GDC Awards: A Pretty Good List

So the awards from GDC came out. And, hey, it’s A Pretty Good List:

Best Audio:
Portal 2 (Valve)

Best Debut:
Supergiant Games for Bastion

Best Narrative:
Portal 2 (Valve)

Best Visual Arts:
Uncharted 3 (Naughty Dog)

Best Downloadable Game:
Bastion (Supergiant)

Best Game Design
Portal 2 (Valve)

Best Technology
Battlefield 3 (DICE)

Best Mobile Handheld Game
Superbrothers Sword & Sworcery (Superbrothers and Capy)

Innovation Award
Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik)

2012 Pioneer Award
Dave Theurer, creator of Missile Command, Tempest and I, Robot

Game of the Year
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda)

See? Nothing much to quibble with here.

Skyrim’s a fine choice for GOTY: an expansive game that demonstrates the vitality of both single-player games and real RPGs. It’s a monster seller with longevity, too: any game that consistently has more players on Steam than either Modern Warfare 3 or Counterstrike is doing SOMETHING right. It’s probably the first Elder Scrolls game that’s universally lauded, and although it has serious stability issues, especially on PS3, I don’t think that disqualifies it. Terrible console QA just seems to be the rule these days.

(Though it says nothing good about the people that only played the 360 version of a game before writing their “multiplatform” reviews.)

The other choices are fine, too. The indie stuff certainly is. Bastion’s a fine choice for debut, and Superbrothers (which I haven’t yet played) has gotten a lot of good press for its innovative approach to mobile gaming.  Ditto with JSJ.

Does anybody really have a big problem with the other “big” awards, either? Uncharted’s visually stunning, but maybe doesn’t deserve to clear the board on that basis. Battlefield 3 maybe wasn’t the Modern Warfare killer that EA was hoping it was, but really does deserve accolades for the gorgeous Frostbite engine.

And Portal 2 certainly earned its prizes. Even if you can name other games last year that had equally good narrative and design than Portal 2, you’d be hard-pressed to find BETTER. That audio award was justifiably earned by the amazing, amazing voicework in that game. Not even a question.

My only quibble is that it’s maybe a bit too console-focused, especially when you’ve got Cliffy B telling devs to get their asses onto the PC. But, hell, when the alternative is those damned stupid “Spike awards”, I’ll take what i can get.


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