Keighley, who was able to give the digital format a test-run with the European trade fair Gamescom last month — complete with COVID-19 safety protocols — acknowledges that the physical event and the 5,000 fans in the Game Awards audience is something that will be missed this year, "but even that, there’s 5,000 people that co-stream the show on Twitch and YouTube and share their audiences and do react videos, so that already exists digitally, we’re just going to lean a little bit more into the community around the show." Created and curated by video game journalist Geoff Keighley, the award show — which saw nearly 50 million live streams last year — has been adapted from the traditional physical event to a digital one due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that limits in-person gatherings.
Airing live in 4K from studio locations in Los Angeles, Tokyo, and London, the show will continue to celebrate video game culture with world premieres, announcements, and musical performances, in addition to handing out honors to prominent and upcoming game developers.
This year will offer a new award, the innovation in accessibility honor, which recognizes software or hardware developers who are pushing the medium forward with new features, technology advancements, and content creation.
"What I've found is that the community really cares about this show and how it represents the industry, and there are lots of awards shows out there for lots of mediums, but The Game Awards is so unique," says Keighley. "With that comes an obligation to really represent this industry in the right way, to the broader world. It's always been a passion of mine to build this show and represent how big games really are."
Viewers of the event will be able to interact through social media and in-game experiences, details of which will be revealed in coming weeks. "It was really important to me that we did a live show, and not something that was pre-recorded, because the magic of winning these awards live and the reactions — I would never want to do anything to disrupt that," says Keighley, who has been doing mass Zoom calls with game fans from around the world, in addition to running the Summer Game Fest for the last several months.
The Game Awards are executive produced by Keighley and Kimmie Kim, with LeRoy Bennett serving as creative director for the sixth year running.
First-time nominees include the six artists vying for breakthrough video of the year nominees — Blanco Brown, Caylee Hammack, Gabby Barrett, Ingrid Andress, Riley Green, and Travis Denning along with super-group The Highwomen, country music veteran Tanya Tucker and non-country artists Halsey, Marshmello, and Gwen Stefani.
The awards, which are voted on by fans, will be handed out Oct. 21 in a broadcast that will air on CMT as well as its sister networks MTV, MTV2, Logo, Paramount Network, Pop TV, and TV Land. The show also will feature outdoor performances in and around Nashville. Different artists with multiple nominations include Blanco Brown, Carrie Underwood, Gabby Barrett, Kane Brown, Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert, Old Dominion, and The Chicks, who landed their first CMT nomination since 2007.
A total of 14 acts are vying to become finalists for the top award, video of the year. The nominees include Carrie Underwood, who reigns as the most awarded artist in CMT Music Awards history with 20 wins. She'll vie with McBryde, Brown, Dan + Shay, Keith Urban, Ballerini, Little Big Town, Combs, Lambert, Old Dominion, Hunt, Tanya Tucker, The Chicks, and Rhett. The final nominees will be announced in October 12.
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