I opened my coverage of the DICE Summit this year, and its attendant awards show, the Interactive Achievement Awards, by comparing the awards themselves to The Oscars. And I'm glad I did. It turns out to have been a more apt analogy than even I realized.
The Oscars ceremony each year gets a lot of attention because of the star power of its attendees. People tune in to see "who" the stars are wearing, who's dating who and whether or not various celebrities will skip rehab therapy groups to party. Which is all well and good.
But all of that sound and fury is like the creamy caramel and smooth white chocolate layered over the real core of Oscars night: the awards. And although the paparazzi and tabloid journalists may dictate center stage on the red carpet, inside it's about the award winners, as nominated and voted on by their peers, fellow filmmakers all. The IAA Awards are no different.
While Spike TV's VGA show may have attracted a lot of attention, some of it unwarranted, the games recognized that night were nominated by and voted on by journalists. Now, don't get me wrong, I like journalists, and I know how much most of the folks on that panel know about games. But if you had your choice of an award being offered by a couple dozen guys (and a few girls) who write about games or one offered by 400 members of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, who each make games, many of whom are several-decade veterans, which would you choose?
Or, to put it another way, Martin Scorsese won a lot of awards over the course of his career, but he didn't consider himself a success until he bagged his first Oscar. Why? Because the recognition of his peers ultimately carried more weight than the opinions of anyone else. And so it is with the IAA Awards.
Spike's VGAs made a lot of noise, literally and figuratively, but the winners of the IAA Awards will be making more of a splash, not to mix metaphors. As soon as they are able, the Academy will be slapping stickers on the boxes of award-winning games and erecting information displays at Gamestop stores nation-wide. And it's practically a guarantee the winners will be getting a sales bump.
What will BioShock's five awards amount to in increased unit sales? Tough to say, but, according to Academy President Joe Olin, judging from previous years' results, an increase of 10-25 percent wouldn't be unheard of. So if peer recognition doesn't float your boat, stay tuned for the Bejamins.