2021, has been a hard year for games, as pandemic induced delays began to be felt, making new releases sparse even as launches blend together. A difficult time to hold an awards ceremony then, but the show must go on.
It’s difficult to discern then if the Golden Joysticks feel tarnished due to these unique circumstances, or because winners don't quite match the forerunners standard. There is nothing on show for which I think, I simply must play that, or can recall the big splash it made on launch. Instead, it's simply “That was this year?”
The Golden Joysticks are voted for by the public, and it's this hollowing-esque apathy that has certainly affected the voter base, shrinking it substantially, which combined with few releases, allow fangroups to steamroll - of course if RE:Village wins two awards, the fans are going to vote Capcom as best studio, and earning Capcom the triple kill . As for Maggie Robertson (Lady Dimitrescu) winning best performer, you will find no complaints from me - that is a moment I can certainly remember.
Sony fans win with two exclusives, Ghost of Tsushima’s DLC (I swear that game came out 2 years ago) and Ratchet and Clank's visuals. These two are big examples of bizarre nominations, as 2020 GotY Outer Wilds’ DLC released this year and went unmentioned, and somehow Hitman 3 thieved Sable's nomination for best visuals,
The worst example of egregious nominating was in the main event - best game of all time. For this, a selection of games from across time are nominated, with Dark Souls emerging victorious.
But was it even going to lose? It was easily the most modern ‘genre defining game’ - in the way that it defined a new genre, not the oft-bandied around term that means formulaic of its genre but its pretty (IGN), so even when set against old blood FPS Doom, its relevance wins out. Aside from Zelda, Minecraft and Halo, it was very much Dark Souls versus a bunch of games people know are classics (Fight!), but have never personally played or had any connection to. Some heavy hitters were noticeably absent too, for as much as we mock, Skyrim and Fortnite cast collossal shadows, and are certainly deserving of a nomination.
Perhaps ultimately it comes down to the platform divide, forcing nominations to be spread evenly, even while voters only have access to a subset of games. Certainly there are issues with the Golden Joysticks, but if my easter eggs in this article prove my love for the medium, it is important to be able to vote and show that passion to the creators that inspire it.