Video Game Awards Season: Uncharted 2 Unlocks Trophies at GDC

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The Game Developers Choice Awards just ended a while ago and, as expected, Naughty Dog’s sophomore effort cleaned up big time. Warren Spector, the creative force behind Deus Ex who’s now working on Epic Mickey, hosted the affair in a mouse-eared top hat and tails. Spector spent a bunch of time on stage with the team from Uncharted 2, who won GDC Awards for Best Writing, Best Visual Arts and Game of the Year among others. Batman: Arkham Asylum nabbed an award for Best Game Design while the too-cute Scribblenauts won the Innovation Award and Best Handheld Game. Flower, my favorite game of last year, won for Best Downloadable Game. My favorite moment during the ceremony came when the Penny Arcade guys accepted the Ambassador Award. Writer Jerry Holkins talked about how he believes the work that the assembled developers do forms the core of a culture. For a guy who’s thrown darts at many of the people assembled at GDC, it came across as really sincere.

While it didn’t surprise me that Uncharted 2 swept the show, it did make me wonder if the games business is as different from movies as it sometimes claims. I liked Uncharted 2 a lot but when it wins awards it has no business winning–like Best Technology, for example–I wonder if the same kind of herd voting that’s been known to plague the Oscars was at work here. Hell, with The Hurt Locker and Precious winning big awards, the Oscars wound up being more diverse in who the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave accolades to.

The Independent Games Festival Awards preceded the GDC ceremony. There were  more laughs during the salute to small game-makers, led by the funny hosting of 2D Boy’s Kyle Gabler and Erin Robinson of Puzzle Bots fame. I didn’t spend enough time with most of these games last year but the ethereal beauty of Limbo and Closure and the rawness of Tuning make me think (again!) that I need to be better about trying out these small gems.

Going back to the big, studio-developed games, I’ll confess there were a few head-scratchers during the night. I can’t see how Red Faction: Guerilla doesn’t win Best Technology when you can blow up almost any structure in the world. And, in the time I spent with Scribblenauts, the initial buzz of charm quickly devolved into frustration at things not doing what I’d expected. Here’s the nominees list. Who do you think should’ve won which categories, Techland readers?