The VGX Awards


So the VGX awards happened last night.

A quick backstory for those not in the loop: this is an annual video game award show previously known as the Spike TV Video Game Awards that appears to have been set up as a sort of gaming version of the Oscars but was widely mocked and derided as the plague center of “bro” culture in gaming and regarded as little more than a joke.

This year the Spike TV branding has been shed, presumably in an effort to give the whole thing a classier image. I didn’t watch the award show itself to see if this was successful (apparently there were transphobic jokes on stage so I guess not) but I did want to comment on the winners a bit, since they revealed some interesting trends.

Game of The Year went to GTA fucking V, which is complete bullshit. My opinion of that game has only lowered since I wrote my review; its attitude and puerile humor was what turned me off initially, but looking back on it I realize it was just straight-up not that much fun to play.

I was much happier to see my personal game of the year, Gone Home, win not only best Indie game but- shockingly- best PC game to boot. Developers The Fullbright Company were also nominated for best developer, sitting alongside industry powerhouses like Irrational, Rockstar and Naughty Dog.

This is frankly pretty mind-blowing. This show (or at least the one that spawned it) is widely held to pander massively to the “hardcore” demographic, and Gone Home was not popular with many of those people, as I complained about shortly after the game came out. The Spike TV Awards generally existed to enshrine the opinions of gaming’s most immature and toxic segment, whereas Gone Home winning two awards (the only game at the show to do so) represents a very deliberate move away from the opinion of the ultra-mainstream. I would be willing to bet a lot of people watching the awards hadn’t even heard of Gone Home.

(While we’re on the subject Kentucky Route Zero, which should really be more famous, was also nominated for the indie category)

In fact glancing over the list of winners and nominations it looks like we’re seeing something of a revolution when it comes to the kinds of games that are allowed into the limelight. The winner for best Xbox 360 game was Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, another small downloadable game that received a backlash from the “hardcore” crowd for being pretentious and “not a real game”. I’m certain some people will dismiss Gone Home’s awards as being motivated by political correctness due to the game’s pro-LGBT story, but it’s harder to handwave away the fact that a fairly obscure “art” game won one of the console categories.

So what does all of this mean? If it’s an indication that the people who run video game awards shows are developing some actual taste then that’s pretty cool. but I like to take it as a sign that the completely arbitrary sorting of video games into categories is starting to erode. It’s still often assumed that titles like Gone Home, Brothers and the other indie nominees are somehow different kinds of games from the likes of GTA V and The Last of Us, or somehow “don’t count” as games, so it’s nice to see them considered for recognition alongside the AAA big-budget releases.

Now at this point you may have noticed a certain amount of contradiction on my part by starting out claiming that this show doesn’t matter at all and then placing huge significance on which games won.



4 thoughts on “The VGX Awards

  1. Tim

    Tbh, Brothers suffers from being incredibly sexist (women: one fridged, one implied abuse, one evil) and doing virtually nothing with the control gimmick: almost every puzzle would remain solvable if you just had a button to lock one brother to what he’s doing and switch to the other. It makes not real use of gameplay to enhance the story (case in point, it can’t make the final enemy threatening because it’s “art” so it has to be piss easy, so the older brother comes off as dedicating himself to murdering an incompetent monster for no reason) and the quest often boils down to pure contrived convenience (the crossbow pointed *exactly* at the giant’s head). But hey, it’s got pretty skyboxes and nice looking geometry outside the playable area, so it wins awards.

    I’ve never been a fan of opposing definition of the word “game” because you can’t make a cohesive argument if you refuse to define what you’re actually talking about, and trying to redefine the terms of your opponent’s argument so it is no longer possible is the whole Suppressed Correlative / Lost Contrast fallacy. Plus most people who do that argue for a definition so loose that shuffling a pack of cards, randomly throwing a dice or putting money into a parking meter would qualify.

  2. zephyrean

    I couldn’t get over the massive, unacknowledged privilege of the characters. A mansion? A year-long trip? Rich girl running away for the lulz? It trivializes growing up gay to the point I never thought imaginable, not from queer developers.

    1. ronanwills Post author

      I think it was one of the hosts. As far as I know the people on stage don’t actually have any input into the judging, so they’re kind of separate from everything I was talking about.


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