Spike aired its reformatted VGX awards show yesterday online, and millions of gamers tuned in to see their favorite entertainment medium celebrated. This year Spike opted for a much more intimate feel, ditching the auditorium-style award show laden with celebrity guests for a more low key studio setting. VGX 2013 was supposed to be a tribute to the best games, studios, and experiences of the year, and the new format was supposed to provide a clearer focus on what gamers love, but the inclusion of one Hollywood personality derailed the entire show, and turned it into a laughing stock on the Internet.
Say what you will about Joel McHale, but he single handily hijacked the VGX award show and turned it into a bigger disaster than it has ever been. His demeanor was negative, and it felt like someone in his camp forced him to be there for publicity reasons. His contempt for the show, its host, and its guests was plainly written on his face as he dropped snarky comment after snarky comment. Joel used the entire 3 hours to promote his brand of comedy that highlights oddities in pop culture that are supposed to be funny a la Talk Soup, but he wasn’t even remotely comical. Unfortunately for Joel, he was picking on the demographic that the VGX awards appeal to, so his attempts at being funny fell flat, and even came off as demeaning towards all humans who enjoy video games.
What was even more infuriating about McHale’s crappy attitude is the fact that he poked fun at all of the game developers that were brought out to show off their latest game, or new assets during the awards show. Some may say that the game industry needs to be shaken up a bit and called out on the carpet for lack of creativity, but McHale’s low ball attacks on developers isn’t the way to go about changing things. Every attempt he put forth to come off as funny failed thanks to the awkwardness of the situation created by his lackadaisical approach to developer interviews and award announcements. He made offhand jokes about Tim Schaefer being on drugs when he creates his imaginative game worlds, and mocked Remedy for showing off a new game of theirs running on an iPad by saying, “Yes I’ve seen an iPad before.”
Joel McHale perfected the art of causing douche chills on the VGX awards thanks to his clear disdain for being involved with the show. I felt them as a viewer, Geoff Keighley felt them as a co-host, and every developer featured experienced them as well. The whole show felt like one big awkward middle school dance thanks to McHale’s backhanded bullying. He showed absolutely no enthusiasm for the awards themselves, sucking any sort of excitement out of the already lackluster awards show. McHale was such a distraction that you probably missed many of the awards themselves, but at least he’s not to blame for the odd rollout of the trophies, which had the GOTY announcement happening about 1 hour into the 3 hour broadcast.
The inclusion of Joel McHale definitely helped to make the VGX 2013 award show the worst ever, and possibly took the industry back as a whole thanks to his arrogant demeanor towards devs and gamers in general. With that being said one must ask why was he even invited to participate in the first place? The answer is simple, some stuffy suit at Spike thought that the show probably needed some Hollywood power so he/she nabbed the closest celeb willing to take a payday for 3 hours of work. The job description probably read:
VGX co-host needed, doesn’t need to be a gamer, or even like gaming. Must have over 1 million twitter followers and be verified. Must think you’re funny even if you’re not. Must be able to sorta read a teleprompter. Must hate Geoff Keighley. Must appear to be having zero fun or even want to be involved. If this sounds like you please apply below.
It’s a shame that the video game industry still feels like it needs mainstream celebrities to make it appear cool and fresh. As gamers we all know what is going on in gaming these days, and we know which studios are full of all-star talent, and which games entertain us for hours on end. We just want to see rad new game reveals, and our favorite games get honored for doing what they do best, which is to allow us to escape the realities of life for even a few minutes to explore a fantasy world meant to entertain us, and flex our own imaginations.
By incorporating celebrities and fake gamers into video game culture we cheapen the medium for no reason. When is the last time you bought a video game because an A-list celebrity told you to do so? When is the last time a celebrity made an amazing video game? Never, so why do they have to be the face of the industry if they’re just doing it for a paycheck?
Publishers need to move past the idea that celebs are needed to promote games. A great video game experience will sell itself if its truly something special, so the inclusion of a celebrity shill is useless. They just make it seem like the geeky kid enlisted the popular kid in school to make him/her seem more important to those who probably don’t even like geeks in the first place.
Joel McHale’s VGX 2013 experiment is a clear sign that most celebrities have no place in video game media, so here’s to hoping his extreme douchiness finally woke up the decision makers to this fact. Let gamers honor other gamers and their work. It’s what the community wants, and its what the genre deserves. Quit trying to be something you’re not video game industry. Leave the flashy lights and fakeness of tinsel town for the film and TV industries, because you don’t need it to be appreciated.
[#ff entbuddha] “Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”