The Spike 2010 Video Game Awards were on tonight, and I watched it even though I knew it was going to be problematic. Alex reviewed the 2009 VGAs last year, and while this year did contain less jokes about ‘balls’ and other male anatomy, it was not without its share of sexist representations of women and bad women jokes.
To start, all of the women on stage were clearly put there to look good and draw the male attention. They were scantily dressed, but more problematic was the fact that the majority of them had no relevance to the gaming industry. Even Neil Patrick Harris (the show’s host) had ties to video gaming, as he did the voiceover work for Spiderman in a game this year. Denise Richards, AnnaLynne McCord, and Rachel Bilson were the female presenters that I can remember off the top of my head. Of all the games that won, the developers who came up to accept the awards were all men. Not a single female developer, though that shouldn’t surprise me. (Edit: Point redacted. My DVR cut off the last 10 minutes of the show, and I missed the Game of the Year award, which was accepted by a female for Red Dead Redemption).
Neil Patrick Harris had a couple bits where he spouted off video game porn titles, like “World of Whorecraft”. Most of them were fine, although I have to be honest that “Call of Booty: Pre-ops” pissed me off. There was an awkward CGI scene in which Kratos from God of War III was shown being sensual with a barely-dressed woman before tossing her aside like a piece of trash. And I noticed that 5+ minutes of the show was dedicated to presenting the award for Best Performance by a Human Male (won by Neil Patrick Harris), without even a mention of the female category.
When Rutina Wesley and Ryan Kwanten of True Blood came out to present the trailer for the new SSX snowboarding game, Rutina’s script consisted of her calling it “SEX” and talking about snowboarding in her underwear. And finally, one of the presenters (I think it was Dane Cook) mentioned that good games are something we all can ‘jerk off to’. You know, because we all have something to jerk.
Overall, the VGAs could have been worse. However, I can’t help but wish they were on a network that wasn’t geared toward men. I feel like I’m an outsider while I watch, which is ridiculous because I make games for a living. There is nothing inclusive about the televised version of the VGAs, whether its due to its sexism or its lack of portrayal of gaming genres and platforms other than Xbox 360 and PS3. Where were casual games, Wii games, social games, or handheld games? The jokes were bad, the performers were lackluster, the overall show was just poor. So far, these don’t feel like legitimate awards to me and the network has a long way to go if they want me to take the award show seriously.
Readers, did you watch? This was in no means an exhaustive Border House takedown, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.