24 – So naturally, the candidate for demonstrating the brutally difficult Sam Jackson Mode is The Walking Dead, a narrative-driven game that features minimal punishment or consequence for death. In the sequence, one of the characters gets their leg caught in a bear trap. A digitally-animated Jackson ramps up the difficulty by chopping off the dude’s leg. They don’t show the part where the game rewinds thirty seconds into the past and gives you as many chances as possible to get it right.
9:24 – Jackson: “This week, history was made when one of our nominees for Game of the Year was nominated for a Grammy Award, a first ever for a game soundtrack.” And that would be complete bullshit. Nineteen months ago, “Baba Yetu” (the opening theme music for Civilization IV) won its category at the 2010 Grammys. I’m sure there is some nebulous technicality that would explain the error, but no bullshit about it: What you just said is bullshit.
9:25-9:27 – And a trailer for our Game of the Year candidates is set to live orchestra music. This is probably a good time to talk about the candidates. I’ll just reiterate what I posted on the forums: Journey is going to win. The goal of the Spike Video Game Awards’ top honor is to pick a game that represents what the industry wants to sell. The first couple of winners (Madden, Grand Theft Auto, Resident Evil 4) represented “mature gaming for older audiences”, which was originally a reflection of the young adult demographic that had grown out of the Genesis and Nintendo years. As time passed, that definition of “mature” slowly became “more intellectual”, i.e. “less blood and guts” and “less pandering to the lowest common denominator”. (I put those phrases in quotes for a reason.) Journey is going to be the game that proves “video games have finally grown up”, in that a seventy-year-old can play the game without having to worry about pesky things like “difficulty”, “depth”, or “gameplay”. And if you get rid of those barriers for entry and design, you can make video games more popular (i.e. more lucrative) than they’ve ever been before!
9:28 – The backstage segment is something called “The Nerd Machine”, featuring last year’s host Zachary Levy and someone named Alison Haislip. Normally, when someone or something claims to be a nerd, it is not. Also, the backstage aesthetic is absolutely ridiculous. It’s supposed to be a facsimile of the main event room and the “people” in the background are cardboard cutouts.
9:28 – Haislip: “Isn’t this the perfect night for nerds?”
Levy: “It is. You know, the VGAs, E3, these are the reasons that I wanted to create The Nerd Machine. I found that nerd culture was without a brand, without its Nike, and I wanted to create apparel, and community where nerds could unite.” Oh, so what you’re saying is that you wanted to use nerd culture as a commercial endeavor. In order to do this, you borrowed from some of the most shameless commercial endeavors in the video game industry. This is how you plan to bring nerd culture into the light. Mad props, yo. Fight the power, homey. This guy’s “nerd cred”? He walked on stage at last year’s event and claimed it took him hours to solve some of the puzzles in Portal 2. Enough said.
9:32 – From what I’ve seen, most of the animated sequences for the Character of the Year nominations either play the comedy route or are simply happy to run with the novelty of “game character accepts real-world honors”. Credit to those who brought life to Connor Kenway’s nomination. No snark here.
9:34-9:35 – Musician-slash-filmmaker Gustavo Santaolalla entertains the audience with an acoustical melody. Realizing that “acoustical musical interlude” and “fifteen-year-old Xbox Live user” do not mix, a hilarious overlay is introduced to tell us when the “WORLD PREMIRE OF ‘THE LAST OF US'” is going to take place. The timer begins at twenty seconds. If I was two years younger, I would probably shit on the Spike Video Game Awards for disrespecting the attention span of its audience. But after seeing some of the reactions to the content on this web site (which range from “tl;dr” to “too long, didn’t read”), I can’t blame the guys.
9:35-9:37 – After watching footage like this, I think it’s safe to say that the PlayStation 3 hardware has been thoroughly explored. If there’s anything left to discover, then “Wow.” Here’s to hoping that Naughty Dog gets this right. I do have a pair of concerns. In this man’s opinion, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves caught the perfect balance between game and movie. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception was a fine game, but the awful melee combat and the dreadful trip through the desert were sore points. Everything I have seen indicates that The Last of Us will feature even more melee combat and even more rigid scripting. Then again, this trailer could just be an attempt to rebrand the game in wake of that E3 debacle. I’ll wait and see what happens.
9:37-9:39 – Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. Well, uh, I’m not sure how many people asked for this sequel, although I didn’t play the predecessor, because video games are for babies. The “shocking reveal” is that the game is set in the modern day, which seemed fairly inevitable, since Order of Ecclesia took place in the nineteenth century and the series was creeping up this way, anyway.
9:40-9:41 – Amusingly enough, the writers already dropped the pretense that Samuel Jackson Mode has anything to do with the difficulty level. Sam Jackson Mode is now “Sam Jackson calling people assholes.” Hey, if those making loud and expensive games have no concept of difficulty, what chance do the writers for this event have?
9:45 – And then Claptrap accepts his nomination for Character of the Year, and politely tells the audience that if they didn’t vote for him, to go fuck themselves. With comedy like this, who needs comedy?
9:46-9:47 – Much as aging basketball stars go overseas to finish out their career, a thirty-one-year-old Jessica Alba makes an appearance at this event. Alba jumps on stage and begins her new career as a gamer girl. “I want to see you guys every night.” While I have kicked the crap out of Olivia Munn for doing the same thing, it’s clear that Alba is just messing with the audience and enjoying it. (I was originally going to say “fucking” or “screwing”, but, well, yeah.) “So the first time I played Super Mario Bros., it literally changed my life.” I enjoy this mythical idea that the mere act of playing and enjoying a video game is supposed to make a girl more sexually attractive.
9:49 – Alba: “Last year, gamers around the world felt the same obsession all because of one game. Not just because it was hard as hell, but also because it was dark, mysterious, and at times brutal.” Someone in the crowd whistles. Awkward. This is a good time to mention that this event actually has a mosh pit. It is the lamest mosh pit ever.
9:49-9:51 – Honestly, I think this may be the first time I have watched a video game trailer and decided it was close enough to photorealism that I didn’t care whether it was photorealistic or not. It is absolutely incredible that we’ve come this far in fifty short years. Damn, that was great. Oh, and just in case you’re wondering what the game is, it’s Dark Souls 2. You may soil yourself at any time, captain.
9:52-9:54 – Best Action-Adventure Game
Nominees: Assassin’s Creed III, Darksiders II, Dishonored, Sleeping Dogs. Please note that we are fifty minutes into the show and this will mark the second time that we have announced the winner of any category.
Winner: Dishonored. Not going to call it rubbish, but that game ended up being quite a letdown. Hey Sam Jackson, I hear Sam Jackson Mode makes games harder. Here’s your chance to use it, homeboy.
9:55 – Back to THA NURD MACHEEM, where Haislip introduces us to two of the biggest nerds and/or virgins in video game criticism. GameTrailers’ Shane Satterfield once went on ESPN and debated football player Terrell Suggs, arguing that the four best video games of all-time are Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Ms. Pac-Man, and Super Mario 64.* That’s the joke. Meanwhile, Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo once made a list of five “Games for People Who Don’t Have the Internet” and two of them required the internet.* These men are the high point of video game journalism.
9:56 – I don’t even know which character in Call of Duty: Black Ops II is being nominated for a Character of the Year award, so I’m not going to touch this one.
9:57 – Jackson: “In Medal of Honor: Warfighter, players experience the combat and intensity of military life. But the real honor belongs to our men and women of our armed forces.” Sorry Samuel, I love the troops, but this is why you don’t ask eighteen-year-olds with no technical experience to program video games. Wait a minute. *checks Wikipedia* Oh my God.
9:57-10:01 – And then Linkin Park does a live performance of one of their songs, as licensed for use in Warfighter. We are now an hour into this show and it has largely been pointless. That makes it a marked upgrade from the last two shows, which were downright painful.
10:01-10:02 – Best Independent Game. Whelp, forget the “not painful” part.
Nominees: Dust: An Elysian Tail, Fez, Journey, Mark of the Ninja. Let the Journey cocksucking begin!
Winner: Congratulations to Journey, the game with a credit roll that includes over five-hundred individuals, two game development studios, half-a-dozen third-party technology and computer licensees, and countless additional branches of Sony Computer Entertainment America, a subsidiary united under the gigantic pockets of Sony Computer Entertainment Incorporated. You are truly a manifestation of the “indie” video game spirit.
10:02 – Thatgamecompany developer Robin Hunickie: “We would like to thank our friends and family and indie developers who encouraged us to keep going when the going got tough.” Oh, to hell with you. This is why indie game development pisses off people. See, Hunickie is the downtrodden indie developer who needed support from all the other downtrodden indies, or this may not have happened! How would they have done this without the support of the Game Maker community? No, you want to know why it happened? Because a giant monolithic Japanese corporation gave you the fucking money to do it, and you were contractually obligated to do it. That’s why you did it. Enough with this bullshit that your labor of love was any different than the one shared by thousands of other game developers.
10:02 – Hunickie: “We made Journey for you to show you that games can be something different, independent, experimental, moving, emotional, modern, inclusive, different.” No, that’s no typo. She said “different” twice. Know what other independent game was all of those things? Serious Sam 3. I recommend you play it sometime.
10:03-10:04 – Oh, good. I guess the Mace Windu joke will be unnecessary. Sam Jackson Mode invades Angry Birds Star Wars. How fitting. A cheap, disposable, pointless comedy sketch chronicling a cheap, disposable, pointless video game.
10:08 – The game journlolism carousel continues with IGN’s Casey Lynch. In fairness, Lynch almost appears to have his head on straight. Most famously, he wrote a piece arguing that when both Dark Souls and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim were released, Souls would be outright superior. On the other hand, it came in the form of a top-five list.* The ball is in your court, Mr. Lynch.
10:08-10:09 – Haislip: “On a score of zero to nerdgasm, where are you at right now with this show?” Handsonface.
Lynch: “Okay, that’s a crazy question, but um…” Lynch follows this by saying he’s excited about the announcement of Dark Souls 2 and says that Dark Souls was his favorite game released last year. Well, you don’t seem so bad. And then he suggests that he would like to see Journey win game of the year. You lose, Mr. Lynch! Get off my property!
10:09-10:10 – Marlon Wayans. Well shit. Here’s someone who hasn’t been relevant in over a decade. And he is introducing someone by the name of “Snoop Lion”, a man who supposedly hosted the 2004 award ceremony.”
10:10 – Oh. Snoop Dogg is calling himself Snoop Lion. Whatever. Minus bonus points to the production team. You make a chair that shoots fire out the top and you need a pair of stagehands to push it out onto the stage. I’d make a Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor joke, but about five people played that game, I wasn’t one of those people, and nobody is getting that joke.
10:11 – Snoop: “I’m a lover, not a fighter, but when it comes to these ass-kicking [fighting] games, I will definitely mess you, you, and you up.” Normally, the purpose of these entries is to question the gaming credentials of every person on the show, but I get the feeling that he genuinely enjoys the games. Anyone who was the main villain in Def Jam: Fight For NY can’t be that bad.
10:12-10:13 – My instinct and inclination is to immediately shit over an Assassin’s Creed expansion pack that casts George Washington as an evil king, because it doesn’t pass the litmus test for a cursory knowledge of American history. But then I remind myself that games are supposed to be escapist fantasy. And quite honestly, when I walked out of a movie screening for 300 and heard someone praise the movie for its historical accuracy, I figured out the bigger problem is that people are really, really stupid.
10:13 – Jackson: “In case you’re wondering how I got this badass Battle Rifle, everyone watching on Xbox Live just decided this was the Most Killer Weapon.” Well, I guess we can add another VGA award to the worthless award list, up there with “Biggest Badass” (Kratos), “Best Game Publication” (Game Informer), and “Every Award Handed Out At the Spike Video Game Awards”.
10:14 – [Placeholder for Commander Shepard’s Game of the Year nomination. Think of something interesting to write here.]
10:14-10:15 – Zachary Levy hits the main stage and continues his failing battle to brand “nerd” as a marketable phrase which he can exploit for financial gain. This is seriously fucking painful. This segues into a discussion of the Mayan apocalypse, which is a whole lot of work for a segue-in for a Gears of War: Judgment trailer. I don’t have to describe what’s in that trailer. If you’ve played Gears of War, you know exactly what you’re getting.
10:23 – And on cue, Sam Jackson Mode enters Dishonored. Jackson shoots the butler because Jackson is an asshole. Not a single person stands up to Sam Jackson. Not even Sam Jackson Mode can save Dishonored from its difficulty level.
10:24 – Current Lara Croft voice actor Camilla Luddington: “There weren’t many female role models in video games. That is until an archaeologist came along armed with nothing but a couple of pistols and a pair of short shorts.” I think you have the incorrect definition of “role model”, ma’am. When I think “role model”, I’m not sure I think of “female protagonist whose gigantic breasts were the result of a misclick in 3D Studio Max”. I guess Square-Enix is trying to write off the old Lara Croft and go for Smart, Sexy, and Powerful™. Which is perfectly fine, but let’s not act like Lara Croft was more than flesh.
10:25-10:27 – The failing of the “games are art” audience is their insistence that games are only artistic when they incorporate lessons from the traditional arts, whether it’s painting, classic musical, and to a lesser degree, cinema. I believe this is now the third orchestra performance of the show. Damn. This show sure is obsessed with trying to show me how grown-up them vidya gaems are.
10:31 – Character of the Year
Connor Kenway, Assassin’s Creed III
Commander Shepard, Mass Effect 3
Master Chief, Halo 4
Raul Menendez, Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Winner: Claptrap! Wow, look at him go! He’s a robot with attitude! He’s totally in-my-face! They need to bring back Bubsy the Bobcat so he can win this award every single year. He’s a cat with attitude! Wow, look at that crazy cat! He’s totally tubular!
10:37 – Jackson enters the universe of Minecraft. The Player tries to cheer Jackson up by going Gagnam Style. Jackson shoots him with a bow-and-arrow. I think we just found an award winner for Worst Moment in the History of This Show.
10:37-10:38 – In one of the few genuinely amusing moments of this show, Tenacious D’s Kyle Gass expresses disgust that Sega Bass Fishing Duel is not the winner. Oh, yeah, the award? Something about a “Game of the Decade”. Yawn.
10:39-10:40 – Game of the Decade
Nominees: Batman: Arkham City, BioShock, Half-Life 2, Mass Effect 2, Portal, Red Dead Redemption, Shadow of the Colossus, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Wii Sports, World of Warcraft.
Yup. This is what the public actually believes. It’s worth mentioning that The Wind Waker, Wii Sports, World of Warcraft, Half-Life 2, and Arkham City did not win VGA Game of the Year and were beaten out by games that were not nominated for this award. Continuity is not a strong suit for this ceremony. Then again, I don’t think you want to tell the Zelda fanboys that a Madden game beat their cel-shaded lovechild for that honor. Oh, and Shadow of the Colossus has never even been mentioned at this event. Oh, and all of the games nominated on this list get American releases from 2003 to 2011. This does not make any sense. Oh, and if this award actually meant anything, it would make more sense to announce it at the end of the show.
10:40 – Gass: “Woah. These games look way better than Bass Duel.” Honestly, I would probably take Bass Duel over The Wind Waker and I would definitely take it over Wii Sports. Quit disrespectin’ the fishing game genre, y’all. King Salmon: The Big Catch was crazy shit, yo. It had sharks and shit.
10:40-10:42 – Half-Life 2 is selected as the winner. A large cabal of Valve employees (sans Gabe Newell) accepts the award. Meh. One of the great things about authoring extensive commentary on why lists universally suck is that you actually begin to believe some of the crap that comes out of your mouth, and while most people on the internet are bitching that their favorite video game of all-time did not win the award, I get to give absolutely no fucks. I win.
10:43 – And on a night which completely misrepresents and misunderstands nerd culture, it’s only fitting we hit the final stretch of this show with Johnny Galecki of The Big Bang Theory fame.
10:44 – The one consistent variable at any video game event seems to be “Ken Levine sounds like a genuine human being”. I mean, it’s clear that he’s reading off of a teleprompter, but he has this skiddish, nervous style which can be written off as “OMG HE MAEKS GAMES LOLL SO HE’S AFARD OF BIG CROWDS OR SOCIAL CONTACT’S.”
10:44-10:47 – Ignoring the part where BioShock Infinite is a death cry for the original vision of the Shock series…I would caution that reveal trailers are always going to show their best moments, but unless this game is functionally deficient, this looks like it could be a half-decent shooter with a great visual look. Of course, this assumes that the game does not get bogged down in scripted bullshit, which previous trailers have hinted at plenty of. Oh, and Infinite has iron sights, because it can’t be a shooter without iron sights. Oh, and GameStop’s insistence that I pre-order this game does not even faze me anymore. That’s kind of depressing.
(Yes, and in case you’re wondering why the timestamps are getting sparse, they really ramped up the commercials at the end of this show. The second half usually gives me much less content to work with, but it’s been particularly pronounced this year.)
10:54-10:56 – Game of the Year
Nominees: Assassin’s Creed III, Dishonored, Journey, Mass Effect 3, The Walking Dead: The Game
Winner: The Walking Dead: The Game. Weird. I didn’t know that Telltale’s games were suddenly hot shit. You want to know what the irony is? Traditionally speaking, the moniker of “independent video game development” has referred to a developer that can finance their game without the backing of a publisher. Even if they eventually need a publisher or distributor to get the game to market, it was still considered “independent”. It’s always been a fairly meaningless term, because by that metric, today’s three most independent companies are Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. They commission and develop their own hardware, make software for that hardware, and exert a degree of control over competing software. Lost in all of the Journey cocksucking is that an independent video game, one independently developed and funded by Telltale Games, has just won a Game of the Year award and there has been no mention of its status as an independent game. Congratulations. That’s number 475 on the list of reasons that people hate “indie” games.
And yes, I thought that Journey was going to run away with this, but in retrospect, it’s easy to see why The Walking Dead was handed top honors. (Assuming Journey did not win, The Walking Dead was my second choice.) Like I said, the Game of the Year reflects what the industry wants to sell to audiences. Television and movies get more customers than video games do. So, what better an idea than to propagandize an “episodic”, narrative-heavy video game based on a hugely popular television show?
10:56 – Telltale Games’ Kevin Bruner: “Making episodic games is something new.” A bullshit show deserves to end with a bullshit statement. It’s not like id Software’s early business model (Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom) was built on “episodes” or anything. And it’s not like “episodic gaming” can apply to anything from sequels, to expansion packs, to add-on content. But then again, five years from now, someone will release a really awesome real-time strategy game and people will be claiming that it copied League of Legends. A cursory respect for game history is harmful when you’re trying to sell today’s games.
10:57-11:03 – And in perhaps the most impressive move of the night, they at least had the decency to put Jack Black’s musical act at the end of the show, where I can simply ignore it.
So that was fairly pointless. Oh, the show always is. I’m having a discussion on my personal entertainment value. At least the previous two years were hilariously bad. I think Samuel Jackson’s level of energy had something to do with it. But even the nominations and choices were tolerable. No, I’m not saying that I actually care which games win. Nothing associated with Geoff Keighley has any legitimacy. He’s the one directing traffic backstage, and his traffic light is green for Mountain Dew and red for Doritos. But compared to previous events, this show was a paragon for consistency. Ignoring that we somehow concluded The Walking Dead was not an independent video game, and ignoring that The Walking Dead won Game of the Year without being nominated on any individual game platform, the show defied its reputation as a circle-jerk for the industry’s largest companies. Then again, by giving The Walking Dead top honors, you could reserve all the less meaningful awards for all the other games. But…at the end of the day, you want to know how I feel about this show?
Yeah, I couldn’t give a fuck, either. Good call, Ken. Hand out your blowjobs. I’m outta here.