As a fairly average individual who hails from Wisconsin, I never would've thought I'd one day actually find myself at a major gaming event such as The Game Awards. For years I've watched events on livestreams and videos, but it's always seemed like the awards shows and major presentations were some sort of illusion, like they were only happening on a computer screen and not actual events happening at another location in the world.
It was a simultaneously exciting and bizarre experience to be meeting so many famous people in one night. In the beginning I stood on the red carpet and personally met individuals such as Deadmau5, Marcin Iwinski and Evin Brunner. Industry leaders, people that I've only seen in the news, were standing right there in front of me. Initially I was quite nervous, but I quickly realized that they're also passionate gamers just like me. Marcin Iwinski told me about how Advance Wars is one of his favorite franchises, on any platform. Me and Deadmau5 geeked out over a tattoo he has on his arm of Miyamoto's signature.
In another setting these would be the kind of people that I'd be chilling out with on a lazy Saturday afternoon and it really put it into perspective that, when you take a moment to look at the person rather than just their work, there's a lot of common ground between you and them. I talked with Iwinski after he accepted the game of the year award for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, congratulating him on what he'd achieved with the game, and the excitement in his eyes was (understandably!) authentic. I felt happy for him in a way that I never would've if I were just watching the show live, because I could empathize with how he felt. I wasn't just watching some developer accept an award, I was seeing a real person reap the fruits of their labour.
As for the awards show itself, I thought that things proceeded at a decent pace, though the excitement felt like it somewhat dropped off in the last half hour. The audience went nuts pretty much every time footage of any game was shown, and it was hard not to get excited right along with them. I didn't expect there to be many surprise announcements, though Psychonauts 2 was a massive reveal. The tribute to Iwata was quite well done, and Reggie's speech really hit the nail on the head as he talked about who Iwata was and what he'd accomplished. Also, it was great when Geoff Keighley stated why Kojima wasn't allowed to accept the award for Metal Gear Solid V, resulting in widespread booing from the crowd and absolutely destroying any love that gamers had for Konami.
Of course, it was a bit disappointing to see that Nintendo didn't have much of a showing at the awards beyond a couple of category wins, but this has been something of a tough year for Nintendo. With the NX on the horizon and a new president in charge, the company has been very much in a transitional period. One could easily speculate that Nintendo is beginning the process of putting the Wii U out to pasture, but I still hold hope that something interesting will be announced for Wii U after the releases of Star Fox Zero and Zelda U. If one thing's for certain, it's that the picture will have been radically changed by this time next year.
All in all, The Game Awards was a very positive experience and I hope that I get the opportunity to do it again next year. There are few occasions where so many developers are collected under one roof and it's always interesting to see which games win and which don't. I have a feeling that Nintendo will have a much stronger presence at next year's show, but I suppose that only time will tell.