I don’t usually go in for award ceremonies, whatever the medium. Corporate back-slapping is pretty repugnant in my book. To me, awards ceremonies are just cynical unit shifting propaganda. Events aimed more at lining shareholders’ pockets than recognising true talent and the hard work of people in whichever industry the awards supposedly represent. I could be wrong of course. I may just be someone jaded by each year’s god-awful Brits, TV awards and the myriad other award ceremonies beamed into our living rooms. Rightly or wrongly I never get involved in award polls – until this year anyway.
Earlier today I noticed a tweet by games journalist Scott Munro, retweeting Rising Star notifying followers that their cult title, Deadly Premonition is up for a Golden Joystick Award. If you’re not aware, the Golden Joysticks are the videogame industry’s Oscars. Sort of.
The fact that Deadly Premonition is up for an award in the best action/adventure game category is fairly remarkable. It’s not a title that was exactly lauded by the mainstream videogame press. In fact it wasn’t even intended for release in PAL regions at all at one point. The title’s relative success was born from the vocal support of a small cult following. As word of mouth spread more and more gamers looking for something a bit different decided to check Deadly Premonition out. The game is now a bona fide cult classic – and deservedly so. It’s a game that’s ambition is greater than its execution. Genuinely ugly to look at and archaic to play, it charms the player with compelling narrative and memorable characters. Leaving the player unable to help but admire creator SWERY’s vision of an open-world survival horror just about realised.
As you can see, I’m a fan. Deadly Premonition is genuinely one of the most compelling games I’ve ever played. Oh, and utterly hilarious too. With this in mind I thought; “what the heck” and registered my vote for Deadly Premonition as the best action/adventure game of 2011. Out of curiosity I thought I’d check out the other categories, voting in a few of them – I mean, I LOVE the PSP remake of Tactics Ogre so felt obliged to vote in that category for a start. After making my way through all the categories I came to the final selection, the nominations for the “One to Watch” category. To my disappointment all the titles are either sequels or games relating to hard-hitting licences. Now I’m aware that the whole “too many sequels” thing is a hoary old chestnut so I’m not going to bleat about that. What it did make me think however, is that are the curators of these awards missing a trick?
Earlier I mentioned that my feelings towards award ceremonies are pretty negative. My main gripe being that they are a cynical device to shift units. In the videogame industry the likes of Call of Duty, etc don’t need this sort of shot in the arm. Such franchises are huge cash cows. Huge cash cows with red raw udders from over-milking it must be said – but that’s an adenoidal whine for another day. The games that would really benefit from a little Golden Joystick Award Winner sticker on the case are the new IP that are struggling to make an impression. I can think of a number of games from the past twelve months that deserve better commercial success; Enslaved, Child of Eden and Shadows of the Damned to name but three. In my opinion a category such as “Ones to Watch” should be akin to the ubiquitous “Best Newcomers” award at music industry ceremonies. A chance for new, otherwise off radar games to have the spotlight. Credit where credit is due, all three of the titles I mention are up for awards. As are a number of other titles I wouldn’t exactly describe as commercial juggernauts. My feeling is simply that they would also benefit from a category all of their own.
Now I don’t know who chooses the nominees. I asked the hive-mind that is Twitter and all I got was Patrick Moore. “Thanks” Campfire Burning. Anyway, whoever it is, I really think they need to look at how they can support those that need and deserve it in what is a super competitive market. I hope you agree, as ultimately it’s us as gamers who will benefit the most.