Was a hummer of dwarves, babes and condoms at the GMAs an accident?

November 7, 2011, Author: Neil Hughes

As many of you are aware, I often tweet about the latest gaming bargains so that you never have to pay £39.99 for a game ever again, and I do so under the Twitter hashtag of #NeilsDeals. When posting these deals, I often come across a little-known indie store with big ideas called Grainger Games. Although they were founded in Newcastle back in 1997, they only hit the headlines a few years ago when they announced plans to increase to 80 stores and employ staff made redundant by Gamestation.

I was intrigued to learn how their ambitions were once again clear for all to see when they were revealed as the lead sponsor of the Games Media Awards (or their more affectionate title, “The GMAs”). As the winners are voted for by members of the media and industry PR, and also attended by 350 guests (including nearly 200 members of the media), this was an excellent opportunity for Grainger Games to get closer to the games media. What could possibly go wrong?How would you plan to make the most of such an event? What would be discussed in the countless brainstorming meetings to ensure the big night was a success?

I would liked to have been a fly on the wall during the build up, because I’d love to know who thought that arriving in a large orange Hummer and opening the doors to reveal two scantily-clad girls and dwarves was a good idea. If this was not bizarre enough, even the most broad-minded of journalists stared in disbelief as their table were scattered with ‘Grainger Games’ themed condoms.

As the free booze began to flow freely, the folks at Grainger Games began sing ‘Toon Army’ for no apparent reason and heckled the host, Greg Davies, who most of you will know as the teacher from The Inbetweeners. One member even thought he would have his own Jarvis Cocker moment by doing a pelvic thrust on stage whilst someone was accepting their award.

For many, though, the most distasteful part of the evening was when Patrick Garrett began his speech before presenting a Games Media Legend Award to Colin Campbell. Throughout the speech, he was jeered by the inebriated gang while they performed a slow clap.

The infamous Grainger hummer rolls on to the next town.

Xbox Live editor, Daniel Maher, attended the event, and tweeted “Grainger Games are an absolute disgrace. Complete disrespect for the industry they’re supposedly a part of” which pretty much summed up everyone’s feelings on the night.

Stuart Dinsey, the managing director of Intent Media was very apologetic and clearly embarrassed in a statement that followed, when he said: “I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise wholeheartedly for this and to make it very clear that Grainger will not be welcome back in any capacity to the GMAs, or any Intent Media events.”

Now the event is confined to history, the events could be read to be quite amusing or like a crazy dream that never actually happened, but the reality is quite shocking. To think that a sponsor for an industry event could treat it with such disregard is unthinkable, yet it happened.

There has been much talk online of how Grainger Games have ruined their business in one night by their antics, but I cannot help but think that this was a planned publicity stunt.

Outside of the games industry, not that many people are aware of Grainger Games or even the GMAs, come to think of it, so I doubt that much of the awards would have been so widely reported.

Maybe, just maybe, being as controversial and distasteful as possible at an industry event was part of some misguided battle plan to ruffle a few feathers and snatch some quick and easy headlines. The old adage of there being “no such thing as bad publicity” is more relevant in 2011 than ever before.

We will probably never know the truth behind that fateful night, but whatever your thoughts or feelings you can rest assured that next year will be a much quieter and safer affair.