The Game Awards 2017 Recap and Impressions

The Game Awards fourth annual ceremony was held in LA last night(December 7th 2017) with all the pomp and fanfare to rival The Oscars. In this blog, I’ll recap the event, its awards, and announcements.

The Game AwardsThe Pre-Show

The Game Awards pre-show begins with an introduction by The Game Awards creator and host Geoff Keighley and held at the Microsoft Theater in LA. The show was streamed across nearly every livestreaming service available, from Twitch to Mixer and even Steam. Each service provided special incentive giveaways to its viewers from free games to in-game items for the year’s most popular releases.

WWZ…

The first announcement of the show was World War Z, the game adaptation of the 2013 film of the same name. The movie itself is based on a 2006 novel by Bestselling author Max Brooks. I adored the book. It was a fun, intelligent, and chilling take on a worldwide zombie outbreak, war, and eventual phyric victory. The movie was a throwaway action flick that kept a few threadbare themes, proper names, and the title. Sadly, it appears the upcoming game will take place in the movie’s setting. World War Z, the game, is a four-player co-op first-person shooter developed by Saber Interactive where players much work together to survive the rushing hordes of zombies. Wait… isn’t there a successful pair of games like that already?

Award: Trending Gamer

The first award of the pre-show was the Trending Gamer Award. It was created and decided by viewers and awarded to Dr. Disrespect, a popular Twitch streamer with over a million followers and a dedicated subscriber base.

Vacation Simulator

The next announcement was a VR title by Owlchemy Labs called Vacation Simulator. Vacation Simulator follows the formula of other VR sims where the player interaction with the environment of a sprawling, colorful, and cartoony tropical beachside resort. Developers Alex Schwartz and Devin Reimer were on hand to briefly talk about this follow-on to their VR title, Job Simulator.

Next, we go backstage to Sydney Goodman who briefly goes over the bustle and anticipation behind the curtain.

Award: Best Music Score

The second Pre-show award category was Best Music Score.

  • Cuphead
  • Destiny 2
  • Nier: Automata
  • Persona 5
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

The score for Neir: Automata won and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been playing this game obsessively over the last few weeks and the music is absolutely beautiful and haunting all at once. This win is well deserved. Although no one from Platinum Games was able to receive the award the game’s Producer, Yosuke Saito delivered a recorded message of humble thanks and appreciation for the fans as well as credit to Music Composer Keiichi Okabe and director Yoko Taro.

Accounting Plus

The next announcement of the Pre-show was Smith and Smitherson’s Accounting Plus for PSVR. The fast-paced and frantic trailer looks like a Rick and Morty fever dream of action and excitement. William Pugh of Developers Crows Crows Crows and Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland(no wonder it felt familiar) joined Geoff to talk briefly about the game and what to expect. It has my interest now. I have a PSVR and I will pick this up when it releases on December 19th.

The final fan awards of the pre-show were announced in quick succession as the final minutes ticked away.

  • Mobile Game: Monument Valley 2
  • Sports/Racing Game: Forza Motorsports 7
  • VR/AR Game: Resident Evil 7
  • Handheld Game: Metroid Samus Returns
  • Chinese Game: JX3HD
Shadows Die Twice

The Final Announcement comes from Developer From Software, a short, vague and creepy teaser and a bold-lettered title, Shadows Die Twice.

The Pre Show wraps with viewing and sales promotions.

The Game Awards Begin

The Game Awards show begins with a performance by The Game Awards Orchestra directed by Edward Tribek. What an overture, a medley of some of the most beautiful and most recognizable intros to games across generations, from Doom to Skyrim, Super Mario Brothers, and Monkey Island.

Geoff takes the stage for his opening words. He teases what to expect from the show and thanks to the Orchestra before jumping right into the awards.

Award: Best Narrative

The first Award is Best Narrative. Its Nominees are,

  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Nier: Automata
  • What Remains of Edith Finch
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

What Remains of Edith Finch won the award. Chelsea Hatch took the stage to accept for her development team and gave her speech with tears of joy barely contained.

In the Valley of Gods

Geoff returns to introduce the first world premiere announcement of the show a new title by the developers of Firewatch, In the Valley of Gods.

Award: Best Action Game

Zachary Levi of NerdHQ takes the stage to announce the next category, Best Action Game.

  • Cuphead
  • Destiny 2
  • Nioh
  • Prey
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Wolfenstein 2 won the award and Jens Matthies and Jerk Gustafsson of Machinegames and Bethesda took the stage to accept the award on behalf of their teams. In Particular Jens thanks the “Heroes” of the QA department which got a few cheers.

Warframe

Geoff is joined by Rebecca Ford to talk briefly about Free to Play action shooter, Warframe, and the rewards players receive for watching the show. They also speak about player made trailers being showcased at the show.

Award: Best Art Direction

After an add break and a trailer for The Shape of Water, Industry Legends Guillermo del Toro and Hideo Kojima take the stage to riotous applause to announce the nominees for Best Art Direction.

  • Cuphead
  • Destiny 2
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Persona 5
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Indie smash hit Cuphead won the award with Chad and Jared Moldenhauer accepting the award on behalf of their team at Studio MDHR.

Breath of the Wild Champions Ballad

The next announcement in preluded by a short stage show, a sequence from Breath of the Wild capped off by a Shadowed figure, Eiji Aonuma, drawing The Master Sword from its stone. Nintendo’s first announcement of the night is DLC 2 for Breath of the Wild, The Champion’s Ballad. Available now on Switch and WiiU. Aonuma, joined by Hidemaro Fujibayashi take the stage to talk about the next steps for Breath of the Wild, what to expect from Champion’s Ballad and more.

A short add break follows but contains a PSA from Bethesda with the message #saveplyerone promoting the single player gaming experience. Its a fun short that feature Linda Carter, the voice of Fallout 4’s Magnolia. Bethesda continues with another message promoting the Entertainment Software Fund Foundation. They’ve pledged $100,000 to the foundation for their scholarships.

Industry Icon Award

Felicia Day of Geek and Sundry and MST3K takes the stage to announce the Industry Icon Award. The award recognizes individuals and trailblazers whose impact shaped gaming and entertainment as we know it. Tonight The Game Awards recognizes Carol Shaw. She was a developer for Atari and worked on the 2600 and is the first woman to be credited in game development with River Raid.

Carol accepts her reward with humble grace, offering her thanks and appreciation. She reflects on how far gaming has come in the last 35 years and expresses her love for the medium and the people who work in it.

Soul Calibut 6

Tekken franchise directors Katsuhiro Harada and Motohiro Okubo take the stage to introduce the next announcement with a question, “Do your Souls Still Burn.” Soul Calibur 6 coming in 2018.

Following the announcement, Geoff returns with another list of fan-voted awards:

  • Best Role Playing Game: Persona 5
  • Best Strategy Game: Maro + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
  • Most Anticipated Game: The Last of Us Part 2
  • Best Family Game: Super Mario Odessey
  • Best E-Sports Team: Cloud Nine
Award: Best Debut Indie Game

Aisha Tyler takes the stage next to announce the nominees for Best Debut Indie Title for new studios.

  • Cuphead
  • Golf Story
  • Hollow Knight
  • Mr Shifty
  • Slime Rancher

Cuphead takes its second award for the night. Chad and Jared return followed by their families to accept the reward and voice their awe at winning their second award.

Another add break follows and Geoff returns with an interview with Donald Mustard, the creative director of Epic games to talk about Fortnite’s new 50v50 Battle Royale mode, available now.

Award: Best Ongoing Game

Casey Hudson of BioWare and Developer for the upcoming title Anthem takes to the stage to present a new award this year, Best Ongoing Game. The nominees are

  • Destiny 2
  • Grand Theft Auto Online
  • Overwatch
  • PLAYERUNKOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS
  • Rainbow 6: Seige
  • Warframe

Surprising no one, Overwatch wins! Chacko Sonny of Blizzard speaks on behalf of the team to thank the fans, players, and everyone involved with the ever-evolving game and its continued success.

Conan O’Brien makes a recorded appearance with his input on the contenders for Best Game. He’s less than enthusiastic and instead puts forward his own nomination, Yahtzee.

Fade to Silence

The Next announcement of the night comes from THQ-Nordic, a brand new title. Fade to Silence. Developer Onurahn Karaagacli from Black Forest Games is on hand with Geoff to talk about what to expect from this new and interesting looking game. Fade to Silence is going into early access next week on Steam with a planned release for consoles.

Bayonetta!

Following another add break, Nintendo presents their next announcement, one that has me very very excited, Bayonetta 1 and 2 re-releases on Nintendo Switch! I love the Bayonetta series and getting the chance to play it on the go is very exciting. Now I just need a switch. Following the announcement Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime talks with Geoff about bringing Bayonetta to the Switch. But Reggie has a surprise, one more teaser, Bayonetta 3 coming soon!

Best E-Sports Player

E-Sports is growing and evolving every year and may soon debut at the Olympics! The Game Awards recognizes these players with their own category, Best E-Sports Player.

  • Lee Sang-Hyeok “Faker”
  • Marcelo “Coldzera” David
  • Nikola “Niko” Kovak
  • Je-Hong “Ryujehong” Ryu
  • Kuro “Kuroky” Salehi Takhasomi

Faker takes the win, voted on my fans and viewers, and accepts his award from his tournament venue in LA. He humbly accepts, thanking his fan and pledges to work hard over the next year.

Death Stranding

The next announcement is the longest of the evening and comes from an acclaimed and storied developer, Death Stranding by Hideo Kojima! Following the trailer, Mr. Kojima takes the stage with Norman Reedus to a standing ovation from the audience(I cheered a bit too) to thank the audience and their fans for their support since the original announcement.

Phoenix

Jason Schwartzman steps up to the mic next to introduce Phoenix, an alternative rock back based out of Versailles, France. I’ve never heard of this group before and watching them perform is a treat.

Award: Best Student Game

iJustine and Lance Reddick take the mic to introduce another new category this year. Best Student Game highlights up and coming talent sourced from High Schools and Colleges the world over and curated by a panel of Industry’s biggest names. No Pressure.

  • Hollowed – U of Central Florida
  • Meaning – Digpen Institute of Technology Singapore
  • Level Squared – Swinburne University of Technology
  • From Light – University of Southern California
  • Falling Sky – National Film and Television School
  • Impulsion – Institut De L’Internet Et Du Multimedia

Level Squared took the first ever Best Student Game award, one of the students(unnamed in the broadcast) accepted the award on behalf of his class, thanking them and expressing his awe that such notable people enjoyed their student project. He signs off with a half humorous, “I’m graduating in a week, someone hire me please!”

Witchfire

The next announcement is given with little preamble and the visuals are a hunting. Witchfire is a first-person action game from the developers of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Bulletstorm, and Painkiller. It looks amazing!

A Way Out

Josef Fares joins Geoff to talk about his project, A Way Out, teased at the previous Game Awards under a code name. Josef is the most intense interview of the night, likely due to some pre-game celebration, and expresses his love for The Game Awards explicitly much to the audience’s appreciation. His game, A Way Out, is a narrative co-op adventure where two men must work together to break out of prison.

Dreams

The Next announcement comes from Media Molecule, Dreams. Based on the trailer it looks like a sandbox builder in the same vein as Minecraft. The thing showcased are widely varied and beautiful. More detail will come at PSX later this week This is one to watch when it comes next year.

Andrew House Tribute

Andrew House, President of Sony Interactive is introduced with a short tribute video detailing his career with PlayStation.Andrew himself takes the stage following the video and offers a tribute of his own. He thanks the legion of players that have reshaped the industry and entertainment as a whole. He thanks the friends he has made and expresses his gratitude for the ability to work with so many creative minds. This is his sendoff, the end cap of a long career and the beginning of a new journey with new challenges. Fair Winds and Following Seas Andrew.

Award: Games for Impact

Andrew remains on stage to present the next award, Games for Impact. This category highlights games that not only entertain, but resonate with players in their story, themes, and message.

  • Bury Me, My Love
  • Hellblade Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Life in Strange: Before the Storm
  • Night in the Woods
  • Please Knock on My Door
  • What Remains of Edith Finch

Hellblade takes the award and Tameem Antoniades from Ninja Theory accepts the award on behalf of his team. “Who says the story in games doesn’t matter and games are a waste of time.” He begins. He thanks the players who brought the game to the awards show and expresses a deep gratitude to the people who suffer mental illness, those who lent their experience, and expertise to their game and the game’s success.

PUBG

Geoff introduces C.H. Kim, Executive Producer, and CEO of PUBG Corporation, the company formed to continue development for PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS. C.H. speaks about the immediate future of PUBG, the end of Early Access, new maps(plural?), and new experiences for players at no additional charge. He thanks the fans and players who have made the game the runaway success it is.

After the interview they roll a promo video that highlights the accolades the game has earned this year, showcasing the new desert map, and reveal the Xbox One launch date,12.12.17, and the PC 1.0 launch date, 12.20.17.

Award: Best Performance

Actor Andy Serkis takes the stage to introduce and present the award for Best Performance.

  • Ashley Burch-Horizon Zero Dawn -Aloy
  • Brian Bloom-Wolfenstein II-BJ Blaskowitz
  • Claudia Black-Uncharted: The Lost Legacy-Chloe Frazer
  • Laura Bailey-Uncharted: The Lost Legacy-Nadine Ross
  • Melina Juergens-Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice-Senua

Melina Juergens takes the Award and, after gushing starstruck over Andy Serkis. She is overcome with gratitude and expresses her thanks to Ninja Theory for taking a chance on a video editor who has no acting experience before.

GTFO!

The Next Announcement is a four-player co-op shooter from the developers of the Payday series, GTFO. GTFO’s trailer shows off players as they delve into an abandoned subterranean facility looking for salvage, the characters banter as a narrator sets the tone. Ulf Andersson from Ten Chambers, the developer joins Geoff to talk about the game following the trailer. He credits his 8 person team for their success so far and promises co-op experience that “shakes things up” a bit. It’s an interesting glimpse into a new game but looks too similar to Left 4 Dead to me.

Award: Best Game Direction

Ed Boone of Netherrealm Studios(Mortal Kombat and Injustice) Takes the stage to introduce and present the next award, Best Game Direction. The award recognizes the ability for developers to overcome obstacles and deliver high-quality experiences.

  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
  • Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Hidemaro Fujibayashi from Nintendo accepts the award on behalf of his team.

Matro Exodus

The next trailer gives us a look into the expanding world of Metro Exodus. The first person shooter series takes place in the post-apocalyptic ruins of Moscow and the metro tunnels where the survivors have made a new home. Exodus may finally take us away from the ruined city and into parts unknown. I’m a fan of the series and I am very excited for what this game may bring.

The Game Awards Orchestra returns with a tribute to last years Game of the Year award winner, Blizzard’s Overwatch.

Award: Game of the Year

In a change of pace, the Game Awards Orchestra introduces the nominees in musical revue.

  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild
  • Persona 5
  • PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS
  • Super Mario Odessey(With Vocals!)

Eiji Aonuma and Hidemaro Fujibayashi return to the stage to accept the award. Eiji, still wearing his Link tunic from the Breath of the Wild DLC announcement, Is overjoyed and begins with “Thank you America,” in English before continuing in Japanese. He enthusiastically thanks everyone for making Zelda the success it is and also thanks to the other nominees before handing the award off to Hidemaro. Hidemaro expresses his own gratitude beginning with “I’m very glad I work in games.”

Geoff offers a brief but genuine thanks to everyone for watching The Game Awards and looks forward to returning again next year.

My Thoughts

This is the first Game Awards I’ve watched and I am in awe of its spectacle. It holds all the pomp and circumstance of The Oscars but its focus on games and gaming is never overshadowed. There were so many wonderful games showcased and the winners were all very well deserved. Personally, I’m saddened that Horizon Zero Dawn won no awards despite its many nominations but it was faced with difficult competition. Who can compete with Mario after all?

It was a wonderful show and I look forward to next year.

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