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GDC Awards Round-up!
Last night at GDC the Game Developers Choice Awards were awarded, and this year’s big winner was thatgamecompany’s Journey, which took home a total of six awards. Among them are Game of the Year, Innovation Award, Best Game Design, and Best Visual Arts. The Game of the Year category was a particularly strong field, competing with The Walking Dead, Mass Effect 3, X-Com: Enemy Unknown, and Dishonored, a testament to the many remarkable games released in 2012. I don’t think it can be considered a huge surprise that Journey was the big winner, as it has repeatedly been praised in year-end reviews and other award shows as the stand-out game of 2012. It did things totally different from what we’ve come to expect from games, and still became remarkably successful, becoming the fastest selling PSN game ever. However, the Game of the Year Award has usually been awarded to big blockbuster titles, so this this is also sort of a recognition of the success indie games have had in the past few years.
This year’s Audience Award went to Arkane Studios’ Dishonored, which Cassidee here at Leviathyn praised for its “freedom of choice” and that it was “a smart and inventive stealth game.” In addition, the city of Dunwall was highly praised for being a setting that on the surface was recognizable, and took its cues from Victorian-era cities, but added a distinct flavor. Dishonored has taken home many other accolades, among them BAFTAs Best Game award.
Subset Games won the GDC award for Best Debut, thanks to their roguelike, space strategy game FTL: Faster Than Light, one of the first games to have major success on Kickstarter, becoming a poster child for the site – after Double Fine’s smashing success. It was a game catering to people who think that games aren’t really challenging anymore with its merciless permadeath and overwhelming odds stacked against the player. It will be interesting to see what Subset are up to next, but it will most likely not be a sequel, though they are considering using mechanics introduced in the game in future titles.
The next award should come as no surprise to those who played the game, as The Walking Dead won the Best Narrative Award. The Walking Dead was a game all about the story, and the tough choices the player made throughout the course of the game. It was remarkably well-written, featuring characters most could relate to in some way. You won’t find any burly supermen here. But perhaps the most remarkable thing was how it captured the atmosphere from the comic books, while crafting a narrative that was totally its own. Unsurprisingly, Telltale is already working on Season Two, and the first episode should come out later this year. Check out our review too!
The Technology Award this year went to Far Cry 3, for its excellent achievement in creating the tropical paradise island setting – albeit with some hellish aspects, like murderous pirates and bad trips. It was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. It was also an amazing sandbox shooter that allowed players to adopt pretty much whatever play style they desired. Actually, it was pretty much the definition of a sandbox game as the story was honestly quite banal, but allowed players to just go nuts and go do whatever they wanted to – with the most beautiful explosions seen in a long time.
Awards were also given to prominent game developers. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, the founders of Bioware, who left the studio last year. Despite Bioware’s semi-stumbles on their last two titles, there isn’t any doubt that Bioware has been a leading developer since its founding in 1995, so it’s highly deserved that these two get the award from the GDC upon their retirement from the business.
Lastly, the Pioneer Award went to Steve Russell, creator of Spacewar! way back in 1962, one of the earliest video games. A lot has transpired since then, and an entire industry has grown up around making video games, but it’s extremely important that the efforts of pioneers are recognized, so we remember how it all began.
For more, see the full list of winners and nominees here.