And so that’s that. The Game Awards 2023 are over. 32 awards were handed out over three and a half hours. You might think, with that much time to spare, the show took its time and truly celebrated all the creators and games nominated for what the show calls “Gaming’s Biggest Night.” Nope. Instead, more so than before, the show sped through them at a rapid pace, making me wonder why it still pretends to be an award show at all.
The award part of this show has always felt like it was the least thought out or planned part of the night. That’s nothing new. But this time it felt especially bad. Host Geoff Keighley would often stop the trailer marathon to speed through three or four awards quickly at the side of the stage. Worse, in these cases, devs weren’t even welcomed up to accept their awards or talk for a few moments about their creations. Instead, Geoff rushed through the categories like someone eating the vegetables on their plate as fast as possible so they can get to dessert.
In a year when developers were laid off nearly every week, it would have been nice to acknowledge that horrible situation (which Geoff and the show didn’t) and to give all these talented people a moment to shine. Nope! We got trailers to premiere, damn it!
A bit of behind-the-scenes info here: I was tasked this year with updating a post cataloging the winners of each award. And it was a pain in the ass. Geoff and the show sped through most of the awards in large chunks, and even handed out many awards during the pre-show. Two very important awards—Innovation in Accessibility and Games for Impact—were dumped into the pre-show and barely given screen time at all there. Geoff and The Game Awards love to talk a big game about how much they care about helping to make games more accessible and diverse, and I want to believe that. But watching the show, you don’t get that sense at all. In fact, it feels like the awards are obstacles that Geoff works around and tries to speedrun through.
So I say, just give it up. Stop pretending. Just flip the switch and make this Winter E3. I get that deep down Geoff (probably) cares a lot about games, the people who make them, and the art form. But this show has never been about celebrating video games and the people who make them. Instead, it’s a bonanza of trailers and teasers with ads for more games spliced between all the action. It’s a three-hour commercial and it’s time for Geoff to acknowledge that and stop pretending he’s running an award show.
I’d love to see even a fraction of the attention this trailer-a-thon gets dedicated to a real video game award show, filled with heartfelt moments and plenty of time for folks to celebrate the cool shit they made in an industry that frequently treats them as expendable.
The Game Awards aren’t that. They never really were, the awards were just a convenient way to bring people together for a few hours in L.A. And it’s time to move on, become the Winter E3 and let someone else run a real award show.
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