Game Developers’ Choice Awards Announced

There's a reason why Alec does most of the Photoshop. It's this.

Well, it’s a morning of awards. Walker’s already dealt with the IGF , but the Developers’ Choice Awards are also interesting. It’s the award ceremony where, as the name may suggest, the winners are chosen by their peers. This abstractly leads to a slightly different picture of the industry than most awards. Abstractly, anyway. In terms of nominations, Portal and Bioshock had five a piece, with Call of Duty 4 lagging slight below with four.

So, who won? Opening the red envelope…

It’s Portal! Which means that the majority of developers agree with us, which makes us like them more and find them more attractive. That said, the receiver of this year’s lifetime achievement award, Sid Meier, shamefacedly admitted at GDC he hadn’t played it yet, (“It’s on my pile of games”) (and he doesn’t play strategy games at home either). Portal also picked up another couple of awards – Innovation and Design, while rival Bioshock also managed three (Writing, Sound and Visual Arts). Crysis picked up the technology award. Not strictly relevant to our mandate, but Realtime Worlds picked up best debut for their 360 open-world action game Crackdown, which we mention as an excuse to say how much we’re looking forward to hearing more about their PC/360 MMO APB.

Anyway – the full list of winners, courtesy of can be found below…

Best Game Design:
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Mass Effect
Super Mario Galaxy

Best Debut Game:
The Witcher
Everyday Shooter

Best Audio:
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Everyday Shooter
God of War II
Mass Effect

Best Downloadable Game:
Everyday Shooter
Pac-Man Championship Edition
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

Best Technology:
Assassin’s Creed
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Halo 3

Innovation Award:
Mass Effect
Rock Band

Best Visual Arts:
Assassin’s Creed
Team Fortress 2
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

Best Handheld Game:
Contra 4
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Best Writing:
God of War II
Half-Life 2: Episode 2
Mass Effect

Game of the Year:
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Rock Band
Super Mario Galaxy

Ralph Baer recieved the Pioneer Award for his part in developing the Magnavox Odessey’s prototype The Brown Box… in 1968, the first home console. Jason Della Roca, the IGDA executive director recieved the Ambassador Award for his efforts to forward the industry. Sid Meier recieved the Lifetime Achievement Award for being generally awesome.

Our congratulations to all the winners.


  1. Ging says:

    In general, I agree with these – though I’d have given the downloadable and mobile to Puzzle Quest, because, well, I’m an addict.

  2. Meat Circus says:

    Bioshock has better writing than Portal? I DON’T THINK SO.

    I’d like to hear from Ken Levine on this.

    link to

    “I think it was a miscalculation on my part.”


  3. Joonas says:

    Very well considered awards, with which I agree almost all the way. Maybe the Portal love has got a little overboard, 2007 was the Bioshock/COD4 year for me.

  4. Meat Circus says:

    I move that we have Joonas burned for heresy.

  5. c-Row says:

    What for? Pointing out the annoying uber-hype surrounding Portal?

  6. Seniath says:

    Nice to see Realtime Worlds getting a mention, Crackdown was a real gem amongst the usual spring drought last year.

    I mean, er, zomg pc games…

  7. Kieron Gillen says:

    Crackdown is one of the reasons I’m very excited to hearing more about APB. I believe David Jones is doing a talk about it at GDC either today or tomorrow. Hopefully Jim will tag along.


  8. roBurky says:

    Best Downloadable Game is a bit of an odd award, unless there’s other criteria for nomination in that. You could call it Best PC Game, as I think every PC game nominated in this thing is available for download. Portal, Bioshock, Call of Duty, Crysis etc.

  9. Christian says:

    Kieron, I’ve played the Crackdown demo quite a bit in an effort to get into the swing of things but is it possible that it just doesn’t appeal to some people? I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, you understand.

  10. brog says:

    RObURKY: agreed. at first I thought it must mean free, but no such luck.

    from the site:
    Best Downloadable Game Award recognizes the overall best game released on console or PC platforms specifically and solely for digital download – with an emphasis on smaller, more ‘casual’-friendly titles.

  11. No Picnic says:

    I can see why Bioshock got the reward for best writing, if only for the first 2/3rds of the game. The ending was abhorrently miserable, but I’m not as bitter about it as I used to be.

  12. Ging says:

    Best downloadable game is fairly obviously aimed at the casual market – PSN / XBL Arcade in particular from the looks of the finalist list.

    The writing in Bioshock was, in the main, better than Portal – which didn’t actually have all that much substance to it compared to the quite rich world of Bioshock.

  13. Robin says:

    The problem with awards voted on by (in this case, mostly aging American PC) developers is that quite a lot of them don’t have the time or inclination to play many games.

    Hence the skew towards Portal (very short, minimal effort to acquire) and Bioshock (heavily covered in the trade press, commercially successful).

  14. Dan (WR) says:

    I’m usually not one to quibble at awards, but if Mass Effect is listed in the Innovation category there is something *deeply* wrong. It’s an entirely Bioware paint-by-numbers piece plus… a dialogue wheel. It’s so traditionalist that even a long time Bioware lover like myself felt like I was remunching mulch. To be honest, with a few exceptions the writing is no great shakes either.

    I am filled with glee that Crackdown has had some recognition this year though. I bought it expecting five minutes of fun, and found myself adoring it. There was so much untapped promise there too.

  15. terry says:

    Does APB have any connection with the venerable top-down ticket-em-up? The website is pretty enigmatic.

  16. Nick says:

    Best writing Bioshock? My arse.

  17. Meat Circus says:

    There was nothing even slightly innovative about Mass Effect. It was about as deeply traditional an action RPG as I have played, only with more cacky combat.

    And no, having the words on the convo wheel be different from what Shepard says doesn’t count as innovation.

  18. J. Prevost says:

    Depends what you are looking at for innovation. The story of Mass Effect was not particularly innovative. The RPG model was not particularly innovative. The way FPS and RPG were mixed in this case *might* have been a little innovative, but not that much.

    But the dialog system was definitely innovative. And it had a big impact. Hell—the next RPG I went to play after playing Bioshock was Lost Odyssey. And as soon as I hit the *very first* cut scene/dialog bit, I was like “WTF is this? This is trash!”

    Of course, it’s no more trash than it used to be. (Which may be quite a lot of trash, I’ll admit.) But because ME got dialog so spot on, including voice acting to go with it, it definitely raised my expectations for future RPGs.

  19. Meat Circus says:

    Oh, I give you that the quality of the dialogue and voice acting was very high, and the sheer number of conversation options was also very impressive.

    But the dynamics (I almost typed ‘gameplay’, for shame) of shooting things was noticably lame. The game would have been much better without any guns.

    And the story? An ancient evil has awoken? Gruff space marine? Yawn.

    Oh, and as for Lost Odyssey, the following words scream DO NOT WANT at me in badly dubbed James Earl Jones: “100 hours of gameplay! Random battles! 45 minute cutscenes! JRPG cliches!”

    I’ll pass.

  20. kadayi says:

    Nice to see Portal win so many things, but I’d feel bad if it had won over a more heavy weight game like Bioshock for the writing. Glad it got the innovation though.

  21. drunkymonkey says:

    Oooooh. An awards ceremony in which the winners are pretty much the ones I’d have chosen. Lovely to see Portal doing so well – I bet the small team that made the original mod for Half Life are well chuffed these days – and some kudos for the (mostly) brilliant narrative that was Bioshock, too.

    Wasn’t it last year that Twilight Princess won Best Writing? Or was that a different awards ceremony? What I -do- know was that that was a bit farcical.

    And Fl0w winning best downloadable? It certainly left me feeling oddly elated when I first played it. Lovely, modern, and relaxing game.

  22. Captain Bland says:

    God Of War II was nominated for best writing ?

    *nasal snickering*

  23. Seniath says:

    Haha, I hadn’t noticed Peggle getting nominated for 3 awards. Shame it didn’t win any :(

  24. Mike says:

    ^ Surely the game title in bold means that it won otherwise they’d all have won in alphabetical order!

  25. Yhancik says:

    Will the fl0ws replace Peggles as a download unit ?

  26. Stromko says:

    I feel that Mass Effect had a great, unique design, and it’s not the RPG system or the combat or the dialogue-wheel that makes me think so. Well, it’s kind of the dialogue because I think the acting and writing was really good, but that’s still not it for me.

    What did it for me was warping between planets that have nothing to do with the story, driving over the surface between anomalies on a heavily armed but admittedly tricky to control tank. It was making planetfall on some red hell to infiltrate a military base, or intercepting a derelict freighter to shut down a psychopath, or just driving around some weird world not knowing what I was going to encounter.

    The side missions could’ve used more personality and dialogue overall, after five or six side missions in a row the game felt relatively barren despite the occasional mission-specific quip from my allies, but that’s really a testament to how quickly it spoiled me through NPC interaction-heavy story missions. They still did so much more than the bare minimum for these side missions, I just hope they do more on the sequels.

    I think if you went directly from playing Star Control 2 or Baldur’s Gate 2 (chapter 2 in particular) to playing Mass Effect, you might think all it has to offer is combat with a high learning curve, ‘fetch quests’, and high production values. But the combination of expansiveness and immersion in a recent game is what I think is unique.

    Admittedly the Renegade / Paragon mechanic doesn’t lead to as much replay potential as it looks the first time through. NPCs would just steer the conversation back on track like nothing happened 70% of the time, no matter how much of an asshole you were.

    Also, there’s the ability to replay a second time with the same character after you complete the game, continuing to gain levels and even encounter new upgrade modules that you weren’t high enough level for the first time. But, if you wanted to try the other side of the Paragon / Renegade coin, you’ll be hamstrung by the limited skill points. On the second playthrough it seemed you needed the requisite social skill to be maxed out, which was beyond my means as I’d put no points in Intimidate during my first playthrough.

  27. oryly says:

    It’s good to see that most of the winners have releases on both the PC and consoles. Take that, “disarray”.

    Bioshock writing wins over Portal writing because of the bias of drama vs. comedy.

  28. Jonathan says:

    Reply to oryly

    No, Bioshock won over Portal because it’s an epic full of history, dementia, philosophy, deranged characters, with dozens of little nooks telling a string of human stories. Where as Portal’s writing is maybe fifty or so one liners.

    I agree there’s a bias of drama over comedy but that wasn’t case here.

  29. Jerry Ryberg says:

    I’m a 64 year old first-time gamer with a PS3. I bought it for “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune”. I’m glad it got “Best Visual Arts”
    and am disappointed it didn’t get more. I just love the game, and am still replaying the various kinds of battles in chapters 4, 7, 11, 13, and 20. The acting and the music are really great too. They got the right composer, for sure.
    Jerry in Galesburg, IL