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The Game Awards' Future Class members feel this year's ceremony failed them and made them question the program's real intentions.

Justin Carter

December 19, 2023

3 Min Read
Graphic for the 2023 Game Awards.
Image via The Game Awards.

At a Glance

  • This year's Game Awards saw criticism at all sides, in particular its Future Class hoping it'd speak on the Gaza conflict.

"We're supposed to be this group that can lead the game industry to a better tomorrow, but as soon as our names are written, we're forgotten about."—Game developer Younès Rabii

2023's Game Awards caught criticism from developers and players alike during its ceremony earlier in the month. In a new report from Wired, members of its Future Class still find its inability to speak on real-world issues particularly damning.

Made up of young developers billed as the future of the game industry, Future Class members signed an open letter calling for the awards to make a public statement in solidarity with Palestinians under attack in Gaza. No such statement happened, drawing additional controversy to an already divisive annual event.

Sources told Wired that Game Awards' leading man Geoff Keighley spoke with them in a Discord call days after the event. During that call, they claim he had "corp speech" responses and only referred to Gaza as "certain events" until he was called out for not being more direct.

All-in-all, one source said Keighley's silence "created a snowball effect and got everyone talking, sharing, and comparing notes. It was a collective disappointment.”

The place of The Game Awards

On some level, the Game Awards are always more about the spectacle of games than those making them. (Unless they're Hideo Kojima.) What made this year stand out was how quickly winners were shunted off, to say nothing of this year's thousands of layoffs.

One FC member said the Game Awards should exist as a "living record" of the year's games first and a marketing show second.

"We have had so many historical, cultural moments that happened at award shows," they told Wired. "The more you try to doctor or excise that element, the more likely it's going to just be irrelevant."

Younès Rabii, a Future Class member who organized the letter, admitted it's "still very unclear" what comes with the distinction. They asked if Keighley and other organizers actually value marginalized developers, or just want "diversity tokens" to get good press.

The Future Class was established in 2020, the same year George Floyd protests spread throughout the US. Various diversity initiatives started across multiple industries (including games) during that time, and many wondered how genuine these efforts would actually be.

Rabii revealed its members aren't involved in the awards itself, which further underlines their point about being here for marketing. "As soon as our names are written, we're forgotten about," they noted.

Even with that uncertainty hanging over the entire affair, the Future Class members hope some change comes from this year's events. Keighley has "the eyes and the attention," they said, and can help change the industry's perception of itself.

Of this year's awards, they noted that "whatever happens here will reverberate in some way."

Wired's full write-up of the Game Awards and its Future Class can be read here.

Update: In response to Wired's piece, several Future Class members spoke up, calling the meeting with Keighley "really productive" and hoped future awards shows would improve from those discussions.

One member noted that the article was "reflective of of the problem, but not the solutions we're already trying to make happen. I'm cautiously optimistic that our demands will be listened to."

Another said the information given to the outlet was "outdated" and didn't fully represent the meeting that took place. "We together to bring up solutions," they added, "not to point fingers and blame."

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About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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