saints and devils: the story of london – part one (games media awards)

Awe and shock.

I currently find myself writing this in the bed of my hotel room in Southwark, thinking back on the near 48 hours I’ve nearly spent here in London, just one month after the amazing Eurogamer Expo. And well, they have been amazing, bar one thing. But that I’ll get into later.

Time for the chronicles first before anything else.

I currently have family staying in Belfast for a bit, so I stayed up with them after making the train trip from Derry on Tuesday night. Then after waking up from a cold kip at 4am and making my way to George Best for a 6:45am flight to Gatwick, I make my way to Brighton and join up with Pat to head to Eurogamer for a bit of work along with Stace, who is normally covering me.

After all that, a lunch inbetween, writing countless stories of GTA V most of the day, a VG247 meeting and getting my ass kicked on FIFA by Tom Bramwell, me, Pat, Tom and Rupert Loman make our way to London for the Games Media Awards. Last year, we were nominated for best blog, but lost out to RPS. 2010 was alright for us, but I honestly felt we had a great chance coming into this year. Going 24 hour, some of our editorial stuff and the redesign I thought might help us. I truly thought we would actually do it this time (and I say that with all due respect to the rest of the nominees in our category).

I was also cacking it because I would be the one giving the speech for us as well if we won. But anyways, before it began it was meet-and-greet time. After that, it was basically the most desperate attempt I had to try and access the internet to liveblog for VG247. Eventually, after so long of attempting to get on via Wi-Fi and my iPhone, I finally did. The less said of this, the better.

Then the awards. Mind Greg Davies of The Inbetweeners? The host. I didn’t go into the awards expecting big things, but he was hilarious throughout, from start to finish. After his intro – where he basically took the piss of Korina Abbott of Ubisoft (XD), it was the first award. Our category. Best blog.

I was hopeful. So hopeful. Maybe even a little more hopeful than I should have been, but still hopeful nonetheless (stop saying hopeful). After literally a two minute delay due to Graniger Games (more on them scum in a bit), judgement time. Did we win? Was all our hard work going to pay off? Was I going to scream boom at the beginning of my speech?

No.

We lost out to Rock, Paper Shotgun. It was, quite simply, a blow, and I felt majorly disappointed for hyping myself up to kingdom come too much in terms of winning the award. That said, I’m pleased that if anyone won it besides us, it was Rock, Paper Shotgun. That team does good work. Alec is the only RPS member I’ve really met – Kieron was there too, but I was too nervous to introduce myself to him – but I’m glad him and the rest of the team picked up the award if we didn’t.

That said, a ton of weight crawled off my back because of not giving my speech.

With that out of the way, we moved on to the rest of the night. I’m gonna skip a few categories because I didn’t have any real interest in them (congrats either way, mind), but the category after ours was Rising Star. The list for that particular nomination was fantastic. Quite frankly, I had interest in three people for the award: Danny Chevo of X360A, Martin Gaston of Videogamer and Hollie Bennett of Destructoid. I was rooting for them guys mainly, but whoever won it deserved it.

In the end, Martin won it. It was absolutely well deserved, as I’ve known him since the GOONL!NE days (preface: he did two reviews for GO – Trials HD and King of Fighters as a ‘lancer before going to VG). But quite gutted for Dan and Hollie, but they’re great journos and peeps in their own right. And Hollie’s off to Namco now, so I’m sure she’ll do brilliantly there. All the best, hun.

Also deserving winners is SentUAMessage, which won best broadcast/podcast. Heavy competition too from the GameSpot and One Life Left lot, but well deserved that said. Well done, Dan, Andy and Team SUAM.

But the next particular category I was interested involved someone I truly look up to as not just a peer, but an inspiration somewhat, and someone who I think I’d like to say I care for as a friend. Ever since nominations began back in June, I have always pushed for Edge and Eurogamer freelancer Christian Donlan to win a GMA. Even before than, I had always questioned why he hadn’t gotten one already.

But when the nods were announced back in August, and when it was confirmed he would be up for best print writer, I was honestly happy for him.

Wednesday night was also the first time in literally 18 months I had seen Christian since we seen Driver: San Francisco in Newcastle last June alongside Jamin Smith of Videogamer.

So seeing him sit at our table, relaxed and so laid back, not caring if he won or not, it showed truly the character he was: so modest. Now, I’ve seen some amazing things in my time on this Earth, but I think I speak for everyone when I say that when Christian was announced as the winner of the award, the entire industry was so happy for him. I literally lept up in the air and cheered so hard for him.

But the part that nearly got me so emotional was the standing ovation he got. If there was anyone in the room who deserved that type of reception, Christian Donlan was that person. He would say otherwise probably, but that is why he is so loved by the industry. The most-deserved award winner on the night.

Another deserving winner is Keza MacDonald. Beating off Wesley Yin-Poole and tough GameSpot competition, Keza picked up her award to a deserving reception. She’s one of the good guys alongside Christian and Gaston. Well done, Keza.

And I will always approve of Eurogamer winning best website any day of the week (unless we’re nominated of course – we haven’t been up for it since 09). They’re a good group of hard working guys there, so I am glad it got it.

The final award seen Pat give the Games Media Legend for a second time following doing it the first time last year with PC Zone after winning it in 2009. You can find the entire transcript of the speech here, but I can honestly say that’s the best speech I’ve heard ever. The Legend award went to Pat’s first boss, Colin Campbell.

After that, it was hanging and chatting with several peeps until 1 in the morning. And then head back to the hotel with a glass half-full: gutted we lost, but happy “The Donlan” (Greg Davies’ words, not mine) finally got the recognition he truly deserved.

Overall, it was a great night enjoyed by all. Except for one thing: Graniger Games. Quite simply, do not give these people your money for a game. Seriously. They were literally so disgraceful and disrespectful in their behaviour. Examples including having bikini-clad girls, dwarves, having condoms scattered through tables of guests and thensome.

But was even more shocking was their heckling and pre-emptive clapping off stage of winners (except RPS – Alec’s speech was actually too short for them to do anything :D). Mostly no one was safe – including Christian and Pat – which annoyed me the fuck off to no end. There was also physical threats as well from GG, according to Dan Maher’s Tweets.

Intent boss Stuart Dinsey has since vowed that GG will never be welcomed back to another event of theirs again, be it the GMAs or MCV Awards, which seems ironic since last year, they won best indie retailer in the latter. And while I thought Stuart’s apology was sincere, blunt and direct to the point, GG’s attempt – if you can even call it that (I’m not even going to link to it) – was as low as low can get. So please, please, please, if you want to support indie retailers, do it by all means. But just don’t do it at Graniger.

Other than them, it was a great night. The Intent team and Caroline Miller of Indigo Pearl helped organise a fantastic event. Big props to them.

It was great to see and meet some peeps on wednesday. Some of them are also some which I seen at the Saints event/2K the next day (which is part two – that I’ll get up tomorrow when I’m back home). Here’s a great big list of them. It was great to see/meet you.

  • Tom Bramwell [I don’t know if you’ll remember it because you were a bit drunk when you did it – or at least slurring your words – but I’ll never forget the advice you gave after the ceremony. I’ll keep that as big motivation for next year. Thank you. Sincerely.]
  • Dan Pearson
  • Rupert Loman
  • Paul Loman
  • Leo Tan
  • Wesley Yin-Poole
  • Gwynne Dixon
  • Ali Payne
  • Caroline Miller
  • Andy Farrant
  • Mike Channell
  • Dan Maher
  • Stefano Petrullo
  • Tim Clark
  • Matthew¬†Reynolds
  • Mark Robins
  • Hugo Bustillos
  • Jane Douglas
  • Guy Cocker
  • Simon Byron
  • Ste Curran
  • Ann Scantlebury
  • Svend Joseclyne
  • Andy Robinson
  • Edwin Evans-Thrilwell
  • Christian Donlan
  • Simon Parkin
  • Keza MacDonald
  • Chris Thomas
  • Martin Gaston
  • Jamin Smith
  • Dan Webb
  • Hollie Bennett
  • Charlie Le Rougetel
  • Craig Stephens
  • Will Porter
  • Kristan Reed
  • Johnny Minkley
  • Michael French
  • Chris Dring
  • Rob Crossley
  • Alec Meer
  • Stefan McGarry
  • Korina Abbott
  • Ollie Coe
  • Martin Robinson
  • Jem Alexander
  • Steve Hogarty
  • Jon Blyth
  • Chris Schilling
  • Nathan Ditum
  • Dom Carey
  • Lydia Cutland
  • Debbie Timmins
  • Dan Lee
  • Alex Sim-Wise
  • Alex Simmons
  • Gareth Williams
  • Richie Churchill
  • Nick Silversides
  • Lewis Denby
  • Suzanne Panter
  • Matt Roache
  • Ben¬†Lawrence
  • Huw Beynon
  • Sam Clay
  • Lee Bradley

Finally, I want to finish this with something. I was considering saving this for part two, but as this is the GMA-themed post, I thought it would be only fair to have it here. Below is the speech I prepared if VG247 had won Best Blog. I had actually readied two speeches. The first one being totally original, while the second was nearly all of the first bar one paragraph.

The reason I prepared two is so I could show Pat the first one in case he asked to see it. But I had the second version written out on my Macbook, as well as had it on my iPhone notes and emails. I thought it would be best if this was heard from me as a bit of a (good) surprise on stage instead of showing it to anyone.

I hope when you read this, you’ll know how forever grateful I am to be in this job and industry, even more so after Christian Donlan’s win.

So here is, word for word, what I would have said on Wednesday night had we won (this may have ended up being shortened due to stage time constraints, and/or potentially because how much Graniger Games were going to be utter wankers. And there is no ‘boom’ in it because I hadn’t written it in, but it would have been in it at the start anyways):

“First of all, I think I speak on behalf of the VG247 Core News Team – Patrick Garratt, Stephany Nunneley, Brenna Hillier and myself – when I say thank you for this award. We’ve poured our heart and souls into the site this year, more so thanks to the fantastic redesign we had and going 24 hours, which elevated us more to than just a news site, but more a news service.

“Also, we’d like to thank all the freelancers who have helped us in some way on the site this year – big or small. Names springing to mind include Stace Harman, Keza MacDonald, Alexander Donaldson, Lauren Wainwright, Nathan Grayson, Andrew Groen, countless others I’m unable to think of. So thank you guys.

“2011 was brilliant for us, and we’ve seen some excellent growth this year thanks in part to the redesign and going fully 24 hr. But 2012 is gonna be something else, as you’ll hopefully find out in the new year.

“Finally, if you’ll indulge me for a few seconds, I want to say personally speaking – as I’ve never been able to say it to him until now – how thankful I am for Pat to give me the role I’ve got now. How thankful I am to have him and Steph as mentors. So thanks, you guys.

“Thank you for the award.”

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