2018, an absolute roller coaster ride of a year for video games is officially behind us. As we usher in the New Year, we know that 2019 is going to be no different. With all the reveals and trailers out there for what is in store for us this year, it is hard not to get excited. But 2019 is also shaping up to be a year of change. A year which sees the absence of Sony at E3. One which is in the cusp of a generational shift, at least for consoles. And a year that we gamers are hoping will begin the ‘next-gen wars’ officially. But with bold changes on the horizon and a shift in outlook by major companies upon big events such as E3 and PSX, 2018 seems to have been the last of the traditional years filled with big events like E3, albeit with the absence of PSX. Which is why The Game Awards’ rise to prominence is such a boon and relief for the average games media loving Joe like me.
The Game Awards 2018 was a flamboyant event, to say the least. And while it had its downsides like the overlong runtime and slew of sponsorships and adverts, 2018’s game awards had some truly great moments. From the surprise reveals to the grandeur of its set to the personalities on stage there were some genuine moments of bliss. Let’s take a look at what I felt was some of the best Moments from The Game Awards 2018.
The show was huge this year. No doubt about that. But what was both surprising and elating is how much the show has grown, in terms of its pedigree and relevance. Granted there are hundreds of outlets giving away their own Game of the Year titles to games every year. But Geoff Keighley has successfully emphasized the importance of why games need to be celebrated with awards (like the Oscars). I was crushed when Spike TV cancelled the Video Game Awards which was their yearly award show for video games as a medium. And Geoff’s attempt at following that up with the VGX was quite the disaster. But in comes Geoff with The Game Awards the following year. A show which was more elegant, and focused on celebrating and respecting the medium. To see the show grow from its humble beginnings five years ago, to being a show that franchises like Mortal Kombat choose as a platform for their reveal is a dream come true, both for Geoff and us gamers.
The Game Awards theme
Keeping up with the theme of music, I feel that it is important to take a moment to appreciate how good and well done the actual “Game Awards Theme” was. To me personally, it rivalled some of the best movie scores that Zimmer has done. Some may call the track too samey, but then again, so are all of Zimmer’s work if you look at it that way. I liked the theme music for what it was and more importantly what it represented. An Award show for a medium that has not been taken as seriously as it should be, until very recently. And that is a very strong place to be.
Josef Fares turned out to be one of the (unintentional) best things of 2017’s Game Awards. Geoff Keighley’s helplessness during Fares’ off script speech said it all. So it was a pleasant surprise when Geoff not only got him back but kicked off the pre-show with eccentric Mr Fares. But then again this was Josef Fares on the show, again. Instantly jumping off script and complimenting Geoff, with “You should get an award for this” Josef was having fun yet again by being himself, while also admitting he is “a bit crazy”. Even Geoff got in the mix with “We can only imagine what your winning speech would be”. From Josef’s overexcited words to Geoff pointing him towards the camera with “Camera’s here”, this was a supposed moment of redemption for Fares which was equally entertaining and funny. Also, shout out to Keighley for also bringing in Joel McHale, who actually did a good job this time without completely burying the show as he did at the VGX five years ago.
The Game Reveals
As the show has gotten bigger every year, so have the reveals. This year’s show did have some pleasant surprises. While some heavily rumoured titles (WB’s next Arkham universe game?) were missing we got a boatload of interesting looking indie titles and some unexpected surprises. Who saw Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 coming? What about Outer Worlds, which looked like the Fallout game both Fallout 4 and Fallout 76 should have been. The fact that this is being made by Obsidian, the developers behind Fallout New Vegas, and “The original developers of Fallout” only fuels the hype even more. And that Mortal Kombat 11 reveal by Ed Boon himself. How cool was that? Granted the trailer itself was all over the place tonally, but the reveal was one of the better moments of the show. All of this only gets me more excited for The Game Awards’ future.
Game of the year winner
One of the strongest moments of the show, in my opinion, was when the “Game of the Year” winner was announced. It was no surprise to me that (Spoilers) God of War won, but that was not what the world was expecting when the show was on. Red Dead Redemption 2 had bagged most of the awards it was nominated for and it seemed poised to take the big one home too. Given that this was the more recently released title backed by a tsunami of accolades, the probability of RDR2 winning was not an unfair thought as it was still fresh in the minds of the people. But the one thing that was not in people’s mind is that despite being a masterful achievement and a visual splendour, RDR2 was not for everyone. Its appeal was not as widespread and its gameplay was often described as clunky. Compare this to an equally gorgeous game that released earlier in the year, with a story that stood toe to toe with RDR2 and a tight and precise combat system that was easily accessible but hard to master, and God of War seems to make a lot of sense. It would have been easy to get caught up in the moment and have RDR2 win. But in my books, God of War was a better game and I have immense respect for The Game Awards’ jury that picked it as the winner. That said, I would’ve liked to have seen Spidey take a few awards home too.
Read it Boy
Speaking of God of War, one of arguably the best moments in the show was when Kratos himself (read Chris Judge) graced the stage, along with Atreus (read Sunny Suljic) to announce the nominees and winners for the best content creator. Judge’s voice immediately found a reaction when he was reciting the introduction to the category, and the audience (me included) was yearning for some kind of cheeky reference to his role as Kratos. And it was when the winner was announced that Chris Judge uttered the words “Read it Boy” towards his supposedly oblivious announce partner, complete with a wink towards the crowd. This moment not only made the crowd go wild, but was the most “GIF-worthy” and the best moment of the show for me, only to be topped by the next one on this list.
This year’s show had its ups and downs. In my opinion, most of the ups were the result of Geoff Keighley’s dedication and sense of direction for the show and most downs were products of how an award show organised by one man works in the tail end of the 2010s. But the one thing that The Game Awards 2018 will always be remembered for is how the show began. In Keighley’s words, this was a moment to showcase that this show was intended to put all competition aside and come together to celebrate games as one. A moment that was five years in the making for him. The moment that we gamers never thought was possible. Geoff Keighley introduced the heads the of the three industry juggernauts, Sony Microsoft and Nintendo, all on the same stage sharing phrases in the same verses to kick off the show. To watch them walking on to the stage together to the tune of “Thunder” was surreal but in the best way possible. It was a sign of this five-year-old show’s pedigree in the industry and how big the show has become. And most definitely the best opening to any awards show. How this will be topped next year is anybody’s guess, but I am all the more excited for it.