How to Fix The Game Awards' Most Boring Category
Think outside the box.
The Game Awards is by no means a perfect awards show. Gaming’s biggest night annually offers a plethora of updates, recognition for developers, and lots of controversy. This year alone, the awards have already been the center of discussions like the meaning of indie games, safety at the awards show, and the need for Geoff Keighley to address larger issues such as layoffs. So, while this isn’t the biggest issue the event has, I still have an axe to grind with the newest category at The Game Awards: Best Adaptation.
To address the growing popularity and rise of mainstream video game adaptations, The Game Awards introduced the Best Adaptation category in 2022. This year highlights the need for this category as the likes of HBO’s The Last of Us and Netflix’s Castlevania: Nocturne both received widespread critical acclaim. But even in the two years that the category has existed, one thing has become abundantly clear, it lacks imagination.
Per The Game Awards, the Best Adaptation category recognizes “outstanding creative work that faithfully and authentically adapts a video game to another entertainment medium.” Yet the categories’ total ten nominees since its inception all share one thing in common, they are all screen adaptations.
Every single entry has either been a TV show or a film. While that does include animated projects like the inaugural winner of the category, Arcane, it shows a limited perspective of what adaptation can mean. It also leads to some questionable picks making the cut.
Looking at this year’s nominees, there are probably only two adaptations that rightfully belong on the list, that would be The Last of Us and Castlevania: Nocturne. The other nominees are the Twisted Metal show, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which our review called “an overstuffed 90 minutes of colorful, inoffensive fun,” and the Gran Turismo movie that we called “so indistinct as to be forgettable.” Are these really the best adaptations the year had to offer? One glaring omission on this list is the show Nier: Automata Ver1.1a, but when we look past just screen adaptations even more contenders show up.
2023 saw the release of Final Fantasy XIV: Eorzea Academy’s collected edition in Japanese and English. This manga serves as an alternate universe story of Square Enix’s beloved MMO set in a high school. The comedic and constantly referential manga is a delightful read that somehow manages to translate the world-saving stakes of the game into a delightfully trope-filled school story. This is just one example of the many interesting manga, comic, and book adaptations of video games that exist.
Staying on Final Fantasy but getting even more out of the box is New Kabuki FINAL FANTASY X. This is a kabuki theater adaptation of Final Fantasy X that ran from March 4 through April 12 in Japan. And while it’s unlikely much of The Game Awards voting body could see the live production, it was made available via streaming from July 19 to October 31. As far as “outstanding creative work that faithfully and authentically adapts a video game to another entertainment medium,” goes, you'd be hard-pressed to find something that fits the bill better than New Kabuki FINAL FANTASY X’s roughly six-hour retelling of the classic game.
Furthermore, the category has failed to recognize the interesting work of board games that adapt video games. Some examples of well-received board games based on video games include Dark Souls: The Board Game and Bloodborne: The Board Game.
Instead of showing off the broad ways video games can be adapted, the category has remained focused on screens big and small. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is so much more out there when it comes to the best adaptations of video games.