In a lot of ways, last night's Video Game Awards were the most promising and yet, the most frustrating. It was a far cry from 2007's awards, a two-hour long cringe made bearable only by the occasional exclusive trailer. This year, there was real entertainment to be had, as well as a better sense than ever before of how to appeal to gamers. There were even some good gags. But that made the areas where the show stumbled, both big and small, even harder to swallow.
Fear not, the internet, we at Joystiq are ready to spring to the rescue and humbly provide our suggestions to help the VGAs reach their full potential (without the use of topless girls). Which brings us to tip number one:
Stop objectifying women: They may not be half of the Spike audience (or even half of video game fans) but they are half of the planet, and it would probably be smart to stop alienating them. Not having topless girls present awards was a great first step, but next time, let's try it without the models coated in enough silver paint to give Buddy Ebsen a seizure.
We don't, fundamentally, have a problem with attractive female presenters (though finding ones with a connection to the industry isn't as hard as you'd think), but would it be too much to ask to give them pants? We don't think so. Speaking of people in the industry:
Include more people from the industry: Did it matter that only a tiny sliver of the people in the TV audience knew who Tim Schafer was? Nope. All they knew is that he was a video game developer who was, for some reason, being treated as a god among men. To those of us watching at home though, it was a great moment of recognition for one of our beloved figures.
There are lots of people we'd like to see cast in the same light -- why not dig a few of them up to let them hand out an award or two? Oh, and now that we mention those awards ...
Treat your awards like they matter: There's no inherent value to an Oscar right? The reason it's such a big deal is that we've all, as a society, agreed that it is. If that same sort of thing is to happen to the VGAs, that culture of acting like they matter HAS to start with your show.
There are several ways to do this, but the first, and most important, is to stop stuffing half of the awards into a 30 second run down. Best Driving Game and Best Multiplayer Game may not be important to your producers, but we video game nerds love to argue about that stuff. Throwing 10 awards in a quick clip makes that impossible. If you're really honoring the people that make games, let them up there to have their say.
Also, standardize the look of the award itself. Honestly, we'd rather win a Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Award than that monstrosity you were giving away.
Keep Jack Black: Not only was he genuinely funny and a good sport, but he seemed to really have a love for video games. That's a big leap forward from Samuel L. Jackson, who constantly looked as though he was praying for the next commercial break or the sweet release of death.
Cut the musical acts: Musical tastes are so subjective, it's hard to pick one that will appeal to the whole audience. But you know what the whole audience does like? Video games. Let's focus on that.
Also, you know who likes L.L. Cool J performing "Mama Said Knock You Out" while UFC fighters dance on stage with him? No one.
Never use the phrase "Fueled by Dew" ever, ever again: It's stupid enough for Neil Patrick Harris to openly mock it on stage. Please don't ever, ever do it again. Whatever Mountain Dew is paying, we'll double it.
We decided to pick this year to make these suggestions because we saw something this time that hadn't been there before: Real potential. With a little work and a little respect for the industry, the players and ... well, for all of womankind, the VGAs have a shot at being a can't-miss event.
Here's hoping 2009 hits the mark.