We don’t have to be polite about The Game Awards or pretend it actually cares

This morning, in the cold, post-Game Awards light of day, it became apparent to me that, incredible as it seems, some of you out there have taken Geoff Keighley at his word that The Game Awards is something more meaningful than a flashy ad show to make money. I can’t really blame you for being an open-hearted optimist, but must ask: have you never watched The Game Awards before? I have, and this year, despite not having had to stay up until 5am covering it, I’m grumpy enough to point out that we don’t actually have to be nice about the great, clomping shiny trainer of marketing in 2023, the year everyone was laid off.

I’m very sorry to anyone who watched, live, as developers were hustled off stage in the middle of heartfelt acceptance speeches, and then expressed disappointment. You don’t need to finish the thought “if The Game Awards actually cared about games”, because, if we take a step back and suck air through our teeth as we size up the issue, well, there’s your problem, chief. The Game Awards as an entity does not care about games. The Game Awards is a business tool. I’m sure Geoff cares about games in that he likes them and he has friends who make expensive ones, but you’d have to work a lot harder to convince me that he actually Cares About Games as an abstract – as an art form that we engage with and play and write about. On the one hand, sure, The Game Awards showcased some indie titles this year, but on the other hand in the days leading up to the show we had discourse about what the term indie even means. And on a third hand, one reason that developers were only given about two seconds for their acceptance speeches could have been that “Palestine” has a lot of syllables.

The main reason is still that the Awards aren’t the point of The Game Awards; if voicing support for Palestinians was a profitable stance rather than a moral one it would have gotten a four-minute spot with a Twitch sponsorship. The amount The Game Awards cares about individual developers (whose numbers aren’t saved in Geoff’s phone, at least) could only be seen with an electron microscope. We are complicit, I should point out, because our coverage of The Game Awards doesn’t extend to the awards either! That’s on us. Video games being a multi-billion dollar industry as well as a creative endeavour on the backs of living, breathing people with beating hearts is an awkward point of collision in the games industry. Author Natali Simmonds, whose novel Good Girls Die Last came out this June, said in a group chat of debut authors that “the problem is that for some this is business, for some it’s a dream come true, for most of us it’s both.”

So it is with games. And the business is literally worth more to the event partners than Neil Newbon tearfully trying to thank the community for reaching out to him, which is why Gonzo and Camilla the chicken got two minutes to do jokes and Neil got steel-chaired by the get-off-stage-music after sixty seconds. My contempt for The Game Awards itself does not extend to developers being pleased that their work is recognised, in however unworthy a form The Game Awards is for that. Very few devs will get that, and even fewer make their work on their own terms, like GOTY winners Larian with Baldur’s Gate III.

But we don’t have to be nice about The Game Awards. We don’t even have to watch. We don’t even need them! You can email or Tweet at one of the developers who made a game you loved this year right now and it will take way less time than sitting through one of Geoff Keighley’s inter-advert segues. I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more! Fuck The Game Awards. Fuck ’em!


Can’t get enough of Geoff’s annual advert hype machine? Find all the announcements and more on our Game Awards 2023 hub page, and why not pop into our liveblog while you’re here?


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