The Spike VGA Awards are a yearly fixture in the gaming
industry’s calendar, a celebration of the titles that have really set the
gaming world alight and an opportunity for developers to tease and
torment fans with footage of their upcoming releases. This year’s awards, held at the Sony Pictures
Studios in California last Friday, did not disappoint. A number of the superb
games that have been released this year walked away with well-deserved awards,
and a number of developers took the opportunity to build even more anticipation
for their upcoming games. Without
further ado, here’s our (fairly brief) round-up of the Spike VGA Awards 2011.
Winners There weren’t too many surprises in this year’s selection
of awards. Bethesda took home the ‘Game of the Year’ gong with Skyrim, which is
understandable considering the sheer level of critical buzz that has surrounded
the game since release (and our own 9/9.7/10 out of 10 reviews!) and they also
claimed the ‘Studio of the Year’ award, beating out a number of other worthy
contenders. Skyrim also claimed the ‘Best
RPG’ award. Batman: Arkham City took
home four awards: ‘Character of the Year’ (Mark Hamill’s Joker), ‘Best Xbox 360
Game’, ‘Best Action Adventure Game’ and ‘Best Adapted Video Game’. Another multiple winner was Portal 2, which
claimed the ‘Best PC Game’, ‘Best Multiplayer’, ‘Best DLC’ and both the ‘Best
Performance’ awards, for both male and female performances. Bastion also picked up a couple of awards for
‘Best Original Score’, ‘Best Downloadable Game’ and ‘Best Song in a Game’.
Hype Somewhat understandably considering how much money
Bioware has put into marketing its first and most beloved child, Mass Effect 3
took home the ‘Most Anticipated Game’ award, and paired that achievement with a
brand new trailer for the game, pieced together from chunks of gameplay footage
and cutscenes. It shows Shepard and his
team trying to fight their way past a stampeding Reaper in order to claim some
kind of artifact, before an unexpected (but familiar to fans of the series)
guest shows up to offer some assistance...
Bioware was not the only company to try and harness the
hype surrounding the VGA Awards, however.
The list of titles previewed at the awards is long and star-studded, and
includes Tom Clancy's
Rainbow Six: Patriots, BioShock Infinite, Alan Wake's American
Nightmare, Metal Gear Rising:
Revengeance, The Amazing Spider-Man, Command & Conquer:
Generals 2 (from Bioware!) as well as Fortnite from Epic Games.
Check out a couple of the trailers below.
The Amazing Spider-Man
Analysis Video games have, over the last half-decade or so, seemed
determined to prove that they deserve a place at the ‘big boy’s table’ occupied
by Hollywood and the film industry. If
you haven’t experienced the argument between whether games should look more
like films or play more like games, then you haven’t been paying attention.
With every cutscene-heavy AAA title the debate is re-opened, and I don’t think
it’s ever going to be settled. I can
safely say, however, that the video game industry doesn’t yet have an awards
ceremony that can match the prestige and timeless importance of the
One comparison that I saw on the internet was the
suggestion that the VGA Awards are the equivalent of the MTV Teen Choice
awards: loud, brash and not exactly giving a very good picture of either the
industry or the gaming public who support that industry. It’s important that if developers and voice
actors want to be treated with the same kind of respect that filmmakers and
actors get, the industry needs a more dignified awards ceremony
that also celebrates the truly ground-breaking and thought-provoking titles
that have come out of many development studios, not just the big-budget and
heavily-advertised ones. It also most
certainly does not need an awards ceremony which includes a section solely
devoted to a man in military fatigues demonstrating how to “teabag” the head of
Steamhammer games and which allows Charlie Sheen to present an award while cracking
“jokes” about how he accepted the job because he thought there would be “chicks”.
In short, while it’s
good that the video game industry has an awards ceremony devoted to celebrating
the best games that it has produced, I personally don’t think that the current adolescent
attitude and format of the show (where the winners are shuffled on and off
stage quickly and usually without being permitted to say anything, to make way
for the next trailer) is doing the industry any favors in the eyes of either
its supporters or its detractors. If I
were to offer any pointers for next year’s awards ceremony, it would be to
encourage the writers to think about the very purpose of an awards ceremony - to
congratulate the people who have worked long and hard to provide us with top-class
entertainment. A greater degree of
respect for both creators and fans is priority number one, not a cavalcade of
flashy trailers which, while exciting, should not overshadow the main event: the awards.