Sunday, January 25, 2009

AIAS to Hold Awards Ceremony, Sackboy Super Excited

Sackman-large On February 19th at the DICE Summit, the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences will hold their 12th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards ceremony. Think of this show as the bespectacled, conservatively-dressed older sister to Spike’s nympho-tween VGAs. The potential downfall with that analogy is that the host for the IAAs is B- C- D- F-list “funny”man Jay Mohr, who is apparently returning for his fourth year.

Nominations were recently announced and the big news is that LittleBigPlanet garnered 10 – in categories ranging from “Outstanding Achievement in Soundtrack” (props to Daniel Pemberton, whom we interviewed not long ago) to “Console Game of The Year.” Other games with multiple nominations include Spike’s favorite kick-me-even-when-I’m-on-top mangame Gears of War 2 and floating dog apocalyptic RPG Fallout 3, and Valve’s newest entry into canon Left 4 Dead.

There are two things about this awards show I immediately like and two things I immediately dislike.

I like its attempt to recreate the clout of the Oscars: there’s an Academy, and according to their website “no person may become a voting member of the Academy unless he or she can demonstrate a threshold level of experience and professional credits in the industry.” I also like that they annually revise their list of categories. This is a wise move in an industry where an exec might be deemed insane for claiming his company’s hardware will be relevant, dare he suggest dominant, in eight or nine years.

Two things do make me wrinkle my nose a bit. I’m not a fan of this “Outstanding Character Performance” category. Sackboy is up against Lara, Snake, and the two guys from GoW2. This makes no sense. This category would make more sense if it were about voice-acting. But the phrase “Character Performance” doesn’t hold weight in an interactive medium when you’re controlling the character. The player performs, not the .wav files and the collision detection. Last year, they give the award to Portal, presumably for GLaDOS, which makes more sense since she was something you interacted with. A fully-realized, clever reimagining of the classic A.I.-gone-nuts. Toss this award, Academy.

Also, someone should have had the balls to keep Braid from languishing in the “Casual Game of the Year” category. Last year, the category was called “Downloadable Game of the Year.” It went to Puzzle Quest. It could have very well gone to The Orange Box; that was downloadable. Some people play GoW2 casually online. Does that mean it should’ve gotten a “Casual” nomination? Okay, so you gave Braid a nod for “Outstanding Innovation In Gaming.” But if it’s that good, I’m sure it deserves a genre category better than “Casual.” Nomination FAIL.