So as 2016 draws to a close, The Game Awards gave the industry a chance to celebrate all that is great in the gaming world. I’ve had a chance to sift through all of the winners and announcements made on the night and here are a few of my thoughts…

The ups

The Game Awards
Now in its third year under The Game Awards name, journalist Geoff Keighley is starting to establish this show in the gaming calendar and get noticed in the world’s media and online. Any chance to celebrate games is, in my eyes, a great move. It’s still rough around the edges and there are areas that need work, more on that later, but the buzz caused on social media before, during and after this event shows just how far the ceremony has come. Well done sir!

overwatch heroes

“Overwatch” popularity blew up over a night when the game launched in May (2016) for Windows, PS4 and Xbox One. So it´s no wonder that the game won a lot of awards during the Game Awards 2016 (GOTY, Best game direction, best mutiplayer and Esports game of the year).

Overwatch was the biggest winner on the night scooping Game of the Year, Best Multiplayer, Best ESports Game and Best Game Direction. Released in May, Overwatch has dominated the FPS arena combat market in much the same way as World of Warcraft in the MMORPG sector. In August, Blizzard announced that over 15 million players had clocked up more than 500 million hours already, phenomenal! So, considering the nominations in each category (I really thought Uncharted 4 would win Game of the Year), Overwatch has proven to be a massive success and will continue to be so for a long time yet. Not my personal taste in games, but you can’t argue with the success it’s achieved in a relative short space of time.

Game previews and announcements
We got lots of awesome games to look forward to in 2017. We got a further look at Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, showing us a new area and more of the world’s other inhabitants – I really can’t wait for this one. The completely open world approach looks fantastic. How they’ll build in Link’s traditional weapons and obtaining them into this world will be interesting. It looks like there’s going to be a hunger system, something I’m not so sure about as these usually just serve to distract and get in the way! While we’d have all liked to have seen it on the Switch, Nintendo have made it clear we won’t get any more on that until the new year. We also got to see gameplay footage from Mass Effect: Andromeda. Wow! This game looks huge while the environments look absolutely beautiful and suitably varied. The combat looks slick with lots of abilities at your disposal. Out in the Spring, I can’t wait. Hideo Kojima’s new game, Death Stranding was revealed via a cinematic teaser trailer.

Really strange one this, the cinematics were breath-taking but there’s not much else to tell about the game at this early stage. Oh, other than the fact that it stars Mads Mikkelsen, always plays fantastically evil characters. In addition to all of this, we also got to see Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition, Rocket League’s Christmas content, Telltale’s new game series Guardians of the Galaxy, Halo Wars 2, Prey and the brand-new Walking Dead season, A New Frontier. Finally, there was a reveal of Dauntless on PC. This has got lots of people talking as it looks like a chance for PC players to join in on the monster hunting phenomena that they’ve missed out on so far. This one looks interesting, despite the F2P model (buy to win?) and I’ll be keeping a close eye on this being such a huge fan of the Monster Hunter series on 3DS, be great to play on a bigger screen.

that dragon cancer

That Dragon, Cancer” has to be one of THE most emotional experiences that one could experience in a game to date.

That Dragon, Cancer
It’s not often that something gets me welled up, close to tears, but this was one of those occasions. Now unfortunately, I’ve not had a chance to play the game yet (not sure my emotions could handle it) but when one of the game’s co-creators, Ryan Green (father of Joel Green, the game’s story subject) appeared on stage to accept the award for Games for Impact, he managed to bring the audience to their knees with his speech. The whole speech is definitely worth watching

“You let us tell the story of my son Joel. In the end, it was not the story that we wanted to tell. But you chose to love us by being willing to stop and to listen and to not turn away. To let my son Joel’s life change you because you chose to see him and to experience how we loved him.

“And I hope that when we are all willing to see each other, not for just who we want to be, but who we are, and who we’re meant to be. This act of love and this act of grace can change the world.”

I challenge anyone not to feel really moved by Ryan’s words or the game itself.

The downs

The Game Awards
I’ve already touched on the positives around the show above. However, I also mentioned that the ceremony was rather rough around the edges. First up, what on earth was going on with the commercials? I completely understand that something like this needs money, but there are better ways of raising it, surely?! The bloody Hydrobot did my head in! It was truly badly timed as well, particularly appearing straight after That Dragon, Cancer segment, really bad taste. I’m not saying to make this awards ceremony into the Oscars, but there’s a lot that could be taken from some of the other top awards shows around the world, not least, the actual presenting of awards. On a number of occasions I had to look up who the other nominees were in each category and, as much as I get fed up with lengthy acceptance speeches, some provision for developers, producers, etc. to step up would have been nice. In addition to this, some awards were actually announced outside of the awards event (in the pre event, for example), what’s that about?!

Musical performances
One of the areas of gaming that’s really grown on me are the soundtracks. I often find myself listening to a good game soundtrack while working (I’ve got Deus Ex on right now as I write this) so why weren’t they celebrated more? There was no award for Best Soundtrack and the musical performances could have been more relevant. Aside from Doom winning Best Music/Sound design and an amazing, energetic performance by it’s composer (Mick Gordon), the rest of the music was needless!

Nolan North’s acceptance speech
I said I’d have liked more acceptance speeches, but if they were all like North’s, forget it! Ask any gamer to name a voice actor, I guarantee Nolan’s name will come up the majority of the time. Nolan seemed to be aware of this and used his speech to throw other voice actors under the bus in a growing dispute between developers and voice actors! You usually get someone using an awards ceremony as a political platform and, on this occasion, it was Mr North, totally unnecessary.

Overall verdict
I was asked to write an opinion article on The Games Awards and I hope I’ve got that across. Any ways, in overall, I truly enjoyed watching the ceremony. As I really like a good awards show and, while The Games Awards has a way to go to reach the established heights of others, it’s making great strides. As I said, anything that celebrates gaming and gets the positive side of gaming into the world’s media has to be a good thing. I think the winners were right and well deserved, everyone will obviously have their opinion on this, but it’s hard to argue with those that came out tops. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event (open to an invite if any organisers are reading this) and hope they take on board what people are saying online about the event. I’d thoroughly recommend finding a recording of the awards and watching it through.

Robin Ek – Editor

This is a personal opinion of the writer, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the other writers (nor The Gaming Ground´s) opinions.

Simon Bunyard
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @Lankysi

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11 Comments ON " The Game Awards 2016 – The ups and downs "
  • Sevuz

    That Overwatch got the top spot is no surprise. It’s almost the game the gaming media has talked about all year besides all the random internet controversies.

    I’m sure Death Stranding will be as weird as it can get with Hideo Kojima. Anything else would disappointing 😛

    I am still on the fence with Mass Effect: Andromeda. My biggest fear is it will be a giant load of SJW crap and BS DLC to the neck. I hope these fears will be proven wrong in the end. But with EA and Bioware I don’t have much faith.

    • Simon

      Unless a publisher/developer announces that there will be no or free DLC, I’m afraid I’m rather cynical about all game releases now. I don’t like retailer exclusive content either, that’s a massive bug-bear of mine, being forced into one retailer because you want the extras.

      There’s some top releases due next year, looking forward to it!

    • “I am still on the fence with Mass Effect: Andromeda. My biggest fear is it will be a giant load of SJW crap and BS DLC to the neck. I hope these fears will be proven wrong in the end. But with EA and Bioware I don’t have much faith.”

      That´s my topic for tomorrow 😉

  • RabbitFly

    The point Nolan North tried to make, was that Voice actors should be really careful asking for royalties when at the moment the people that make the game doesn’t even get that.

    He called out voice actors for pretending that they do all the work, when in reality most games takes years of work by lowly paid developers. Voice actors usually come in at the end and ad lib some stuff. But somehow they feel entitled to make more money then the people that do all the work.

    I am not saying that Voice actor’s have it perfect, but the requests that were made are extremely out of line. Like Nolan said. Without these developers working their ass off, often even underpaid, none of these voice actors would even have a job.

    Lets reward creativity not celebrity.

    • Laytonaster

      Lani Minella made a similar point in another interview somewhere else. Basically, if the game doesn’t even work, no amount of good voice acting can save it. We can see that with M#9, where despite having all of these big name voice actors, it’s still a critical failure, and it’s hard to focus on any of its good points without stumbling over its many mistakes.

      I also feel like Nolan North is talking from life experience or something for some reason. Maybe it’s because he’s one of the older ones, and he’s married with kids. Dunno…

      • RabbitFly

        Well one thing that Nolan North has that, probably, no one else involved in this discussion have is actual insight.

        Most Voice actors only work on 5% of the project, and on most projects Nolan would be one of those. However on Uncharted 3, Nolan wrote a book about the entire process. From concept to finished product. He did this as a journalist following the teams that did the actual work.

        This gives him a unique perspective and according to him that gives him the understanding of the blood, sweat and tears that go into creating a video game. And according to him that made him realize how small his contribution actually is to the finished product.

        I love a great voice actor as much as the next guy, however I am very keen that they are not responsible for much, and most of the time they are not really part of our community, but rather outsiders visiting.

        I am not saying this as someone that wants to exclude people because they are not “gamers”, but lets not let hollywood dictate how the game industry work. They have proven time and time again that they do not understand it in the slightest.

        • Laytonaster

          That explains Nolan North’s incredibly in-depth perspective on the process. Frankly, that makes him all the more admirable, despite how he shows up in almost every game these days. The man shows a hardcore appreciation for his craft and the industry he’s working in, more so than most these days.

    • Simon

      That’s fair point. Now I’ve read this, maybe I took Nolan’s speech wrongly. However, I’m not the only one that feels this way. So while he’s giving advice to other voice actors, maybe he should word his speeches a little better to avoid confusion! 🙂

      Definitely agree on awarding creativity, not celebrity, I’ve always felt this way!

      • RabbitFly

        No. That is his point exactly. He does not support the SAG-AFTRA strike movement.

        And the actors that do are not looking out for this industry, they are putting themselves on a pedestal over the people that actually do most of the work.

        He was not unclear at all, and it was not so much an attack on actors as a defense of the developers, but it doesn’t change the meaning of his statement. Just your reaction appearantly.

        His wording was fine, it is your bias that needs checking.

        The gaming industry is turning more and more into Hollywood everyday. This movement from within the SAG-AFTRA is just yet another attempt to make that happen, just that much faster.

        • Simon

          No need for the personal attack mate! You only need to read various other gaming sites who covered the event and, like I said, a number of them felt the same as I did!

          You’ll always find that unions defend their own, otherwise what’s the point in having them?! By claiming the extreme, in this case, that voice actors deserve more, you work towards a compromise.

          I’m not biased either way to be honest. I took Nolan’s speech one way, there’s absolutely no need to attack that, it’s what opinions are all about! You clearly have your own about it but I’m not calling it right or wrong. If anything needs checking I think it’s your discussion technique!

          • RabbitFly

            I am sorry you find the idea of checking bias to be a personal attack. I can understand how that might interpreted as that though, so I guess that is on me.

            I was merely pointing out that you were deflecting. You were in essence agreeing with the point I made, but denying that disagreeing with it in the first place was your fault. In essence blaming Nolan North for his original comments, yet again.

            The idea that a lot of publications have reacted to his comments the same way as you only appeals to your own confirmation bias. Again bias is not a personal attack, it is a reality when it comes to personal opinion. Look at his words.

            “Performance matters. The performance of every designer, every programmer, of every hard working and talented person who works at that office. That performance is so important. … And their performance matters more than mine. And that’s important in this day and age, with all this talk going back and forth. Because without their performance, my performance wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t even exist.”

            Look at those words. The only way you can see that as an attack on someone else is if you read into some hidden undermeaning. Again – this idea of Nolan North throwing his co-workers under the bus is wholy created by the idea that SAG-AFTRA-strike movement is on the right side of the arguement. So even having the very idea that his comments could be considered an attack indicates that someone has a bias towards one dog in the fight.

            His point is quite clear. The developers deserve most of the credit, because they do most of the job. You know, for the award he just recieved.

            That is not what the SAG-AFTRA is after however. They want to set themselves above the developers. They feel that their celebrity means they deserve more credit than the developers. Oh yes and they want to limit recording sessions to 2 hours instead of 4.

            Surely they don’t see the developers as their enemies, but that is what they are effectively asking for.

            As to my discussion technique. It seems more a jab in self defence because you felt personally attacked. Just to reiterate Bias is not an Ad hominem. I am sorry you felt that way, but as someone that writes on the internett you should probably expect much worse.

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