Webby Awards

By Shamus
on May 6, 2009
Filed under:
Video Games

Congrats to the crew at The Escapist for winning another Webby award. Sadly, they lost the “people’s choice” award. They were ahead until the final day, when an abrupt surge of votes put Gamespot out in front. Although, as Spinwiz put it:

What about the People’s Voice Award you ask? Well, unfortunately we were edged out at the last minute, but that is okay. We showed a CBS-owned site that is 7 times our size just who The Escapist is, taking the fight to the end. So, please look at it this way: 300. If the award were given out on the basis of the percentage of site size to actual votes, we would have won by a landslide.

My warm relationship with The Escapist aside, I really hated to see GameSpot win. Gamespot personifies everything I hate (and have ranted about over the last four years) about gaming media. Their hype-focused tone. Their bland reviews with the soulless numeric score punchline. Their faceless writers. Their agonizingly ad-soaked bandwidth-choking wallpaper of visual spam they call a front page. Their apathy towards the indie scene. Their spamming. And let’s not forget what they did to Jeff Gerstman. In short, their site is ugly, shallow, and blurs the line between journalism and prostitution.

On the other hand, Destructoid is a worthy site. I hadn’t taken an interest in the place before I saw them as a rival in the Webby awards. (I think their tagline does them a disservice. “The hardcore gamer’s community” does not sound intriguing to me.) The site is fast, fun, and (as I mentioned in last week’s column) personality-driven. The fact that they got less votes than Gamespot is a crime. This should have been Destructiod vs. The Escapist, with Gamespot ranking just below this one in terms of community and entertainment value.

Sorry to get all bitter, but it’s disappointing to see that Gamespot is what people really want. I think the site has a negative impact on gaming as a hobby, and seeing it defeat Destructiod and The Escapist is like seeing people demand yet another reality show instead of a second season of Firefly.

On the upside, The Escapist won, and my work was a small part of that. That’s pretty gratifying.

Congratulations again to the crew at The Escapist.

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20626 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. mixmastermind says:

    Bland reviews!? Surely you forget Kevin VanOrd’s hilariously overuse of food metaphors?

    http://www.eegra.com/pages/show/title/10_04_2009_Who_Is_Kevin_VanOrd__and_Why_Is_His_Jaw_Tired_/

  2. Jennifer says:

    The only time I ever go to Gamespot is when I’m trying to find out approx. when a game will be released (the devs and other sites are incredibly coy about this and it drives me insane), or get some idea of what a game is ABOUT so I know if I want to play it. But their reviews are pathetic–they described Two Worlds as a “Poor Man’s Oblivion”, which made me think it might be semi-competent. Any mention of the histrionically bad voice acting? The plot of no sense? The several skills that were completely useless? The unhinged level balance? No. :P

  3. Blur the line? The only thing blurry is how they use small shop games as cannon fodder so they can still tout their overall average as being unbiased while still selling scores to AAA games.

    Seriously, places that gave the nearly unplayable-on-release GTA4 >7 while trashing Demigod at release based on multiplayer issues related to GameStop breaking street date and piracy …

  4. Factoid says:

    No offense, I agree with your assessment re: gamespot v escapist, but I don’t think The Escapist has much to brag about in the “Front Page Visual Spam” category. Both sites are about equally difficult to navigate. Gamespot loses out on the design front only because of the huge sponsor presence.

    From a content perspective there’s really no question which is better. Escapist all the way.

  5. The Webby Awards are bullshit anyway, and Gamespot winning is just more evidence of that. The least common denominator wins, so there’s nothing interesting about it. It’s about being flashy, not having real content.

    For more proof, take a look at the winners. Most of them are Flash-only monstrosities. That sort of thing has nothing to do with the world wide web (which is the “Web” part of Webby, right?). It’s just a standalone application that happens to be served over http.

    So, you should actually take it as a compliment that the Escapist didn’t win. That means it’s not too low brow, which seems to be a requirement to win a Webby.

  6. qrter says:

    Sorry to get all bitter, but it’s disappointing to see that Gamespot is what people really want.

    These ‘people’s choice’ awards have little to do with ‘what people really want’ (which I’m quite sure Shamus is using sarcastically, btw), irrespective of who wins or loses. In the end it comes down to ‘who has the largest community they can rally’. Which is why all these awards that allow online voting don’t really mean all that much.

  7. Deoxy says:

    like seeing people demand yet another reality show instead of a second season of Firefly.

    Most people are brainless sheep, carefully raised for the shearing of their money. They are carefully trained to demand things which are easy and profitable. The only time they do otherwise is when their pathetically small attention span (which I would compare to some brainless animal, except I can’t think of any that it wouldn’t be insulting to) causes them to lose focus on their masters.

    OF COURSE a site with intelligence will lose out in a numbers game to a site with a horde of such sheep. Such a comparison is not useful.

  8. Jimmie says:

    Most people are brainless sheep, carefully raised for the shearing of their money. They are carefully trained to demand things which are easy and profitable.

    You think people are trained to be lazy and greedy? Truth is, that’s their default condition and they have to be trained otherwise.

    I know it makes us feel special and all like the hammer-thrower in the Apple commercial to think otherwise, but it’s not so.

  9. Mari says:

    I think sheep wins in the brainless animal category, Deoxy. Seriously, they are some really stupid animals and more and more often I think the “people as sheep” comparison is very, very apt.

    The one thing Gamespot ever had going for it is pretty much gone now. I used to use Gamespot to track games I wanted and games I had but they’ve made even that impossible to get to without navigating a maze of corporate sponsorship and targeted advertising. It’s kind of sad when Amazon wins my allegiance over Gamespot for anything game related.

    But as several people have pointed out, Webbies (and any award contest/system in general) are hardly an indication of merit or quality. And it’s not just the ones that allow online voting. Do you assume that any movie to ever win the Best Picture oscar is the best movie to come out in a given year? I point out by way of example of such flawed thinking “Titanic.” No matter what, you’re going to be getting someone’s biases and opinions and some group’s agenda.

  10. Deoxy says:

    I didn’t say lazy and greedy. I agree that people have a strong lazy/greedy bent to them, but that’s not what I was talking about.

    I meant easy and profitable to those who provide them. Reality shows, for instance. People with 2 brain cells to rub together realize that these have little to do with normal reality, would be better described as “unscripted” or some such moniker, and are usually nothing but inter-personal politics with a small amount of game-show-like cover.

    They are primarily stupid and pointless, but they are easy to produce and profitable for those that make them (usually). Therefore, that’s what the sheep want (because they are told to want it).

    Edit in response to Mari: yes, sheep are used a lot (I used them even), but sheep aren’t really that stupid… yes, they would walk off a cliff in a heartbeat and other stupid behaviour, but they wouldn’t seek out the cliff.

    And Titanic… eh. Only Hollywood could make a love story out of one of the worst maritime tragedies in human history. The charaters were flat (especially her fiance), the plot was dumb, and the movie was WAY too long (“Choose your own ‘This movie was too long’ line: 1) I had to shave twice during this movie 2) Three Eastern European countries were formed while I watched this movie…” etc). Gah.

  11. Magnus says:

    I think that for many people, they only see Gamespot. A lot of folks wouldn’t even think to explore different avenues to get gaming news, while those that do bother to find the sites that appeal to them end up getting spread a bit more thinly over a larger number of good websites.

    I tend to follow The Escapist, Kotaku, Rock Paper Shotgun and your blog the most regularly, and those tend to tell me all I need to know.

    Take heart in the quality of people that find you a funny and interesting person! (I mean funny ha ha, rather than funny strange, of course!)

  12. Mari says:

    Deoxy – I think the reason the sheep metaphor is so appropriate is that sheep lack any real survival instinct (trust me, I’ve raised many) and will follow anyone/anything that seems to know what’s going on, much like the average consumer. No, sheep won’t seek out a cliff but it wouldn’t be difficult to lead them off of one.

  13. R4byde says:

    As much as I hate Gamespot, who cares if they win some Communist award anyway? I mean most people are complete idiots and will choose whatever panders most to there unrefined plebiscite tastes. If you need some examples just look back through history, Lenin was chosen by the people, gaining his power through their popular support and look what happened there! Bring on the People’s Office of Gaming Propaganda -aka Gamespot- I say!

    I guess what that was suppose to say was this; I don’t think I’d enjoy stuff like The Escapist or Firelfy, if they were widely popular and capable of winning the vote of the lowest common denominator, not because I want to be the nerd who pretends he’s superior to everyone else, but because then they’d just be more recycled derivative crap ala Gamespot or –Gods of Geekdom, spare me the fires of nerd wrath which I am about to ignite in my proximity after dousing myself in gasoline.– *Cough*Star-Trek*Cough*.

    Err, if anyone needs me I’m going on a twenty year vacation to the middle of nowhere that I might escape the trekkie, erm, I mean zombie horde which is sure to start pursuing me the moment I click ‘Submit Comment.’

  14. Telas says:

    This is why you shouldn’t let others think for you.

    Democracies (of any stripe) always devolve to the lowest common denominator.

  15. neriana says:

    Gamespot just won because they have the biggest base. It doesn’t have anything to do with the overall quality of democracies (the worst form of government except everything else that’s been tried), people supposedly being “sheep”, or anything like that. The Escapist is a new site, Gamespot has been around forever. What’s surprising, in a good way, is that The Escapist got so many votes at all or won anything.

    The Escapist is a great site, but it is kind of a pain to navigate, btw.

  16. Dev Null says:

    Don’t think of it as Gamespot being what people want, think of it as them having more paid employees who could go jink the vote. They probably ran a contest and gave away a free XBox to someone who voted for them.

  17. Rask says:

    My only real issue with the Escapist is all their advertising, which goes to the point of being a little invasive. Take Zero Punctuation or Unskippable, for example:

    They’ve got advertising…
    – On a banner ad at the top of the page
    – On the right side of the page
    – To the lower-right of the page (internal advertising for things like Experienced Points)
    – Sometimes outside the left and right frames of the page when an event is going on
    – Sometimes before the video starts
    – Always after the video ends
    On top of the video in a little window that you have to close!

    The other ads I can handle, but that last one irritates me every time. As a content provider, would you like it if your users had to close an advertising window before they could read your whole comic?

  18. SimeSublime says:

    I have to agree with Rask. I don’t much care about gaming ‘media’ websites, so I only visit the Escapist for your work and Zero Punctuation. And I find the ads(particularly the one to vote for the webby awards) really offputting. Everytime I tried to load up a ZP episode I had to sit through some stupid animation of some animals ripping off Highlander. For that alone I refused to vote.

  19. Coffee says:

    @R4Byde

    Oh great, now you’ve got me thinking of how much I’d like to see a Communist web award!

    A leader’s selection by popularity of the public isn’t a Communist policy. In fact, I remember just such an event taking place at the end of last year in the US. It was called a presidential election.
    And so, shame on you for bringing politics into this.

    Basically, the larger the populous something appeals to, the blander and less interesting it becomes.

  20. Fon says:

    Perhaps GameSpot is really what most people need, while Escapist have better content, GameSpot have a database of games.

    Even if the review score given depend on money, or GameSpot could have been selling your E-mail address, or the scandal where they fire a reviewer for being honest, the truth is, most people won’t be aware enough to notice it, that’s why to them GameSpot is such a good website.

    I think it’s the same when it come to Destructoid, the fact they label themselves “The hardcore gamer’s community” pretty much separate them with the major community.

    Maybe the thing is, Escapist is simply TOO unique, when not having general stuff, people without enough experience just won’t bother to read it’s content.

    It is completely different when it comes to people like me. I know most of the gaming stuff, and I would rather read other’s opinion, instead of some easy to find information.

    Only if people realize that sites like GameSpot are simply everywhere… It is a shame that people would support a site with generic content, instead of an unique or different one.

  21. Telas says:

    I’m the one who allegedly brought politics into it.

    The point I was trying to make is that a popularity contest is not the best way to find out what works for you. It had nothing to do with a certain political party whose name starts with ‘D’.

    And by the way, the USA is a republic. Although the average citizen is apparently unaware of that fact.

  22. Coffee says:

    To be fair, I think that R4byde at #13 brought politics into it with the statements regarding Communism.

  23. Sean Riley says:

    Hey, Shamus. You may get a kick out of the Children’s Week charity auctions on ebay. The idea is that for Children’s Week in World of Warcraft, they’re auctioning stuff that will be donated to Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play charity.

    Gamespot auditioned two year-long subscriptions. They’re the lowest priced items on the auction, with bids in the single digits. Nobody cares.

  24. RTBones says:

    A second season…of Firefly? Really? Firefly?! REALLY?!?
    (does The Dance of Joy)

    Oh wait. Nevermind.

    Wish I could demand that show back into reality….

    sigh….

  25. Otters34 says:

    While the Escapist winning the Webby award is a happy occasion, even if it solely means it has a large and devoted reader-base, I think it’s a little unfair to declare that Gamespot deserves no part in it simply because it doesn’t do what’s in vogue right now and make subjective opinion and humor its main selling point. Truth be told, quite a few of their older reviews show considerable personality behind them, and they at least explain their reasoning behind the numbers they give out. Besides which, Gamespot hosts reviewers, while the Escapist hosts critics. It’s like chewing out Roger Ebert for not being like Armond White, who has gone on record as clarifying the relationship between critics and reviewers as those who tell you why something wasn’t enjoyable and those who judge if something is enjoyable.

    Then again I have always despised Firefly for taking the spotlight off FarScape, so no credibility for me I guess.
    (why is it that anybody who is anybody on the internet loves Firefly so dearly?)

  26. mszv says:

    The Escapist is good if you want to read about gaming and games. It’s what you do. You get interesting articles on a variety of topics. I don’t find the site all that easy to navigate, but I can wend my way through it. The email newsletter is good – when I get it go read the latest stuff in the Escapist. I’ll also be looking out for your column.

    Gamespot, and Gamespy (I know they are different, but I flip between them) are good if you want to find out about a game – when’s it coming out, what will it run on, is there a walkthrough, is there a review, any cheats I care about – all that. Even if the type of review is not to my taste I can often figure out, from a review, if I might like a game. Sometimes that’s what people want – information.

    For MMOs, I’m very impressed with Massively – my kind of writing, interesting, wide ranging (they don’t have a boring narrow view on what MMO to cover) and not snide/snarky. I also enjoy the daily TenTonHammer email newsletter. For adventure games I like adventuregamers.

    It’s all about what kind of info you are looking for, at the time.

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