By Gamer_152 21 Comments
Today is Monday 13th December and I am here to rant, rave, and generally talk about video games. Initiate angry drive!
So, Saturday night the 2010 Spike TV Video Game Awards were presented, and I’m going to be blunt, I did not like what I saw. I was expecting all flash and little substance, but the problem wasn’t just that the show itself was of a poor quality, but that it seemed detached from trying to celebrate video games, didn’t make the video game industry look good, didn’t make video game enthusiasts look good, and potentially sent a bad message to video game publishers about what consumers want. As Kevin VanOrd said, it was “a celebration of all that we should distance ourselves from”.
One of the consistent criticisms of the show has been that the presentational style was abysmal, and I can’t help but agree that this was my biggest annoyance too. At times there seemed to be little more than a never-ending torrent of poorly thought-out sex jokes coming out of the presenter’s mouths, it was just insulting to see the kind of immature humour the writers for the show thought they had to force to appeal to people who know about video games. The ceremony also seemed to feel a need to crowbar in as many people as possible from other entertainment industries, from comedians, to actors, to a live band. None of these people represent video games and they shouldn’t be allowed to, it was just a display of celebrity for the sake of celebrity, as though the video game industry was so weak that they needed these people from other industries to prop them up.
The area in which I seem to disagree with most other people over the VGAs is that I didn’t like the large volume of cinematic trailers during the show. Yes, they were pretty, yes I’m inconceivably excited for games like Portal 2 and Mass Effect 3, but I think having so many of these trailers was misrepresentative of what video games are about. Cinematics are part of video games, just as music, and many other art forms are, but at the core of all good video games is gameplay. On a relative scale the video game industry is currently in its infancy but it’s still much, much more than vulgarity and nice graphics. It’s good to see so many people expressing their dissatisfaction with what Spike TV are doing because the idiocy they are peddling shouldn’t represent the industry. We need to drift away from spectacles like the 2010 VGAs and look to ceremonies like the 10th IGF/GDC awards; hosted by people who understand games, dignified, and carried out with proper presentation.
Panorama on Video Games
The VGAs weren’t the only people to be portraying video games in a less than flattering light in the last week though, Panorama decided to tackle the issue of addiction to video games. For those of you who are not familiar with the show, Panorama is the long-running flagship documentary series of the BBC. This means that here in the UK a lot of people listen to what they have to say, and their opinion carries a fair amount of weight. The BBC are usually considered one of the most unbiased news sources in the world, but as it turned out Panorama seemed to really phone it in, providing us with yet another one-sided, fear-mongering account of the effect of video games.
The report was carried out by one Raphael Rowe, a man who’s knowledge of video games didn’t seem to stretch beyond Pong, and someone who held such basic misconceptions as console games and online games being two distinctly different things, and that games rewards systems are based solely around giving players new features and lives as they progress. He spent far more time talking to addicts in their bedrooms than people with proper knowledge of the effect of games, and he even journeyed to Korea to study the anti-addiction camps and playing habits there, while failing to draw any distinction between the way gaming links into Korean culture, as opposed to western culture. It was mentioned that there’s no proven link between video games and addiction, but that didn’t stop Rowe and his colleagues from splicing together lots of provoking imagery of people concentrating on computer screens, or claiming that RPG mechanics were directly adapted from Skinner’s Box psychological experiments.
One of the very few people in the program who made any sense was the single academic featured, Mark Griffiths of Nottingham-Trent University, who emphasised that video games are a positive influence on most, and that the real answer to all of this is more research into video game addiction. Presenter Jeremy Vine also used his very brief slot at the end of the show to make the necessary point that video game addiction is very rare. In the year 2010 I thought we would have come a long way since “Doom fries your frontal lobes” but it seems that ignorance surrounding video games is still far too prevalent.
What I’ve Been Playing
Before I wrap this up I want to again, thank Giant Bomb for giving me the Noble Map Pack as part of their give-away a couple of weeks back. I’ve played quite a bit of it and there seems to be somewhat of an emphasis on open spaces in all of the maps, but they’re all well-designed and gorgeous to look at. While I can’t say they’re the greatest games developed, Harm’s Way and Doritos Crash Course also came out on Xbox LIVE Arcade for free in the last week, and I have to say they are surprisingly advertisement-free and competently made.
Duder, It’s Over
Thank you to everyone who left constructive comments on my blog last week, and thank you to everyone who has read my blog this week. Good luck, have Kirby (note: explicit lyrics).