I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

If a prestigious game industry body gives an award, but it’s not televised, does it make a sound?

That somewhat zen question has a pretty definitive negative answer. While the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences has been quietly presenting its awards in relative obscurity since 1998, travesties like Spike TVs Video Game Awards have risen to widespread mainstream attention in a fraction of the time.

That situation might change soon, though. Last week, the AIAS announced that next year’s awards would be broadcast in a television special.

The anouncement has as many troubling points as encouraging ones. The choice of Dick Clark Productions to produce the show is encouraging — their experience with awards shows like the Emmys and the Golden Globes ensures this won’t be a fly-by-night operation. And the AIAS president’s assurance that the show will focus on “how these titles became worthy of recognition” is a heartening sign that might be interesting to people who don’t live and breathe video games.

But the producer’s contention that the show is creating an undescribable form form of video that “heretofore hasn’t existed” is a little too worryingly pretentious for my tastes. And the purported use of “insights from celebrities, consumers and well-known talents in the video game industry” could could be extremely embarassing if it isn’t handled very carefully.

But the worst part in my opinion is the name. “The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Presents: The Year in Games” is an ungainly twelve words that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue the way “Oscar” or “Grammy” does. Despite the length, the title doesn’t even mention that it’s an awards show (although since the announcement said the show will only be “based on those titles making the shortlist for the DICE Awards,” maybe the failure to mention any “awards” in the title is intentional).

And then there are the unanswered questions, not least of which being whether show be picked up by a major broadcast network or be relegated to the wasteland of basic cable. Since Spike TV and G4 already have their own awards, it’s hard to imagine which cable outlet would be in the market (Lifetime?).

So while it’s nice to see gaming’s academy awards finally making it to the small screen, I’m not exactly getting my hopes up quite yet.

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