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BAFTA Games 2013 Recap

Last week saw the return of an annual event that gamers, game developers and game enthusiasts look forward to each year, a prestigious show that celebrates the achievements of the games that have wowed us, and the people behind them. I speak, of course, about the BAFTA Video Game Awards.

This year’s BAFTAs saw the true potential of Indie games, with the small games beating out some of the behemoths in the industry in true David versus Goliath fashion. The Unfinished Swan, a PlayStation 3 game developed by Giant Sparrow managed to win the award for both Game Innovation and Debut Game. In doing this, The Unfinished Swan was able to beat out games such as Forza Horizon and Call of Duty Black Ops 2, true legends in today’s video game scene. Other indie game winners included The Room for Best British Game, Song Pop for Best Online-Browser Game, and The Walking Dead, which won Best Mobile &Handheld Device Game and Best Story. Danny Wallace, mostly known for his voice as Shaun in the Assassins Creed series, won the award for Best Performer in the indie game Thomas Was Alone. The game Starcrossed also won the award for BAFTAs Ones to Watch.

We also saw a clear dominator throughout the ceremony. The PlayStation 3 giant-of-a-game Journey managed to grab a total of 5 awards, out of 8 nominations. The host for the evening, Irish comedian Dara O’Briain wasted no time congratulating the team responsible for Journey’s universal success, often mocking them in a light hearted way as they continued to rack up the awards. Journey managed to win against hugely popular games Halo 4, Farcry 3, Assassins Creed 3, Call of Duty Black Ops 2 and Borderlands 2. It won in the categories for Artistic Achievement, Audio Achievement, Online- Multiplayer, Original Music and Game Design.

One huge surprise of the evening involved the best sports/fitness category. With games like FIFA 13, F1 2012, Forza Horizon and Trials Evolution, it seemed that the award was bound to go to one of the big ones. However, New Star Soccer, a game by Simon Read, managed to snag the award from within the shadows of the big guys, and thus emphasised the growing potential of indie game genre. Read, who coded New Star Soccer alone, plans to implement an update for the mobile football sim, adding several big features, later in the year.

The evening also celebrated the achievement of a great visionary who has managed to single-handedly change the future of gaming for the world. Gabe Newell, the mastermind behind Valve, and its series of highly influential games including Half-Life and Left 4 Dead, as well as the highly popular PC necessity Steam, was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship award and received a standing ovation for his continued dedication to the industry. His light hearted acceptance speech stood as a true demonstration to the world about the video game industry and its community.

Not all of the big games of 2012 went home empty handed, although the majority of them did. Ubisofts Far Cry 3 won the award for Best Action Game and Dishonored walked home with the coveted award for Best Game. However, these were the only 2 awards given to games of this stature, with others like Mass Effect 3 and Halo 4 walking home with nothing more than nominations. The clear winners of the night were the independent games – a clear paradigm shift is in the works. 

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