My Game of the Year

My Game of the Year

Unfortunately, however, it will not disprove the theory that videogame makers are dysfunctional, juvenile, pre-adolescent ingrates with severe testosterone imbalances. In typical Spike TV style (I mean, come one, it's on Spike TV, FFS), the event was full of rock 'n' roll, celebrity worship and the glorification of excess. As one colleague put it, it's hard to be critical of an event willing to fly you to Las Vegas, put you up at the Wynn and roll out the red carpet. Fortunately I wasn't there, so I can be as critical as I want.

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Eugh, Las Vegas. It might be suggestible to have someone who plays games to host the awards instead of a bunch of greasy suits who see an opportunity like this as money-coated money dipped in money with a money center. And celebrity worship? What in God's neatly trimmed beard do celebrities have to do with vidjamagames? Also, maybe they should just have games that have actually gone to stores as nominees. Goddamn Las Vegas, plague of the world and bringer of death and disease to all it touches with it's black, blood-encrusted tentacles.

Unless, of course, anyone who reads this lives in Las Vegas, in which case I retract my previous sentence.

At the risk of stating the obvious: sounds like the Spike VGA show is primarily a marketing tool in preparation for the holiday buying season. Great PR if you can afford it.

I'm fine with that. Let the masses be dishonestly influenced if they wish - hell, it's just video games. But I hope those in the industry know better and don't waste time debating the merits of the awards. Like, I hope no one ever says in a meeting, "We should do this because Game A did it - and it won a Spike VGA! Clearly, the right choice." It's clearly a sham, so let's just forget about it.

I do wonder though, how other awards stack up in terms of credibility. Like, the DICE awards?

stevesan:
At the risk of stating the obvious: sounds like the Spike VGA show is primarily a marketing tool in preparation for the holiday buying season. Great PR if you can afford it.

The unfortunate thing is that, having assisted with the nomination/voting process with our Head Editoress, the whole thing actually appears to be democratic. Of course, like our political elections, you get out what you put in.

In the end, it's basically the Teen Choice Awards, for video games. I don't think their system gets any better results than putting up a pre-awards-show one week and having the public text-message their votes in would.

That said, as an obsessive game player, Mass Effect and Rock Band do deserve to win in their respective categories. Other categories, I couldn't say.

Fortunately we don't get Spike over here in the UK.
We get Bravo. And it's little slice of Gamer Hell (gamer.tv) is about as bad as it'll get (we used to have Gamesmaster once upon a time when gaming was still geeky... man how times have changed). I'm sure in a week or two's time we'll get the rerun of it.

The thing is, DO we have any actual game awards we should be paying attention to? I mean, over in the UK we have the sorry excuse of a set of awards done during London Game Week held by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts which is from what I've read about the same as Spike without the excess (or as much).

Does the game industry have anything we can respectfully call a black tie event, without it turning into inflating the already bursting egos of those who make the Triple A titles? The only thing that comes close is GDCA and as far as I know that doesn't get televised.

Is a celebrity studded, predictable, questionably rigged, Spike TV event how we want to see the game industry? Heaven help us all if so...

I've been saying this for years. (How giving awards to days-old or even unreleased games reduced the entire process to irrelevance, not that the VGAs are overblown, infantile and utterly unrepresentative of "real" gamer culture. I've only started saying that recently.) But so what? Industry awards shows in general, be they for games, movies, music or anything else, are just well-dress circle-jerks in which various members of the industry spend a few hours stroking other members of the industry for doing their jobs with an above-average degree of competence. I would find the whole process contemptible if I cared enough to think about it.

The Spike VGAs may bring increased visibility (and hopefully acceptability) to videogames as part of the broader culture of entertainment, which I suppose is a good thing in most ways, but its relevance to "real" gamers - that is, people who don't see any kind of inherent connection between videogames and models, actors, professional athletes and rock stars - is pretty slight. I'd have far more respect for the Russ Awards - even if they're just pulled out of his ass during a ten-minute conversation over a beer - than I would for anything put together by Spike.

KaynSlamdyke:
Does the game industry have anything we can respectfully call a black tie event, without it turning into inflating the already bursting egos of those who make the Triple A titles? The only thing that comes close is GDCA and as far as I know that doesn't get televised.

No, but I would say that the GDCA are the most respectable/legit awards due to their built-in vetting process. It's almost a gaming equivalent to the Academy Awards.

I like this idea of "pulled out of my ass over a beer" Russ Awards. I'll dip into the scotch tonight and see what happens.

Game of the year is already taken though.

The whole show reeked of the industry-whoring that led to the Kane & Lynch fiasco being so believable, regardless of what really happened. The games were basically a hype-list with a lot of marketing dollars, the only miracle being that K&L didn't somehow manage to sweep the awards also....

Best soundtrack? For a game that uses rock songs, I would probably have omitted it. Why not best score instead? Plus the juvenile bullshit that went on in the show was just insulting to pretty much everyone.

I would rather see an industry show where true innovation was rewarded, where gamers presented the awards and frankly not on TV.

Myes, i would be pissed as well if a game that hasnt been released beat my game (if i was a game developer) - lol a funny thing to do would advertise your game as the holy grail of games, the best game ever made in the history of the world. just get some 10 million dollar advertisement company to make the best trailer and ad for this supposed game, get a crapload of hype (I MEAN EXPONENTIALLY GROWING HYPE), take all the awards and in the next, say four years?, release a crappy remake of, i dont know, Dr Sam's Daily Adventures. Once all thats done you can laugh at them and finally open their eyes to the whole mockery of this award system.. most important is the laughing HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA

sorry went off on a bit of a tangent there, anywho, i dont think people take gaming seriously, it is a growing industry after all, but really i think spike's VGA is seriously degrading "us" and isnt part of the solution, but part of the problem (IMO).

like think about it. if normal people were watching this (by normal i mean non-gamers) there would seriously be a "WHAT THE F**K IS THIS?!" marquee running through their minds - serious; this image of gaming would forever be ingrained within their 'clairvoyant replay memory' and thus is the reason why the wider community will never take gaming seriously. this is heavily reflected in spike's lack of dignity attempt to give games an award ceremony.
damn. one step forward two stepsback?

In defense of SpikeTV, it would have been a lot easier for them to simply pick which games won based on commercial reasons. The fact that they took the time to identify and invite judges from among game journalism's better circles is a positive step. It means there's some sense - even at SpikeTV - that games are a real art that deserves to be judged in the same way that movies are judged by the press during the Golden Globes. All of the judges I met at the show seemed like they took seriously their efforts to pick deserving winners, and a quick poll of judges in attendance seems to indicate it was legit, i.e. what they voted on did win.

I could do without the cheesy "hottest newcomer" and "fueled by Dew" awards, and so on, but at the end of the day, Bioshock is a great game, Harmonix is a great studio, etc. Kudos to them for being selected.

Well said. Knowing one of the judges came from our own ranks, I'd have to agree. And, on the whole, I feel good about where the awards - and the industry in general - are headed. And in spite of all the ridiculousness and ham-fisted, hype-fueled voting, it was inspiring to be involved this go-round.

Still, If we're going to advance the medium, or be taken seriously by the folks who think we're all slavering adolescents, hype-based nomination is going to have to be addressed.

As always, I blame the greasy suits who run this joint. Like Archeron said, yay them actually paying attention to fine detail, or at least the detail that was visible without them having to bend over too far and leaking money everywhere, but maybe we should have this hosted somewhere else, in an E3-style affair. Hey, maybe the awards could be done at PAX!

Virgil:
That said, as an obsessive game player, Mass Effect and Rock Band do deserve to win in their respective categories. Other categories, I couldn't say.

I also think they're fine games, but are they the best games of the entire year, or simply the best games that happen to still be within the narrow window of awareness sported by hardcore gamers like us?

Russ Pitts:
Viva Pinata.

Oh man. If I absolutely had to choose a game of the year I'd be torn between a few more high-profile hits, but I have to admit I've played Viva Pinata until 2 in the morning more often than any other game this year by far.

I'm a little torn about their decisions. On the one hand, it seems like the hype machine has advanced to the point where games are given awards before they're even out to the public or have been played by a majority of gamers - on the other hand, the games mentioned in this article don't actually reek of massive mainstream hype to me. I mean, obviously thousands of people are playing and will play games like Mass Effect and Rock Band in future, and every gaming news site has been hyping the mentioned games up the backside, but they haven't seen big public and/or TV ad campaigns like Halo 3, Bioshock, and a few PS3 games. I guess if anything it's a sign that gaming journalism has grown to the point that it has a significant impact on the success or failure of games. As others have said, however, that is now a responsibility to advance the medium by highlighting little-known but excellent and creative games, rather than the hyped, expensive games that can stand on their own.

This is distracting from the more important question of whether Kirsten Bell was genuinely the hottest newcomer of the year, or if other, hotter newcomers were overlooked in favor of the Heroes hype machine.

I thought that whole category was just left in the script from the Scream Awards two months ago. Somebody forgot to do a final edit or something. How was that relevant to games?

Really the best system for an awards ceremony like the VGA's would be one similar to the Oscars, wherein a large voting body that represents a cross section of the industry submits anonymous ballots for the various categories. The problem is that video games, unlike movies, take so damn long to consume. How many 40 hour RPGs can a working adult really digest in a year? And this is to say nothing of developers working 100 hour weeks.

Bejeweled would probably win every year.

People still watch TV? I thought they cancelled that years ago...... :)

It may just be my poor memory, but I find it really difficult to remember which games came out last year. I suppose having to research isn't a horrible torture. Unfortunately, as of last year, I hadn't joined the next-gen of consoles so I was limited to PS2 games and PC games.

In the end, when we end/start a year is an informed yet arbitrary decision. It does seem odd that such a commercial enterprise such as video games would have an award show after the holiday season.

akatsukix:
Best soundtrack? For a game that uses rock songs, I would probably have omitted it. Why not best score instead? Plus the juvenile bullshit that went on in the show was just insulting to pretty much everyone.

Agreed on both counts.

Russ Pitts:
I also think they're fine games, but are they the best games of the entire year, or simply the best games that happen to still be within the narrow window of awareness sported by hardcore gamers like us?

Yes, they are the best games within their respective categories for the entire year. The fact that they happen to have been released the most recently is probably a symptom of the industry release schedule and the inclination to hold the best games back until the holiday season. Here's why:

As far as RPGs go, this was a pretty good year. Odin Sphere and Persona 3 would be my runners up, but they just don't have the same epic feel that Mass Effect does. Eternal Sonata and Blue Dragon were decent games, and high profile, but ultimately a disappointment (hopefully Lost Odyssey makes up for it). And of the other half dozen original games, none really stand out. Mass Effect isn't perfect by any means, but it is a new level of comparison that I will use to measure future games.

The only game that might adjust my ratings that I haven't played is The Witcher - it's on my list, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. My track record with eastern european games is generally pretty poor though, so I feel pretty comfortable even having missed it.

Nomination rules also stipulate that ports and re-releases aren't eligible, but if they were, FFT: War of the Lions would also be fighting for my top choice. It's just that awesome.

Rhythm is even easier. The only real contenders for 2007 are Rock Band, Guitar Hero III, SingStar, DDR Universe, and Boom Boom Rocket. Rock Band easily trumps Guitar Hero III in the guitar area (I'm contemplating dumping my copy on EB at this point), and the overall content and expandability make it better than SingStar. Boom Boom Rocket, though a fun diversion, isn't even in the same league.

That leaves DDR Universe, which is a very difficult comparison (apples to oranges, even) but I'm going to stick with Rock Band simply because it's a) not a complete rehash of previously released titles, and b) rock is better than jpop and techno.

Virgil:
Nomination rules also stipulate that ports and re-releases aren't eligible, but if they were, FFT: War of the Lions would also be fighting for my top choice. It's just that awesome.

I'd think Jeanne D'Arc would be a pretty competitive choice as well.

Looking at the awards, I'm happy with the outcome of the selection process. The real problem with the Spike TV VGAs is the ceremony and displaying of said awards. I want more David Jaffe and Cliffy B and a little less Tila Tequila.

Ian Dorsch:
I'd think Jeanne D'Arc would be a pretty competitive choice as well.

It's not a terrible game, and is definitely one of the better PSP games, but I found the game to wear thin pretty quickly. I think the lack of character development was the biggest thing I missed - I just didn't enjoy their game mechanics.

I might be biased in this area though, just because tactical strategy RPGs are my favorite genre. The direct comparison to the FFT and Disgaea re-releases didn't help - I just can't give much praise to a game when I find several older games in the same genre so much better.

I'm wondering...if I make an utterly tear-dropping, brilliant, incredible, unbeatable game on December 31st, is there any conceivable way for it to win a VGA?

There are a million ways I can think of to fix the awards; not all of them good, but for instance: Say they added a "Runner up" that was always awarded to an underdog game such as Psychonauts or Okami.
Also, I feel they should do away with a SINGULAR game of the year, and just hand it out to each of the genres. Video games aren't quite as easy to compare to each other as movies or music, so I sort of feel that's a bit of an unfair point.
Spike aren't the only ones to do this sort of GOTY stuff, so I'm also anticipating the results of other websites.

[quote=akatsukix]
Best soundtrack? For a game that uses rock songs, I would probably have omitted it. Why not best score instead? Plus the juvenile bullshit that went on in the show was just insulting to pretty much everyone.

quote]

They just need to make it best ORIGINAL sountrack... solves that problem. I agree giving it to rock band is a cop out.

They should move the awards (as well as making it actually serious) sometime in the new year, that way they can review all games from a calendar year and actually have time to play the ones that were complete at the end of the year.

Must remember to put Russ on the list for GoPets DS...

Spike is Spike, and I think it's a good thing for the gaming community that it finds Spike less than palatable. But it's a reality, if a sad one, that by the numbers in terms of console games a lot of people like to a) kill people and b) play football with their gaming consoles. Strangely these aren't gamers. But it's going to get a TV audience specced to that market. The addition of Guitar Heroesque games to that lineup is somewhat of an improvement but still within the same general vicinity.

But at least it bore little resemblance to the Country Music Awards...

Wow Russ your a bit bold for proclaiming Viva Pinata. But then again my game of the year was Odin Sphere.

Russ Pitts:
Still, If we're going to advance the medium, or be taken seriously by the folks who think we're all slavering adolescents, hype-based nomination is going to have to be addressed.

I don't see a difference between hype-based nomination in VGAs and hype-based winning in music awards. Winning any of the flashy pop-music circlejerk awards is ALL about hype and whoring out, it's got nothing to do with talent or luck or anything. I don't see why music is looked on as "a real art form" and games are not.

Come to think of it: F...k those stupid awards! Video games should be a cult thing (like it has always been). I never really had a problem with the gaming industry being low profile, it made gamers feel special :p; it's like we had our own "thing" nobody really cared about. Now it's all over the place; what used to be a refuge for some is now a multi million dollar industry with TELEVISED AWARDS and all... I FEEL SO EXPOSED!!! :P

 

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