The Game Awards was founded in 2014 with a commitment to become the ‘Oscars of Gaming’, responding to the growing need for a platform to celebrate critically acclaimed and impactful work in what has, since 2005, become the largest media sector in the world, surpassing the film and music industries in terms of net worth.
With each year, the games industry has further coalesced around this ceremony, with smaller indie developers, in particular, having their fortunes impacted by picking up nominations and even wins in the Game Award’s various categories.
Such was the fate of Supergiant Games, a small San Francisco-based developer that had been putting out a number of charming hand-drawn isometric action games since 2011’s Bastion, each being recognized for innovative game mechanics and captivating storytelling.
This came to a head with 2020’s Hades, a challenging rogue-lite set in the Greek underworld that used the inevitable deaths the player experiences as they get to grips with the game as a storytelling mechanic. The title picked up nine nominations at the 2020 awards, including Game of the Year, and won two; Best Action Game and Best Indie Game.
While this demonstrates the ceremonies’ commitment to giving the spotlight to gaming’s cottage industry, several categories and sectors to date remain conspicuously unaccounted for. Perhaps this is unsurprising. With such diversity out there today, it can be challenging to keep pace with the novel gameplay experiences in emergent genres such as those forming around Web3 protocols.
But certain segments, such as the iGaming space, have more than made a case for their inclusion. Reputable platforms in this sector, such as PokerStars Casino and others, are doing their best to champion innovative digital variants of classic titles and new takes on perennial favorites.
In the future, the Game Awards may come to include more of the genres that are currently omitted.
9th Generation Now Truly Underway
At least for now, the Game Awards has cemented its reputation as the de-facto arena in which titles of triple-A caliber have come to battle for accolades, and this year is no exception.
The nominees for 2022 represent a nice cross-section of the burgeoning 9th console generation, with legacy franchises like Gran Turismo 7 and Final Fantasy XIV rubbing shoulders with esports favorites Valorant and Fortnite, and a new pantheon of flagship entries. Of those, two have emerged as early front runners for Game of the Year – Elden Ring, and God of War Ragnarök.
In aiming to bring the uncompromising combat so characteristic of FromSoftware’s beloved Dark Souls games into the open world format, director Hidetaka Miyazaki could very well have bitten off more than he could chew. That the studio behind this magnificent work of high fantasy succeeded so admirably is commendable, and rave critical reviews and popular appeal made Elden Ring the early favorite for Game of the Year following its February release.
That Elden Ring succeeds where so many open world RPGs in the post-Skyrim world fail, is a testament to the fresh approach FromSoftware was able to bring to bear on this work. Having A Song of Ice and Fire writer George R. R. Martin along for the ride as a ‘worldbuilding’ advisor likely couldn’t have hurt the game’s chances either.
All told, Elden Ring is up for seven nominations. They are Game of the Year, Best Game Direction, Best Narrative, Best Art Direction, Best Score and Music, Best Audio Design and Best Role Playing Game.
God of War Ragnarök
The long awaited follow-up to 2018’s sensational God of War, itself the winner of Game of the Year that time round, God of War Ragnarök continues the series’ foray into Norse Mythology and the complexities of relationships. With a return to the colossal combat thrills and puzzle mechanics that have become a hallmark of the franchise, God of War Ragnarök could well sweep the ceremony, competing with eleven nominations in ten categories.
These are as follows: Game of the Year, Best Game Direction, Best Narrative, Best Art Direction, Best Score and Music, Best Audio Design and Best Role Playing Game, Best Performance for Christopher Judge as Kratos, Best Performance for Sunny Suljic as Atreus, Innovation in Accessibility, Best Action/Adventure Game.
The Game Awards 2022 run on December 8, so we’ll have to wait until then to find out which of these two brilliant games, or which of the other nominations in the category, will lock up the title of Game of the Year.