The Game Awards Failed As A Platform When We Needed It Most

    The Game Awards has an identity crisis.

    If you tuned into The Game Awards 2023 last night, I’d be shocked if you said you walked away unsatisfied. That was by far the most diverse and exciting reveal slate we’ve seen at the annual award show from Geoff Keighley. We saw reveals for games like Hideo Kojima’s OD and Monster Hunter Wilds, among others. I had an amazing time watching the trailers, yet I walked away incredibly disappointed with the show itself.

    Despite its best year of announcements yet, The Game Awards 2023 failed at the one thing that matters most: celebrating creators and their accomplishments. Geoff Keighley has his priorities wrong. Whether you like it or not, The Game Awards is now the biggest annual showing of games each year. Instead of letting developers share their love and stories, The Game Awards 2023 prioritized Muppets and Hollywood actors. I want to take the time to outline the disrespect this event portrayed because it is completely unacceptable. The Game Awards has completely failed as a platform.

    “Please Wrap It Up,” Eiji Aonuma

    Aonuma Game Awards 2023

    I’ll start with the most shocking part of this year’s show. The second that any developer took the stage to claim an award, a screen in the back displayed a 30-second timer, followed by a “Please Wrap It Up” message. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll use Eiji Aonuma and his speech. Are we seriously telling Eiji Aonuma, one of the industry’s greatest creators, to “hurry it up” with a game that took almost a decade of his life to make? A game that could very well be his last with his age? Apparently so! Like all other award winners (even Game of the Year!), Aonuma was expected to complete a 30-second speech even with a translator. Every developer who took the stage was greeted with this screen. No one got to share thanks and truly take in the moment they worked so hard for. This might just be the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever seen in an award show. 


    Developers work tirelessly for years on titles they believe in. You can only hope that your game will be nominated at an event like The Game Awards, even more so with winning an award. So, why are we silencing the moment that matters most? Developers should be able to soak it all in and share whatever their heart desires. This is an award show; it’s in the name. 

    It’s clear this was put into place as a reaction to Christopher Judge’s speech last year, which ran eight minutes long. Sure, there’s something to be said about preventing each speech from being eight minutes, but 30 seconds? It’s a spit in the face of developers’ hard work for years. Do you know who did get time, though? Hollywood.

    The Hollywood Problem

    If you watched the show, it’s clear where the priorities lie. Bringing Hollywood actors who have no relation to the gaming community has to stop. We’re to the point now where, arguably, games are a bigger form of entertainment than movies. No one has a problem with selecting a few actors who have upcoming performances in games to talk about said game or present an award. However, it’s a problem when Anthony Mackie is talking on stage for five minutes, telling people to ‘shut up’ after we rushed Eiji Aonuma off. It just is.

    It feels like there is an emphasis on bringing talent from Hollywood when we could be bringing in creators instead. The Game Awards does not need Hollywood like it seemingly thinks it does. There are so many popular games and developers that, in reality, the show would be just as successful without the need for an A-List actor or two. It makes sense to boost popularity a couple of years ago, but we’re well past that point now.

    Countless developers have spoken out about this issue, with Obsidian’s Josh Sawyer stating, “This year’s The Game Awards is an embarrassing indictment of a segment of the industry desperate for validation via star power with little respect for the devs it’s supposedly honoring.” The issue is clear as day, yet no accountability or remorse is taken.

    Rushing Awards

    Another glaring issue, even worse this year, was the rushing of awards. Best RPG and Best Score/Music were read and immediately disregarded, with no stage presence for either. This also goes for Best Indie Game and countless other awards. Understandably, we can’t see each award claimed on stage, but there has to be an effort to let these developers bask in the moment.

    Take Best Score, for example. Final Fantasy XVI won that award, which would have let Masayoshi Soken on stage to accept the award. Soken battled cancer while writing music for XVI, which surely would have led to an incredible acceptance speech. Another is Sea of Stars for Best Indie Game. We’re removing opportunities for developers to celebrate their achievements in favor of Hollywood, advertisements, and other nonsense.

    If it’s a matter of a time crunch, go to the drawing board and reevaluate the show. If The Game Awards wants to be an award show, give the developers their award and stop glossing over it like it’s meaningless.

    It’s Time to Do Better

    I write this as someone who loves this industry more than anything: we must do better. If this is the platform, it must change. Throw away the Hollywood shenanigans and celebrate games and their creators. This industry is too amazing to continue not to promote the people behind the games. Video games are only as good as their people, who passionately devote years to creating experiences we know and love. 

    The consistent gloss over of industry events affecting developers is incredibly upsetting. Keighley disregarded what we’ve seen in the industry this year, with no mention of the 7,000+ that lost their jobs. It’s been a fantastic year of releases, with the longest release list in recent memory. However, it’s subsequently been the worst year in recent memory for the industry at large. It’s yet another example of how out of touch this award show truly is.

    As it stands, last night was nothing near “The Game Awards” but a glorified ad mess hosted by Hollywood. It truly has an identity crisis. If this is a show about honoring and celebrating developers like Geoff Keighley says it supposedly is, then they have a busy year ahead of them at the drawing board.

    Noah Hunter
    Noah Hunter
    Noah is Final Weapon’s Editor-in-Chief. He co-founded the website in June 2019 and has been writing for it ever since. In total, he has over five years of writing experience across many publications, including IGN Entertainment. His favorite series include Xeno and Final Fantasy.

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