Just a headnote: I know this isn’t on my list of dedicated articles, but the game BAFTAs just took place, and seeing as a time slot to write just popped up, it might as well be about this, because my, oh my, do I have something to say about it. Sit down and strap up, lads, this is going to be a long, ranty rant.
Remember in 2013 when The Last of Us came out? I was certainly impressed by it, as I’ve previously mentioned, and this was reflected by its overwhelming critical acclaim. In the game BAFTAs, it actually took home 5 awards, including overall best game. I certainly didn’t agree with it nabbing best story, as I thought that Bioshock Infinite’s was far superior, for reasons you can read here, but I could understand why the jury came to this conclusion. The game spanned around 15 hours, a long time period which housed a perfectly paced touching tale, of a man who, despite his superficial thick skin, needs constant companionship in order to survive. The story subtly showed the player that Joel’s most tangible threat is by no means the fatal fungus, but rather that it is the death of his loved ones, and subsequently his ennui in his loneliness. This kind of prowess in storytelling shines a temerity, a beacon of hope in an industry ruled by bad story tropes.
And then hailed devs Naughty Dog released a two and a half hour DLC, Left Behind, giving some interesting insight into Ellie’s character, revealing her actions before the game and also answering questions as to how she saved Joel, during the time when your protagonist was unconscious in the original game. Despite the ephemeral nature of this DLC, and the fact that it was also a subsidiary of a larger product, and that in this reasoning, it lacks originality as it rides off of content that came before it, it was nominated for best story this year, against nominees such as Telltale’s far superior The Wolf Among Us, a game set as a prequel to Bill Willingham’s amazing Vertigo Comics series Fables. The Wolf Among Us is composed of 5 episodic point-and-click narratives, totalling to about 8 and a half hours. Telltale pulled out all the stops as they replicated the aura of the myst and magic in Willingham’s graphic novels, wrapping it in an inventive and original murder mystery that evokes appropriately dark and attractively sinister themes. In my mind it unequivocally deserved to win. I would go as far as to say that it even outplayed its predecessor The Walking Dead: Season 1, at points. I was smitten with it to the extent that I bought 3 volumes of Willingham’s works following my experience. I was certain The Wolf Among Us would win, and that Left Behind was nominee solely as a symbol, or reminder of people’s limerence for the original game.
The DLC won. When I saw that The Wolf Among Us didn’t win, myriad feelings washed over me. I was laughing my arse off at the other winners, but following that outburst, I genuinely felt frustrated at this poignant decision. I ultimately felt bad for Telltale, as they are being marginalised by these influential idiots. But, after this, I decided that maybe I wasn’t giving Left Behind its time of day. Perhaps length doesn’t equal level of competence. So, I’m writing this now, straight after completing Left Behind, and I am thoroughly disappointed. Left Behind gives the illusion of character development by launching you right in the middle of an already well-established relationship between Ellie and Riley. Can I make one point explicitly clear? YOU CANNOT EASILY ACHIEVE MEANINGFUL CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT IN TWO AND A HALF HOURS. And Left Behind does not. It’s riddled with gratuitous swearing, coming across only as lewd and not enriching. It has frequent implausible changes of atmosphere (Ellie and Riley will begin to talk about their feelings towards each other (hinting at a scene that requires skill to write, and that would really enrich the characters and the emotive aura) but this is abruptly diverted away from by an interactive waterfight) that do not at all reflect The Last of Us’s expertly explored relationships. Not to mention its infuriatingly abrupt ending. It constantly wriggles itself out of situations that require really good writing and directing to master. I at least expected to witness Ellie and Riley’s slow acceptance of death, and subsequently Ellie’s discovery of her immunity. And not for nothing, but the DLC is schmaltzy as hell. It ambiguously explores the underlying same-sex love between Ellie and Riley, but only briefly. I believe that same sex love shouldn’t be treated any differently than opposite sex love, but something in the back of my mind tells me that the game BAFTA’s jury just loved how ‘progressive’ the DLC was. How retrograde. The love isn’t well explored, but because it’s ambiguously gay, and it just happens to be there, it must be axiomatically good, right?
Adam Harrington absolutely deserved to win this award. He had to voice act the main protagonist of the The Wolf Among Us AND its supporting characters, like The Woodsman, in this 8 hour masterpiece, and this is ignoring the fact that this game is a multiple choice LA Noire style detective adventure, so he had to perform each individual multiple-choice line that you could potentially chose for him to say as well. He showed a wide range of emotion, and portrayed Bigby’s struggle with controlling his anger crystally clear. Ashley Johnson was fine. She did a two and a half hour performance, showing nothing new. Sure, I think she cried at one point, and she was good at it, but she did it just the same in The Last of Us already. I am absolutely horrified that Harrington didn’t get what he deserved, losing to the remnant scraps of an already renowned game.
Where to start? Probably here, that would be a good place to start. I’m not going to write it down all again; Destiny is putrid waste.
Who The Hell Judges This?
I researched how this ceremony is judged, and I discovered the game BAFTA rules and guidelines from their website (here’s the PDF: http://awards.bafta.org/sites/default/files/images/2015_british_academy_games_awards_rule_book_5.pdf), and it turns out that, according to the ‘VOTING AND JURIES’ section, the nominees are short-listed by the public, but the winners are chosen by a jury. It is not specified who is in the jury, but it says in the same section that the jury required 11 copies of each game, so I’ll take a shot in the dark and say it’s an 11 person jury. I want to know who these people are, and I want them to justify their flippancy. How could they be so credulous as to believe that Destiny was the best, most passionately crafted game of the year, and not just inchoate shit (sorry for swearing)? I don’t usually get angry at these events, but I’m being bellicose to this monstrosity. This kind of behaviour keeps great games like The Wolf Among Us in it’s proletariat echelon, while Destiny stays afloat in its little aristocracy, kept impenetrable by ceremonies like these. I am horrified at these ‘winners’, and I will fight for great companies like Telltale, great games, and their great voice actors for as long as I have to.
I am very opinionated in this piece. If you agree with me, great! If you do not, don’t take it personally. The games I seem to demonise all have merit, remember that!
What did you think of the game BAFTAs, cool or cruel? Leave a comment!