Category: Video games and pop culture

The “Highlights” of the Spike Video Game Awards.

Ah, the Spike Video Game Awards. Advertised as a legitimate video game awards show — ignoring other, more professional award ceremonies — the VGAs are anything but, often being a corporate mess with an award show that makes the MTV Movie Awards seem dignified in comparison.

More like video LAME awards hahaha I slay me

The Video Game Awards celebrates their ninth year of being a hilarious trainwreck of TV executives trying to “understand” gamers combined with exclusive trailers for wonderful games like Command & Conquer Generals II. I personally haven’t watched the awards in years, opting to see the trailers on GameTrailers.com after the show is broadcast instead. (2019 edit: When they still existed in 2012, anyway. RIP GameTrailers. 🙁 )

Doesn’t mean I still can’t mock it endlessly every year. Unlike a certain person who has an “Angry” persona, at least I have tact and don’t give Geoff Keighley the third degree about this, I understand that this is strictly a corporate affair and not a genuine awards show.

To commemorate the ninth anniversary of this wonderful award show, I thought I’d give you the highlights of the event so far. Note that this is not a complete list, anything prior to 2005 is pretty hard to find info on before the days of YouTube, and since I don’t actively watch the event, I have to go by hearsay and second-hand information. So let me know if I left anything out, or made any errors in this. But enough of that, let’s get started!


2005: The award goes to… a game that’s not even out yet!

I wonder if Jack Black still accepts awards in his underwear these days.

2005 was an interesting year. The Xbox 360 was new, the world wasn’t introduced to waggle motion controllers yet, and I had just graduated out of High School. The 2005 VGAs were mostly uneventful, except for two games getting a fair share of awards: The critically-panned 50 Cent: Bulletproof, and the licensed title Peter Jackson’s King Kong: This Game Should Win An Award for the Most Overwrought Game Title, I mean, Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie. Nothing wrong with that, right?

There’s one big problem: Both games weren’t out yet. Back then, this was recorded in advance rather than broadcast live, so they decided to hype up two yet-unreleased games for their award show. Really destroys the legitimacy of this awards show. It’d be like the Oscars giving an award to a movie that came out the day before, skipping the whole nomination process.

Following this fiasco, there was a time where they made awards specifically for games coming out during the holiday season in the interest of fairness, but they seemed to abandon this in later years, being totally okay to give the then-recently-released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 “Best Shooter” in 2011.


2007: Look at our sexy ladies! Oh and BioShock won an award or something.

I wonder if this model has any regrets for doing this. Probably not, considering she’s standing next to Dave Navarro.

2007 brought an… interesting approach to the awards. A fair share of the major video games had various models covered in body paint depicting the game’s name on them, which would be used to determine the winning game for each category.

Imagine the executive meeting where this took place.

  • Guy #1: “Hey, we’re a network for MEN, right? Us men like women, right? But how do we make women tie into this video games thing?”
  • Guy #2: “Get actual women game designers to present and accept the awards?”
  • Guy #1: “What are you talking about, women game designers don’t exist! You’re just making up shit, Steve.”
  • Guy #2: “But what if they do exist?”
  • Guy #1: “Even if they do, they’re likely all ugly and shit, we need beautiful women for this thing!”
  • Guy #3: “I KNOW! Let’s have models walk onto the stage covered in body paint with the games as we reveal the awards!”
  • Guy #1: “Genius, Dave! You get a pay raise! Now get out, I gotta call up the MANswers guys and order 100 new episodes!”

I swear that’s gotta be how it happened, because I can’t understand it otherwise. Yes, they did this for every major award. I feel sorry for the women who were subjected to this. At least I hope they got paid well.


2007: A bunch of Gamecocks crash Ken Levine’s victory party.

This guy said “Gamecock will rise some day” while Ken Levine looks on awkwardly. They certainly didn’t rise after this.

2007 brought us a bunch of amazing games, including BioShock, which won Game of the Year at the 2007 VGAs. Irrational Games co-founder Ken Levine gets up on stage, ready to do a speech to celebrate his team’s victory. Suddenly, a bunch of guys from Gamecock Media Group rushed the stage in dumb chicken hats, primarily to advertise Hail to the Chimp. After basically hijacking Levine’s moment in the TV spotlight, they leave shortly after realizing how ill timed this was, thus giving Levine and Greg Gobbi no time to give their speeches.

While Gamecock CEO Mike Wilson later apologized, it was a rather amusing highlight in the developer’s short history.

Where are they now, in 2012? Well, Irrational is still hard at work making BioShock Infinite. Gamecock, however, got bought by SouthPeak Interactive in 2008 and were never heard from again. Fortunately, they got better, reforming as a better studio with games more fondly remembered.

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Throut & Neck: A game show with some ’90s attitude.

Okay, I might be pushing it with the whole “video game blog” angle with this one. Granted, it’s video game-adjacent, and had a major game sponsor, so it counts.

Just about anyone who was born in the late ’80s to early ’90s may remember Nick Arcade, that awful Nickelodeon game show with an annoying host, rejected Double Dare contestants, and two episodes featuring an unreleased prototype of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. (Check it out on The Cutting Room Floor if you’re curious.) If you’re older, you might remember Video Power, that weird “video game tips” show turned average game show in its second season.

And for all the old farts out there, you probably remember Starcade when was new. Or you’re like me and remember it when G4 reran it constantly, before the network was total garbage. But I bet you don’t remember this weird video game-meets-game show entity: Throut & Neck, a Game Show Network original that briefly ran in 1999.

Sadly I couldn’t get a gif of the intro, because it’s so ’90s it hurts.

The late 1990s was a weird time for Game Show Network. Before they had aired bad Candid Camera knockoffs in Foul Play, before they reran The Amazing Race daily and going through the first seven seasons in a month, even before that weird “We’re not just game shows” phase where they thought giving Scrabble host Chuck Woolery a reality show was a good idea; they were on this ridiculously weird interactive TV kick. Interactive versions of The Price is Right were broadcast among other call-in and win shows based on Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. This was continuing a trend that was prevalent throughout the first few years of GSN’s life, trying to make it more than just old game shows.

Throut & Neck is one of the last shows where GSN was experimenting with these interactive call-in shows. And it’s quite the fascinating one.

Our “stars,” ladies and gentlemen. They have as much interactivity as an animatronic at Chuck E. Cheese.

The titular characters, Throut (that’s not a typo for “Throat,” that’s his actual name) and Neck are computer-generated characters on a TV monitor that occasionally animate. They’re basically two bumbling idiots who try to do evil and dastardly things, because, after all, it’s the late 1990s and everything has to be extreme. Also, for some reason they both hate sheep, which is another angle for the show that’s not really explained well.

Throut is a blue thing with a ponytail beard and weird straps on his mouth and feathers on his head. He seems to be the tough guy in this scenario, judging by his gruff dude-like voice and physique. Neck is a green monster with a weird nose and teeth, an outfit that looks like prison garb, and sounds like a cross between Zorak from Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Beavis from Beavis & Butt-Head. Sadly, neither C. Martin Croker or Mike Judge contributed to the voices of this show. Hell, I don’t even know who voiced these characters, the show credits them as “themselves,” so it’s a mystery that will likely remain unsolved.

Let’s be honest: This is the reason people watched, not for those two dunderheads.

Our co-host is Rebecca Grant, a person who doesn’t have much experience before or after this show. Grant’s role is basically to be the “straight woman” to Throut & Neck’s dumb insanity, as well as being the one who introduces the call-in players. In a sense, this was an early sign for GSN to try to appeal to the sex appeal market with superfluous woman co-hosts, like Cram and Lingo would do a few years later.

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The horrors of MTV2’s Video Mods.

Video games and pop music are two unlikely things that somehow go great together if they’re done properly. Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, Rock Band… Then there’s the weird video game homages in music, like Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Californication.” Which was more of a crazy animation experiment by some college kid than an actual video game homage, but it was cool all the same.

 

Complete with appropriate graphics at the time! Still looks better than an Xbox!

Around 2004, some guys must have saw that “Californication” video while on a 2AM drinking binge and thought that these ideas should be combined into a TV show. The result is one of the most bizarre combinations of music and video games that I’ve seen since Queen was involved in some mid-’90s adventure game: MTV2’s Video Mods.

Imagine a bunch of video game and music things shoved into a blender, which exploded into this nice and simple logo.

One of the lesser-known shows of MTV2’s library, which consisted mostly of Beavis & Butt-head reruns and The Adventures of Chico and Guapo, that one show that Seanbaby worked on; and maybe some actual music videos.

But enough jabs at MTV: Video Mods was an unusual and previously unheard of concept. A production company would take characters from a recent video game and make a music video of a popular song, putting it in relation to said game. It sounds weird on paper, so the best way to explain it would be to show one of these “video mods”:

Who knew these guys were in a rock band when not fighting Jedi?

You’re not going insane. That is Darth Maul, Darth Vader, Boba Fett and some random droid jamming out to the Foo Fighters’ “D.O.A.” while footage of Star Wars Battlefront II plays sporadically over really bad CG footage. Go ahead and laugh, I’ll still be here.

(By the way, clicking the image should take you to the YouTube video, if you want to see it for yourself.)

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