Hosted by comedian Vic Reeves with live music from Athlete and Remi Nicole, these awards are emblematic of a modern Academy, embracing and recognising all art forms of the moving image.
Chairman of the Academy, Hilary Bevan Jones said “The Academy believes video games have limitless potential to enlighten as well as entertain and our role is to encourage creative excellence in the field, for the benefit of a rapidly growing audience”.
Wii Sports dominated the evening, winning six out of the thirteen categories – Gameplay, Casual, Innovation, Multiplayer, Sports, and Strategy & Simulation. In this game of universal appeal, players use the remote as a tennis raquet, golf club, boxing glove, baseball bat and bowling ball to emulate the actions in real life sports.
Three other titles claimed two categories each; Crackdown, in which players enforce justice in a crime-ridden metropolis, was victorious in Use of Audio and Action & Adventure, Okami, which centres around a celestial brush enabling players to literally paint things into their world, took the coveted mask in the categories of Artistic Achievement and Original Score, while the mythological, high-octane, God of War 2, sequel to the 2005 title, won for Story & Character and Technical Achievement. The Best Game award went to Bioshock which enables players to explore a ruined seascape, and using myriad tools and weapons, to battle mysterious creatures.
Crackdown's Producer, Phil Wilson, said: "We were over the moon at being nominated at all, never mind being up for as many as five. BAFTA's are awards that are recognised and respected both outside the games industry and internationally, so we're incredibly proud that everyone's hard work has resulted in not just one but two of the prestigious gold masks..
RTW Studio Manager, Colin Macdonald, explained "Any creative industry is tough, and Crackdown was a massive undertaking for us - taking a team of 70 talented and exceptionally hard-working individuals to pull it off, but it's amazing that Crackdown's achievements have been recognised - both by the game-playing public, and now by the BAFTA committee."
There were two rounds of voting for the awards; in the first round, BAFTA games members and industry experts cast their votes on line for the 1000+ entries received. The top-voted titles were then sent out to jurors, while those pre-release titles which were ready in time for the judging process, were played on test units in a secure room at BAFTA by every juror, over a period of some five weeks. Once every juror had played every game, each jury convened to create the 6 nominations in each category. Other late releases not ready for this year’s Awards will be eligible for next year’s.
The one publicly-voted award of the night – The PC World Gamers’ Award – went to Football Manager 2007, fighting off competition from Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training, FIFA 07, Gears of War, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, Resistance: Fall of Man and Wii Play. The shortlist of titles in this category was taken from the top-selling games on each console in the UK between 1 September 2006 and 31 August 2007.
The Academy is keen to nurture the up-and-coming stars in games, as well as recognising those at the peak of their talent. This year’s ceremony also included a brand new award – The BAFTA Ones To Watch Award. Working with the University of Abertay and its Dare To be Digital competition, this new award was contended by three groups of university graduates who had each designed a new game prototype. The winning game was Ragnarawk designed by a team calling themselves Voodoo Boogy. In addition to collecting their award, they were also each gifted a state of the art gaming PC from Packard Bell.
The climax of the evening saw gaming legend Will Wright receive the highest accolade the Academy can bestow – The Fellowship. Wright, who is widely accepted as one of the world’s leading visionaries in the field of video game design, has been passionately creating games for more than twenty years. Although he has worked on a number of hugely successful games, among them Raid On Bungling Bay (1984), SimCity (1989), SimCity 2000 (1993), SimCity 4 (2003) and SimCity DS (2007), he is best known for one of the best-loved games franchises in history, The Sims – a game whose inspiration sprang from a combination of the aforementioned titles.
Wright will also present the Academy’s first Annual Lecture in this sector on October 24 at BAFTA’s headquarters at 195 Piccadilly from 6pm. All enquiries to Jo Stein on 0207 292 5818.
The show will be broadcast on E4 on November 4 at 11pm and repeated the following weekend on Channel 4.
The Awards ceremony takes place during London Games Festival.