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Recognising creativity, artistry in video games

Danial Norjidi

The winners of the 23rd Annual Game Developers Choice (GDC) Awards were recently announced, with awards presented across 11 categories.

Held on March 22 as part of the 2023 Game Developers Conference, the GDC Awards are described on its website as “one of the premier accolades for peer-recognition in the digital games industry”, recognising and celebrating “creativity, artistry and technological genius of the finest developers and games created in the last year”.

Action role-playing game Elden Ring, which has already won a vast array of awards since its February 2022 release, added even more accolades to its cabinet by garnering three GDC awards, including Game of the Year, which “recognises the choice of game developers for the overall best game release”. The title was also awarded for Best Design and Best Visual Art.

Elden Ring is the latest release by FromSoftware, and is set in a the Lands Between, a fantasy world created by Hidetaka Miyazaki, the creator of Dark Souls, as well as best-selling author George R R Martin. The game, according to its website, “features vast fantastical landscapes and shadowy, complex dungeons that are connected seamlessly”.

Another title to take home a trio of GDC awards was God of War: Ragnarok by Sony Santa Monica. The action-adventure game won the awards for Best Audio and Best Technology as well as the Audience Award, which is selected through a public vote.

This sequel continues the story of Kratos and his son Atreus as they “embark on an epic and heartfelt journey.” As the PlayStation website describes, “Fimbulwinter is well underway.


Kratos and Atreus must journey to each of the Nine Realms in search of answers as Asgardian forces prepare for a prophesied battle that will end the world. Along the way they will explore stunning, mythical landscapes, and face fearsome enemies.”

Also among the winners was Pentiment by Obsidian Entertainment, which earned the award for Best Narrative. Pentiment is described as “a historical narrative-driven game focussing on character development, heavily stylised art, and choice-driven storytelling in early 16th Century Bavaria.”

Meanwhile, tabletop-inspired narrative role-playing game Citizen Sleeper won the Social Impact award. Developed by Jump Over the Age, Citizen Sleeper sees the player “live the life of an escaped worker, washed-up on a lawless station at the edge of an interstellar society”.

The Innovation Award, which recognises “the single game that demonstrates true innovation, advances the state of the art, and pushes the boundaries of games as an expressive medium”, went to interactive film game Immortality by Half Mermaid Productions.

Best Debut Game, an award that recognises the “best game from any development studio which released its first publicly available title” went to Stray. This third-person cat adventure game by Bluetwelve Studio is set “amidst the detailed, neon-lit alleys of a decaying cyber city and the murky environments of its seedy underbelly”, where the player sees the world through the eyes of a stray cat.

Also presented was the Pioneer Award which, according to the GDC Awards website, “celebrates those individuals who developed a breakthrough technology, game concept, or gameplay design at a crucial juncture in video game history – paving the way for the myriads who followed them.” The 2023 recipient of the Pioneer Award was the late Mabel Addis.

According to the Game Developers Conference website, Addis “is recognised as the first female game designer”. She was the lead designer of 1964’s The Sumerian Game and “helped pave the way for game elements that wouldn’t become mainstream for decades”.

Another highlight of this year’s GDC Awards was the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award, which “recognises the career and achievements of a developer who has made an indelible impact on the craft of game development and games as a whole”. As the conference website explains, the award was presented to John Romero “for his work on such iconic and genre defining first-person shooters like Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake.”

The GDC Awards is among the key features of the 2023 Game Developers Conference, an event that is described as “the game industry’s premier professional event, championing game developers and the advancement of their craft”.

The conference “brings the game development community together to exchange ideas, solve problems, and shape the future of the industry across five days of education, inspiration, and networking. Attendees include programmers, artists, producers, game designers, audio professionals, and business leaders.”

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