It’s easy to sit back here and fling excrement at the VGAs. I mean, really, where do you even start? Charlie Sheen? Bad dick jokes? More time spent on skits than awards? Felicia Day being tossed at “mini-games” and looking incredibly uncomfortable? An earnest teabagging gag? The thousand or so nods to “women don’t play games” and homophobia?
But come on, friends. Do we believe that all of this came out of nowhere? Do we honestly believe that all of this was just a couple of marketers with no idea of who they are advertising to?
The VGAs were put on by Spike TV, a network that primarily advertises to man-children. The network executives here have a pretty damn good grip on the market. And really – video games aren’t exactly hidden under the shroud of mystery, nor have they been for the last decade. You can get a pretty good idea of what the “gaming community” is like (and what they want) by browsing around the Internet for a good five minutes. Appealing to this demographic isn’t challenging.
Every single aspect of the VGAs was designed to appeal to gamers. To you. You’re probably willing to hand-wave that away. I mean, they’re targeting the mainstream casual gamers, right? Not the hardcore badasses that totally know better!
Except they’re not, because “hardcore” games are pretty damn popular, too. This isn’t the 1990s, where only a handful of people have heard of Contra. It’s 2011, and if you’re an 18 to 25 year old human being, you probably know what Skyrim is – let alone Call of Duty, Battlefield, or Zelda. Even if you don’t play them, you’re aware of them, just like any other bit of mainstream pop-culture.
The VGAs were set up to appeal to all gamers. They knew they could get away with offending the intelligence and sensibilities of some as long as they tossed everyone a bone now-and-again. Or a new trailer. Or awful “celebrities” entwined with Internet culture for whatever reason. Yeah, they totally missed the mark, but consider what they were aiming for.
Seriously. Sit the fuck down, kids. You’re not going to like what you’re about to hear.
You’re misogynistic. You’re homophobic. You’re downright hateful, and you’re no better than anyone else in this demographic*. Why else would they risk telling jokes that would make other networks squirm? They took a cross section of gaming, distilled it down into an awards show, and spit it back at you. If you hated what you saw, then don’t get mad at Spike, or the VGAs. Hell, don’t even get mad at whoever wrote these awful, pathetic jokes. Get livid at yourselves and your fellow gamers, because all they did was mirror you in hopes of turning a profit. If you don’t believe me, just spend a few minutes on your favorite server or gaming forum.
I’m not even just talking about the skits – I’m talking about the awards themselves. There was a big stink about how the VGAs gave more attention to D-list stars than the actual games they were supposed to be representing. Everyone seemed so mad that most of the awards were machine-gunned off by a disembodied voice.
And to that: have you looked around? Can you – with a straight face – tell me that you can’t possibly figure out the reason why they spent so little time on the awards themselves? Here’s a hint: Have you taken a gander over at reddit’s popular /r/gamingboard recently? You won’t find intelligent discussion in this almost-million strong bastion of gaming. Instead, you’ll find image memes, one-line replies, clowns tossing punches at each other, a whole lot of hatred for anyone who isn’t fit, white, and male… oh, and trailers. You’ll sometimes see trailers.
It should, because it’s the same damn thing everywhere. Sure, there’s academic, mature discussion somewhere, but it ain’t in the public view, chief. It’s buried under layer upon layer of trash.
So don’t blame the VGAs. Sure, they’re perpetuating the stereotypes and the hatred. I can’t argue with that. But they are doing it for a pretty straightforward reason: they think this is who you are.
And if that makes you angry, maybe you should do something about it.
*If you believe for a second that it took me longer than three minutes to find these examples, then may I suggest you open your eyes?