Last night was the occasion of the Games Media Awards 2011. This is a special night for games journalists, travelling from across the land (well, mainly Bath) to gather in one venue and clap each other on the back. This is a rare occasion where we get to celebrate our hard work championing the most progressive entertainment medium in the world. Except, things didn’t go precisely as planned.

The first warning sign was at the entrance to the venue: Vinopolis, near London Bridge. Parked outside was a giant, orange-coloured Humvee, the words “Grainger Games” splattered all over it. Who's Grainger Games? Why, they appeared to be the main sponsors of the evening’s festivities.

What does Grainger Games do, exactly? They're a national games retail chain. Given that we’ve never heard of them before, sponsoring an industry event is a pretty savvy move, right? Everyone will have heard of them after this little affair.

 

Booth Babes and Dwarves

Walking around the Humvee we saw that the boot was open, where a flat-screen TV and home entertainment system had been installed. How very Pimp My Ride. Also tumbling out of the boot were two booth babes and two dwarves, dressed in orange hot-pants and orange shorts, respectively.

It’s October. It’s bloody freezing. Scantily dressed booth babes with chattering teeth is heart-rending enough. But scantily-dressed dwarves as well? That’s downright cruel.

But it gets better (or worse, depending on your viewpoint). Inside the venue, everyone checked in their coats, found out where they were sitting, and grabbed a beer for a bit of hobnobbing before the main event. Some nominees were visibly excited, some downplayed their chances. I was hopeful that someone would reenact Jack Palance’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar acceptance from 1992 and do press-ups on the stage, but alas.

A gong was sounded, curtains were drawn, and we were directed to our seats. There, the second warning klaxon went off. Condoms had been scattered all over the table, emblazoned with the same hateful orange hue from the Humvee and the hot-pants. It’s Grainger Games again, making their presence felt in the best way they know how.

Even the journalist from Zoo magazine was puzzled as to why condoms should be distributed prior to a fancy sit-down meal.

 

Bus Wankers

Dinner was quickly served and wolfed down (along with copious amounts of booze), and before we knew it, we were on to the main event. Our compere for the evening was Greg Davies, who played the scary teacher from The Inbetweeners. He’s pretty funny, in a working men’s club kind of fashion. Jokes about oral sex were the order of the day, natch.

What really got everyone's attention though was the table down at the front. Everyone on this table was pissed out of their heads, repeatedly interrupting Greg’s routine for their own amusement. Someone shouts out “BUSTOP WANKER!”, in reference to a gag from The Inbetweeners. Who are these tossers? Why, it’s none other than the folks from Grainger Games.

Greg got on with his act though, and slipped in a few digs at Grainger Games while he was at it. This only seemed to encourage them, unfortunately. When Greg was about to start dishing out the awards they started chanting “TOON ARMY, TOON ARMY” for no discernible reason.

The awards were given out. The awards were given out by the dwarves. Speeches were uncharacteristically short, for games journalists. This was their moment in the spotlight, but no one spoke for longer than 30 seconds. Perhaps it was something to do with the jokers from Grainger Games, who at one point had invaded the stage to do a silly 'dance' just as someone was receiving an award. Did they think they were Jarvis Cocker, taking on the gaming equivalent of Michael Jackson?

 

Slow-clapping the Ceremony

The pinnacle, or nadir, of the evening, came as Patrick Garrett stepped up to present a Games Media Legend Award for Colin Campbell. His speech, designed to honour and celebrate his colleague’s achievements, was slow-clapped and booed by the drunken morons from Grainger Games.

End of the ceremony reached, everyone broke off for photo-ops with their trophies, or to commiserate at the bar. And, oh yes, to openly discuss how ridiculous the behaviour of Grainger Games had been. The general consensus was not good. Not good at all.

After they sensed that they were no longer welcome, the offending party hurriedly left in two cabs, their boorish antics continuing in some other venue elsewhere in London. I watched in disbelief as they made gang-signs to each other from their respective cars.

What they had left behind was an absolute shambles. They’d sabotaged months of planning by the event organisers, they’d pissed off the entire games media community, and they’d wasted their own sponsorship money in painting themselves as a gang of selfish arseholes. Well done, Grainger Games. We didn’t know who you were before, but we do now.

Any publicity is good publicity, right?

Image Credit: Jonsigns

UPDATE: Here’s a statement from Intent Media, the event organisers, deploring the behaviour of Grainger Games from last night.

UPDATE 2: Here’s a brief apology from Grainger Games.

UPDATE 3: If you're as entranced with this tale as we are, JamSponge's accounts of the night are worth a read too.