Celebrating video game excellence

Danial Norjidi

The spotlight was on excellence in video games as the winners of the annual British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Games Awards 2021 were revealed recently.

Hosted by Elle Osili-Wood, this year’s awards ceremony was live streamed on March 25 through BAFTA’s social platforms.

Speaking during the ceremony, Osili-Wood said, “Since 2004, BAFTA has celebrated games as an art form in their own right, not just for their capacity to engage and entertain, but to educate, to inspire, to bring communities together.

“In a year marred by separation, both literal and figurative, games and the developers behind them have proven themselves to be more essential than ever. In 2020, games connected us in a way that wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago.

“Whether squadding up in multiplayer, sharing a controller on the couch or just talking about our favourite titles online, games brought us together when we needed them most,” she added. “Tonight, we honour those games, the people behind them and the community they’ve inspired.”

Animal Crossing: New Horizons. PHOTO: NINTENDO

Rogue-like dungeon crawler Hades from Supergiant games emerged as the biggest winner of the ceremony as it won a total of five BAFTAs, including the awards for Artistic Achievement, Best Game, Game Design, Narrative, and Performer in a Supporting Role which went to Logan Cunningham for his role in the game.

Three games garnered two BAFTAs each, including: Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which won the awards for Game Beyond Entertainment and Multi-player; Sackboy: A Big Adventure which won for British Game and Family; and The Last of Us Part II with awards for Animation and Performer in a Leading Role, which went to Laura Bailey.

Horror game Carrion took home the BAFTA for the Debut category, while action-adventure game Ghost of Tsushima won the award for Audio Achievement. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales won the Music category.

The award for Original Property was won by Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition and action-adventure title Sea of Thieves earned the award for Evolving Game.

Dreams by Media Molecule garnered the award for Technical Achievement, while Studio Director at Media Molecule Siobhan Reddy was honoured with the Fellowship, the highest honour the Academy can bestow.

Introducing the Fellowship award, host Osili-Wood said, “Since its inception, the Fellowship award has been given to gaming luminaries who have made outstanding contributions to the medium; visionary individuals who lead the industry forward and redefine what excellence in games can mean.”

On hand to present the Fellowship award was Head of Sony Worldwide Studios Hermann Hulst, who said, “The Fellowship is the highest accolade that BAFTA can bestow. It’s presented to an individual with a substantial body of work in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to games.”

Hulst highlighted that Siobhan Reddy receives the award in recognition of her pioneering work advocating for diversity, inclusion and a creative and collaborative culture. He said Reddy believes that games are the artistic medium of her time and the games industry should be a place for all.

“As Media Molecule’s studio director, she has created a studio culture that has produced some of the British games industry’s most beloved titles, and now in Dreams, the next generation of creators has all the tools they need to express themselves.

“It is my great honour to present the BAFTA Fellowship to Siobhan Reddy,” he added.

In her acceptance speech, Reddy said, “I have so many people to thank. My career is a total team effort. I have actually felt quite strange about accepting this award and because my career’s been filled with the highs and the lows and stakes and successes, and described this once as a sort of feeling of the glitter and doom that we feel on this roller coaster of games development. Tonight is definitely a lot of glitter and I’m really so grateful.

“I love seeing people’s creative take on life and the world. I love hearing, watching, playing and looking at their work.

“Heading up a studio focussed on giving people the powers to do that is totally my jam. Technology and creativity are for all of us.

“This industry is somewhere that should be attractive to all that have an interest. Being inclusive makes us better. Bringing a wider range of perspectives, backgrounds, emotions and experiences to the table creates media that is more considerate, more varied, more interesting and more powerful.

“As part of the media, we affect the collective cultural consciousness in the way that we include and represent society in our work, so the opportunity is missed when inclusion isn’t a priority.”

She further highlighted, “With this Fellowship, I can guarantee that this is not a full stop, is very much a work in progress and I have more to live up to with this and it is just the beginning of a new chapter.

“Thank you for the motivation BAFTA and to anyone out there who’s interested in joining in our amazing industry, please come along for the ride. It’s a wonderful, wonderful place where we get to put our dream, take the dreams from our head and put them out on the screen.”

Another accolade presented was the EE Game of the Year 2021 went to The Last of Us Part II, which won with a record number of votes cast.