Kiefer Sutherland, Shaquille O'Neal to Present at Game Awards (Exclusive)

The Game Awards - H 2015
Courtesy of The Game Awards

The video gaming award show will stream live from Los Angeles' Microsoft Theater on Dec. 3.

The Game Awards is drawing on Hollywood for its second year as an independent awards show.

This year, the event will feature presenters Kiefer Sutherland, Mark Hamill and Shaquille O'Neal, among others. They will share the stage with musical guests deadmau5 and CHVRCHES. Although the lineup of guests is diverse, Game Awards producer Geoff Keighley says they all have one thing in common: a love of video games. "We look for talent that are truly invested and interested in the space," he says. "Either they play or their kids play or their significant other plays. They are people that want to come and pay respects to this industry."

The Game Awards, which will stream live from Los Angeles' Microsoft Theater on Dec. 3, has its roots in another awards show, The Video Game Awards, which aired on Spike TV from 2003 to 2013. When that show came to an end, Keighley, who had produced the VGAs, struck out to produce a show on his own. The result was the first annual Game Awards, held in front of an audience of 3,500 in Las Vegas last year. 

Although the Game Awards is one of several awards shows for the gaming community, Keighley has taken pains to set it apart. Because the show has the support of and sponsorship from the gaming industry — advisors include executives from Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment — it has also become a prime place to debut new game trailers and other exclusive content for devoted gaming fans.

"We get millions of people to tune in to look at a lot of these surprise announcements, but they stick around to see the music and the awards," explains Keighley. "Altogether we end up getting millions of people that will tune in for multiple hours because there’s an excitement around the energy of the show." Last year, the show reached an audience of two million across streaming outlets.

Keighley admits that going independent has its challenges, especially when it comes to booking talent. When the show aired on Spike, Samuel L. Jackson was a regular host and celebrities appearances from stars like Chris Hemsworth and Olivia Munn were standard. But Keighley notes that now he's able to seek presenters with a connection to gaming. Sutherland, who presented at the 2014 Game Awards, and Hamill, for example, both voice characters in recent or upcoming games. "Part of what we like to do is create these sort of unique, magical moments where the world of Hollywood sort of comes together with the gaming world and there’s a mutual respect," says Keighley.  

The Game Awards will stream live on Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. PT on Verizon's go90, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, Steam, Twitch, YouTube and more.