With the taping held at the Los Angeles Center Studios last night, and the show itself to be televised on August 9th at 8.00pm EST/PST, this was the third year for cable TV channel G4’s annual G-Phoria awards show, and some in attendance believed it marked a turning point for games-related award shows in general.
The event was largely about entertainment, spending little time on the actual games, and the pomp and circumstance of the award-giving. This largely made for a more enjoyable show, while still clearly tied to the games they represented, with host Wilmer Valderrama (of That 70s Show) arriving on the scene attached to a giant Katamari.
The awards presentation generally eschewed the traditional “almost laugh because you’re embarrassed for them” type of humor, by virtue of the casual, standing room-only atmosphere, and by having some genuinely intriguing B-list celebrity presenters, ranging from Tommy Chong to William Shatner. Shatner’s presentation of the Legend Award to Ralph Baer was certainly a crowd pleaser, and even if a large portion of the audience didn’t know who Baer was, the cheers from developers and games PR in attendance were audible from the sidelines.
The open-air event was also host to a number of playable games, some of which were exclusives, and some of which were updated from their E3 versions. King Kong, Shadow of the Colossus, Guitar Heroes, Genji and Xbox 360 title Condemned: Criminal Origins led the pack in terms of crowd-appeal.
The evening was spiced-up by live musical performances from industrial-meets-Stomp! duo BabyLand, The Bravery, the lead singer of which proclaimed his favorite game to be BurgerTime (“It kept me warm on many a lonely night”), and The Black Eyed Peas. The award nominees and winners wound up being quite sensible, given that they were largely user and audience-chosen – a fact which also accounts for the relative Halo 2 and God of War dominance.
Here’s the full round-up of winners for the third annual G-Phoria awards:
Alt.Sports Award: NBA Street V3
Best Adaptation: LEGO Star Wars
Best Action Game: God of War
Best Boss: Halo 2 - Scarab Battle
Best Cinematic: God of War
Best Graphics: Half-Life 2
Best Handheld Game: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Best Innovation: Katamari Damacy
Best Licensed Soundtrack: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Best Multiplayer Game: Halo 2
Best Original Game: God of War
Best Original Soundtrack: Halo 2
Best Racing Game: Burnout 3: Takedown
Best RPG: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
Best Shooter: Halo 2
Best Sound Design: Halo 2
Best Traditional Sports Game: Madden NFL 2005
Best Voice Performance - Female: Half-Life 2 - Merle Dandridge
Best Voice Performance - Male: Halo 2 - David Cross
EB Gamers' Choice Award: World of WarCraft
Favorite Character: God of War - Kratos
Game of the Year: Halo 2
Legend Award: Ralph Baer
G4 may be on to something with this show. It may not have the most readymade street cred with the development community, but in terms of putting on a show, this was one of the more successful attempts witnessed. Given that the broadcast will almost certainly feature the games in greater prominence than the live taping, it seems as though the G-Phoria awards might now be close to the right balance of mainstream entertainment and game content, in the quickly-expanding arena of video game awards shows.
[Brandon Sheffield is Assistant Editor on Game Developer Magazine. He previously founded import gaming website InsertCredit.com, and has published articles in magazines such as Wired, Gamestar, and Gameface.]