VGX Review: We Deserve Better


We Deserve Better

On December 7, the Video Game Awards Show, or VGX, aired via live stream across multiple Internet venues. What should have been an important event for gamers and developers alike, turned into a three and a half hour mockery of games, their developers, gamers, and anyone else who was unfortunate enough to witness the program. In fact, this is one of the reasons why non-gamers will not acknowledge games as a viable art form.



The VGX show was hosted by Joel McHale, known mostly for his role in Community, and Geoff Keighley, host of GameTrailers TV.  The entire event took place on a set in what I assume is a TV or movie studio, with a concert stage set up outside. Twenty three categories were set before the event, though only seven categories were actually presented on air.

One of the show’s biggest problems appeared as soon as the show began: Joel McHale. The host’s terrible attempts at humor fell flat every time and only got worse whenever a guest was on-air. McHale took stabs at every guest in an ill-fated attempt at humor and honestly came off as a douche. Considering how many of the developers were not good speakers and seemed very nervous, McHale’s idiotic quips were only making them more tense.

Keighley, who is an actual video games journalist, was more professional, but would not have been able to hold an entire award show on his shoulders with his on-air personality, hence McHale. I believe a producer for the show probably thought the two would balance each other out and keep the show going at a steady pace, but this idea obviously died a miserable death.

McHale improv’ed, said that he was not reading the teleprompter on multiple occasions, and even revealed a nominee winner long before it was supposed to be announced. Considering how unprofessional, unamusing, unintelligent, and disrespectful McHale was, the man should not be allowed to host another show ever again.

The layout of the show was a disaster that resembled a cheap version of an E3 convention and less of an award show. The majority of the show was spent showing a few minutes, or even seconds, of footage from upcoming titles, interviews with the developers, short videos, a concert, and then a very select few nominee winners. What’s worse, the Game of the Year award was presented within the first hour of the show.

What type of idiot places the most important award at the beginning of the show? Audiences will sit through an entire award show to see who was best of the best (movie, actor, song, album, etc.) and will stop watching after it is presented. Save the best for last, or lose the audience. Also, lose the constant Twitter and social media nonsense during the show, and then use fan Tweets and comments for highlight footage; keep it professional.

Speaking of professional, just because other award shows do dumb things in an attempt at humor, *cough* Academy Awards *cough*, doesn’t mean this type of award show should either. The pre-cut videos presented in between nominees and the excessive rambunctiousness could only be described as loud, obnoxious, and stupid. Cutting these out could have given enough time for a few nominees to receive an award.

Last, the rest of the show’s focus was on the performing artist of the night, but like McHale, did not need a microphone when they weren’t rapping or singing. Personally, I was not a fan of the music, but that is just a matter of taste. On the other hand, it was comprised mostly of one music genre and all performances were on the Grand Theft Auto 5 soundtrack. The performances should have been more varied, as to appeal to multiple musical tastes, and there should have been music from other games, not just one.


Award Winners

The nominees and winners were determined by a large committee comprised of established video game journalists from different magazines, websites, and television productions. Even though most of the winners had to be posted online, a majority of the winners seem to have been determined fairly…most of them.

While the title of Most Anticipated Game is not really too important, I feel Titanfall won only because of Keighley wanted it to.  Titanfall received more attention by the hosts than any of the other titles presented, contained two trailers on-air, and had possibly the longest interview of the night. The other award is much more heinous.

Soundtrack of the year was rigged. Regardless of whether anyone reading this enjoys GTA5’s soundtrack or not, the results were biased. I find it truly weird that a game that consists almost entirely of licensed tracks, to win, but I also can’t help but raise an eyebrow when the soundtrack’s artists just happen to be performing for the show. If a best soundtrack award can be won by having enough money to license famous artist, then I foresee an EA Sports game winning this award in the future.



A majority of the show focused on multiple previews more so than actual awards. Some good, some bad, and some were absolutely pointless. The creator of the new Tomb Raider, along with Lara’s voice actress, presented the PS4/XBOX One version of Tomb Raider to begin the previews. Personally, I felt that the trailer didn’t show anything new nor showcase any graphical enhancements, and I felt bad for the creator. After presenting the trailer and receiving praise for Tomb Raider (2013), they never received an award for the game.

In order for a preview to be effective, the actual gameplay needs to be shown. The new Donkey Kong, Broken Age, and Dying Light all were previewed as demos of real gameplay while the rest were merely trailers. Biase rears its ugly head again with Titanfall, which was receiving an exceptionally large amount of attention despite only showing a few seconds of in-game gameplay and the rest being pre-rendered footage.

I am looking forward to this game, but what was shown was possibly not actual gameplay. If the video was the result of a recorded match and then edited, that’s great, but it could just as easily be smoke and mirrors. Remember, this is how the hype machine works.

Speaking of hype, Keighley persisted the viewers to stay and watch the Witcher 3 preview only to present a short trailer without any in-game footage. Same could be said about Quantum Break which showed a few cutscenes and what could possibly have been gameplay. Hell, the developers showed more gameplay from an unfinished iOS game they were working on.

The biggest announcements were probably Telltale Games’ Tales from the Borderlands and Game of Thrones. The developer has been doing an exceptional job, but I am worried that they may be spreading themselves too thin considering they have the second season of The Walking Dead coming soon along with The Wolf Among Us episodes in the works. Hopefully they can rise to the challenge.

Sadly, there was only one indie developer shown during the preview section. The poor guy was obviously nervous, but flew down using his own funds and presented his game the best that he could. AAA developers can afford to present their games, indies not so much.For fairness, it should have been split 50/50 indie previews and AAA previews, plus the indie developers shouldn’t have to pay for their plane tickets. Don’t be greedy; please fly the poor chaps down.

Despite the hosts drowning the creators of Titanfall in their own drool, many of the previews showed actual gameplay and presented their games fairly well; I’ll give it a B-.


The VGX was an utter atrocity that gave no respect to games, developers, or anybody in general. It was unprofessional, unorganized, and poorly handled. Even with my limited experience as a TV camera operator and master control operator, I could have done a better job producing that tire fire of a production. Hell, I could have done a better job than McHale and I have no experience in front of a camera.  Speaking of which, why were there so many camera ops on set without a tripod?

In my last article, I stated that a video games award show doesn’t have to be as pretentious as other awards shows; I take that back.  Video games are an art medium and deserve respect. Like guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen said (look him up), “it helps to be a little arrogant about your art”, and he is right. By having a pretentious award show that acts like a traditional award show and actually treats its art like the most important thing in the world (like movies and music), then maybe nonbelievers will actually acknowledge the craft.

Developers have worked too hard and have gone too far to be treated the way they did last night, and it is time they received the respect and acknowledgement they truly deserve. Rip the rights from Spike and give them to someone who will make an actual award show and not some low-budget circus act.  A travesty like this is undeserving to any type of artist.

* The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect SpawnFirst as a whole.