The Golden Dilemma – A Critique of The Golden Joysticks
Every year award shows come and pass. We’ve grown to accept them as part of our gaming culture. We wait patiently, holding our breath until our face is blue in the hopes that our favourite game wins. No matter how hard we try to not get our hopes up, we all can’t help but get that tingling feeling that this year is our favourite games time to shine. For me this year was no different. In fact some of the results this year I felt an overwhelming sense of “deja vu”.
That’s right this year was another year of upsets and almost inevitable results. After great speculation and a lot of broken hearts the inevitable happened. Fifa won the Fifa award and the most popular games took all the awards. In some cases wrongfully so. The most interesting part of the Golden Joysticks is that they are voted for by the public. In a sense you can tell who is going to win based off the sales alone. It’s the ultimate showboat for those that already topped the charts, the underdog will remain the underdog and there will be a sense injustice once all has been said and done.
Each time the award finishes everybody gripes about the winners and losers. The same old song and dance is played out. This year was no different in that sense. Instantly the masses, well the vocal masses , took to twitter to air their grievances. It’s a time of some very dark passive aggressive tweets. You can hear stuff like “I wasn’t expecting to win but they definitely didn’t deserve it”, “don’t worry *insert runner up* you’re still a winner in my books”, “it’s all a shame, why do we care. What do the public know about reals games?” and so on. If this is a conclusion we arrive year in year out we should either stop watching or do something to help our games grow. I for one was broken-hearted that neither Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 or Soul Calibur 5 didn’t win but I’ll get to that later.
The winners of the awards were a sweet and sour mix of deserving outstanding winners and bitter losers. None more so than the fighting games award. For me at least. It seems that this year had to be one of the most predictable yet. Although this year the knife in my back was planted so much deeper. Why? This year I voted in every category.
I thought that there were a lot of deserving games. The games that hadn’t sold as well as I had hoped. And therein lies the key. The games that hadn’t sold as well…it echoes within me as I write. It should have been obvious from the get go. They hadn’t reached a wide enough audience. They sold less. With a smaller market available to vote for them there was no way they could sway a public vote with over 4,000,0000 voters. It was an uphill struggle to say the least.
But I feel that some games have been truly wronged in the process. The true injustices of The Golden Joysticks. But like every other year there was also some glimmers of hope scattered through the awards. It’s the reason we all come back every. We hope it is “our” year.
There are a good few competitors who did deserve their rewards and I tip my hat to them. Although who did you expect to win top sports game of the year? It was never going to be Tony Hawks Pro Skater HD. After Fifa toppling the competition last year it would only be fitting for them to laugh at those scrambling to dethrone them this year. Sitting on their throne, they batted away all the feeble competitors solidifying another year on top. But here lies another nugget of hope. It wasn’t another football game nor was it another type of “normal” sport but an extreme sport. SSX clawing at the heels of Fifa 12 just missed out on the top spot, but sitting happily in second I chalk it up as a small moral victory. One for those who don’t just chase balls every time the pick up a controller.
But Fifa 12’s upsets didn’t just stop there. Somehow the team at EA and Fifa managed to scoop up the outstanding contribution award too. From what I can tell the reasons for this award have been a bit misty, to say the least. I am still struggling to find what outstanding contribution has been made. Is it for consistent yearly sequels? Or for innovating their game to the point of squeezing money out of a person’s wallet to create their own super team? Either way I doubt they were the most deserving of this award when we have seen a lot of innovation creep up on us this past year.
Another award that hit home was the “best RPG”. I had high hopes for Dark Souls, even to place as the top 3 would have been spectacular. After all it showcased a lot of different mechanics and a state of play we hadn’t seen for several years on home consoles, if ever (excluding Demon Souls). But to lose out on one of the year’s biggest upsets, a game that shipped with more bugs than dialogue, and a downright mediocre loot quest was hurtful. The guys at From Software deserve better. They brought a new buzz to all our conversations and no matter how hard we were beaten down we went back to Dark Souls begging for more.
The biggest upset for me was Mortal Kombat winning the best fighting game. It wasn’t even Mortal Kombat that won. It was the DLC that was released on disc that won. It was an extension of the game that was already available last year and had already won the title. There is already an award for DLC, it’s unfair for a game that was never released in the year in question to not only stand a chance of winning but to actually take the title because they released a disc based DLC bundle. Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Soul Calibur 5 both lost out to this. New games that have proven to be more popular in the competitive scene and are still played on a daily basis by thousands lost out to a budget DLC release. It infuriates me. Even more so when you realise that Skullgirls didn’t even get a nod in the nominations. It was a sad day for the fighting community but next year Tekken Tag Tournament 2 should take these awards by storm.
Although not all the winners were ill deserved. In fact iI’ proud to see them on top of the many worthy contenders. Minecraft won the best downloadable game after knocking Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 off the most played online game for the Xbox360. It was a year of success for Markus (Notch) Persson and his game has been canonised to an elite status with records that may never be broken. There may be a few nay-sayers but for me this was a truly well deserved award. And the previously touched upon SSX 2nd place was another feather in the hat of hope for what seemed like a bleak games industry for the past few weeks.
It’s been a year of ups and downs, peaks and troughs. We have to tackle the lets downs and disappointment with affirmative action. So I ask of you that next year you stand by me and raise a glass not for the winners but for the valiant effort made by the underdog. The ripples in the water they leave after their little splash in the big industry will see the rise in votes of the dedicated few who stand by their game almost a year after the appearance. Even after the heartache of this year and my sour words i know I’ll be rooting for the little guy. Until next year.