The Goose ‘flies high’

Danial Norjidi

While the world of filmmaking recently celebrated excellence with the Oscars, Golden Globes and Independent Spirit Awards, the world of video games has also held some of its own, with the most recent being the 23rd Annual Design Innovate Communicate Entertain (DICE) Awards.

Organised by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, the annual DICE Awards honour the best titles in the video game industry, with this year’s edition taking place at the Aria Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 13.

According to information from the organisers, “Since 1996, the DICE Awards have recognised games, individuals and development teams that have contributed to the advancement of the multi-billion dollar worldwide entertainment software industry.

“The DICE Awards are the most credible, respected and recognised awards for the interactive entertainment community with voting cast by members of the Academy’s 33,000+ membership base.”

After all was said and done, Untitled Goose Game by Australian developer House House won the event’s biggest honour – Game of the Year.

Untitled Goose Game. PHOTO: HOUSE HOUSE

As described by the organisers, Game of the Year is awarded to “the single game, without regard to system or delivery mechanism, voted by the membership of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences that best utilises the chosen medium to entertain users”.

Untitled Goose Game is a puzzle-stealth game in which players control a goose that has been let loose on a village. The title also won Outstanding Achievement for an Independent Game as well as Outstanding Achievement in character.

Remedy Entertainment’s Control took home the most awards on the night with four wins, earning Action Game of the Year as well as Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction, Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition and Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction.

Two awards went to famed game director Hideo Kojima’s most recent creation, Death Stranding, for Outstanding Achievement in Audio Design as well as Outstanding Technical Achievement.

Four titles published by Nintendo took home prizes this year, with Super Mario Maker winning Family Game of the Year, Luigi’s Mansion 3 earning Outstanding Achievement in Animation, mobile racer Mario Kart Tour taking Racing Game of the Year and Fire Emblem: Three Houses winning Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year.

Games published by Electronic Arts (EA) also garnered awards, with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the latest title from EA under the Star Wars flag, being named Adventure Game of the Year, while free-to-play battle royale Apex Legends took home the award for Online Game of the Year. In addition, the latest release in EA Sports’ annual football simulation franchise, FIFA 20, won Sports Game of the Year.

Sci-fi title The Outer Worlds won Role-Playing Game of the Year, while Mortal Kombat 11, the most recent title in the long-running fighting franchise, won Fighting Game of the Year and puzzle game Baba is You won Outstanding achievement in Game Design.

In addition, role-playing Disco Elysium earned Outstanding Achievement in Story and Sayonara Wild Hearts garnered Portable Game of the Year.

Awards were also presented to two games in the field of Virtual Reality (VR), with Immersive Reality Game of the Year going to VR action-rhythm first person shooter Pistol Whip, while PlayStation VR exclusive Blood & Truth won Immersive Reality Technical Achievement.

One local games enthusiast, Mohd Nor, shared his thoughts on this year’s DICE Awards, saying, “I’m surprised Untitled Goose Game won DICE Game of the Year. I expected a bigger budget game such as Death Stranding or Control to win. However, Untitled Goose Game is innovative and is casual enough to be picked up by anyone.”

Noting the Nintendo-published games that won awards, he said, “I’m glad Nintendo is still churning out great games every year based on their own intellectual property such as Mario and Luigi. I can’t want to see their next lineup of games for 2020.”

Another highlight of this year’s event was the Hall of Fame award – a DICE Special Award reserved for individuals who have been instrumental in the development of highly influential games – which was presented to Vice President of Product Development at Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) Connie Booth.

In a press release, President of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Meggan Scavio said, “We are honoured to have Connie as our Hall of Fame recipient. For over two decades, she has been a leading voice and advocate for countless PlayStation franchises as well as nurturing new talent in the industry. Her tireless work and passion have had an indelible impact on game makers, allowing their creative visions to flourish.”

The press release added that Booth has been a strong collaborator within SIE Worldwide Studios helping deliver numerous critically and commercially acclaimed PlayStation exclusives including Syphon Filter, SOCOM: US Navy SEALs, Jak and Daxter, Sly Cooper, Ratchet & Clank, inFamous, Resistance: Fall of Man, Uncharted, The Last of Us, Days Gone, and Marvel’s Spider-Man.