This year marks the third broadcast of The Game Awards, a yearly award show whose creator, Geoff Keighley, hopes to turn into the Oscars of video games.
But maybe broadcast is the wrong word — The Game Awards isn’t carried by a television network. Instead, it’s a being distributed through a huge number of digital channels, streaming on websites such as YouTube and Twitch.tv, appearing on video game consoles, and even showing up in virtual reality.
It’s part of The Game Awards’ attempt to move into the future, reaching video game fans where they live, or more aptly, play. The Game Awards recognize the games industry in as mainstream a way as possible, coupling awards for the year’s achievements in games, and honoring the people who create them, with worldwide exclusive reveals, trailers and previews for upcoming titles. Keighley got his start with the award show back on Spike TV when it was The Video Game Awards, and learned a lot from that relationship until it fizzled, according to recent interviews like this one from Rolling Stone’s Glixel. Three years ago, Keighley, a long-time and well-known journalist covering video games, broke from Spike and created The Game Awards on his own — complete with his own funding.
And this year, the award show is breaking new ground with its distribution. It’s going broad on the internet, attacking just about every possible means of getting the show to players other than TV. And it’s working: the show is growing every year. In the case of The Game Awards, it seems like an all-digital approach isn’t a disadvantage, but a boon.
A big part of that success is from strong partnerships. The Game Awards works with Twitch.tv, a streaming service where gamers share video of their play experiences online, and YouTube, which is well-known for its gaming videos. The awards also are broadcast directly to Xbox and Playstation units through partnerships with Microsoft and Sony. But this year, The Game Awards are expanding to broadcasts on Twitter and Facebook, and partnered with NextVR to bring allow viewers to watch the awards in virtual reality. There’s even a live simulcast of the show in China thanks to a partnership with Tencent.
The video games industry represents a huge, growing entertainment market, but it still sometimes struggles for legitimacy as a medium of art and expression akin to other entertainment like film and television. The Game Awards hope to continue to push video games ever more into the mainstream. But the show’s digital distribution is a lot like the medium itself — looking forward to new opportunities, instead of back toward the example of others.
What The Game Awards is showing is that taking risks and experimenting in new areas are paying off. In a big way, the show is paving the way to finding new and inventive ways to engage with audiences.
You can tune into The Game Awards at 9 p.m. Eastern / 6 p.m. Pacific online below. More details on how to watch are available on the show’s official website. We’ll be tweeting about it on the Brave Dog Twitter account, so join us!