We all deserve better than The Game Awards

Parallax Abstraction
5 min readDec 8, 2023
WORLD PREMIERE

The Game Awards are a multi-hour infomercial with a handful of awards sprinkled in that are determined by critics who are more out of touch with gamers than ever. If this is the best we can come up with to honour the biggest and most popular artistic medium in the world, it is in a sad state indeed.

Honestly, it’s coincidence that I’m writing and publishing this on the night of the show. I meant to do it sooner, but got too busy. It’s not like I care about the views here anyway, but I suppose now’s as good a time as ever.

I think most award shows are nonsense. They are generally just events where the bigwigs of an industry crowd into a room to get high on their own farts for a couple of hours. However, the difference between the Oscars or the Grammys and The Game Awards is that those shows aren’t spent mostly advertising other products that weren’t even in contention because they’re not out yet. Make no mistake about it, every WORLD PREMIERE you see during the show is bought and paid for. Those trailers aren’t shown out of a love of the medium or to give exposure to otherwise unknown games. They’re ads, and they make up the vast majority of the program.

If you’ve been following my content for a while, you might be going “Hold up PX, you’ve said in the past how you enjoyed E3 when it existed because of all the information about new stuff coming out.” First off, thanks for somehow tolerating me long enough to still be here. Secondly, you would be correct in that statement. The key difference with E3 is everyone knew it was a giant marketing event and it never pretended to be anything else. It’s the same reason I don’t mind Summer Games Fest, which is produced by the same people as The Game Awards. The whole thing’s about advertising new games to you and that’s the point. It’s the disingenuous nature of claiming that The Game Awards is about celebrating the gaming medium when so little of the show is devoted to that versus showing trailers that grinds my gears.

I know Geoff Keighley has immense love for gaming and the industry. He’s not one of these hosts who pretends to enjoy it because it’s the part he’s paid to play. That said, he’s also a businessman with deep ties to the industry and these shows are his bread and butter now. Taking money from the industry to fund it is fine, that’s how all the other shows work too. But if making most of the show advertising is what it takes to run it as this scale, not even giving creatives more than 30 seconds to accept awards and completely ignoring the bloodbath the industry has been this year, then maybe that scale should be smaller. This doesn’t feel like a celebration, it feels like PR.

Of course, let us not forget what a joke the awards themselves have become. I’ve been rightly critical of the games press who are tapped to determine the winners for well over a decade now, and some of the insane choices made the last few years all but prove how completely out of touch they are with consumers. Remember when The Last of Us Part 2 swept almost all the awards in 2020, despite many players hating it? Remember when the same thing happened with Deathloop the next year, a game most players thought was flawed, largely forgettable, and a sign of the fall from grace of Arkane Studios? How about Dave the Diver—which is excellent, don’t get me wrong — being nominated for Best Indie Game, despite being made by a subsidiary of Koren megapublisher Nexon, who brought in $800M USD in profit in 2021? Being as big an indie game enthusiast as I am, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a nebulous term that’s hard to nail down, but I know Dave the Diver ain’t indie.

The games press is stuffed to the hilt with cliques, narcissistic agendas, and writers who are trying to nepo themselves jobs in the industry that should go to people more capable. If that hasn’t been made obvious by now, then you’re not paying attention. They don’t always have to agree with the wider base of consumers. Indeed, I think some healthy disagreement’s a great thing and fanboys among consumers are just as bad. But multiple years when the awards are swept by games that make most players go “What the Hell were these people playing?” shows that they are writing and judging for themselves, not the audience. The show isn’t over as I write this and I’m certain that Baldur’s Gate 3 is cleaning up. Funny enough, I think that’s well deserved and this year, the press and gamers are largely aligned on that. I also guarantee that’s going to be an exception to a long-demonstrated rule and that if it hadn’t released this year, Starfield would be cleaning up in its place.

Starfield critic reviews.
Starfield player reviews.

So what we have is a show that’s about celebrating the business, not the medium, jammed full of advertising from the companies they’re supposed to judge, and headed by critics who have long forgotten that this industry isn’t about just them. I don’t know about you, but I think we all as gamers deserve better than that. You may ask, how does a proper award show get funded then? I’m not the guy to answer that, but the Oscars, Emmys and Tonys have figured it out, so I think an industry that dwarfs them all — possibly combined — can probably pull it off.

The Game Awards pulls in millions of viewers a year. I don’t know why, but clearly Keighley’s formula works and my opinion is in the minority. This blog’s called Geek Bravado for a reason. As usual, I’ll just find a summary of the announcements tomorrow and watch the trailers I’m interested in. It’s not like I don’t want to know what premiered, but I’ll be damned if I spend my evening giving viewership to this travesty to see them. Games are amazing, important, and deserve to be truly celebrated. Maybe somebody without such deep ties to the business can make that happen some day.

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Parallax Abstraction

Gamer, variety/indie/retro Twitch streamer/YouTuber, pet parent, IT ninja and much more. I'm not opinionated, I'm just always right!