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2018 Game Developers Choice/Independent Games Festival Awards Winners Revealed

by Rainier on March 22, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Nintendo’s open-world role-playing game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, was honored with the Game of the Year award at tonight’s 18th annual GDC Awards ceremony during the 2018 GDC at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

The game’s expansive sound and deep, open-ended gameplay also earned The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild the awards for Best Audio and Best Design. An archive of the award ceremony, as well as the full presentation of the Independent Games Festival Awards (IGF Awards), can be viewed at here

Developer Jason Roberts’ visually inventive and contemplative puzzle game, Gorogoa, earned two awards tonight, for Best Mobile Game and the Innovation Award. The game seamlessly blends a unique visual design with engrossing storytelling elements, bending space and reality in the process. Developer Studio MDHR also earned two awards, Best Debut and Best Visual Art, for its work on the retro shooter Cuphead. The game faithfully reproduces the charming cartoon aesthetics and toe-tapping jazz of the 1930s, and adds the tight gameplay mechanics of a sidescrolling shooter to create an experience that is at once playful and familiar, yet fiendishly challenging and novel.

The full slate of winners at the 2018 GDCAs also includes Best Narrative award winner, What Remains of Edith Finch by Giant Sparrow, a title that artfully portrays the sad and joyful stories of multiple generations of the Finch family; Horizon Zero Dawn by Guerilla Games, which earned the award for Best Technology for its visually stunning portrayal of a far-flung sci-fi world filled with lush environments and deadly robotic monsters; and the sharply stylistic VR shooter, SUPERHOT VR by the SUPERHOT Team, which won the award for Best VR/AR Game. In addition, the Audience Award, chosen among the entire selection of GDCA finalists via a public online voting process, was presented to developer PlatinumGames for NieR:Automata, the charmingly offbeat open-world RPG.

The Game Developers Choice Awards honor the very best games of the year, and was created for and voted on by developers. Winners are selected by the Game Developers Choice Awards-specific International Choice Awards Network (ICAN), which is an invitation-only group comprised of leading game creators from all parts of the industry.

In addition to the best games of the last year, the GDCAs also honor the dedicated individuals who have helped further the art, science and craft of video games with special awards. This year’s Ambassador Award, which recognizes those whose actions have helped video games to “advance to a better place,” went to independent developer and Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail. The award recognizes Ismail’s work helping incubators, local events, universities, community efforts, and games industry policy around the world.

The Lifetime Achievement Award recipient was Double Fine and LucasArts developer Tim Schafer, whose career spans almost three decades of creating iconic adventure games across platforms and generations. Schafer has inspired countless developers around the world with his work on standout titles like Day Of The Tentacle, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango & Brutal Legend, helped advocate for independent game development, and pioneered independent crowdfunding for games like Double Fine’s Psychonauts 2 and Broken Age.

“Every year sees countless amazing games worthy of recognition, but this year in particular has seen some of the strongest titles to arrive this generation. The GDCAs give us an opportunity to reflect on and honor the games that provided us with endless joy,” said Katie Stern, General Manager of the Game Developers Conference. “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild helped us rediscover a childlike sense of adventure and discovery. Titles like Gorogoa and What Remains of Edith Finch offered us distinct creative visions that can only be experienced in games, and games like Cuphead and Horizon Zero Dawn crafted worlds we could lose ourselves in. Congratulations to all of tonight’s nominees and winners and thank you for your creativity and dedication.”

The Game Developers Choice Awards winners are:

  • Best Audio:The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo)
  • Best Debut: Studio MDHR (Cuphead)
  • Best Design: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo)
  • Best Mobile Game: Gorogoa (Jason Roberts/Buried Signal)
  • Innovation Award:Gorogoa (Jason Roberts/Buried Signal)
  • Best Narrative: What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow)
  • Best Technology: Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games)
  • Best Visual Art: Cuphead (Studio MDHR)
  • Best VR/AR Game: SUPERHOT VR (The SUPERHOT Team)
  • Audience Award: NieR:Automata (PlatinumGames)
  • Game of the Year: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo)
  • Ambassador Award: Rami Ismail
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Tim Schafer

Honorable Mentions: Cuphead (StudioMDHR), What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow / Annapurna Interactive), Persona 5 (P-Studio / Atlus), Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory), Gorogoa (Jason Roberts / Buried Signal / Annapurna Interactive), Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Larian Studios), Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall / Finji)

2018 Independent Games Festival Awards Winners

Infinite Fall’s Night in the Woods took home the $30,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize for Best Independent Game at the 20th annual Independent Games Festival (IGF) Awards tonight. The ceremony took place as part of the 2018 Game Developers Conference (GDC) at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. In addition to the grand prize, Night in the Woods also received top honors for Excellence in Narrative. Night in the Woods is an adventure game that focuses on exploration, story and character development within a lush, vibrant world. The full presentation of the Independent Games Festival Awards (IGF Awards), can be viewed at here.

The night’s other multiple award winner was Baba Is You, a puzzle game created by developer Hempuli that allows players to alter the rules and game logic as a part of solving the puzzles. Baba Is You was recognized for Best Student Game and Excellence in Design.

The Nuovo Award, for the title that makes jurors ‘think differently about games as a medium,’ went to developer Bennett Foddy for Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, a merciless climbing game that rewards players who can reach the top of the mountain. This unconventional game featured an awkward control scheme and frequent failure, causing players both frustration and joy if they could miraculously summit the mountain.

Excellence in Visual Art winner Chuchel from Amanita Design is a comedy adventure game about a quest to reclaim a stolen cherry; the game is an artistic showpiece with outlandish creatures and a distinct animation style. Nifflas Games’ Uurnog Uurnlimited, a delightfully silly 2D puzzle platformer about stealing animals and exploring a whimsical world, earned the Excellence in Audio award for its dynamic music and rhythmic beats. Finally, the Audience Award, which is chosen from among all of the IGF finalists through a public online voting process, was given to Celeste from creator Matt Makes Games. Celeste is a challenging, visually striking pixel platformer about climbing a mountain, with thoughtful storytelling and a truly unique gameplay experience.

All IGF titles, including both finalists and winners, are playable for any GDC pass holder at the IGF Pavilion located on the GDC Expo Floor in San Francisco's Moscone Center through Friday, March 23rd.

The winners of the 20th annual IGF Awards are:

  • Excellence in Visual Art ($3,000): Chuchel (Amanita Design)
  • Excellence in Audio ($3,000): Uurnog Uurnlimited (Nifflas Games)
  • Excellence in Design ($3,000): Baba Is You (Hempuli)
  • Excellence in Narrative ($3,000): Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall)
  • Nuovo Award ($3,000): Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy (Bennett Foddy)
  • Best Student Game ($3,000): Baba Is You (Hempuli)
  • Audience Award ($3,000): Celeste (Celeste Team)
  • ID@Xbox Gaming for Everyone Award: SpecialEffect
  • alt.ctrl.GDC Award ($3,000): Puppet Pandemonium
  • Seumas McNally Grand Prize ($30,000): Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall)

The Independent Games Festival offers finalists worldwide exposure and more than $50,000 in cash prizes to each year's winners. The IGF – which includes the two-day Independent Games Summit as part of GDC – was established in 1998 by the UBM Game Network to recognize the best independent game developers and encourage creativity and excellence in independent games.

Organizers would like to thank the generous supporters of this year’s IGF, including ID@Xbox (Platinum Sponsor), Steam (Platform Sponsor), and Gamasutra.com (IGF Media Partner).

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