A celebration of video games gone sour; the hellish tale of The Golden Joystick Awards.
Being a spritely, young go-getter taking his fledgling steps into the hilarious world of video games writing -because I don’t yet consider myself a journalist, as that simply isn’t fair on the profession or anyone in it- for the very first time I attended an official awards ceremony featuring all the pomp and circumstance you’d come to expect, the Golden Joystick Awards.
In its pearl anniversary, the Golden Joysticks have been around longer than the vast majority of gamers, especially impressive in an industry still in the throes of infancy. This rare occasion to pay tribute to games is riddled with the tendrils of advertising from bow to stern; the Golden Joysticks are anything but about games.
Before the reasonably priced champagne had even been poured, the award winners were announced via press release, under embargo until after the winners had been announced. An utterly bizarre set of circumstances which means we knew who the winners were before they were officially announced and, yet couldn’t publicise this fact until they were, undermining the very form and function of a ceremony intended as a celebration of games. Such a sterile approach serves to allow press outlets to publicise a full list of winners at 4pm on the dot, in disgustingly uniform fashion, which seems utterly disrespectful to everyone involved in the creative process.
Presiding over the Joysticks was rent-a-joke Ed Byrne, awkwardly creaking along with lukewarm observational comedy slurry, interspersed by brief outbursts of video games. When Byrne wasn’t pitifully yammering on about the state of airline baggage, there was a series of distressingly obnoxious game trailers mid-ceremony. At some point there were some awards for achievements in video games, or something, but nobody was really paying attention. When Future Publishing’s Head of Entertainment Group Claire Porteous took to the stage, beginning the show, the audience were so disinterested, they had to be forcibly shushed into submission.
The various winners of the 19 awards weren’t even afforded so much as an audible ‘thank you’ to those who made the game in question possible, abruptly thrust to one side for an awkward photo opportunity with Byrne, then shoved off stage like stray dogs. Steven Fry’s vaguely embarrassing robot likeness was given more stage time than several award recipients combined, each sponsor’s name bellowed more proudly and boldy than the winners. Not only is this grossly disrespectful to the game makers themselves, the nature of the public vote makes it an even greater disservice to the fans. Civilization 5: Gods and Kings’ award for best Strategy Game was collected by 2K Games’ Senior UK PR Manager, making it plainly obvious developers have acknowledged what a fruitless exercise the Golden Joysticks are.
The hotly contested Best Downloadable Game category was sponsored by the Official Xbox 360 Magazine and won by an Xbox 360 ‘exclusive’ Minecraft. Whilst one of the many categories voted for by the public, is this not, in any way, a conflict of interest? Not to mention hilarious if, say, a PlayStation 3 exclusive masterpiece like Journey would have won, a hypothetical which sadly only exists in my head.
Voted for by the consumers, The Golden Joysticks are unique in that exclusively through the official website. Fundamentally a fantastic idea at heart, especially when involving over 4,000,000 votes; truly representative of the man on the street. Well, the man in an Ikea desk chair at least.
Who’s fault is it? Future’s, perhaps, the Joysticks after all are a means of revenue foremost and a celebration of the medium second, or perhaps even third. This is the typical of an event devoid of an impartial board; set up initially with the purest of motives, financial constraints inevitably lead to the introduction of corporate sponsorship and from there a nauseating spiral into a hideous abyss. It’s a shame no other award ceremony of this magnitude takes the views of the public into direct consideration, but it’s ultimately toxic for the consumer. We simply shouldn’t stand for this car crash, simply don’t tune in and instead opt for something altogether more wholesome, like the British Academy Game Awards.