Video games are fast becoming the most profitable form of entertainment in the world, much closer to catching the film industry than one might suspect. The blinding speed in which gaming has progressed from 2-color, one-button gameplay to 2010's Red Dead Redemption has actually managed to outrun the public's ability to absorb its maturation. But as uneducated ignorance dwindles giving way to true appreciation, demand for a legitimate, be-all-end-all annual awards ceremony has grown.
Spike TV decided to shoulder this responsibility with the VGAs, starting in 2003. Unfortunately, the awards show has hardly lived up to its billing. Peppered with appearances by celebrities that gamers don't care about - and who, in turn, don't care about gaming - along with blatant plays on stereotypes galore, the show has been greeted with a collective "meh." Still, so far, it's the best we have.
But what is perhaps most disappointing is that the gaffes often extend to the nominees themselves. And although this isn't as much of an issue as it was in 2003, there are still some definite oddities in the company of the 2011 nominees. Here are some observations on this year's choices along with a few notable snubs:
The Game of the Year nominees look mostly good, including the likes of Batman: Arkham City, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Portal 2, and Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. But curiously included is The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, earning a nomination before even seeing its release date. It might end up being truly great, but I'm sure Gears of War 3 can't be incredibly pleased with that.
It's also a bit bewildering to notice that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim deserved to be listed among the best of the year overall, but isn't up for any awards as Best PC Game, Best Xbox 360 Game, or Best PlayStation 3 Game. The logic in this decision escapes me.
Speaking of the "best platform" categories, Disney's Epic Mickey being nominated for Best Wii Game is either a hilarious display of marketing influence or a sad demonstration of the state of the Wii console; I can't decide which.
Thank goodness that The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings received a deserved nomination as Best PC Game, because Dragon Age 2 getting consideration as Best RPG in its place is a veritable travesty.
I know that the panel that votes on these games is quite the respectable bunch, but whose idea was it to nominate Need for Speed: The Run as Best Driving Game? Or perhaps I should be asking... Who did EA pay off?
And the award for Absolutely Impossible to Pick a Winner in This Category goes to "Best Performance by a Human Male" this year. J.K Simmons as Cave Johnson in Portal 2; Mark Hamill as Joker in Batman: Arkham City; Nolan North as Nathan Drake in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception; Stephen Merchant as Wheatley in Portal 2... I'd be happy with any of these being chosen as the winner, and I'm going to feel bad for every one of the losers. Can't we just call this one a wash and say that everyone wins?
Indie games are often the most creative and original titles in the industry, and it shows in this year's nominees. But it's almost unfair that the excellent Bastion has to be up against Minecraft for Best Independent Game this year (a near shoe-in for the award). And nothing against The Binding of Isaac or Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP, but I'm a little disappointed at the lack of a Frozen Synapse nomination.
L.A. Noire might have pioneered MotionScan technology in video games and showed off some really convincing facial animation, but beyond that, it wasn't the prettiest game. It wasn't necessarily ugly, either, but when you're nominated for Best Graphics, there shouldn't be a question. This was an odd choice, and it blows my mind that Battlefield 3 didn't get a mention here. Not only did it deserve a nomination in this category, it deserved to win it.
The VGAs air live on Spike TV on December 10th.
Did they forget some of your favorite games? Are there some mentioned that you don't think deserve the praise? Let us know in the comments!
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