The 2016 Game Awards was held in Los Angeles, California at the Microsoft Center on December 1, 2016. It was hosted by Geoff Keighley, veteran entertainer, game commentator, and the show’s producer. Yours truly applied for a press pass, which promptly got denied, but I got in anyway as the plus one of a friend who works for a popular streaming platform. HA suck it Ashley from Media Relations! I’m thankful I got to attend the event, as it was my first awards show. And overall my experience was kind of… confusing? At some points it was underwhelming, other times cringey, a lot of times cheesy, and a few times uplifting and cool. Read on and let’s go over the most noteworthy parts of the show, in no particular order:
Geoff Keighley hearts Hideo Kojima big time
Keighley kicked off the night by honoring Hideo Kojima with the award for Metal Gear Solid 5, which was supposed to be awarded to him last year. For those of you who aren’t versed with the backstory here’s the gist: Konami, the studio that brought us Metal Gear Solid V had a falling out with Hideo Kojima, its creator. The conditions that Kojima worked under during his last six months at Konami were unfavorable and fucking awful, to say the least. Fast forward a year later, Keighley, being the good friend he is, gives Konami a passive aggressive fuck you by delivering Kojima his award for MGSV and a pretty intense speech commending Kojima for his courage, bravery, dedication and hard work. It was endearing and maybe a little too long winded. I don’t know. You be the judge.
The exclusive premier of Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding trailer
The new trailer of Kojima’s new game, Death Stranding starts off with a frightened looking Guillermo del Toro holding something in his arms and walking into an underpass. (Yes, the Guillermo del Toro that brought you Hellboy(s) and Pans Labyrinth. He’s now a video game character apparently). His surroundings seem to indicate there is combat going on around him: you can hear the sounds of gunshots and planes while a tank rolls by the underpass. After a few moments, the something in his arms is revealed to be a baby fetus and right afterward an eerie looking one-legged baby doll floats by Mr. Del Toro and down further into the underpass. The fetus in the jar looks up, opens its eyes and sleepily winks at the camera. The camera goes back to focus on the one-legged baby doll which is now even further down the underpass which leads to a group of soldiers headed by the solider in charge who looks like a cross between a blonde Robert Downey Jr. and Sting (the pro wrestler). Long black wormy, tubey looking things come out of Robert Downey Sting Jr. and emit sparks while Rob looks up into the camera and smiles. That’s it. WHAT THE FUCKITY FUCK JUST HAPPENED? Exactly. I CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS GAME TO COME OUT!
The annoying ass Hydrobot
Schick clearly funneled a shitload of money into the Game Awards because instead of normal ads, we were forced to watch their goofy mascot “Hydrobot”- a dude dressed up as a robot with a razer for a head- at several points in the show. The segments were short and cringey, punctuated by uncomfortable dialogue and forced laughter from the presenters. Yuckerz.
That Dragon, Cancer wins “Games for Impact Award”
Remember how I mentioned the Game Awards left me feeling a little confused– That Dragon, Cancer winning the Games for Impact Award gives a perfect illustration of why. The award was presented by internet personalities iJustine and Matpat who introduced the category: the nominees were developers who create “socially conscious, progressive forms of art that can inspire and transform the world around us.” Cut to the nominees- That Dragon, Cancer, Block’Hood, Sea Hero Quest, Orwell, 1979 Revolution- cut back to the two aforementioned presenters, looking chipper as ever, and this is where is gets weird. Instead of opening the envelope and reading the winner, Matpat decides to interject with his own little tangent, commenting on the heaviness of the statue iJustine is holding and how you can use it to do bicep curls (1:43) right before announcing the winner, That Dragon, Cancer. The two announcers cheer Woooooo!! YEAAA!!! over sad piano music while Ryan Green, a man who lost his son to cancer, tearfully walks on stage. His speech is heart wrenching, brave, and inspiring. And the whole time I hate Matpat and IJustine just a little bit for being so happy and probably not doing their research on just exactly what types of games are in the category they’re presenting. Oh and the icing on the cake is the hard cut to Hydrobot right after. Fuck you, Game Awards. Who the in the actual fuck was responsible for that? Talk about cognitive dissonance.
The musical acts : 1/3, Asian fail
The Game Awards had three musical acts: Run the Jewels, the producer of the music from Doom, and Rae Sremmurd. The Doom music was insanely good– like I was flipping my shit with excitement because it was super cool hearing video game music that I enjoyed so much live. That was the only music act that really made sense to me. I didn’t understand why Run the Jewels was there. I don’t even think Run the Jewels understood why they were there. Their performance seemed almost as forced as the Hydrobot’s enthusiasm for razors and again, I felt a little uncomfortable. Rae Sremmurd’s performance was the final music act and it was marginally better than Run the Jewels’s, but not by much. Yes, Black Beetles is a huge hit and the mannequin challenge went insanely viral, but come on, that shit is played out. I would’ve rather watched Florence and the Machine sing Stand by Me. Maybe a Harambe look like monkey pluck out the Super Mario Bros. theme song on the piano.
Nolan North’s acceptance speech feels a little Judas-y
Nolan North won the award for “Best Performance” and his acceptance speech seemed a little… off. After thanking the normal people–his wife, kids, everyone at Naughty Dog, blah blah blah, North went on to make vague comments about the importance of the engineers and developers of the Uncharted franchise. It actually sounded like he was implying that the devs were MORE valuable than voice actors- who are currently on strike. Eeesh Nolan, tell us how you really feel about your peers.
I’m super happy there exists an event such as the Game Awards. I love video games and it’s awesome that there is a night dedicated to giving back to the gaming community and recognizing those who have worked so hard to make it what it is today. But the execution was a little too… commercial-y. Yes, I think Geoff Keighley had the most honorable intentions of trying to make it a memorable and classy night. But between the gimmicky music acts, that fucking dancing Razorbot, and Matpat doing bicep curls with the award statue, the show felt hokey and cheap. And that’s not Keighley’s fault. Maybe it’s ours– for being mangia* monsters who just consume consume consume. We want nice things, but we can’t have them. Why? Because the thing that we reject is the very thing that gets us out of bed every morning, that drives us to work and make money, that keeps our country alive. Consumerism: buying, wanting, needing, it’s all the same. ‘Murica, y’all. And that’s just the way it is. It has been for a long time. I will say this, if the Game Awards were to turn to crowd funding to sponsor the show, I would definitely help out. I want to see a better, classier, hipper, awards show in 2017. What do you say, Keighley, maybe start a Kickstarter for the 2017 Game Awards?
*Editor’s Note: if you’re like me (Neil) and have no idea what Kat meant by ‘mangia’ refer to this
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