The Game Awards Is Addressing a Dangerous Trend at This Year’s Show

Putting a stop to a growing concern.

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 12:  Geoff Keighley speaks  onstage during The Game Awards 2019 a...
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Last year, a young boy took the Game Awards stage by surprise when he snuck past several Elden Ring game developers to give an impromptu speech, thanking Bill Clinton, whom he called his rabbi. Host Geoff Keighley waved him off, with a pained smile. This year, The Game Awards is taking steps to keep such disruptive incidents from becoming a trend by tightening security for this year’s show. As Keighley revealed, The Game Awards is adding new measures to prevent stage crashers and other security risks.

During a recent Twitch Q&A livestream on the Game Awards channel, Keighley addressed one question from an audience member, asking if the show was increasing security in the wake of the stage crashers.

“Yeah, we are,” Keighley responded. “We don’t want to talk about that stuff too publicly just because, you know, it’s security. We definitely have plans and we’re trying to do all we can to keep me safe but also everyone watching the show, the audience, people participating in the show.”

Geoff Keighley says this year’s Game Awards will have better security after repeated stage crashers.

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While Keighley’s answer didn’t provide any specifics on how security would be updated — for understandable reasons — it’s the most direct acknowledgment yet the show is changing to deter future stage crashers. Keighley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The announcement comes after two separate incidents — one at the Game Awards and one at the Keighly-hosted Gamescom Opening Night Live — where audience members hopped on stage to deliver bizarre messages to the crowd. In both cases, the individuals were removed without further incident, and both were later identified as having pulled off similar stunts before. And in both cases, the intruders shouted about former president Bill Clinton.

Unidentified people rushed the stage at Gamescom Opening Night Live just months after a similar incident at the Game Awards.

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Last year’s stage crasher called Bill Clinton his rabbi, which led to some speculation that it was intended as an anti-semitic dog whistle, though a later Polygon interview suggested that he was, in fact, just a kid looking for attention.

This past August, two men stormed the stage at Gamescom Opening Night Live, and one of them again mentioned Bill Clinton. This time, it wasn’t the message itself that raised red flags, but the fact that such a similar incident could happen again. The incident highlighted the ease with which copycats could hop on stage again, and developers began to get more vocal about the need for security at games industry shows.

While both incidents were nothing more than strange pranks, there’s cause for concern that a future stage crasher could spew the kind of hate speech that’s common across much of the gaming community or worse. It still remains to be seen what steps the Game Awards is taking to prevent that from happening.

Keighley addresses everything from potential new categories to Game Awards musical performances in the hour-long livestream.

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All told, Keighley’s comments on security made up less than a minute of an hour-long Q&A session.

“It’s something we’re certainly thinking about,” he said. “We appreciate the concern. Believe me, it’s top of mind for us.”

The Game Awards is backing away from labeling so many of its trailers ‘world premieres,’ after online users made fun of the event for billing minute updates to games as huge exclusives. Keighley also commented on potential new Game Awards categories like the oft-requested Best Supporting Actor, along with viewer suggestions like Best DLC or Best Remake.

Another frequent criticism of the Game Awards this year was that it nominated a massive company, Nexon, which made the game Dave the Diver, in the Best Independent Game category. Keighley acknowledged on the stream that the Awards lacked a solid definition for the category.

"Independent can mean different things to different people," he said. “You can argue: Does independent mean the budget of the game? Does independent mean where the source of financing was? Is it based on the team size? Is it the kind of independent spirit of a game, meaning kind of a smaller game that is different?”

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