The lovely people over on 4chan’s video game board, /v/, have been putting together a video game awards show, as they have done every year for a while now. I decided (fully cognizant of the risks) to talk to them about the annual event, and managed to contact two of the executives on the show, PhoneEatingBear and Beatstar. The following interview resulted.
The exchange has been proofread and re-ordered for ease of reading.
Niche Gamer: For those of our readers who don’t know, would you explain what the /v/GAs are?
PhoneEatingBear: The /v/GAs are a video game award show created by /v/ because all other award shows are shit and award shitty games. The /v/GAs exist in order to award the games that are actually fun and deserve acknowledgement, as well as to rip apart games that are overhyped.
Beatstar: Well, the show is blessed in that it’s user-nominated and voted. Contrast that with Spike’s VGA/VGX and then the spiritual successor, The Game Awards. You know, where the award winners are selected by a secret committee of “journalists and experts” first, and voters only in certain categories.
NG: Right. It’s for the people, by the people. Do you think the average person knows what a “good” game is? There’s an argument to be made that games writers, developers, critics, etc. know better what a “good” game is.
PEB: There is no such thing as a good game, all games are shit. There are just games that aren’t as bad as others.
BS: Well, the people that work on the video games are certainly knowledgeable about the work it takes to make a game: certainly effort is effort, but the problem is that there is a complete lack of ethics in the gaming industry among journalists.
PEB: But that sure is a different topic.
NG: What are you two responsible for with the awards show?
PEB: We are essentially responsible for the entire show, besides running the website. I handle a majority of the video aspect, and making sure things are on time. Beatstar is really fantastic in keeping me in check and good at PR with the people working on it, something I just can’t handle.
NG: I know you’re returning from last year, PhoneEatingBear. You produce, direct and edit the /v/GAs. Tell us a little about what goes into that. And Beatstar, what does your role involve?
PEB: I want to shout out to the whole team because I think this is the first year we have had a good amount of people return for another year. I dabble in everything but I mostly focus in the video department, it wasn’t until later in the development that I started to do everything else.
BS: I started working on 2012’s show as a voice actor, but I was really interested in the intricacies of how the show worked so I asked if there were any other areas I could help in. Sure enough, I found myself helping write part of the award speeches for the show and producing, to a small extent.
PEB: I guess I started in 2012, technically, because I did do two special awards for fun and I wanted to do that again in 2013, then it sucked me in.
NG: Let’s talk numbers. How many people work on the /v/GAs each year? How many man hours would you say go into one award show? I know you accept skit submissions each year; how many do you have to sift through? (These don’t have to be perfectly accurate numbers, just your estimates/impressions.)
BS: Well, it depends on the year. 2012 was a plethora of talent, and there were roughly 40 people working on it that year. Most of that had to do with the decision by the producer to have as many people involved in the show as possible.
PEB: I don’t know how many people worked on 2011 and 2012 except for a few people. It’s really tough to estimate but I want to say about 20-30 people because people come in and contribute one small thing here and there. Now for man hours, I would say too many go into the awards. We never get enough skits, especially last year I had to get some people I knew and get them to make a skit because we barely had any. I hope people submit skits this year because there is a prize of money.
BS: For the 2012 show, there was a voice actor for every award, and an incredible amount of skits. But the inclusion of a few too many skits was a bit hectic.
NG: I did think 2012 went on for a bit too long.
PEB: Well, to be fair, when they went through the skits to choose it was a really weird day, I don’t remember who else was there but I remember being there and it being like 4 a.m. so I was laughing at anything I would see. When I saw them during the awards I was horrified at what I thought was good.
BS: 2013’s show was a lot more closely knit, with about a little less than 20 people ending up being credited. While there were just as many VA applicants, we stuck to a small number and curated skits a lot more closely.
This year; we’re blessed to have people from 2011, 2012, and 2013 coming back to work on the show, but it’s equally just as important to give talent that hasn’t been in the show a chance to shine. There’s a whole new writing team, and a great selection of voice actors eager to work on the show. It is ambitious, but we plan to repeat 2013’s conciseness with a bit more content, just appropriately placed this time around.
NG: 2014 was a tumultuous year. The 2013 /v/GAs foreshadowed Gamergate, what with Gone Home‘s skewering throughout. And /v/ has certainly had its share of problems with the gaming press, as you point out, PhoneEatingBear. Is Gamergate going to be addressed at all, or is it going to be the proverbial elephant?
PEB: We had long, long, long, long conversations between everybody on the award show, since it (Gamergate) started during the summer, about whether we wanted to cover it or not, and eventually we all agreed that it doesn’t have to do with giving awards to games.
NG: Is there anyone still with the team from the original 2011 /v/GAs?
PEB: Ryan Dell (the 2011 editor) lives on in my heart. [pause] Well, actually, the logo this year was made by him ’cause he is a friend of mine and a fantastic graphic designer now.
BS: Yeah, there are quite a few folks working on the show. I started working on the show in 2012, but Cluey & Segab (video team) are still here from 2011. Ryan Dell worked on 2014’s logo. Clamburger, the webmaster of the /v/GA site, is also with us.
PEB: Oh, and I also asked Stuff3 (the 2012 editor) to come back and make a new preshow mix which he is currently in the process of.
NG: You mentioned skits. Are you still accepting submissions? And the reward is $25, is that correct?
PEB: Yeah, its coming out of my pocket which in retrospect I regret but I’m sticking to my word.
BS: We’ll be accepting submissions all the way until a week before the show premieres. That deadline will probably be the 24th of this month (January).
PEB: We are accepting submissions until a week before the awards are shown, so the 24th will be the final deadline. We plan on streaming on the 31st.
NG: People trolled hard last year with Monster Girl Quest Chapter 3. What was that about?
PEB: DID THEY TROLL? OR WAS MONSTER GIRL QUEST TRULY DESERVING? WE WILL NEVER KNOW.
BS: Well, /v/ got what they voted for. It could have been a last ditch effort to confirm whether or not the show was “rigged”. Either way: they voted what they believed should win, and we honored and revealed the results like we do every year.
PEB: I do kind of appreciate Monster Girl Quest Chapter 3 winning awards because it really [underscores] why the show exists: it’s for games like that, so they’re able to have a chance.
NG: A lot of people must have voted for it to get an award. I doubt most of those votes were genuine, but it does give the spotlight to a game that would never even get a mention at other award shows.
Some people claim that Reddit instead of /v/ is really responsible for the /v/GAs. Care to clear this up for me?
PEB: I don’t get how people still say that because like, we filter the votes, and you can see the complete difference of the votes between Reddit and /v/.
BS: There was a claim of Nighthood (the guy who created the first show and then rode into the sunset) being a Redditor, but there has always been a system in place that has prevented Reddit from voting on the awards.
NG: How do you do that, filter votes? Or can’t you say?
PEB: I keep forgetting if it’s secret or not so I just never really explain and tell people to ask Beatstar.
BS: The voting system is set up to ensure that, if you are from /v/, your vote is counted. Any other site is discarded in the voting process. I’m proud to say that, this year, there have been no signs of Reddit attempting to vote on the awards.
PEB: It’s fucked up, and my only theory is that they don’t care anymore.
BS: Inevitably, every year, a few sites catch wind of the voting and try to add their choices: the voting system segregates these votes and lists them by site.
NG: What did you think of Geoff Keighley’s Game Awards last year? I can see it maybe becoming something worthwhile. If it does, are the /v/GAs going to stop? They arose, after all, as a result of /v/ hating Spike’s video game award shows.
BS: Let me be blunt. (Gamers, forgive me for this sentence:) Keighley’s show did a few things right. It was one of the sleekest looking award shows I have viewed in a while. They showcased content on a level comparable to E3, and they brought a bunch of internet celebrities to the table to make a show gamers could, for once, love. But they still made the same mistake of putting profit and promotion over premise. “Games will rise”, but gamers were still ignored and the cutaway gimmicks the show had were nothing but cheap gags to space out the show.
PEB: Never watched them, and I didn’t care at all about them. Again, it’s all down to a limited amount of people who choose what they thought was good. [pause] I’m going to be playing a bad game with my friend because I hate myself and I have bad taste in vidya, for a bit, so if you have any last questions PM me.
[PhoneEatingBear loads up Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.]
BS: It might seem pretentious, but somehow I feel that the /v/GAs had influenced Spike’s decision to make the VGX: I mean, that was a show that clearly had a slashed budget and barebones presentation. But Spike learned from that mistake to make a commercialized /v/GA. They dumped Keighley. Now the Doritopope is back and is serious about making a show that will end all shows.
It’s up to us, anyone and everyone who wants to work on this (the /v/GAs), to make a show that’s more direct, unfiltered, and raw with no budget. I look forward to seeing what we create.
NG: Thanks to the both of you for your time. I really appreciate it.
If you’d like to submit a skit, you can watch the instructions here. Those whose submissions are accepted into the show will receive $25 in Steam credit.
If you’ve never watched a Vidya Gaem Awards show, you can view the 2013 event, below.