Golden Joysticks: A Round Up!

The Golden Joystick Awards are described by some as the Oscars of the gaming world. Personally I’m not too sure that’s the right description, perhaps they are more akin to the National TV Awards of the gaming world! However, they have a large profile, especially in Europe; and are timed just before the holiday season, when big games launch. Ironically they largely focus on games that are already out there, and hence won’t have a huge impact on sales over the next few weeks, but they can certainly create a second rush for a game running low on gas in the charts.

Also they are very important for brands, whether it be the hardware brands or publishers. In many ways it’s an opportunity to talk Playstation, Nintendo and Xbox to the wider press. It doesn’t matter who wins in reality, just that someone does so that press releases can be issued and interviews conducted.

Before the main event kicked off I had access to some demos and a Q&A session with Future publishing. The demos were of Tekken 6 and DJ Hero! However before any of that we had the ‘Lucozade Alert Plus Super Sonic Challenge’ (doesn’t that just roll off the lips). James Richards set the new world record of 22 seconds to complete the first level of Sonic the Hedghog 2! Whoah! Supposedly he couldn’t have done it without the Lucozade but I doubt that as I was given a free bottle and it took me around 5 minutes to open it.

The chat with Future Publishing was very interesting. It looked at how the company works today, how many of its staff got where they were, and also about how they are operating as a business. They are very bullish and confident about the future, which is good for all of us, as a healthy Future Publishing indicates a healthy gaming world!

Then along came Tekken 6. I’m not a fighting game nut, so I can’t claim to be able to give you a proper low down; but from the perspective of a non-fighting nut I was not blown away. For sure it’s glossy and ‘in your face’, but the character models still look like wax models – I know this might seem light nitpicking, but the hair and clothing still look like plastic. I’m now used to Uncharted and Killzone 2 levels of detail, and this doesn’t have it. On the other hand does it play well as a fighter?

Well those who like fighting games, seemed to think so. To my untrained eye though it plays like Tekken 5, hence I’m not too sure how much progress is being made in the genre. They have added a scenario mode, similar to the single player game in Smash Brothers, but in full 360 degress 3D. It was around as deep and engaging as Golden Axe. Proper third person action games play better than this. You’ll have to wait till a Tekken Pro writes a full review on the site, but this won’t be going on my shopping list. I’ll be happy to check out the PSP version though, which is coming out in mid December – more details to follow!

DJ Hero looked fantastic. We got our hands on the actual hardware which ain’t bad. The turntable is sturdy and well built, as is the main unit holding it together. It’s not too heavy either, being of a light but solid plastic construction. However I reckon the knobs on it, required for gameplay, will break. They are bringing out a better quality version called the Renegade with a better build quality, special case (which acts as a table) and exclusive cd if you want something that’ll last a little longer.

The gameplay looked very good. On simple mode, the game really is dumbed down and is aimed at 6 year olds! However the difficulty ramp is excellent and at the top end you really are DJing. Plus there is a freestyle mode, and if you flop in a competitive game it won’t end the song. You’ll just get a low score.

The game will have local or online 2 player and you can even plug in a Guitar Hero, er, Guitar to play along on a certain number of specific mixes created for such a collaboration!

Following these demos we had a brief lull, some beer, and I waited for my pizza. It never came. However the award show kicked off. It was presented by Sean Locke with the voice of the National Lottery announcing off screen! Mr Locke got off the subject of gaming within three sentences, clearly not knowing much about it, and to be fair he did say he was not really into it. However as with other presenters before him, he made a couple of digs at nerds. These were not ‘in jokes’ with gamers or those that make them, but clearly a dig at gamers. I don’t know why people feel the need to this – would you mock the viewing audience at the National TV Awards or the Oscars? I think not.

For sure, make jokes at developers’ expense, or how outsiders judge gaming with clever satire, but to actually make the viewing audience, the voters, the butt of the joke is kind of missing the point. I hope that next year Future Publishing try get someone who is a gamer.

Anyway off they went at an amazing pace (thank you speeches were banned) rattling through the awards. Now that we have the runners up and award winners, it’s clear why the rattled through them; they were all the same.

This year the winners were:

Family Game of the Year: Little Big Planet

Bliss Handheld Game of the Year: GTA Chinatown Wars

The MSN Multiplayer Game of the Year: Call of Duty

The Shortlist One to Watch: Modern Warfare 2

PC and Ultimate Game of the Year: Fallout 3

Mobile Game of the Year: Metal Gear Solid Touch

Nintendo Game of the Year: Call of Duty World at War

Online Game of the Year: Left 4 Dead

Xbox Game of the Year: Gears of War 2

Playstation Game of the Year: Killzone 2

Publisher of the Year: ActivisionBlizzard

Retailer of the Year: Game

Soundtrack of the Year: Guitar Hero World Tour

Developer of the Year: Jagex

This Game Popped Up a LOT

You see that’s the problem with having an award ceremony based on the public vote. We all vote for what we played, and if I wanted a popularity contest based on what sold, I would just look at the sales charts over a 12 month period. Meanwhile quality games which are rated by those in the industry, or critics (who got to play them) are totally overlooked. Yet it was still a successful event in my eyes, the world of gaming got more coverage, albeit one which was a pastiche of the traditional view of gaming and gamers. During the show it was announced that the Golden Joysticks are now the ‘world’s most popular video game awards.’ It polled 1,223,646 votes this year which is quite a few.

The Winner of the Ultimate Game of the Year!

The Winner of the Ultimate Game of the Year!

Next year I would like to see a new voting system, perhaps merging consumer votes with an ‘academy’ of journalists and developers. Or perhaps some non consumer categories. That would add some backbone to the proceedings. Can we also have a presenter that likes gaming? Additionally I’d like a range of pizzas to be provided in the media room to go along with the excellent beer.

So, it didn’t have the cleavage on show which you would expect to see at the Oscars or Baftas, but it did have awards. A lot of them had the same games in the top three, being Call of Duty World at War, Fallout 3 and Guitar Hero/Rock Band. We can expect two of those IPs to heavily feature in next years awards. However the Golden Joysticks are what they are, and in many ways are a key way of signalling the start of the gaming crazy season.

Enjoy.

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Written by Steven G

Steven Gurevitz is the CEO of 2002 Studios Media LTD and a founder of gaming accessory company Asiiya. 2002 Studios started off as a music production company, but produces a range of content from videos to videogames. The company specialises in localizing content for global brands. He also owns the Urban Sound Label, a small niche e-label. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor and co-owner CriticalGamer.co.uk. He enjoys FPS, Third person 'free world', narrative driven and portable gaming. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor to CriticalGamer.co.uk.

One comment

  1. Sid Wright /

    Yeah, the guy’s right. We need more professional awards and more cleavage.

    Sid

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