Monday, December 08, 2014

The Game Awards...With Lasers!


The Game Awards!

Airing on Friday evening, I decided to give this one a chance and Live Tweet during the event.

If you don't want to read the full review/synopsis here is my general response: It was better then Spike's Video Game Awards but could use a better balance on "premiers" and award presentations.

Initially I was hesitant to watch - real hesitant. The new show was produced by Geoff Keighley who had a major role in developing the Spike version of gaming awards. Needless to say, I was expecting a slew of D List Celebrities with 0 interest in gaming to come out and start making fun of gamers for having "lazy, fat, slob lifestyles."

To my surprise, they tried to class it up.

Iconic game composer Koji Kondo (the man behind the themes to Super Mario and Legend of Zelda) opened up the event with a quicky diddy on the piano with Mario. I wish they had made it longer then 45 seconds. It was too short and felt like a brush off to the legend. Thankfully the show redeemed itself at the end by bringing Kondo back on the stage. We were about to have a nerd throw-down after that intro.

And for 21 minutes, the screen was filled with "World Premiers" before reaching the first award of the evening. This is where the E3 component of the show overtook the stage. It felt like the majority of the evening was about releasing new trailers and footage for content coming out in 2015. Which is fine, but about an hour into it and I was already annoyed with hearing the "World Premier" voice. It was so consistent that it overshadowed the few on-stage speeches. I couldn't focus on the awards because I was timing the mute button.

"Look dude. We get it. It's another World Premier. We can read. Can you shut up already, please?"

That is my biggest complaint with The Game Awards. It was too much emphasis on "premiers" less on awards. In fact, most of the awards were given off stage! Keighley had a booth behind the audience (small attendance which probably, in part, was due to the last minute announcement of the show) where he handed out trophies in a multitude of categories - and because they were quick quips, you missed out on the developers reaction. Hell I have no idea who the other entries were in the categories. I have a vague recollection that one of the awards was for Best World Changing Innovation or something like that. It's a game that causes us to think beyond the normal boundaries and asks us to react. And I only remember that because the winners were two men from France who were humbled to be honored and would not give up the microphone to Keighley. Good on you two!  The rest was a blur.

The most memorable speech of the night came from the first award 21 minutes into the event. Trey Parker won best performance for South Park: The Stick of Truth as a multitude of voices in the cast. He gave thanks to the panel and for loving video games, because they allow a man like him to win an acting award over Kevin Spacey. Damn right, sir.

Another issue I felt was apparent was the amount of downtime in the show when winners walked up to the stage. The layout of the seating was an open, standing room only, floor at the front for paying fans. Towards the back was a section walled off for developers and winners, who had to traverse a series of stairs and wrap around the wall before reaching the floor. Note to the show: When you know someone is going to win, and we know that you do else you wouldn't have those awards personalized, put the winners close to the front. That will shave off the 15 minutes of downtime of people walking.

The performances by various musicians were also a highlight. The Game Awards went all out, getting a collection of old school and new talent by bringing gaming to an artistic level. Lindsay Sterling classed up the joint with her melody from Dragon Age: Inquisition. Imagine Dragons closed out the show with Koji Kondo by playing Zelda music and incorporating some of their hit tunes. And the light show. Oh that light show...maybe not so classy but it was entertaining and very gamer-esque.

I was also a bit unnerved by the "Trending Gamer" award. I didn't understand the purpose of it, other then to give YouTube stars a chance to be involved in the awards. That's all I could derive from it. Here's my thing: as gamers we're a fairly tight knit group. There isn't one person more important then the other. We do our best to treat each other as equals. So I find it a bit of an oxymoron when they show promotes inclusion, diversity, and acceptance of everyone, but wants to single out particular gamers for "trending." Confusing.

And a personal pet peeve was the breaking of the 180 rule in Keighley's booth. A few times the camera's would swap to one that sat behind the area and focused on the award winner. I dubbed it Awkward Reggie Angle because it flipped his position on the screen (from left to far right) and zoomed on his face. In film and television we have this imaginary line in front of the camera. You can pan and move the camera safely without crossing the line because no matter where you go or what you do (short of flipping the rig completely upside down) the person on the left will always be on the left and the person on the right will always be on the right. It allows for spatial awareness with the viewer and less of a paradoxical jump on the screen; which is what happens when you cross that line. When you allow yourself to break the 180 line, that's when the filming looks weird. Reggie went from the left, to the right, to the left within a handful of seconds and it was visually jarring. It does not make for "cool, artistic" visuals. Rather, it's annoying and causes more confusion to the casual viewer that a man jumped positions.

Overall, it was an improvement on what Spike would typically give us. The show is better then Spike by leaps and bounds, but it definitely had it's growing pains. If they can tighten up their schedule, have less "World Premiers" and more awards presented on the stage and more developer involvement, this could be something worthy of mainstream entertainment to take into consideration.

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