February 3, 2023

Xbox head Phil Spencer at The Game Awards 2019

Rich man Phil Spencer, dressed like my dad, goes to get bagels while attending the gaming equivalent of the Oscars.
Photo: Getty / JC Olivera / Stringer (Getty Images)

Like everyone else, I watch The Game Awards for a few reasons: to see “world premiere” trailers, to find out which obvious favorite wins Game of the Year, and to learn how Geoff Keighley uses his Hideo Kojima friendship coupon will be redeemed this year. But what fascinates me is never the latest AAA trailer or the new way It takes two director Josef Fares makes the energetic editor sweatbut the fashion – or lack thereof.

The now-iconic game developer fit of a company-branded t-shirt, ill-fitting sport coat, skinny jeans, and dropless sneakers is so violently burned into my brain that I get hives at the mere thought of another white man from middle-aged shuffling on that brightly lit stage, hands clumsily at his sides while waxing poetic about how crucial it is for games to tell important stories.

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Their fashion choices seem even more absurd when set against the attacks of the Hollywood actors present. Last year we wore Giancarlo Esposito a perfectly tailored oxblood tuxedo jacket and matching dress shoes; Ming-Na Wen in a beautiful rose gold velvet jumpsuit; and Ella Balinska in a dress that looked like it was made of chainmail – all shared a stage with the aforementioned Fares, who wore a super-tight T-shirt and skinny jeans.

The fashion at The Game Awards fluctuates wildly between each presenter and winner, offering a dizzying array of the dropless fits you’d expect from industry leaders emulating the hottest tech bros, everyday schleppy gamer outfits, and actually appropriate cocktail/evening wear. You never know what you’re going to get, and there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to most fashion choices (I’m still so confused why a few years ago someone wore a sweater over a button-down like a cousin of WASP during Easter brunch). I wouldn’t know, since I’ve never been invited, but I imagine the dress code for The Game Awards is just like any other big budget awards ceremony: semi-formal, or at least cocktail.

And therein lies the rub. Perpetual suit-with-rich-dad sneaker wearer Geoff Keighley clear want The Game Awards have as much prestige and pomp as a Hollywood awards night – which is why he makes sure to challenge the aforementioned celebs, as well as Guillermo del Toro, and Vin Diesel, and John David Washington, and Gal Gadot, and Christoph Waltz, and Keanu Reeves, and Simu Liu, and NBA star Paul George. They add an extra shine, a little more allure to “gaming’s greatest night”. Last year The daily news called The Game Awards”the video game industry’s answer to the Oscarswhich I can only assume brought as much joy to Geoff as it did when Kojima put him in it Death stranding.

But the video game industry isn’t Hollywood and the Game Awards aren’t the Oscars. Like the titans of the tech industry, so many of gaming’s bigger (and older and whiter) personalities have stubbornly refused to accept clothing as little more than something to protect them from the elements. Instead of putting on a fucking suit, they’re more likely to mimic the holier-than-thou ideology of people like Mark Zuckerberg, who recovered in 2014 that he wore the same gray T-shirt every day to help “clean up”. [his] live to make it so [he has] to make as few decisions as possible about anything other than how we can best serve this community.”

Of course, Zuckerberg failed to mention that his famous gray T-shirt is custom made by Brunello Cucinelli and costs $300 each. That’s why I refuse to believe that eAre fit Xbox honcho Phil Spencer cost just under $600.

But other than top executives like Spencer and Bobby Kotick, the people in this industry aren’t rich or famous on a Hollywood level, and probably don’t have the money to dress like the Hollywood people. But they can still give their best! Buy second hand! Rent the runway! DM me for advice!

Unsurprisingly, the Best Game Awards that fit outside A-list actors consistently come from people of color, ladies, and members of the gay community. Perhaps it’s because, unlike the white men who still dominate the top positions in this industry, they take pride in being invited to what (despite my complaints) is the biggest game night, and want to show and show to see.

So, basically, invite more marginalized people to The Game Awards, give more marginalized people jobs in the industry, and maybe have someone who isn’t white named Todd or Glen make a triple-A game. Then The Game Awards can look like a real awards ceremony.

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