Tonight, in a ritzy part of London, celebrities rubbed shoulders with developers as the 2009 BAFTA Video Games Awards got under way.
At the illustrious Hilton London Hotel, the British Academy of Film and Televisions Arts turned its gaze to the world of videogames, rolling out the red carpet for an array of developers, designers and dignitaries.
Broadcaster and pundit Charlie Brooker, an inspiration to our very own Yahtzee spoke with the BBC before the awards and gave his thoughts on gaming, saying that the industry has had “one renaissance after another,” while Peter Molyneux talked about the growth of the industry and Britain’s role in particular.
Call of Duty 4 and Grand Theft Auto 4 led the pack with seven nominations, but Assassin’s Creed, LittleBigPlanet, and Fable 2 were all hotly tipped as well.
The awards came thick and fast, with Call of Duty 4 winning Best Gameplay, Boom Blox winning Best Casual Game and Race Driver: Grid winning Best Sports Game. Gavin Raeburn from Codemasters – developer of Grid – said to the BBC: “I’m utterly staggered, we didn’t see it coming. It’s mind blowing.”
Barry Cordell from Firaxis games – which won the award for Best Strategy Game with Civilization Revolutions – was so excited to win that he forgot his acceptance speech. “I went blank on stage… when I went up it all vanished. But winning was fantastic,” he said.
Comedian and DJ Alex Zane – who presented the award for Best Use of Audio – thanked the developers of Mass Effect for a singularly enjoyable experience: “Boning an alien chick in Mass Effect was just brilliant. Thank you.” Inter-species relations didn’t help BioWare win the award though, which instead went to Dead Space; although, to be fair to BiowWare, not being nominated in the audio category really hurt their chances.
Call of Duty 4 took another award, this time for Best Story & Character, beating both Mass Effect and Fallout 3, and the BAFTA One to Watch award went to Dark Matter Design’s Boro-Toro.
Valve’s Left4Dead took the award for Best Multiplayer and despite mediocre sales and DRM issues, Spore won the Technical Achievement award. The BAFTA judges were apparently quite enamored with Dead Space’s sound design, as it won the award for Best Original Score, bringing it level with Call of Duty 4.
The stalemate didn’t last long though, as the GAME Award of 2008 – the only award voted for by the public – was taken by Call of Duty, bringing its honors up to three.
Quirky puzzler Professor Layton and the Curious Village won the award for Best Handheld Game, and the team from Media Molecule let out an enormous roar as they took the award for Artistic Achievement for LittleBigPlanet. Lionhead won the award for Best Action & Adventure for Fable 2, but Super Mario Galaxy took home the title of Best Game.
The final award of the night was the BAFTA Fellowship, presented to Atari founder and industry legend, Nolan Bushnell.
The biggest surprise of the night of course, is the lack of awards for Rockstar/Take 2’s Grand Theft Auto 4. Despite being nominated for seven awards, they went home empty handed.