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A Hasty Escape From G-Phoria
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on August 08, 2005   |   Episode 73 (Show Archive)  

   

Couldn't they have got that red headed girl from That 70's Show instead of Fez??
With video games being the entertainment powerhouse they are it makes a whole lot of sense to have awards shows celebrating the top selling games of the year. Between movies, music, TV, Broadway, and books, chances are your favorite type of leisure activity has a celebrity-filled show covered on one of the big networks -- and video games should be no different.

Tomorrow G4 is devoting several hours to their big awards show, G-Phoria, an event hosted by Wilmer Valderrama (That 70's Show) giving out awards for all kinds of various categories. But unlike the Emmy's, Oscar's, or Tony's, G-Phoria's awards are determined by online voting. Instead of educated voting, G4 has settled to let their viewers speak for them. Gee, where could things go wrong?

For one thing, most gamers just aren't ready to make that decision. Oh they'll vote, but that doesn't mean that they have actually played more than one or two of the games in question. When it's a choice between five games it's unfair to everybody involved if those who are voting have only played one or two of the titles. Just because a game is popular doesn't mean its good or even worthy of such an award.

A long standing fallacy is that popular games are somehow good, making the amount of sales somehow relatable to

Do you suppose at some point in their lives these men might be embarrassed for posing with Kangaroo Jack?
the quality. Game companies like to point to these numbers all the time to prove their point, often in misleading ways that only work in sound bite form. Yet even otherwise intelligent people buy into the idea that just because a lot of people like it the product must be good.

Of course, if popularity really did mean quality we would be forced to call a game like Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith a must-own title. Each year questionable titles like Star Wars gain far more success than they deserve simply because they have a big name attached or a good marketing campaign behind it. It's definitely proof that not everything people buy en masse is worthy of recognition.

On the flip side, dozens (if not hundreds) of games have been completely ignored because they fail to offer that one thing people are looking for, that thing that the Halos, Grand Theft Autos, and Metal Gear Solids seem to have. It's the small games that could benefit the most from awards show recognition, but with the current system in place these smaller games are assured to never win top awards at G-Phoria.


It's true that Vic loves Tommy Tallarico, too bad he's the only one!
The Academy Awards has proven itself to be a spring board for a number of smaller films that would never have been able to break out without the help of a big profile Oscar win. Last year's Million Dollar Baby became a household name when it upset the Aviator. Just being associated with the Academy Awards helps many of these smaller films find an audience, adding a level of importance to the proceedings.

The same cannot be said for G-Phoria. Will Halo 2 sell more copies because it wins the Best Game of the Year award? Probably not, and neither would any of the other

Look, all I'm saying is that Halle Berry wouldn't have won the Oscar if she had done Catwoman before Monster's Ball!
nominees had they been so lucky. Since this show was voted on by the viewer most of the people watching will already own the games in the winning circle, which might make them feel good about their collection, but won't have them rushing to the store wanting to buy the games they missed.

But even from a strictly non-commercial stand point, watching awards voted on by the audience is one of the most boring things you can do. Add senseless commentary, lame advertising, and a c-list celebrity host and it might just be enough to burn your house down. But even if you can live through bad production values and crummy writing, you are still letting people who should not be voting tell you what to think.

It's not too hard to believe that Halo 2 might have been the only nominee many of the voters actually played. And I'm sure the fact that Bungie's first-person shooter

Being the only TV channel dedicated to gaming you wouldn't think that G4 would need booth babes to attract attention!
was in every magazine for fifteen months in no way swayed the audience towards casting their vote. And let's not forget the hype surrounding the recently released Expansion Pack, something that certainly helped play into the hands of Halo 2.

But it's not about Halo 2; it's the fact that awards shows like G-Phoria do not require their voters to have played the game before casting their ballot. I cannot think of a group of less qualified gamers than those who have only played one or two of the games and are ready to vote for their favorites. Part of the reason other awards shows are so well respected is because they don't allow the audience to pick the winners, if they did Star Wars would win an Oscar and Wrestling would be the reigning Emmy champ.

With so many game magazines and websites spending so much time covering the top games of last year (and this year) it's hard to complain about G4's vote-a-thon. But if they are going to bring us a show that attempts to determine the best games of the year, then they should let the critics vote, because the last thing I want to hear is a bunch of opinions from 15 year olds.
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