Kinda Funny’s Greg Miller and Nerdist.com’s Jessica Chobot return to hosting duties this week for the 21st annual DICE Awards.
The awards, which start at 8 p.m. PST on February 22nd and can be watched online, bring together some of the best and brightest in the game industry to honor each other. Unlike many of the other video game award shows, these awards are voted on by other developers so for many in the industry they’re considered the most prestigious.
And hosting the award show can be a daunting task. Of the dozen hosts over the year, only two have lasted more than one show. The mix of a live audience of video game industry luminaries and gamers watching the show via livestream can often lead to widely differing opinions on how things went.
In fact, that was the sort of discussion that led to the current duo’s hosting duties.
Greg Miller says it was a Kinda Funny show he did about award shows that landed him an offer to host the DICE Awards.
“Right after [Geoff Keighley’s] Game Awards, we did a topic on video game award shows, where we talked about what the sweet spot is for shows and what we like in game awards. And then DICE hit me up,” Miller says. “I was celebrating a decade in the industry, and I’ve never been to DICE. I wasn’t sure if I had a place there. For me, it was always the place that developers go to hobnob and honor each other. “I’m just a guy who talks about video games. I owe them everything in terms of my career.”
Jessica Chobot, a host at Nerdist.com and of the podcast Bizarre States, says the DICE Awards is a show she’s long had a lot of respect for because it celebrates the people behind the games. “It was kind of a career bucket list item for me,” she says of her co-hosting duties. “I always wanted to have a chance to host this at some point.”
Both were well aware of DICE’s award show hosting pedigree, a mix of famous and sort of famous who never seemed to gel entirely with the audience or show. It included folks like Martin Short, Patton Oswalt, Chris Hardwick and more than half a decade of Jay Mohr.
“I was definitely worried,” Chobot says, “but I also feel like a know a fair amount of people at this point. So even if they weren’t thrilled, they wouldn’t be as judging. Maybe they’d give me a little out. I was absolutely nervous, especially because I’m not a comedian, I’m more of a traditional host. So trying to do that with a comedic edge was extremely nerve-wracking.”
Miller says he wasn’t nervous until he and Chobot came off the stage after the first segment and he checked the response online. “I’m used to playing to my audience,” he says. “I know the Kinda Funny audience.”
But his fans watching the livestream were talking about how dead the room was when he and Chobot were on stage. That’s when it sunk in that the online audience was expecting one thing and the folks in the room were expecting another. “I hadn’t tempered myself to that reaction,” he says.
After the awards, back to work on Kinda Funny, Miller hosted a show talking about hosting DICE and asking his audience what they thought could be improved. So this year, Miller says he’s been vocal about saying that he wants a bit of time with the award show audience before the livestream starts. “I want to come out and talk to the audience,” he says. “I think I’ll be more settled into the role then.”
He also notes that Kinda Funny has started to do more scripted shows that use a teleprompter, with which he’s become more comfortable.
Chobot says she too feels like they have a better sense of the audience this time around and know that while people are watching on the livestream, the show is for the people in the room.
While Chobot and Miller are the hosts for this year’s awards, there is also a slew of presenters who will be handing out the awards. Those folks include Jade Raymond, Tim Schafer, Kiki Wolfkill, Todd Howard, Robin Hunicke and Mike Morhaime, to name a few.
The show will also be honoring Genyo Takeda, special corporate advisor at Nintendo, with a lifetime achievement award.
With the award season for movies in full swing, the #metoo and Time’s Up movements have taken center stage for those events. It’s not clear if something similar may happen during the DICE Awards.
Miller says that he hopes important issues like #metoo and Time’s Up do get some exposure during the show, but that he doesn’t believe that’s the role of the hosts.
“For the people winning the award, yes, I would hope it does come up,” he says. “I always feel that what awards shows are great at doing is giving a voice to a group that needs to speak to each other, developers talking to other developers.
“I love the idea of an award winner getting up there and talking about representation or what the industry can do better.”