CD Projekt RED’s “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” can add another major award to its mantle, the open-world fantasy role-playing game was honored with the Game of the Year award at tonight’s 16th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA) ceremony.
The special event was held during the 2016 Game Developers Conference (GDC) at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The acclaimed title also received the award for Best Technology for its complex game engine that combines brilliant visuals with a huge game world.
Her Story, the interactive crime fiction game from independent game developer Sam Barlow, earned the most awards of any nominee tonight, taking home the awards for Innovation, Best Narrative and Best Handheld/Mobile Game. Starring actress/musician Viva Seifert, the game cleverly combines taped confessions and a simple computer interface to engage players in a compelling murder investigation. Earlier this evening, the game also received the Seumas McNally Grand Prize and Excellence in Narrative awards at the 18th Annual IGF Awards, the sister event that celebrates the best independent game development, which immediately preceded the GDCA ceremony.
Ori and the Blind Forest by developer Moon Studios earned two Choice Awards, for Best Debut and Best Visual Art. Ori and the Blind Forest is an action platformer set against a visually stunning hand-painted world and offers players a deeply emotional story about love, sacrifice and hope.
Other winners tonight included Rocket League, the wildly fun and deeply competitive soccer-meets-rocket cars title, which earned developer Psyonix the award for Best Design. The Audience Award, which is chosen from among all of the GDCA finalists through a public online voting process, was presented to developer DONTNOD Entertainment for Life is Strange, the captivating coming-of-age tale told in five episodic installments. The title puts players in control of Maxine Caulfield, a teenage girl with mysterious powers, and forces them to make and reckon with moral decisions and their sometimes wonderful, sometimes terrible consequences. The honor of Best Audio was earned by the Crypt of the NecroDancer from developer Brace Yourself Games, which uniquely blends action, role-playing, and rhythm games, challenging players to explore dungeons and battle monsters to the bumping rhythms of Danny Baranowsky’s eclectic metal/electro/dance soundtrack.
The Game Developers Choice Awards honor the very best games of the year, and was created for and voted on by developers. Winners are selected by the Game Developers Choice Awards-specific International Choice Awards Network (ICAN), which is an invitation-only group comprised of leading game creators from all parts of the industry.
Every year, the Game Developers Choice Awards also recognize developers who have made significant contributions to the art, science and craft of video games with three special awards. This year, the Pioneer Award was given to Markus “Notch” Persson, the famed creator of the multiple GDCA and IGF Award-winning indie sandbox title, Minecraft. The game, which has sold more than 70 million copies over multiple platforms, has revolutionized the sandbox game genre and helped cement the role of video games in stimulating creativity and ingenuity as well as rewarding skill.
The Ambassador Award, which recognizes those whose actions have helped video games to “advance to a better place,” went to Tracy Fullerton, professor and director of the University of Southern California (USC) Games program, and leader of the Game Innovation Lab. Fullerton has been instrumental in the creation of influential independent games that include Cloud, fl0w, Darfur is Dying, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom and The Night Journey, with artist Bill Viola.
The Lifetime Achievement award was bestowed upon Todd Howard, the distinguished creative director, designer and executive producer at Bethesda Game Studios. Todd Howard’s work on the acclaimed Fallout and Elder Scrolls series of open-world games has helped define an entire genre of games with deeply enthralling worlds with virtually endless opportunities for adventure and discovery.
“The world of video games can include every imaginable and unimaginable experience, from the vast world of The Witcher 3, to the intimate interrogations in Her Story, and the Choice Awards have evolved to honor this diversity of titles,” said Meggan Scavio, General Manager of the Game Developers Conference. “All of these winning and nominated titles have expanded what we think what games can be, how to maturely handle story, and how to make games that are ridiculously fun. I’m excited to see all of these wonderful developers recognized for their amazing contributions, and I congratulate all of this year’s winners and nominees.”