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How to watch The Game Awards on Thursday Night

The winners aren’t necessarily the stars of the show

The Game Awards statue The Game Awards/GameSlice

The Game Awards are Thursday, Dec. 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET. This is video gaming’s big red carpet night before the mainstream, even if knowledgable gamers know that the event is more about what’s to come rather than what has been launched. Here’s what, where and how to watch what many call the Oscars of video games.

Where to watch:

If you're reading this, you already have the means of watching. The Game Awards will stream to just about every device through all the major channels. And by major channels, we no longer mean CBS, NBC and ABC.

Furthermore, both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network will be carrying the stream (Steam as well). See these services' home screens for more information.

As a last resort, yes, because this is streaming, Polygon will be carrying a feed live right here, and breaking out coverage from the event as necessary.

Coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.

uncharted_e3_screen_3 Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

What to watch out for

The Game Awards and its Geoff Keighley-produced predecessors are frequently referred to as "the Oscars of video gaming." But the Oscars show is never overrun by the announcement of new films or the screening of trailers for ones that haven't yet premiered. The Game Awards is in many ways an E3-in-December.

We know that this year’s Game Awards will see a worldwide debut of gameplay footage for Prey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Previews also are expected for The Walking Dead: Season 3, which launches Dec. 20, and Mass Effect Andromeda, which is coming sometime before the end of March.

That's what we know about. Past shows spanning the VGA/VGX/TGA era under Keighley have revealed big-budget sequels like Batman: Arkham City and Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. These shows have also teased things like Fortnite in 2011 and No Man's Sky in 2013. Fortnite's makers at Epic later admitted the reveal was premature. Keighley, mentioning the hype behind No Man's Sky as a cause, said that The Game Awards will focus more on showing a playable game than idealized video rolls.

What about the awards?

Well, yeah, that's ostensibly the point. You can see a list of every nominee here. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, is nominated eight times across six categories — that includes three nominations in Best Performance, which is for voice actors playing game characters.

Electronic Arts/Respawn Entertainment

The Game of the Year award likely will wrap the show, and it includes Uncharted 4, as well as big-budget titles Doom, Overwatch and Titanfall 2. Inside, Playdead's spiritual successor to Limbo, is the indie nomination for the category. Keighley's award shows have broken with the convention of giving the top trophy to triple-A titles before. The 2012 victory for The Walking Dead, in the second-to-last year before Spike TV walked away from the show, was a huge departure from previous years. At the time, it seemed like the Spike VGAs were actually becoming an awards show.

Commercially, however, there wasn't enough to sustain this show on a cable TV channel. Keighley has fought to keep the idea alive through streaming services, the web, and other channels gaining strength among cord-cutting audiences.

That said, there are 19 jury-voted awards and not every one of them is going to get a presentation and a speech on camera (hello, best sports and racing video game). But keep track of what is announced early on, though.

firewatch Campo Santo

If Inside does not cop Best Independent Game — where it's up against Firewatch and Stardew Valley — then Game of the Year is probably going to one of the big boys.

Likewise, if id Software or Respawn Entertainment miss out on Best Game Direction for Doom or Titanfall 2, respectively, there's probably no shot their titles get GOTY against something like Uncharted 4.

There also is the Games for Impact category, which recognizes meritorious works that address real-world issues or advocate for social change. 1979 Revolution: Black Friday and That Dragon, Cancer are both nominated, and either could result in a memorable acceptance message.

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