Game Awards presenter addresses conflict of interest over Death Stranding


The Game Awards are just around the corner, and since the nominees were announced earlier this month, we know six of the year’s best games are in contention for the prestigious Game of the Year Award.

These games are Death Stranding, Control, Resident Evil 2, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and The Outer Worlds.

And Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding surely has been one of this year’s most controversial games, mainly due to the polarizing reviews: this is a game that has been derided as a “walking simulator” and a triumph of style over substance by some, while others see it as a masterpiece of gaming that has invented a genre of its own.

Another controversy has erupted over Death Stranding recently, though, and has to do with the fact that the game has picked up the most nominations at the Game Awards 2019, which happens to be hosted by media celebrity Geoff Keighley (as is the case every year).

The thing is, Keighley has a brief cameo in the game… A holographic depiction of the Game Awards presenter appears at some point in the game to congratulate Sam (the game’s protagonist who is played by Norman Reedus) after making a delivery in the game.

Keighley has addressed this conflict of interest over his Death Stranding cameo in a recent Reddit AMA (which stands for Ask Me Anything) ahead of the big show in Los Angeles this week, as was recently reported on GameSpot.

“I don’t vote on the nominees or winners–that’s done by a jury of 80 global media outlets that we list on the website. That process isn’t the result of me having a cameo in a game, but also because I work with developers on world premieres, announcements, sponsorships, and other aspects of the show. I want the jury to be ‘blind’ to all those other aspects”, said Keighley on Reddit.

Keighley said he wants the Game Awards to stand the test of time, and that “trying to keep everyone happy” made him feel “pretty lonely” at times.

Keighley also noted that he doesn’t make video games or invest in them in any way (such as via game companies’ stock), and that while he has ties with people in the games industry, all he can do “is be transparent about those relationships and make sure the voting is separate”.

And regarding his cameo in the game, Keighley also defended himself by saying that when this was recorded (back in 2017) it was never actually intended to be used in-game. Rather, this was part of a promotional which was never released, while he himself did not do the voice acting for his in-game character.

Nonetheless, there will always be some who remain suspicious, taking into account that he and the game’s creator Hideo Kojima are publicly best pals: Keighley called out Konami for not letting Kojima attend the awards back in 2015, and the Japanese designer has been one of the key celebrities attending the show in the last several editions. Also, Death Stranding has picked up more nominations than any other game at this year’s show (a total of 9), and this is a game that Keighley was actually going to endorse and appears in…

Hopefully, then, the voting process at the Game Awards will be as transparent as Keighley claims it is, and that truly the best of the lot walks home with the Game of the Year award when the curtains come down in Los Angeles tomorrow.