It’s safe to say that 2016 was the year of “Overwatch,” Blizzard Entertainment’s multiplayer shooter. The popular title won ‘Game of the Year’ at this weekend’s 17th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA) ceremony during the 2017 Game Developers Conference (GDC) at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. “Overwatch” also took home the award for ‘Best Design’. An archive of the award ceremony, as well as the full presentation of the Independent Games Festival Awards (IGF Awards), can be viewed at twitch.tv/gdc.
Developer Playdead’s platformer “Inside” also earned two awards in total, for ‘Best Audio’ and ‘Best Visual Art’. Developer Campo Santo’s first-person adventure game “Firewatch” was the final double award-winner of the night, earning the team the awards for ‘Best Debut’ and ‘Best Narrative’.
The full slate of winners at tonight’s ceremony also includes the augmented reality (AR) game “Pokemon Go” by Niantic, which became a worldwide sensation and earned the award for ‘Best Mobile/Handheld Game’. “No Man’s Sky” earned developer Hello Games the ‘Innovation Award’, while Naughty Dog’s “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” earned that title the award for ‘Best Technology’. The virtual reality (VR) game “Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives” received the award for ‘Best VR/AR Game,’ and ‘The Audience Award’ was presented to developer EA DICE for “Battlefield 1”.
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 Jordan Mechner, the game designer, programmer and screenwriter best known for creating the landmark series, Prince of Persia.
The Ambassador Award, which recognizes those whose actions have helped video games to “advance to a better place,” went to Mark DeLoura, for dedicating his life to the education and the productive use of technology within academia, the media and videogames, holding roles that include Senior Advisor for Digital Media during the Obama administration.
The Lifetime Achievement award was given to Tim Sweeney, the founder of Epic Games, and the creator of seminal game/creation tool ZZT and the influential Unreal Engine. Following the 1998 PC game Unreal, which Sweeney co-created, the game’s engine became the underpinning for a slew of acclaimed games, including Epic’s own Gears of War and Unreal franchises, as well as the BioShock series, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, and the Batman: Arkham series of games.
“This year’s amazing slate of winners is a testament to the diversity of experiences in games. Pokemon Go took gaming outdoors using AR, while Job Simulator showed how lo-fi aesthetics could meet cutting edge tech for a winning VR experience. Overwatch once again proved Blizzard’s uncanny ability to make a perfectly balanced multiplayer game, and Inside delved deep into our dark psyches to unearth our scariest nightmares,” said Meggan Scavio, General Manager of the Game Developers Conference. “These nominees speak to the strength of games as a medium, but also show the various textures and possible creative outlets that interactive entertainment can provide. Congrats to all of the winners and nominees for following their visions and thanks to all developers who strive to make amazing games for us day in and day out.”
The Game Developers Choice Awards winners are:
Best Audio: Inside (Playdead)
Best Debut: Campo Santo (Firewatch)
Best Design: Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment)
Best Mobile/Handheld Game: Pokemon Go (Niantic)
Innovation Award: No Man’s Sky (Hello Games)
Best Narrative: Firewatch (Campo Santo)
Best Technology: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Naughty Dog)
Best Visual Art: Inside (Playdead)
Best VR/AR Game: Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives (Owlchemy Labs)
Audience Award: Battlefield 1 (EA DICE)
Game of the Year: Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment)
Pioneer Award: Jordan Mechner
Ambassador Award: Mark DeLoura
Lifetime Achievement Award: Tim Sweeney