Show me the video games!

We have long argued that the video games industry should be treated as seriously as those other pillars of the entertainment business, film and music. Government seems to be getting the message, and – as we reported last month – the figures certainly stack up.

But perhaps the BBC is still struggling with the idea of video games as a grown-up industry in its own right. When the industry does get coverage (on the Today show, for example), the presenters are typically as well informed as, say, a US senator facing a Facebook Chief Executive.

picture of Bafta Games video games Awards
Show Me The Video Games

And then there was last week’s broadcast of the BAFTA Games Awards ceremony. If there is one thing viewers of these brilliant awards (mostly gamers or people from the games industry) are looking forward to seeing, it’s footage of their favourite video games.

Yet, when the ceremony opened with a montage looking back at the games of the year, it was accompanied by a live performance from BBC Young Dancer 2017, the hugely talented Nafisah Baba.  For a former professional dancer and a lifelong gamer like me, this should have been brilliant.  Instead, the cameras spent the majority of time zoomed in on Nafisah and barely any of the video game montage on-screen above her.  In fact viewers got to see a mere 45 seconds of the 2min 27sec video montage.

Rather than being a sublime fusion of dance, music and video game footage, it became an infuriating opener which literally had me screaming at the screen “I can’t see the video games!”  This strikes me as an enormous disservice to the people who spent years making these video games, and who this ceremony is meant to be celebrating – not the winner of a BBC Reality TV show.  There is no way a broadcaster covering a TV or Film awards ceremony would point a camera in the opposite direction while the organisers play a reel of the best films of the year.  So why subject the gaming faithful to it?  I can only assume that this is another sign of the Corporation’s undervaluing the work the sector puts together.

I felt genuinely sorry for Nafisah.  Her performance was fantastic, but viewers must have been cursing her – or at the very least the BBC.

I do recognise that this may come across to some as a bit of a rant about a fairly trivial piece of poor direction, and I apologise if that is the case. But it is the result of years of frustration at the non-gamers’ view of a hugely important part of the UK’s creative industries.

James Dodd

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Martin Tripp Associates is a London-based executive search consultancy. We work across the media, information, communications and entertainment industries, including video games recruitment. This means we can bring best practice from across the sectors to your business.  We have also worked with some of the world’s biggest brands on challenging senior positions. Feel free to contact us to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog.