The Game Awards 2017 Failed the Hard-Working Developers of this Industry

There was a moment during last night’s The Game Awards broadcast that stood out. A Way Out director Josef Fares went on an expletive-laced tirade over numerous issues including how much he loved his job, how great EA is and his disdain for the Oscars. As funny as his tirade and Geoff Keighley’s uncomfortableness was, it highlighted what a joke The Game Awards are. Mr. Fares’ ‘F*** the Oscars’ moment stresses just how backward the industry is when it comes to honoring the men and women who make the games we enjoy.

For those who may not know, The Academy Awards (aka the Oscars) is an annual awards show dedicated to honoring the best in film from the previous year. While there are numerous other awards shows (i.e., Golden Globes), none hold as much weight or prestige as the Oscars. While many viewers may look at the award ceremony as a gathering of elite Hollywood stars, directors and producers, none can deny the fact that the Oscars accomplish what they set out to do, which is to honor all facets of film-making.

From big awards in acting and directing to lesser-known awards like costuming and cinematography, the Oscars pull out all the stops to give every category the recognition it deserves. Elaborate on-set stages, beautifully-produced nomination segments and a sweeping orchestra dedicated to playing the year’s most exceptional scores (and booting long-winded speakers off the stage), the Oscars does give everyone a time to shine. Though the show’s 2-3 hour runtime gets tiresome, it’s ultimately worth it for the industry.

The Game Awards doesn’t do any of this. The 2017 show ran about three hours and it was a complete mess that glazed over the accomplishments of developers in favor of random reveals and ad-sponsored awards. Geoff Keighley promises year-after-year that The Game Awards will honor the developers, and yet they never do. This is perhaps most exemplified by the number of awards announced on-stage and which categories they belong to.

Announced On-Stage

Announced Off-Stage/Off-Hand

Game of the Year Best Audio Design
Best Game Direction Best Mobile Game
Best Narrative Best Handheld Game
Best Art Direction Best VR/AR Game
Best Score/Music Best Action/Adventure Game
Best Performance Best RPG
Games for Impact Best Fighting Game
Best Ongoing Game Best Family Game
Best Action Game Best Strategy Game
Most Anticipated Game Best Sports/Racing Game
Best Student Game Best Multiplayer
Trending Gamer Best Indie Game
Best eSports Player Best eSports Game
Best Debut Indie Game Best eSports Team
Best Chinese Game

At The Game Awards 2017, only about 50% of the awards were announced on-stage. The remaining awards were either announced off-hand during the presentation or weren’t announced on-stage. To add insult to injury, a good portion of winners weren’t even announced until after the show aired. In Best Multiplayer’s case, a winner wasn’t announced until more than 12 hours after the show ended. While essential categories like Action/Adventure, RPG and Audio Design were shoved off into the off-stage/off-hand status, corporate-promoted awards like Trending Gamer, eSports Player and Most Anticipated Game were given significant on-screen time.

What we got was about three hours of paid advertisements, random game reveals, celebrities pretending to be interested in gaming, film promotions, a band that felt out of place and an orchestra that barely got any time to play classics from this year’s nominees. All the orchestra got was a brief section before Game of the Year was handed out. The one moment of celebration for industry icon Carol Shaw was quickly overshadowed by an out-of-control developer that Keighley lost control of the room to. It wasn’t three hours of celebrating the accomplishments of the industry; it was three hours of corporate pandering.

For all the flack the games industry gets, it’s still an industry filled with talented people who work long hours to deliver stellar entertainment. For every Star Wars Battlefront II fiasco, there’s a Super Mario Odyssey. For every open-world game that shoves in unnecessary microtransactions, there’s a Horizon Zero Dawn and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. There’s still so much good in this industry and those developers deserve a ceremony that appreciates them. Instead, they got one that failed them.