Thursday, May 6, 2021

Behind the Scenes at the Game Awards 2020 with Geoff Keighley

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This year’s Game Awards, despite COVID-19 restrictions, ended up being the biggest showcase in its history, in terms of audience, due to Geoff Keighley’s evolving drive to take the show to new heights. Famous celebrities like Tom Holland, Keanu Reeves and Gal Gadot have extraordinary surprises like the Mass Effect reveals, The Game Awards 2020 were a huge success. We sat down with host / producer Geoff Keighley to find out more about what’s going on behind the scenes, especially in these unprecedented times.

At the start of the year, the world saw the onset of a global pandemic. With each passing month, COVID-19 has continued to spread, effectively changing everyday life as we know it. Gaming has thrived relative to other struggling industries, but that doesn’t mean hosting this year’s Game Awards was an easy feat.

The unknown

“I’m just glad we got to do the show this year,” Keighley tells us. “We spent months and months worrying about ‘Could we produce a live show? What would it look like? Being in LA, where we do the show, hasn’t been a good fortnight for the COVID numbers. So there was a constant fear of being able to do the show, so we were so happy that we got to do it. “

This year’s show hosted an incredible array of talent, including guest appearances from some pretty big celebrities. While most can’t make it in person, their presence is a testament to how gaming has become a staple in the entertainment industry beyond our microcosm.

Hollywood role

“We were fortunate to have a lot of great guests, cool game announcements,” he continues. “The show was very full. Because in April or May I was worried that there were no games to announce because everyone was working from home and so much was delayed. So yeah, we did. was very lucky this year that the show could take place. We had a ton of awesome Hollywood guests and cool game guests, and that’s what I love to do is try to bring pop culture together inside the show It’s all about balance, isn’t it? It’s a balance between awards and the world It’s also a balance between who gives awards and music, right? Getting Eddie Vedder to do his song from The Last of Us. We want everything to be authentic, but that’s the magic of the show. “

Not everyone was happy with the inclusion of Hollywood. While many guests had ties to the game, especially Tom Holland and Brie Larson, others seemed confused by the presence of Gal Gadot and others, worrying about the “purity” of the showcase.

Keighley responds to that by saying, “Look, this is one of those things where, and I see all of this on Twitter, where some people are very pure, they just want game developers to introduce game developers. But for me, i think it’s cool to have other talents that are there to appreciate the medium and pay homage. gal was there to present Games for Impact, and she presented her category, she was passionate about what meant those games, what they were trying to move towards. Christopher Nolan presented Game of the Year. I think it elevates the industry to have everyone in the same room. “

He adds, “And they’re obviously all there to reward game developers. So it’s not… Sometimes people are like, ‘Why do you need these Hollywood names? I just want the game developers, “and I think it’s quite interesting and different that we can mix these things up and have Christopher Nolan give Naughty Dog an award, which is cool. And again, we had again Reggie [Fils-Aime] handing over an award, we still had Josef Fares announce his match. So we have game developers in there, but it’s fun for us to be able to play … we’re just in a unique position to be able to do that kind of thing. And what is it [The Game Awards] Is.”

While the celebrity roster was just as surprising and impressive, the team wanted to include so many more, but COVID-19, scheduling conflicts, and travel issues had other plans.

Everything does not go as planned

“There are tons of people we reach out to who are not available,” says Keighley, speaking a bit about the production side of the storefront and what to do to decide on the size of their business. “Like Henry Cavill. We really wanted to do something fun with him because he did the amazing Build a PC video, but he was filming The witcher and couldn’t do it. So it depends on who we’re going. Like Gal, we’ve done a lot of cool stuff with Warner Brothers over the years. Warner Brothers is on our board on the gaming side. So that was kind of a good fit. Tom Holland was there because he was doing the movie Uncharted, they wanted to do a fun thing with him and Nolan [North] together, so it came together. “

“There is no rhyme or reason for how this happens,” he adds. The show, although awith reason planned, also goes with how the year unfolds and what suits the gaming community as a whole, while balancing the business side of any storefront when it comes to sponsorship, audience goals, and other elements that are in play in the background.

Regardless of the number of Hollywood faces in attendance, the games were always ‘at the core’. Ultimately, Keighley’s vision is to stay true to the community and that everyone involved is there for the right reason. “Like the talent that was there this year, very game-friendly, right? I think Chris Nolan is fascinated by this world. You know, it was great to have Brie Larson, obviously, who had a huge year around. games with Animal Crossing and what she did with Nintendo. It was really great to set up. Brie was posting on social media all day, preparing for the Game Awards. It was like she was going to the Oscars, and it was cool for me to see that kind of crossover that’s possible inside the show if it’s done authentically. “

Inside the voting process

There are several aspects to the voting element of the show, including a panel of industry experts (who Game Informant is officially part of), as well as a fan-only voting process. But before we dive into that, Keighley explained a bit more about how they cut the nominees, especially in the years when there were so many amazing game releases:

“We have this process where we send a ballot to every polling station; 96 outlets around the world vote for the nominees and then we count them.”

It’s a simple approach, meant to be a consensus, not a waiver. In fact, Keighley even mentions that his personal choice for Game of the Year didn’t even make the nominees list. “Half-Life: Alyx was a unique storyline in that it’s an amazing game, but its audience is limited because it’s VR. I’m sure that explained why it wasn’t nominated for the game of the year because of being limited to virtual reality.

“And it’s the same with a fan vote. It makes it even more difficult, right? Because if it had been purely voted on by the fans, not enough fans would have played Alyx compared to a great game. third-person cross-platform action. one of those reasons we have this kind of divide between the jury and the fans. If it was just pure popularity contest, one platform game, in particular a game dedicated to virtual reality like Alyx, would be even more challenged in the vote. “

With such a large audience weighing on the vote globally, picking a small number of nominees makes the show “more interesting.” “It’s part of the mystery and the magic of the show,” says Keighley. “We could have 15 Game of the Year nominees, but it’s just less interesting because you really want us to kind of have a tighter race. And inevitably there will be snubs, there will be too. surprises. And that’s kind of what makes it even more interesting for people and for us. “

Regarding his personal choice for GOTY, he adds, “I was personally disappointed when Alyx was not nominated for Game of the Year. I always have to part with the nominees and winners because I don’t. have nothing to say. So when we see the results, they are what they are. “

How the summer games festival paved the way

Keighley was fairly open with the fears surrounding the Game Awards in a COVID-19 world, but not the way people might think. The show was going to take place no matter what, it was a question of size. Earlier this year, Keighley hosted the Summer Game Fest to fill the void left by the cancellation of E3, and he admits it was the confidence booster he needed to move forward. “The [Summer Game Fest] made me realize that the audience was going to show up anyway, so you don’t necessarily have to have a huge set with thousands of people. I was doing a show from my spare bedroom for the PlayStation 5 controller. It was just me doing it myself. So it was exciting to see that we could still do things like that. And I think it gave me confidence that we would make the Game Awards one way or another. “

“There was this scenario where I was going to have to do the Game Awards from that same friend room, from that setup. You know, it all stopped in Los Angeles, and they had a satellite truck in front of my house where it was. is like “Am I really going to have to do the Game Awards this way?

“Doing this gave me some confidence to know that in the worst case scenario we could still do the Game Awards this way. I don’t think I ever said that publicly, but a lot of what I was doing this summer, I think, was trusting myself to say, “Hey, I can sort of learn to do this on my own. . And maybe that’s what we could do for the Game Awards. ” ”

The inevitable plateau

Each year, the show has grown immensely, sometimes quadrupling the number of viewers. But with a great ascent can also come a great fall, and Keighley knows that eventually the show will reach a point where it can not grow taller – and that thought is a little scary. “Look, I’ll be totally honest with you,” he said. “I live in fear every year because it keeps growing, but there will be this year when it doesn’t grow, and the kind of growth we’re showing is crazy. There’s going to be a year where we don’t have the same viewers and it’s like … I’m still amazed that it keeps growing, and it’s not like we’re spending extra money on it. marketing to design this. We’re just trying to make the best show possible, and it has always worked so far. ”

It will be interesting to see how the show continues to evolve. You can hear the full interview in the video at the top of the article, as well as what Keighley told us about the most controversial conversations going on around the show with our previous coverage. here.

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