Some of the biggest, well-know brands in the video game world announced new titles at last week's E3 trade show in Los Angeles. Maybe you've heard of Halo, Mario Bros., or BioShock but, unless you're a gamer, you probably know little else about them. Countless hours are spend enraptured by this varied, multi-billion-dollar industry, yet it still operates like a niche community. An acquired taste.

I think that video games need their Oscars.

I'm not talking about another awards show, per se. The world doesn't need another pointless TV special, replete with strutting celebs, and lots of insider jokes and thank yous. Pouring slime on somebody is a nice touch, I'll have to admit, but all it does is help sell advertising time between segments. It doesn't help the creative industry, per se.

No, I'm thinking about the early days of Hollywood.

Motion pictures were a struggling, new medium. There were no classics in 1927, but rather lots of experimentation, cheap yucks, and not just a few really, really silly movies. "Real" theatrical entertainment was live, and usually sans amplification. Flicks were popular foremost with kids and those adults who enjoyed such low culture pursuits. 

In other words, movies were the video games of the early 20th Century.  

Hence was born the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. What a glorious hoity toity title for an industry in desperate need of credibility. Yet, while first and foremost a shamelessly brilliant publicity tool, the Academy's awards established a sense of standards and professional self-respect.

It also helped dimensionalize the supply chain, adding layers of effort and expertise to an end-product in which such work wasn’t always evident. These motion picture thingees were complicated, and their production the work of artists, not just oddballs.

Compare this to what we know about most video games. If our interest passes the "oh, I'm not one of those" litmus test, they still come across as oddly generic and inert. Do we know about all the brilliant technology underpinning them? The artistry in rendering, not to mention the creativity in character and plot development? Where is recognition for the best game musical score, or sound effects mixing?

Sweden's University of Gotland's Game Awards do something like this every year, and I'm sure there are others, so there's lots of good thinking already out there worth copying. 

It seems like video games are ripe for their own big, global evening celebrating games, not the business of making titles, nor the nutcases who love playing them (yours truly included).

Original Post: http://dimbulb.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/06/video-games-need-their-oscars.html

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