- The Game Awards 2023 was a massive event showcasing a ton of awards and new premiers.
- The show featured plenty of fantastic, heart-pounding moments and announcements.
- Despite the strong showing, the show suffered numerous setbacks that need to be addressed in the future.
Despite being a footnote in gaming news for a long time before, thanks to the internet, E3 as an event gained unprecedented growth over the mid-late 2010s. Hiccups aside, E3 has always felt like a holiday or an early Christmas for gamers. During the week, we would get a concentrated focus on video game news, from sequel announcements to entirely new mind-blowing IPs.
E3’s Death And Its Alternative
As everyone knows already, however, the 2020s haven’t been kind to E3. Being a strictly in-person event that’s open to the larger public, COVID and its consequences meant hosting an E3 got a lot more difficult. Following numerous cancellations over the past three years, E3 was officially confirmed dead this year. Taken to the back of an alley and shot dead.
Thankfully, Geoff Keighley has boldly picked up the torch from E3 with the Summer Games Fest and The Game Awards, with the former being more directly inspired by E3 while the latter is more of a celebration of the year itself. This year felt different, however. For better or worse, TGA 2023 felt more like a week-long E3 condensed within a single-hour event.
The reason I say better or worse is that while it is true that the scale and number of sheer impressive announcements this time around was astronomical, it suffered from a major identity crisis. Disrespecting the talent and hard work that is the very reason it exists, while serving only the purpose of highlighting future projects and bowing down to massive celebrity talent in Hollywood.
On a notably brighter side, Geoff Keighley went on to admit that the music played too early for award winners during the event. Keighley further clarified that no one was actually cut off and he mentions that it’s something to address in the future.
By the way – I do agree that the music was played too fast for award winners this year, and I asked our team to relax that rule as the show went on. While no one was actually cut off, it’s something to address going forward.
— Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) December 8, 2023
That said, if you solely care about the games, the heavy-hitting reveals and the winners of each award then this might be the best TGA has ever been. Straight to business, going from one reveal to the next and generally keeping things moving at a brisk pace. The world premiers were plentiful and interesting, and this might be one of the rare times when a majority of the community can come together and agree on the games that won.
But in keeping things moving and rushing things through in favor of more reveals, a lot of TGA’s identity has started to slip and it’s genuinely a little sad. In TGA 2015, host and founder Geoff Keighley boldly spoke out about Konami’s treatment of Hideo Kojima, openly stating that Konami did not allow Kojima-san to attend the show for his award.
The Game Awards Has An Identity Crisis
In 2023 — arguably one of the most devastating years in game development as a career — it feels oddly out of place not to speak out about the state of the industry, especially when it is explicitly necessary to shine a light on it. Another odd absence during TGA in my eyes was the lack of any acknowledgement of Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people.
Before the event, 2600+ developers signed an open letter for the TGA to pay acknowledgment of the suffering of the Palestinians living in Gaza. This letter was entirely disregarded. To top it off soon after, it was confirmed that Timothee Chalamet — an actor who played a role in a skit mocking the suffering of the Palestinian people —would also be presenting an award.
Half of @TheGameAwards's own chosen diversity initiative have signed this open letter, supported by more than 2600 members of the industry, including our most esteemed ones.
— 🇵🇸 Younès (@pyrofoux) December 1, 2023
Taking everything into account, The Game Awards in 2023 felt the most commercialized it has ever been. An ad-infested, celebrity pandering circle jerk that rarely felt like a celebration of the medium that it is often touted to be. Say what you will about E3, one thing that it absolutely deserves credit for is that it absolutely gave the people time to talk about their games.
What It Got Right
Even so, giving credit where it’s due, the show did have some truly standout moments. The Hellblade 2 announcement alongside the live performance was an incredible moment. My personal favorite moment during the event was the Old Gods of Asgard performance, just a phenomenal and joyous moment celebrating a fantastic game.
As a fan of Remedy since the days of the original Max Payne, it was a tremendous joy to see one of my all-time favorite developers getting the respect they have always deserved. Climbing out from relative anonymity into the mainstream, and getting a moment that is recognized as the absolute best part of the event by most of the audience.
The premiers too were a genuine shock. SEGA announced that it is bringing back numerous beloved franchises such as Jet Set Radio and Crazy Taxi. Capcom confirmed a new next-gen Monster Hunter game and Bandai Namco flashed me back to my childhood with that “Dragon Ball Sparking! Zero” trailer. It was a slew of incredible announcements that resulted in a very exciting show, maybe one of the best in recent memory. It took me back to the days I would sit with my friends on voice chat tuning in every day of the week for E3.
All-in-all, despite the high points, The Game Awards has a lot further to go if it wants to be the celebration of the medium that it is meant to be. The celebrity appearances rarely feel as substantial as they would have a decade ago, and it draws away from what makes this medium unique. And while I love Hideo Kojima as much as anyone else, his appearance showed a very apparent bias from The Game Awards.
In the future I would very much like to see a stronger focus in emphasizing the strengths of the medium and respecting it as its own art form. While this event delivers the strongest premiers in TGA history, much more work needs to be done in the other aspects of the show.
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