Saturday, December 11, 2010

Impressions: The 2010 Spike Video Game Awards

I just finished watching the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards, an annual drudge-fest that has been carrying the flag for award show mediocrity since 2003. What could have been a grand occasion to honor the best in video games is instead degenerated into a lame and painfully unfunny slew of dumb jokes, cheesy one-liners and the sound of crickets chirping when the host, presumably just cashing a paycheck, throws out a zinger to a less-than-enthralled crowd. The 2010 awards was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, who displays all the wit and hosting prowess of wooden plank, and the endless slew of "special guests", unfunny sex jokes and tortured one-liners kept the proceedings chugging along at the pace of cold molasses in January. Having said that, it's not the personalities or even the awards that make the VGAs worth watching, it's the game announcements that really get the collective hearts of gamers pumping.

The world premier announcements include some surprises and a few that we knew already. The big hitters were, without a doubt, "Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception", "Resistance 3" and "Batman: Arkham City". These games were hardly secrets, but it was good to see official announcements and some spiffy trailers. The unexpected announcement of "Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" got my gaming friends on Twitter scrambling to tweet their joy, and the revealings of "Mass Effect 3", "Forza Motorsport 4" and "Portal 2 rounded things out nicely. With 2010 being a banner year for games, the recent announcements lead me to believe that 2011 will be just as fruitful for the gaming industry.

As for the awards themselves, let's just say that the only thing less predictable in life is stepping out into a rainstorm and getting wet. The endless love for games like "Call of Duty: Black Ops", "Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood" and "Red Dead Redemption" were expected and not totally unwarranted, but lesser-known and equally good titles were totally left out and it leads me to believe that the VGAs are just a big popularity contest. Perhaps video games occupy a narrower frontier than movies and music, but it's good to see underdog titles get some love and you rarely see that in popular gamer culture. But this s Spike TV, hardly the hallmark of quality and objectivity, so perhaps this is to be expected.

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