Here’s something I wrote back in February of 2014, that I criminally forgot to publish here. It’s had some light redrafting, but nothing that changes the intent or meaning of the original piece.
It was meant to be a roundup of the 2014 DICE awards for use on the Geek and Sundry website.
Somehow, it never made it there. Can’t imagine why.
Why it’s time to ask who the DICE awards are for, and if they need to be public?
The awkward truth
I’ll warn you in advance, this is going to be awkward.
It’s going to be a detailed study in awkwardness, and the different kinds of awkwardness that were on show at last week’s DICE awards, and the different contexts that surround those different kinds of awkwardness.
It’s like that Polar Vortex thing, except it makes the air uncomfortable rather than cold.
My own awkwardness
First up, let’s start with my own personal awkwardness.
I’m a retro games vlogger. You might even have seen some of my videos.
I like retro games for a couple of reasons:
- They have strong childhood associations that make me feel warm and fuzzy
- I am broke, and most retro games are cheap
I tend not to play current gen games when they first come out. I wait for a few years instead, when the hype has died down and the price too.
With that in mind, take a flying guess at how many of this year’s nominees I’ve actually played.
Two and a bit.
I loved Bioshock Infinite, I thought Gone Home was a masterpiece, and Tomb Raider ran like crap on my laptop which made me give up.
So imagine my growing horror as I watched the awards, saying ‘nope, nope, nope, nope’, and ‘I really should just buy The Last of Us’
Yeah, that got awkward.
However, it was only the tip of the awkward iceberg …
Please take off your shoes
Let’s get the obvious point out of the way first. Felicia Day is a nice lady who pays me to holler swear words in front of a camera.
Felicia Day is also one of the two people chosen to the DICE awards alongside Freddie Wong. Like any other awards show, the hosts indulged in jokes and what we over in Scotland would call ‘banter’.
The trouble is, and this will probably get me fired, from what I could see and hear the jokes mostly fell flat.
There were pauses. There was dead air. It was a bit awkward. Admittedly the technical problems with audio didn’t help.
Now before I go any further, I should point out that this is not a dig at the ‘geek cred’ of either Felicia Day or Freddie Wong.
Even though the idea of ‘credibility’ in a society of outcasts is ridiculous, the hosts have it. They have more than me, and more than you. Also, they did their best with the situation that they were faced with. I would’ve just gone and got drunk.
However, the fact is that the jokes fell flat.
You know what did get cheers? The games.
The onion of awkwardness
This might not be breaking news, but some of the people on stage accepting their awards probably felt a little awkward.
Dan Houser flat out admitted that he wasn’t comfortable with public speaking, and that’s fine. Not being comfortable in front of large crowds isn’t a crime. Feeling awkward outside of your comfort zone is a very normal thing.
Consequently, some of the acceptance speeches could have been called awkward.
The thing is, I didn’t feel awkward for the developers, except the poor guy from Nintendo who had to do the 100m sprint from the back of the hall every time Nintendo won something.
I felt good for the winners. I felt happy that their peers were able to cheer and celebrate their achievements.
So some developers don’t like speaking in front of live crowds. Who cares?
If the acceptance speeches were awkward, it was an awkwardness people could relate to, one that generated well meaning and warm sympathy from people who would no doubt feel the same way if placed in similar shoes.
It was very different from the awkwardness that greeted the hosts.
Ready, aim, awkward
The thing I personally took away from this year’s DICE awards, apart from the urge to go out and buy The Last of Us, is how there was a huge contrast in awkwardness between the hard working hosts, and the equally hard working developers.
I felt like it hinted at a clash between the aims and intentions of the awards themselves, and the problems with marketing a public stream of the awards.
As the lovely infographic from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences pointed out, the nominees in each category are picked by a panel of industry experts. People who play, create, and love games.
The public do not get a vote. This is a good thing.
There will always be awards that are decided by the public vote. The DICE Awards are for the developers, the people who love gaming enough to learn a craft, and put their hard work out into the public eye.
To my mind, bringing in ‘celebrity’ hosts for the event strikes me as a compromise, a hook point to get people watching the stream.
The results? They were awkward. Well intentioned, but awkward.
It’s my party and I’ll be awkward if I want to
I’m going to make a suggestion. Next year, don’t stream the awards.
Let these awards be for the developers. Give them the chance to get together, have a nice dinner, and bask in the glow of their increasingly impressive achievements. They’ve earned it.
Also, if you do insist on streaming the awards for the public, please don’t make concessions for anyone else but the developers.
This is their night.