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.
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!
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.
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.
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.