While the Game Awards claim to be gaming’s Oscars, it’s really just its Super Bowl

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  • Geoff Keighley’s yearly awards program The Game Awards, now in its eighth year and set to air on December 8 of next month, is making every effort to persuade viewers that it is the Oscars of gaming. This means that it is a gaudy, business-friendly celebration of the medium’s safest bets and most typical achievements that no one really seems to appreciate or respect all that much, but which we are all forced to acknowledge does in fact exist for reasons that are, at best, ambiguous.

The 2022 TGA nominees, which were announced earlier this week, fit the group’s mold: The most costly games of the year occupy the top slots, with a few “indie” games thrown in here and there to make things interesting. The majority of these games received significant trailer releases or other promotions at previous iterations of the Awards.

It’s not that games like God of War Ragnarök and Horizon Forbidden West are bad; in fact, as the person who reviewed both games for the website, I can attest to the fact that they’re both excellent examples of the AAA gaming form. Rather, it’s that the intense corporate buy-in Keighley and his team have managed to achieve with this show makes the entire endeavor feel inextricably bound to The Money Machine.

This year, the biggest conversation surrounding the Awards—besides popular gaming account Nibellion quitting Twitter on just about the same day that their calm and collected approach to gaming news was nominated for “Content Creator Of The Year”—has been the conversation about “Best Narrative,” and specifically about Elden Ring`s inclusion in the nominees for the honor. But this conversation — between those who advocate more traditional storytelling and FromSoftware’s indirect approach to weaving chaotic tales of conflicting divine brothers in a fragmented world — is Elden.

It’s more of a hazy description of the category than an endorsement of the ring’s quality. The Narrative Award is a tribute to former winners, including well-known word geek games like Disco Elysium and Red Dead Redemption 2. It is fairly obvious that this award is meant to correspond to something like Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars. Medium; game narration takes place as the player moves through the game’s world, sometimes even more so than the actors move through the written dialogue. Separating classic stories like God of War Ragnarok and Elden Ring from purposefully enigmatic stories like Immortality and attempting to compare them to one another invites disaster.

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