The Interactive Achievement Awards handed out by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences a few weeks ago probably line up most analogously as the Oscars of the video game medium. And, of course, the Writers Guild Awards try to reward the scripting excellence of games like the, um, Writers Guild Awards does for movie screenwriting.
All of that makes the Independent Games Festival Awards and Game Developer Choice analogues for the Spirit Awards and (probably) The Directors’ Guild Awards, respectively. They were handed out in a double-bill ceremony on Wednesday night, with the indies going first. Frictional Games’ “Amnesia: The Dark Descent” was the night’s winningest indie, pulling in the Technical Excellence, Excellence in Audio and the Direct2Drive awards survival horror PC. (Go here the other winners.) Frictional’s devs talked about how the trophy was just so much shiny gravy, stating “We were just happy to get [the game] done!” “Minecraft“–the build-your-own environment indie phenomenon that grew exponentially and made millions of dollars in 2010–won the Audience Award and the Seumas McNally Grand Prize. There seemed to be a puzzling bit of backlash against “Minecraft” in the air, though. Maybe some felt it got too big and too successful for an indie game?
As the focus shifted away from exclusively indie title, Markus Perrson’s blocky masterpiece stayed in the spotlight, garnering Choice Awards for Best Debut Game, Best Downloadable Game and Best Innovation. But the developers voting on last year’s games lavished the most love on “Red Dead Redemption.” Rockstar’s hit Western took home the most wins overall, notching victories in the Audio, Game Design, Technology and Game of the Year categories. Also notable was a Lifetime Achievement Award for visionary designer Peter Molyneux. What made the “Red Dead” wins so significant was they might’ve marked the first time that Rockstar earned such universal acclaim at a GDC ceremony. Rockstar’s development processes are always shrouded in mystery and that tends to make them a sometimes divisive entity in the game development business. This year, though, everyone seemed to agree that James Marston’s playable saga pushed the creative ambitions of video games one step closer to the sublime.