Ok, so Spike TV's 2008 Video Game Awards were on the other night. And my good friends over at Joystiq (can I say that now? Too bold?) already put up an article going over ways to fix the VGAs. I think they're pretty much on point with everything they've said, but I have a few more things I think really need to be done before I stop being ashamed of this so-called awards show*, and start actually looking forward to seeing it:
MATT'S WAYS TO IMPROVE THE VGAS:
1) HAVE SOME ACTUAL GAME PLAYING!: You guys set aside at least 20 minutes of time for music acts, why not make a nod to one of your awards and have a little musical competition in there, via Rock Band or Guitar Hero? Have two gamer "bands" compete against each other on stage, or else have a real band play their version of their song, and have some amazing gamer play a video game version of it on Expert. And then the crowd can cheer for who they enjoyed the most.
OR - have some actual game competitions. Halo, Gears, Call of Duty, or less intense games like MarioKart, Smash Bros., or Wii Sports. I know some of this stuff is hard to follow/watch, but you'll find something entertaining in there, I'm sure. Even if it's not competitive - it could even be someone going through a perfect run of Mirror's Edge (when I'm told the game looks its best). I'd love to watch something like that.
At the end of the day, wouldn't all of this be more entertaining than watching Kevin James on a mother f-ing Segway?
2) AUDIENCE (GAMER) PARTICIPATION! Look, video game themed TV is hard, I know. When you put something on television that is about video games, you're basically competing with my desire to just play games instead. And unless I have some investment in what you're putting up, nine times out of ten I'm going to just choose playing over watching. Truth be told, my hiatus from games is probably the only reason I stuck it out and watched the VGAs this year (I'd never seen more than 5 minutes of it in the past).
So how do we change this? How about, on top of each award you hand out based on whatever fantastic panel of judges you have deciding who should get what, you have a second category devoted to "Viewer's Choice?" Gamers can vote on who they think should win online, or on their Xbox, Wii or PS3s, and the results will be picked live. It doesn't have to be for every category (maybe just one for each specific system, since I can't see the companies wanting to list competitor's products), but even a single award given out based on people at home voting à la America's favorite reality singing show could get a lot of us more invested.
3) STOP EMBRACING THE NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES OF GAMERS! The live portion of the show opened this year with Jack Black being attacked by the video game devil and "fending off" human incarnations of things like "books (or reading?)," "exercise," and "healthy relationships." Nice. Two of those things I personally gave up games for this year, and the other is something that I hope to be in one day. The 'bit' was that Jack Black fought them off by pointing out the video game/gamer thing that apparently countered these so-called attacks: The story in GTA IV was apparently good enough to beat the book guy, Wii Fit girl's sexy tush fought off the forces of exercise, and then Ms. Healthy Relationship was defeated by....Kyle Gass. And of course, crotch fireworks:
C'mon guys. I can actually see you guys in writers room coming up with all of this, and at the point when you get to "healthy relationships" you guys sit in silence for for about 30 seconds thinking about what could counter that. At which point, someone shrugs their shoulders and says: "Crotch fireworks?" you all have a laugh, and then collectively decide that, yes, this is probably the best answer you're going to come up with. Then you call your wives and tell them you're going to be staying at work a little late that night and you completely miss the irony.
You don't see the people in charge of Little League trophy ceremonies (probably the only place I can think of besides school where I actually was awarded anything, ever) starting the show by bashing Pee Wee Football, spelling bees, or guidance counselors, right? By acknowledging things like books, exercise and loving girlfriends, and how much we apparently hate them, you don't just look ignorant, but you're also just reinforcing the stereotype of the sad, out of shape, and kind of pathetic gamer. And that's not what we are. Well, not most of us at least, I'd like to think.
Yes, deep down inside we all know we're probably choosing games over some of those things at least some of the time, but there's no reason to bring that to the forefront during a show celebrating achievements in gaming. How about this novel idea - instead, let's acknowledge some of the amazing things gamers have accomplished this year?
Or just keep doing what you're doing, since I probably won't be watching next year anyway...
Yeah, but I'd still rather be playing: This is breaking my own rules a bit, but this video was just too funny to pass up. It's from Soul Calibur IV, featuring my man Voldo, and it's brilliant:
*On a so-called television station. Zing!