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The Game Awards Hits Different in Person

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the game awards 2023
The Game Awards

It’s hard to believe, but The Game Awards celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. What began as a hastily-assembled replacement for the Spike VGAs, on Britney Spears’ Vegas stage has grown into arguably the biggest night in gaming. It certainly is when approached from a multiplatform perspective at least.

But, as it has grown bigger, it has also grown more controversial, with many taking issue with the snubs, genre biases and advertising-focused approach of the show. However, unlike most award shows, there is one area where The Game Awards is worthy of praise: it’s open to the public. Sure, there are risks involved in this move. Just ask my friend Mr. Bill Clinton. But seeing an awards show in person hits differently, and I’d like to share my perspective from the ground level.

So, first, what makes attending The Game Awards in person different from watching at home? Well, the first and most obvious answer is the price. Watching the ceremony at home costs a cool, cool Free 99, whereas tickets for the show in person go up into the triple digits. With a crowd paying a pretty penny, the onus is on Geoff and co to deliver the big surprises and crowd-pleasing moments, which may in part indicate why the show is so heavily focused on reveals and celebrity cameos. For my part at least, some of the best moments of the show came from the awards themselves, and the musical moments.

Take, for example, the award for best sound design. I’ve been following (and praising) HI-FI Rush heavily since the start of the year, and so seeing John and Kuichi accept the awards felt like a full-circle moment. As for the musical moments, without question, The Game Awards orchestra has been the consistent highlight of the show for years, and they sound even better in person. But getting to see Heilung’s authentic costuming and pyrotechnics in person made for one hell of an experience, and watching in real-time as Sam Lake got up to bust a move on the stage elicited massive cheers.

Speaking of the crowd, the audience I was with was quite loud and animated. To be frank, the audio in the live broadcast was far more muted than the real-life, rapturous response. Gasps, cheers, laughter, and even slight hesitation when Light No Fire was being announced as “Even more ambitious than No Man’s Sky”, the crowd itself was very much in tune with the show. For my part, I’m a very quiet and introverted person, but I let out a “Holy Shit!” when I realized that Hideo Kojima and Xbox were revealing their game – OD. And again when Jordan Peele got out to join Hideo.

With all of this being said, just because a show is in-person doesn’t automatically make it 100x more exciting, and there were some slower-paced moments wherein the crowd was lost. Usually, these were picked up with a hyped announcement, surprise performance or award, but not every reveal is made equal, and the audience certainly picked favourites. The most interesting one, perhaps, was the reveal of God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla. At first, the crowd was beyond excited, thinking the third installment in the rebooted trilogy was being revealed. Then, when the Ragnarok title appeared, the applause started to mute. But then, when the imminent release date and free price tag were revealed, the audience was immediately sold again and got very rowdy. It’s interesting to see how, in real-time, emotions can change so drastically.

As for my favourite reveals of the show, my highlight was probably the SEGA reveal, followed very closely by team Xbox’s trio of announcements. As someone who grew up on SEGA titles, including Shinobi and Golden Axe, getting to see them announced alongside other highly anticipated arrivals got me beyond excited. As for Xbox, OD was an absolute highlight for me, and Hellblade 2 finally showed off some truly impressive combat, we gotta talk about Blade. Seeing Arkane Lyon’s signature house art-style mesh with the world of Marvel Comics was a combo I didn’t know I needed, and Dinga’s energy is infectious. I even got to see him outside the theatre briefly as he spoke with fans, still wearing that undeniably badass trenchcoat.

Overall, there is an energy to The Game Awards in person that doesn’t fully shine through on the screen. It’s an exciting, animated, lively night and one heck of a show. While The Game Awards has been rightfully criticized for many missteps, one thing is undeniable, Geoff knows how to put on a show. Now, an awards show? That’s a bit different, and given that the speeches were one of my highlights, I would love to see more devs get time to shine on the big stage.

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thetruth
thetruth
4 months ago

It’s the same as movie award shows, they focus on a few games and the winners never match reality, it’s a giant waste of time since it’s basically a fake popularity contest in which you are told who is popular. Only a fanboy of the unbearable diva Hideo Kojima (a male being a diva… smfh) would enjoy something as pointless as a video games award show.

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