After watching the revamped VGX awards show and witnessing every tweet rip the show apart, I can’t help but wonder why Spike can’t get it right. This attempt to make the show and video games just as relevant as movies and music is unnecessary. If Spike does decide to take another shot at the awards thing, at least hire people who know a lot of something (we’ve seen what a little something gets us) about video games, to put the show together. Is that too much to ask?
Ever since Spike first aired the Video Game Awards show in 2003, the gaming community has, understandably, torn it down. Video games always took a back seat to the glitz and glamour, celebrity appearances, and musical performances. The VGX was supposed to be Spike’s attempt at finally making their awards show about the games and the people who make them. The intimate setting and one-on-one interviews were supposed to give developers a chance to talk about their creations and give gamers a sneak peek of what is to come. Instead, the interviews felt like a rushed and sloppy E3. The developers would talk for five minutes, Joel McHale would make an awkward joke, and then Geoff Keighley would cut the interview short, announcing time was running out. It’s like Keighley’s sole purpose as co-host was to make sure everything stayed on time. Honestly, I didn’t really care for the interviews. I just wanted to see the world premiere trailers and demos. Directors aren’t interviewed during the Oscars, so why do interviews during an awards show? That is what E3, comic con, and other conventions are for.
Other awards shows enlist a celebrity for the hosting gig, and Spike has followed this tradition every year: David Spade, Snoop Dogg, Samuel Jackson (four times), Jack Black, Neil Patrick Harris, Zachary Levi, and now Geoff Keighley and comedian Joel McHale. I’m sure all of these hosts have played video games, and I’m sure some of them enjoy video games very much, but what is wrong with getting someone within the gaming industry—preferably someone who talks to an audience about video games on a daily basis—to host the show? There are a number of people with podcasts and websites where their sole purpose is to talk about video games and feel comfortable doing it. Keighley and McHale made it feel awkward.
Watching Joel force jokes and Geoff chuckle uncomfortably and quickly move on to the next thing made it painful to watch. The hosts also made sure to constantly comment on how much they love and play video games. They don’t have a real passion for video games and it showed. The sarcasm, disinterest, and constant berating of gamers were just too much.
Video games are a unique form of entertainment. Dousing it with the same formalities as any other awards show does not work. The gaming community is strong enough to stand on its own without needing to force its relevance. The funny skits, the secret trailers, and the gameplay demos are what kept me watching. I was even excited about the concert at the end of the show because I knew the music would be from a video game. These things should be kept for the next show.
Go ahead, have the awards take place at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, but fill it with real fans. Have musical performances as long as the music is from video games. Don’t even worry about making it a star studded affair; for once, it’s not about the celebrities. Hire hosts who love video games and would genuinely be excited. Put the show back on television—a marathon of Cops aired on the Spike channel during the VGX stream. Take elements of other awards shows and make them relevant to video games, instead of trying to force it into this traditional pattern. Gamers may have their disagreements (PS4 vs. Xbox One) and temper tantrums (Mass Effect 3 ending), but there is one thing we can all agree on: Spike failed again. Will it be able to gain back our trust or even our attention? At this point, I really don’t know. Maybe Spike should just give up and let someone else give it a try.