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Major Players

Are Video Games, Like, Huge? Dude, They've Got Awards, Even.

By Jose Antonio Vargas
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 15, 2004; Page C01

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Dec. 14

On the eve of Tuesday night's second annual Video Game Awards, rapper Snoop Dogg was trying desperately to tape the show's opening spot.

The skit: He's decked out in golf gear and hosting a barbecue on a "Snoop de Grille" and trying to tee off, missing each time. Suddenly who shows up but Tiger Woods, in a big fur coat, major bling and a fedora. Woods says straight to the camera, "Welcome to Spike TV's Video Game Awards. Game over!"

The evening's host, rapper Snoop Dogg, left, performs with Pharrell at the Video Game Awards in Santa Monica, Calif. (Danny Moloshok -- AP)

It's role-reversal humor in that parallel universe we've come to know as the televised awards show. Not bad by those standards, but the 30-second skit gets blown out again and again by the roar of small airplanes from nearby Santa Monica Airport -- take after take after take.

So much for Spike TV getting off easy in its second shot at an awards show that merges the world of the male-oriented network, big-time celebrities and the video gaming industry. It's an awards show L.A.-style, as we've come to know it. Snoop Dogg, a character in three games, hosted the evening in his laid-back, too-cool-for-this style -- his co-host was Cyber Snoop, a virtual character -- and performed two songs, including the chart-topper "Drop It Like It's Hot" with Pharrell.

Albie Hecht, president of Spike TV, lined up his A-list and B-list celebs to walk that red carpet walk outside Barker Hangar, the site of the two-hour broadcast.

Ubiquitous party girl Tara Reid and the Oscar-nominated Samuel L. Jackson were there. Reid was there because Reid is everywhere. Jackson, on the other hand, was one of the night's many presenters, along with the likes of actors Michelle Rodriguez and the all-girl rock band the Donnas. Jackson, like Snoop, has a presence in the gaming world. His is the voice of corrupt cop Frank Tenpenny in the hit game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

"This is a, uh . . . This is, uh -- " Jackson said to wild applause, alongside presenters Kelly Hu and Bai Ling. "Hopefully, this is the first of many of these that I'll receive."

The punk band Green Day, which debuted its Grammy-nominated song "American Idiot" on the big-selling game Madden NFL 2005, was there, and picked up a trophy for best song in a video game.

In addition to Snoop's musical turn, there were live performances by Motley Crue, Ludacris and Sum 41. Busta Rhymes, Method Man and Redman, video game characters in Def Jam: Fight for NY, kicked off the show.

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