The Positive Impact of Video Games Continued: The 2016 Game Awards

Say all you want about how “cringey” this award show is, with all the shameless advertising for various products, but, although small in amount, there still is some human decency in it, which helps video games shine and show the positive impact they can have.

A few particular points in the awards show helped display this, while the rest was all advertisements, and a wickedly awesome DOOM live performance.

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Point 1: The opening reel/narration

     Sometimes there’s so much uncertainty in the world it’s easy to feel anxious about where we’re headed, but games can be a sanctuary, the chance to escape to new realities. Games take us to worlds where we know we will make a difference. They give us a chance to see life from other perspectives, and everyone, no matter where you’re from or what you believe in, starts in the exact same place. From there, each of us has our own journey, and choices that lead us down unknown paths, and that way games give us a sense of freedom. That’s why today they’re more important than ever……One thing we all can agree on games have changed us for the better, so let’s use our voices and rise above the noise, and show how the power of play heals us and inspires us about what is still possible to achieve.

Even the start of this narration is so relevant to today’s world. Due to various world events, many people are nervous about where we might be headed, whether it be positive or negative, but games can help us deal with our anxiety by letting us look at everything from different perspectives. If we can make a difference in those worlds, we can at least start to make a difference in ours, no matter how small it may be. We each have different paths to go down and choices we have to face, but it all leads somewhere. Games are more popular than ever, which is why it’s important to continue playing them and keep letting them inspire us to do great things and see the possibility of what we can achieve. We have the freedom to go down our own paths and make our own choices in games as well as in life and we should do our best to respect and celebrate that.

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Point 2: Hideo Kojima finally gets to accept his own award

     Speaking of freedom, game creator Hideo Kojima finally got to accept the industry icon award in person. After his falling out with infamous company Konami, he developed a partnership with Sony, created his own studio, Kojima Productions, and started working on the new game Death Stranding. Some were critical of how overjoyed people were, saying many were acting as if Kojima was a Nelson Mandela like figure, even though it’s been well known that Konami is probably one of the worst companies to work with and seemingly treat many of their employees as less than human. Kojima has been in the game industry for quite some time and has added elements to games many would not even be able to come up with on their own. Without Kojima and the creation of Metal Gear Solid, who knows where Konami or even the industry, would have gone? Like it or not, Kojima is one of the creators that helped video games get to where they are today, and critics need to understand that. Konami had previously barred Kojima from being able to accept his award, so this feels like a triumph not just for Kojima, but for the gaming community as a whole. The host, Geoff Keighley, did still seem to exaggerate the situation a bit, however, which is where most of the criticism stems from.

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Point 3: That Dragon, Cancer wins the Games for Impact award

     The Games for Impact award is the kind of award that should always exist in any award show really. It shows just how impactful certain pieces of media can be, even if they can sometimes be difficult to deal with due to the topics covered. The developer, who made this game about his son’s story, and their family’s struggle with cancer, came up on stage and gave an emotional and heartfelt speech:

Often in video game we get to choose how we’re seen. Our avatars and our tweets and the work that we do are all meant to portray the story that we want to tell the world about why our lives matter. But sometimes a story is written onto us, or its told because of us, or in spite of us. And it reveals our weaknesses, our failures, our hopes, and our fears. You let us tell the story of my son Joel, in the end, it was not the story we wanted to tell. But you chose to love us through our grief by being willing to stop, and to listen, and to not turn away. To let my son Joel’s life change you, because you chose to see him and experience how we loved him. And I have hope that we are all willing to see each other, not just for who we want to be, but who we are and who we’re meant to be. This act of love and grace can change the world. Thank you.

The last part is the most powerful. Sometimes hope is the best thing or the only thing  we have left. If we could start being better to and understanding each other, seeing who each of us are as people, instead of pointing fingers, looking for people to blame, and/or treating each other like crap due to our differences, then it probably could have the potential to change the world for the better.

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Point 4: Nolan North’s speech after winning Best Performance

     Some thought of it as “throwing shade” at the voice actors strike, but that’s not the way I saw it. #PerformanceMatters and the voice acting strike is a somewhat controversial topic in the game industry, and while voice actors should only have to do just that and not any extra stunt work many are not trained for (and some studios don’t even take safety precautions), it’s good to hear a voice actor admit that game developers (designers, programmers, artists, etc.) are perhaps the biggest part of what make the games of today possible. Of course, voice actors are important to a lot of modern games too because they help bring so many characters to life, but even now not all games use voice acting, and even if they do, they might not use any big names. So yes performance does matter, and those who perform should not have to do more than that which pertains to their  job title, but as Nolan said, the performance of all those who contribute to help bring these games to life matters.

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Point 6: Boogie Accepts Trending Gamer Award

     Popular gaming YouTuber, Boogie2988 ,was nominated for and won the Trending Gamer award. During his acceptance speech, longtime fans and those unfamiliar noticed just how genuine this internet personality is. Boogie thanked those close to him, his fans, and most of all those who create  games, who he says have helped improve his life so much, telling them: “at the end of the day, you’re the hero.”

Point 5: the music of DOOM live

     Do I really need to say more? Just watch the video (skip to 00:33)

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