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Middle-earth and Outer Wilds take top prizes at the Game Developers Choice and IGF Awards

It’s been another year of flux for the games industry.

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Game Developers Choice Awards

It’s been another year of flux for the games industry.

New console platforms have found their feet. Mobile and free-to-play games continue their unstoppable rise. And VR promises an avenue for new experiences, and indie studios continue to innovate.

But elsewhere, the industry’s relationship with segments of its audience has been challenging, to put it mildly.

So rocking up to an awards ceremony provokes mixed feelings. Is the pomp and circumstance appropriate? Is this the best way celebrate what’s great and good about games in 2015? Are there positive signs for the medium, its creators and its consumers?

The jury is out on the last of that group, but based on the nominees and winners at the Game Developers Choice and IGF Awards, the industry remains as creatively vibrant and inclusive as ever. This year’s awards were a deserved acknowledgment of the technical and artistic strides made by game creators in the last year.

Awards ceremonies are often more about hype than celebrating achievement but these awards feel different. They feel genuine. They feel shared.

It was an evening to treasure for both winners and nominees alike. As it should be.

Well done to them all. The winners in full:

GDCA-programme

Game Developers Choice Awards nominees and winners

Game of the Year

Bayonetta 2 (Platinum Games/Nintendo)
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Monolith Productions/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
Destiny (Bungie/Activision)
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (Blizzard)
Alien: Isolation (Creative Assembly/Sega)

Innovation Award

Bounden (Game Oven)
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Monolith Productions/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
This War of Mine (11 bit studios)
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (The Astronauts)
Monument Valley (Ustwo)

Best Debut

Yacht Club Games (Shovel Knight)
Respawn Entertainment (Titanfall)
The Astronauts (The Vanishing of Ethan Carter)
Stoic Studio (The Banner Saga)
Upper One Games (Never Alone)

Best Design

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Monolith Productions/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
Shovel Knight (Yacht Club Games)
Dragon Age: Inquisition (BioWare/Electronic Arts)
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Nintendo EAD Tokyo and 1-Up Studio/Nintendo)
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (Blizzard)

Best Handheld/Mobile Game

Threes! (Sirvo)
Super Smash Bros. 3DS (Sora Ltd. and BANDAI NAMCO/Nintendo)
Hearthstone (Blizzard)
80 Days (Inkle Studios)
Monument Valley (Ustwo)

Best Visual Art

Monument Valley (Ustwo)
Hohokum (Honeyslug and Sony Santa Monica/Sony)
Child of Light (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)
Bayonetta 2 (Platinum Games/Nintendo)
Alien: Isolation (Creative Assembly/Sega)

Best Narrative

80 Days (Inkle Studios)
This War of Mine (11 bit studios)
Kentucky Route Zero: Episode 3 (Cardboard Computer)
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Monolith Productions/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (The Astronauts)

Best Audio

Alien: Isolation (Creative Assembly/Sega)
Hohokum (Honeyslug/Sony)
Destiny (Bungie/Activision)
Transistor (Supergiant Games)
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (The Astronauts)

Best Technology

Destiny (Bungie/Activision)
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Monolith Productions/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
Wolfenstein: The New Order (MachineGames/Bethesda)
Elite: Dangerous (Frontier Developments)
Far Cry 4 (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)

Annual Lifetime Achievement Award

Hironobu Sakaguchi

Annual Special Award Recipients

Ambassador Award – Brenda Romero
Pioneer Award – David Braben

Audience Award

Elite: Dangerous (Frontier)

Independent Games Festival Awards nominees and winners

Seumus McNally Grand Prize

80 DAYS (Inkle)
Invisible, Inc. (Klei Entertainment)
Metamorphabet (Vectorpark)
Outer Wilds (Team Outer Wilds)
The Talos Principle (Croteam)
This War of Mine (11 bit studios)

Excellence in Visual Arts

Donut County (Ben Esposito)
else Heart.Break() Niklas Akerblad, Tobias Sjogren, Erik Svedang, Oscar Rydelius)
Lumino City (State of Play)
Memory of a Broken Dimension (XRA)
Metamorphabet (Vectorpark)
Oquonie (XXIIVV and Kokorobot)

Excellence in Design

80 DAYS (Inkle)
FRAMED (Loveshack)
Invisible, Inc. (Klei Entertainment)
Killer Queen (Joshua DeBonis &  Nikita Mikros)
Outer Wilds (Team Outer Wilds)
The Talos Principle (Croteam)

Excellence in Audio

Ephemerid: A Musical Adventure (SuperChop Games)
Phono path (Keith Regamey)
Shovel Knight (Yacht Club games)
The Sailor’s Dream (Simogo)
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (The Astronauts)
Thumper (Drool)

Excellence in Narrative

80 DAYS (Inkle)
Coming Out Simulator 2014 (Nicky Case)
Ice-Bound: A Novel of Reconfiguration (Down to the Wire)
PRY (Tender Claws)
This War of Mine (11 bit studios)
Three Fourths Home ((bracket)games)

Nuovo Award

BECOME A GREAT ARTIST IN JUST 10 SECONDS (Michael Brough and Andi McClure)
Bounden (Game Oven)
Desert Golfing (Captain Games)
Elegy for a Dead World (Dejobaan Games & Popcannibal)
how do you Do It? (Nina Freeman, Emmett Butler, Decky Cross, Jonathan Kittaka)
Plug & Play (Mario von Rickenbach and Michael Frei / Etter Studio)
Rooftop Cop (Stephen Lawrence Clark)
Tetrageddon Games (Nathalie Lawhead)

Student Showcase Finalists

a•part•meant (Team a•part•meant)
Close Your (Goodbye World Games)
Downwell Ojiro Fumato)
Even the Stars (Pol Clarissou-Supinfogame / Nicholas Gavan)
Gemini (Echostone)
Interloper (Monogon Games)
Rooftop Cop (Stephen Lawrence Clark)
Stellar Smooch (Alec Thomson and Jenny Jiao Hsia)

Audience Award

This War of Mine (11 bit studios)


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Thumbsticks editor and connoisseur of Belgian buns. Currently playing: Paper Mario: The Origami King, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Pikmin 3 Deluxe.