GDC 2008

GDC 2008: The Awards

Russ Pitts | 21 Feb 2008 14:45
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Audiosurf, a game our own Corvus Elrod recently reviewed, brought home the Excellence in Audio award, as well as the Audience Choice award, and Fez, a game featuring a monkey wearing a fez, won the award for Visual Art. In each case, the folks accepting the awards looked like they genuinely appreciated the honor (and the cash), and probably needed both. These were people working on their own, out in the cold, doing it for the love. It made the Choice Awards that followed seem ironically overblown.

Nevertheless, some part of me thrilled at the roar of the crowd and the trill of the band as the Awards proper began. The opening act had been great, but it was time to get to business.

Yahtzee kicked off the evening with the first of his recorded clips. We've been getting some guff about these in our forums because we (heaven forfend) bleeped out the swear words, partly by request of GDC, and partly because we happen to think they're funnier that way. But the audience at GDC loved it. Outside of the folks who made Portal, no one got more applause than Yahtzee.

Host Jason Rubin's delivery was drier than an off-year pinot, but he gets points for trying. "I'm entering the Billy Crystal stage of my career," he said, upon taking the stage, and then spent the next hour proving his point. I try hard not to be disrespectful, but man, when you're upstaged at your own show by a voiced-over cartoon, it's maybe time to reconsider.

Sid Meier, accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award, threw one back to the IGF folks saying game designers were all "indie" when he was making his bones. "We didn't have a choice." He was nevertheless gracious and just as cute as a button.

Ralph Baer took home the Pioneer Award for inventing the first home console and the first console peripheral (you know, that old chestnut) and International Game Developer Association (the organization that used to gather to decide who won the GDC Choice Awards) Executive Director Jason Della Rocca was gifted with the Ambassador Award for his work championing games. He said he thought the highlight of his career was "being called an asshole and an idiot by Jack Thomson," but he accepted the award nonetheless.

The BioShock team, continuing their winning streak, took home three awards, Best Audio, Best Visual Arts and Best Writing. And Crackdown made a surprise appearance, nominated for Best Debut Game, and pulled the win. Other winners included The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for Best Handheld, fl0w for Best Downloadable and Crysis for Best Technology.

And speaking of Portal, the game won three of the ten awards, Best Design, Innovation and Game of the Year. Erik Wolpaw, accepting for the Innovation award said "If I'd known it would end with me having to get up here and talk in front of all you people, I would have been a lot less innovative." Stage fright aside, Portal was clearly the audience and awards fave.

Gabe Newell, looking very much the part of a big daddy himself (literally and figuratively) capped the night in the best possible way, producing a haiku, in honor (again) of the IGF folks. Sadly I don't remember it all, and even if I did, I wouldn't reproduce it (haiku is very much a poetry of the moment), but it contained a great deal of profanity and ended with the line "the cake is a lie." The cake may be, but Portal isn't. And neither is Valve's knack for sniffing out talent

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