The Game Awards, created and hosted by video game personality Geoff Keighley, can be viewed as either the definitive award ceremony for video games, or as one big marketing event. Either way, the 2017 Game of the Year nominees have been announced, and they’re pretty much exactly what you’d expect. Still, despite the lack of surprise, that hasn’t stopped many from arguing over what should or shouldn’t have been nominated.
Formerly hosted by Spike as The Spike Video Game Awards, Keighley went on to produce his own independent award ceremony. Each year since its inception in 2014, a slew of games from that year have been nominated for various categories, ranging from Best Shooter or Best Mobile Game, to the more coveted Developer of the Year, and of course Game of the Year. The games are selected by a secret panel of some sort, with the winners being at least partially voted on by the public.
The Game Awards‘ 2017 nominees are exactly the games you’d expect. Horizon Zero Dawn has the most nominations, up for Game of the Year, Best Game Design, Best Narrative, Best Art Direction, and lead voice actress Ashly Burch has been nominated for Best Performance. Other candidates for Game of the Year are The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Persona 5, and most controversially, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a game still in Early Access.
As has been the case every year with The Game Awards, there’s been plenty of dissent and mocking on various social media platforms. Kurt Margenau, developer at Naughty Dog and co-direction on Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (which itself is up for three awards) took to Twitter to lament the need for the Most Anticipated Game category, specifically The Last of Us Part II’s nomination. Others have complained about certain games not getting a nomination, such as Yakuza 0, which has been shut out of the Awards completely.
Margenau’s right, voting for the game won’t make it come any faster. What’s the point of that category anyway? A more accurate name may be “Upcoming Game with the Best Marketing.” Red Dead Redemption II is on there and all we’ve seen of it is a single teaser trailer. But you could make a similar argument for every category. Does anyone know what the qualifications are for Trending Gamer? The Best Esports Game category doesn’t contain a single game released in the year 2017, and speaking of eSports, there isn’t a single female nomination for Best Esports Player, Presented by Omen and HP.
It’s impossible to shake the feeling that they’re just one big advertisement, for both upcoming video games and other products. Sponsorships galore throughout the presentation, and trailers for upcoming games blare between almost every award. Imagine if the Oscars ran trailers for films coming in the next year, no one would take them seriously.
But that’s the thing about The Game Awards – it’s the only award show we have. While it has it’s many flaws, there’s a germ of a great idea there. Celebrating great games, and the people who make and play them, what’s wrong with that?