Reviewer Rodeo: So, About the VGAs…

Reviewer Rodeo: So, About the VGAs…

Welcome to the ZTGD Reviewer Rodeo. Each week, we’ll grab on to the hottest issue, hold on for dear life, and wrassle it to the ground.

What do you think of the VGAs? Are they good for the industry? What would you rather see in an awards show for the gaming industry?

Michael “PaladinXII” Futter
On a recent podcast, Drew mentioned that he hated the VGAs before it was cool to hate them. I’m certainly looking forward to reading his response because, over the past few days, my dislike has indeed solidified into something a bit more visceral. In past years, I’ve tuned in to see the new trailers and hear from the developers that made the games I love to play.

I mentioned not too long ago that the coolest thing I’ve ever played was the accidentally released Mass Effect 3 demo. It was a look behind the scenes that we rarely get our hands on. That’s why I love to hear from developers. I want to know what goes into making gaming such a great pastime.

Over the years, the VGAs have become less and less about honoring gaming and the artists behind the industry and more about looking ahead with tons of exclusive trailers. While I certainly love the hype machine that the new trailers fuel, I can’t help but feel robbed that the games that made this year great are given so little screen time such that there are usually only a few accolades actually given on air. Lame humor delivered by people who only have a passing knowledge of videogames prevails. The event is, plain and simple, disrespectful to those it supposedly honors.

Here are a couple of examples. Alex Navarro, in a well-written piece on the VGAs posted over at Giant Bomb, mentioned that when Mark Hamill and Tara Strong were nominated for their roles as The Joker and Harley Quinn in Batman: Arkham City. When they arrived at the event, they found out that their category had already been awarded; they both had lost and were dismissed to the nosebleed section of the auditorium.

You might recall the haunting trailer for Dead Island that took the community by storm. The trailer received a nomination for Best Trailer- and the publisher, Deep Silver, wasn’t even invited to attend the awards. That’s not ever right. Getting nominated is an honor (or it should be), and that must be reflected in how the artists and the publishers are treated.

We here at ZTGD had our own issues in the wake of the event. As you might expect, we received press communications from every publisher that had a trailer premiere on Saturday evening. We use YouTube for our video hosting and, as you may be aware, there are tools in place for copyright holders to police their content. Typically, when we post a video that a publisher shares with us, it comes up with a “content match.” This means that a publisher has a) made it clear that they own the content and b) that they are ok with the video being visible to the public.

This time around, we encountered a problem. Our videos were being flagged as a violation of copyright and were, therefore, blocked worldwide. When I investigated, I found something very peculiar. The publishers weren’t bringing the hammer down- it was Viacom. The company is, shall we say, vigorous in its protection of its copyrighted works. We tagged the videos with “VGAs” and included that in the title as well as a matter of journalistic integrity. Those videos (and even others for which we did not include that) were sent to copyright purgatory by Viacom, who, for the record, had no right to do so.

In order to make things right, we had to dispute each and every copyright claim that Viacom had made. The company was claiming ownership of intellectual property simply because it aired first on one of its networks. For anyone that has ever studied a bit of intellectual property law, you know this is absurd (but you are getting just a small glimpse of life should SOPA and PIPA become law in the United States- but I digress).

Before my personal experience with trying to deliver the news and trailers from the event, I merely disliked the VGAs as a cheap, ineffectual marketing ploy. While I commend hosts Zachary Levi and Felicia Day for bringing some real gaming credibility to the table, and I appreciate the inclusion of Child’s Play, which raises a huge amount every year for children in need, these seemed more like concessions that the producers of the event made. Between the ill treatment of those supposedly being honored and the overly aggressive actions of Viacom and, by extension, Game Trailers, one thing is clear: if there is going to be an awards ceremony, it can’t be the VGAs, at least not in their current form.

Continued on the next page…

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