Movies have the Oscars, music has the Grammys and both have television, which brings the awards shows to tens of millions of viewers with their live broadcasts.
The video game industry, too, had its awards moment on the small screen with a glitzy event called the Video Game Awards that Spike TV broadcast live on its cable channel for a decade. The actor Samuel L. Jackson hosted the show in 2012, and the reality television maestro Mark Burnett produced it.
But then Spike, which has tried to make its programming less male-centric in recent years, seemed to waver in its support for the show. In 2013, the network scaled the event back, streaming it live over the Internet and whittling it down to a one-hour broadcast that replayed on the cable channel days later. Spike invited the host and producer of the awards show, Geoff Keighley, to do the online event again in 2014. A Spike TV spokesman declined to comment.
Mr. Keighley, a longtime games journalist and television personality, declined Spike’s offer. Instead, he did something that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago: He created his own independent game awards show without a television partner, streaming it entirely over the Internet. The show included ways for viewers to click on ads and download games in real time.
âWe reinvented the award show model for a young audience in way that I never thought possible,â Mr. Keighley, 37, said.
The show â called, simply, the Game Awards â is now the closest thing the games business has to its own Oscars. The second Game Awards show will take place Dec. 3 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, where Mr. Keighley is expecting about 4,000 attendees, compared with 3,500 last year. He projects that the Internet audience will be more than the two million who watched in 2014. While game companies were the only advertisers last year, he has nabbed Verizon as one of the sponsors this year.
The event is a tribute to the tenacity of Mr. Keighley, who risked more than $ 1 million of his savings to finance the first show last year. It also reflects the hunger among games publishers for the critical recognition that can spark sales of their products during the all-important shopping season in the final weeks before Christmas.
The sizable audience that Mr. Keighley managed to attract for the show also illustrates how traditional television has come to matter less for gamers, both as a means for getting access to video programming and as a badge of cultural respectability.
Anyone interested enough in games to tune into an awards show is likely to spend a lot of free time playing them, rather than watching television. And for many gamers, streaming video through Twitch, YouTube, Xbox or a PlayStation â all of which are making the Game Awards accessible to viewers â comes as naturally as watching it on a cable channel.
âTheyâre consuming all this content digitally anyway,â said Mr. Keighley. âA lot of traditional media companies are struggling to understand how to play in this audience.â
The media habits of gamers were a factor in NBCUniversalâs decision two years ago to jettison the game-centric programming of G4, one of its cable channels, which NBC renamed the Esquire Network. âRealistically, guys who are into gaming are not necessarily watching television,â Bonnie Hammer, NBCUniversalâs top cable executive, said at the time.
Mr. Keighley decided he could pull off an independent awards show after game executives begged him to do it, telling him that the industry needed a big night when all of them could gather to celebrate the industry. Peter Moore, the chief operating officer of Electronic Arts, said game makers are hungry to have the artistry and craft of their works recognized, the same as participants in other creative fields.
âWe, as an industry, have always had a little bit of an inferiority complex,â said Mr. Moore, who called Mr. Keighley a game industry version of Merv Griffin, the late television host and impresario. âWeâve had to jump on the table to say weâre bigger than movies, bigger than music.â
(Global game revenue, which is more than $ 70 billion, is bigger than box office ticket sales but smaller than total filmed entertainment revenue when home video and other businesses are included.)
Game companies sponsored the first event last year, which took place in Las Vegas. Mr. Keighley said he ended up losing a little bit of money on the event after their financial help.
Game companies also used their services to promote the event to their millions of players. Sony and Microsoft used the home screens of the online services on their game consoles to trumpet the event. Valve, a games publisher, did the same on Steam, a hugely popular service for downloading PC games.
Mr. Keighley and his production team last year allowed game makers to buy interactive advertisements that ran during the show. Viewers watching the event on Steam could click on the ads to download games that were nominated for awards.
Telltale Games advertised a sale on The Walking Dead: Season 2, a game based on the TV series, and sales increased by 15 times during the weekend the awards show aired, producing seven figures in revenue for the game over that period, said Steve Allison, senior vice president of publishing at Telltale.
Mr. Allison said that the audience watching the show over the Internet was more engaged than the audience for the Spike show and that the effectiveness of the online ads was a âgreat example of what can be done in this new era of streaming broadcasts on platforms.â
Mr. Keighley said the two million people who watched the awards event live over the Internet last year is comparable to the typical audiences on Spike for the earlier awards shows, though differences in online and television measurement make comparisons imprecise.
Mr. Keighley said game makers have no influence over which titles are nominated and which ones receive awards. The nominees and winners are voted on by aÂ board of journalists from 35 publications. The game of the year award last year went to Dragon Age: Inquisition, a fantasy game published by Electronic Arts.
While the Oscars are purely retrospective, bestowing awards on the past yearâs movie achievements, a big portion of the Game Awards features the debuts of trailers for new games, something that gamers crave.
âSome people say that makes the show too commercial and it should be purely about awards,â Mr. Keighley said. âIâve found that, for this audience, you need to blend the two.â