If you watched The Game Awards 2023, I wouldn’t be surprised if you noticed something off about the whole event. Sure, we saw some amazing game announcements, but wait, why am I seeing Geoff Keighley talk for an uncomfortable amount of time with a Muppet while Alan Wake 2 director Sam Lake is hurried off the stage after a minute while he attempts to thank his team? The “Awards” part of this show is in the title of the event, but why am I feeling like this was just an excuse to shove more Fortnite ads in my face?
Seeing the “Please Wrap it Up” sign flash as Larian Studios took a moment to thank a member of the team that they lost was a complete heartbreak.
As an event, The Game Awards is an amazing idea. It acts as a way to celebrate the great games released, but also the amazing studios behind them. These are real people with real stories to share, and fans of their games want to hear them speak. However, what it has turned into is a display of how corporations really control the narrative here. Everyone wants to make money, I know this, but the event is already over three hours long; what’s another 30 minutes to spread across the winners and add to their speeches?
In October, Gamesindustry.biz shared an article titled Over 6,000 games industry jobs lost in 2023 so far. This is not an overstatement, and even following this article, more layoffs have taken place, resulting in journalists and developers without the means to fully support themselves on their current career paths. However, none of this was mentioned during The Game Awards, or even acknowledged. In fact, it seemed nominees were asked not to bring up sensitive topics on stage, and no one did. The history of The Game Awards and their attempts to stay out of politics is documented by Axios. While some members of the industry opted not to attend, for many, this is the best time to make connections with other leaders, network, spread ideas across studios, and catch up with old friends after a long year of supporting their art.
The fact is, Geoff has a hold on this event. He’s the only one currently able to or willing to support it financially and at this scale, which puts him at the forefront of any drama or issues that spawn from the event. But as someone who has worked in the industry himself, I find it strange how he is so eager to talk with Hideo Kojima about a game concept for nearly 10 minutes, but he won’t give The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom producer Eiji Aonuma more than a minute to thank his team, with the assistance of a translator.
It’s not about the game industry anymore. It’s about Geoff’s rise to celebrity with the fact that “If he doesn’t do it, no one will,” keeping that soulless smile on his face. It’s true that the game industry needs an event like this, but it’s not really an event I feel eager to support. The quality and runtime of the show are at the mercy of a man who saw an opportunity and took it. While I’m sure he worked hard to achieve this amazing feat, I won’t accept that he’s this blind to the real issues this industry faces.
So, as I’m forced to sit through Matthew McConaughey struggling to connect to a room full of nerds, I want to just say thank you to the wonderful developers who released games this year. You’re all amazing, and I’m all ears to hear your brilliant and powerful stories of game development.
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