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BAFTAs Are Bollocks

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So at time of writing, the winners of the videogame BAFTAs have just been announced. If you’re unfamiliar with them, they’re the British Academy of Film and Television Awards, the UK’s equivalent to the Oscars, except recognizing other media, including videogames – and the day the Academy Awards start recognizing games will be a victory for us all. They’re still just called the Film and Television Awards, though, I guess BAFTGA doesn’t have the same ring. Maybe you could call them the BAFTIMAs, for Film, Television and Interactive Media, but that may sound too much like a name for the one comically fat prostitute in a fantasy novel whorehouse.

It is good for games to get mainstream recognition, but as always happens when an industry gets together for congratulatory back-slaps and reach-arounds, there’s a fair bit of bullshit going on. Three of my own personal top 5, Just Cause 2, Dead Rising 2 and Amnesia: The Dark Descent didn’t score a single nomination, but then I was basing my decisions around the amount of fun I had, which may be outside the BAFTA remit. So let’s take a selected look at the categories, nominees and winners so I can gloat over how wrong everyone else in the world is.

Action
Winner: Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
Nominees: Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Bioshock 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, God of War 3, Halo: Reach

Ha ha, sorry, I just wanted to mention that the OpenOffice predictive text function thought I was typing “reach-arounds” at the end there. Anyway, the biggest dollop of bullshit here is Bioshock 2, which you may remember was my 5th worst game of 2010 for being a big puff of air circling the interior of a hoover bag. As for the winner, I stand by my position that it’s unfair to award AC:B or Mario Galaxy 2 because they were expansion pack sequels built off the engine of the previous game, but having said that, I do agree that Assassin’s Creed has the best “action” of the nominees, in that it’s stealthy, varied, thoughtful and largely untainted by button mashing or cover-based shooting. Hate to admit it, mind, since if Just Cause 2 should have gotten into any category it was definitely this one.

Artistic Achievement
Winner: God of War 3
Nominees: AC:Brotherhood, CoD: Black Ops, Heavy Rain, LIMBO, Mass Effect 2

Props for the LIMBO nom, but this is a strangely worded award. If it just means visuals, then fair enough, God of War 3 was pretty striking in that regard, shame the massive splurgey visuals were as hollow and vacant as the eyes of a child prostitute. But if it’s about artistry as a concept, I’d have gone for either LIMBO or Heavy Rain for somewhat justifying the concept of a straight-up “interactive story,” but there we go.

Story
Winner: Heavy Rain
Nominees: Alan Wake, Bioshock 2, CoD: BlOps, Fallout: New Vegas, Mass Effect 2

Having bigged up Heavy Rain for its artistic achievement one sentence ago, I will now say that awarding it best story is making me want to blow raspberries until my cheeks flap right off my face. Yes, it was a virtually unprecedented blend of gameplay and story, but said story was an absolute mess of plot holes, incomprehensible motivations and for all its bluff, most of the decisions you made didn’t matter shit until about half an hour before the end. I’d have given this rather hesitantly to Alan Wake, but then again, there weren’t so many titties in that.

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Technical Innovation
Winner: Heavy Rain
Nominess: Ac:B, Cod Blops, Halo:Reach, Kinectimals, Super Mario Galaxy 2

I’m not harping on at Heavy Rain (it probably deserves this one), it’s the nom for Mario Galaxy 2 for any kind of “innovation” award that I find completely incomprehensible. The general response to MG2 sometimes makes me wonder if I somehow crossed into another timeline where MG1 never existed, or was complete shit, and now I’m staggering through the streets in a beaten-up spacesuit yelling up at windows, “THERE WAS A FIRST ONE! IT WAS PRETTY MUCH THE SAME BUT SLIGHTLY BETTER! WHY DOESN’T ANYONE REMEMBERRRR?!!”

Handheld
Winner: Cut The Rope
Nominees: Cut the Rope, God of War: Ghost of Sparta, LEGO Harry Potter, Professor Layton and the Lost Future, Sonic Colours, Super Scribblenauts

It is good to see an iPhone game take it, but it’s disappointing that it was the only one nominated. iPhone games really should have a whole bunch of awards to themselves, there’re so many games and a lot of innovation, but difficulty of development is so low it’s unfair. As it stands, the God of War: Ghost of Sparta guys must be chewing their own legs off at the thought that they were beaten by a game with about 12 art assets that was probably prototyped over a lunch break.

Best Game
Winner: Mass Effect 2
Nominees: AC:B, FIFA 11, Heavy Rain, LIMBO, Super Mario Galaxy 2

…yeah, OK, very questionable nominee list (except LIMBO, props again, even if it didn’t actually win any awards) but I can sort of see where you’re coming from, here. I remember Mass Effect 2 more fondly since I’ve been playing Dragon Age 2 lately, but I still seem to be in a minority in not being able to get past the creepy plastic BioWare gaze. At least it’s more deserving than:

GAME award (voted on by the public)
Winner: COD Blops
Nominees: Dance Central, FIFA 11, Halo Reach, Heavy Rain, Limbo, Mass Effect 2, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Red Dead Redemption, Super Mario Galaxy 2

A rather bland, predictable, populist result for a bland, predictable, populist game as a consequence of bland, predictable, populist voting. Perhaps CODblop is, if nothing else, a great indicator of the times, but if the majority of people genuinely believe that, of every single game released in 2010, it was not just above average but unequivocally the absolute tippy-top best, then that’s the best argument I’ve ever heard for video game studies being introduced to the high school syllabus. No one needs to learn geography, right?

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn’t talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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