Features & News

What’s right and what’s wrong with The Golden Joystick Awards

November 10, 2010, Author: Ray Willmott

Many people look at the Golden Joystick awards and coin them ‘the Oscars of Gaming’. I would certainly say that is the case, as anyone who is anyone in the gaming industry wants the recognition that these annual awards can provide for them and their company. With celebrity studded line-ups, both in attendance and presenting awards at a beautiful venue, it’s hard to argue that these are the ‘awards that matter’ and will be fiercely sought after by everyone from EA to Zygna.

I was fortunate enough to be in attendance this year in order to present coverage for This Is My Joystick. I saw first hand just how glorified and exhilarated the crowd were and how much passion was volleyed about in the room. Yet, despite the anticipation and excitement, I felt myself coming away from the event feeling relatively empty.

Want to know what am I talking about? Read on…

Comedian, Rich Hall presented this year’s Golden Joysticks and spent the first half an hour ‘warming up the crowd’ with some of his material. While he was extremely entertaining and made me laugh a few times, and he did try his best to remain as topical as he could (with a self-professed lack of knowledge of the industry), I found myself gradually becoming anxious, wanting the ceremony to begin and felt less attached to the purpose of the evening than when I’d first entered the Park Plaza. I couldn’t help but feel a little dismayed that the same amount of time was given to a comedian as was given to the entire unveiling of the awards. Having spoken to Will Guyatt from Future Publishing after the show, he informed us that this was just how the Awards have evolved over their illustrious 28 years and that they felt there wasn’t enough interest within the crowd to permit a longer ceremony; they felt that boredom would set in and the crowd would become too rowdy. Personally, I disagree.

Rich Hall at Work!

I do believe the crowd would have been equally into the show if the presenting of awards had continued on for an hour afterwards. The argument came out that the gamers in the room were already aware of the footage of the game, how it looks and is presented and don’t need to see that for each winner. Do they say that to the actors and directors of the great films at the Oscars? No, instead they show a short clip of the film, a particular scene that may have merited them the nomination in the first instance, usually to a clap or standing ovation and then declare a winner. Granted, games are more interactive than films and much more ‘hands-on’, therefore the target audience will be different, but as has been proven with longer cut-scenes in games, giving them a much more ‘cinematic feel’ than ever before, it’s an argument that’s starting to feel the test of time.

The way the awards are presented are different to that of the Oscars, agreed, however they could very easily adapt to the changes of the video game industry. It’s a good way of building up suspense (something I feel this show was lacking) and to allow a bit of breathing room in-between awards.

In an age where ‘story’ and ‘drama’ within a gaming experience is heavily sought after and almost demanded from every single end product, the ‘Oscars of Gaming’ seemed quite devoid of the very same elements that some games within the industry are criticised for not having. Each award took about two minutes to go through and the presentation was over very quickly once the winner was announced; no time for a speech and barely enough for a bow, just about enough time for a few quick pictures.

Most successful year yet for votes!

I’m concerned that the ceremony was rushed through so that people could get to the after show party and the proceedings could begin for the evenings events. However, it’s not as if time was running out of the day. The awards were over by 3.30pm in the afternoon and the aftershow events started almost straight afterwards. I’m sure the ceremony could have run until at least 4pm; it wouldn’t have hurt the arrangement of things too much and would have allowed a bit of breathing space between awards at least. If you’ll look at my live text from the show, you’ll see just how quickly the show went once Rich had finished his set.

Also, more in line with the awards themselves, I was very surprised by some of the nominations and inevitably the results; it’s clear a wide range of gamers vote on these awards. Big winners of the night included Mass Effect 2, Modern Warfare 2, Guitar Hero 5 and Fifa 10. However, some of the games nominated for certain categories just felt out of place and a bit dated. You had old games, such as Fallout 3, going up against new games, such as Mass Effect 2, and then games in some categories, like Music Game of the Year, were mostly over a year old; this makes the awards feel very disjointed and lack continuity.

Please don’t get me wrong: I’m not ungrateful or bitter about the ceremony as I know this post seems very negative, this was a fantastic day for me; I networked with other websites, got chatting to them about their views and had some interesting conversations with them, and the ceremony was glorious and a real showcase for the tremendous work this industry continues to produce. It is fantastic to see the gaming industry looked upon so fondly and finally be allowed to relish in the spotlight.

It just felt as if the ceremony was on borrowed time and was over in a whisper rather than a word. The men and women within the industry work tireless, long hours to get these games on to the store shelves, to meet their deadlines and produce a quality product. They sacrifice time with their friends and their families just so that they can create these wonderful end-products that entertain us on a daily basis, so they can create the most compelling experience possible. I just feel that they can be owed an extra half hour at the very least; they deserve more than to have their moment of glory rushed through and forgotten about in a heartbeat. Just as the gaming industry deserves its time in the spotlight, so do the people who brought it to that point in the first place; they deserve to have their feelings heard and felt by those who play their games. They deserve the opportunity to have their voice heard.

What it's all about!

I feel the gaming industry, those that play the games, those that make them and those that do both, can be greatly underestimated at times. You need only look at the success of things like ‘Inside Xbox’ ,’The Guild’, Podcasts and vidcasts of all kinds to see that people who play games will also sit down to watch a video if it’s related to a subject they’re interested in.

I’m honoured to have represented This Is My Joystick at these illustrious awards and to have our site part of these magnificent proceedings. I just feel that for something with the heritage and reputation of the Golden Joysticks, they deserve something more. Thank you to Future for allowing me to take part in this momentous occasion and allowing me to be in a position where I can write this editorial piece and express my thoughts and feelings about my time there. I hope, whether it is me or one of my colleagues, that we can be there next year and once again be a part of the festivities.

**Huge thanks to the WEDO Network for allowing us to their photos! You guys are awesome!!**