BAFTA Video Games Awards 2012
By Shannon Doyle (Leliah), OnRPG Journalist
In the UK the BAFTAs are most commonly known as the English equivalent of the Oscars. However a little less known of event held by BAFTA spotlights video games! The 8th annual Video Game Awards were just held, and though I didn’t get to go, I watched eagerly from the comfort of my computer chair. For the third year in a row they were hosted by Dara Ó Briain, an Irish stand-up comedian and host of panel show Mock the Week. He is also a very proud gamer which makes him perfect for hosting this award show. A total of nineteen awards were handed out to people from all across the industry and there were a few surprises. If you’re like many of us sitting around waiting for a major MMO to launch, the following games are probably good candidates to help pass the time.
Story: The first award handed out was for story. Sadly there were no MMOs nominated for this category even though I think it is safe to say everyone wishes Skyrim was multiplayer. In addition to Skyrim other nominess included Batman: Arkham City, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, L.A. Noire, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception and Portal 2. The winner was Portal 2. This was the first surprise of the night as I don’t normally think of story when I think of Portal 2. Nonetheless it’s a well deserved honor for the goofy dialogue and wild setting created by this game.
Original Music: Music in games is vital. It sets the mood, tells you what sort of world you’re in and most importantly alerts you to danger. When I think of music and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations I think of that amazing E3 Trailer which featured Woodkid’s song Iron. This wasn’t what they were talking about but Assassin’s Creed was nominated along with; The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Uncharted 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Batman Arkham City and L.A. Noire. L.A. Noire won the BAFTA for the amazing scene setting music played throughout the game.
Audio Achievement: Different to music audio is all those lovely sound effects. From the sound of gunfire in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 to the grunts of battle in Batman: Arkham city this category had it all. Also nominated were Dead Space 2, Uncharted 3, The Nightjar and Battlefield 3. Battlefield 3 won this Bafta for its amazingly realistic sounds of a battlefield, most likely made by clapping two coconuts together.
Design: This category is all about the design of the game. To me this category really should be called Most Fun. Because that is what they really mean. And with games like Super Mario 3D Land being nominated that is made clear. Nominated along with Mario was L.A. Noire, LittleBigPlanet 2, Skyrim, Batman: Arkham City and Portal 2. Winning their second Bafta of the night, Valve walked away the winners of this award for Portal 2.
Game Innovation: Innovation in the gaming community is what keeps competition alive. It drives developers to come out with bigger and more interesting ways of playing. The Legend of Zelda series has been innovating the gaming industry since 1986 and that tradition continues today with Skyward Sword. Nominated along with Skyward Sword were; From Dust, Child of Eden, Bastion, L.A. Noire and LittleBigPlanet 2. There really is no arguing that there are no other games out like LittleBigPlanet 2, except LittleBigPlanet. Both have changed the way people think about games and challenged players of all ages.
Strategy: This award was presented by Aaron Staton, famous for Mad Men and voicing Cole Phelps in L.A. Noire. The surprise nomination in this category was Football Manager 2012. Sports and strategy only go together for me in the real world. But nominated along with it was; Dark Souls, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, From Dust, Ghost Recon Shadow Wars, and Total War: SHOGUN 2. Shogun 2 won this Bafta and it is no surprise that a strategy game should win in this category. It has received nothing but very high marks from every major review.
Mobile & Handheld: There is no denying that mobile gaming has boomed. Once you had to have a handheld device specifically created for mobile gaming. But recent technology has made smart phones viable for doing just this as well! The graphics in Dead Space iOS are amazing, especially when you consider that it is a mobile game. But mostly mobile games are known for being cutesy and easy to play. This is true of the other games nominated; The Nightjar, Quarrel, Super Mario 3D Land, Magnetic Billards: Blueprint, and Peggle HD. Popcap, known for their casual games walked away with this Bafta for Peggle HD.
The GAME Award of 2011: This was the only award that was voted on by the public. And done in association with British video game retailer GAME. This category was by far the largest with 10 games up for it. They were Portal 2, Skyward Sword, Minecraft, FIFA 2012, Modern Warfare 3, Batman: Arkham City, L.A. Noire, Skyrim, Uncharted 3 and Battlefield 3. Battlefield 3 won this making it Dice’s second Bafta of the night for Battlefield 3.
Action: Action makes games. What fun is a game where you just stand there and do nothing? This category recognizes the best in action. Nominated were Portal 2, Dues Ex: Human Revolution, Uncharted 3, Modern Warfare 3, Assassin’s Creed Revelations, and Batman: Arkham City. Watching the video clips of all these games made it clear why Arkham City was the winner. The action never stopped and looked amazing at the same time.
BAFTA Ones To Watch: This category was done in association with Dare to be Digital and is rather unique compared to the others. In this category three of the brightest young developers were given only six short weeks to create a game. What came of it were three completely different and amazing games. Dreamweaver, Joust and Tick Tock Toys. The last walked away with the award, though it is safe to say all three have great potential and look awesome.
Online-Browser: Online browser based games have changed what it means to play games. This includes everything from social games like The Sims Social in Facebook to flash games on websites like I Am Playr. Four other games were nominated for this category along with them; Skylanders: Spyro’s Universe, Global Resistance, Gardens of Time and Monstermind. Bossa Studios won this category with their Facebook game Monstermind which looks amazingly adorable.
Artistic Achievement: The award for artistic achievement had a lot of big names nominated for it. Uncharted 3, Skyrim, L.A. Noire, LittleBigPlanet 2, and Batman: Arkham City. It also had one slightly less well known game nominated for it Rayman Origins. And Rayman Origins was the winner. It is an incredibly cute looking game where with the exception of LittleBigPlanet 2 the rest go for a more realistic style. This award was presented by Asher D from the So Solid Crew who said about the artistic quality of games: “Things have certainly moved on from Pacman.” This category really proved that true.
BAFTA Special Award: This award was given to someone who has really inspired people around the world and created an amazing world that on the surface looks outdated but is really so much more. I’m talking about Markus Persson, the programmer behind the insanely popular Minecraft. This amazing game manages to suck away hours of people’s days without them even realizing it and even has its own LEGO deal.
Sports/Fitness: Host Dara Ó Briain pointed out that sports games and fitness games are really on two completely different planets. This is made apparent when you look at the nominations; Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012, FIFA 2012, Dance Central 2, F1 2011, DiRT 3, and Kinect Sports 2. Proving what a big industry there is in fitness games Kinect Sports 2 walked away with this Bafta. And it is well deserved as it is more than just one game but more a collection of games which get you up and active.
Online-Multiplayer: Sadly this category doesn’t include any MMOs. It does however include some very big titles and a lot of sequels. The only non sequel is Dark Souls, which itself is a spiritual successor to another game. The other games nominated were; LittleBigPlanet 2, Gears of War 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, and Battlefield 3. For the third time Dice was awarded for Battlefield 3 which is the eleventh installment in the Battlefield franchise.
Debut Game: This category was filled with surprises, cute charming games, and finally an MMO! It had L.A. Noire which had been nominated for several other games and Trion World’s big MMO Rift. Also included were a few lesser known games like Bastion, Eufloria, Monstermind, and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet won the Bafta. This game seems to have a little bit of everything and being published by Microsoft doesn’t hurt either. For a debut game Shadow Planet Productions has really set the bar high for any future games they make.
Family: Families who slay together, stay together. And while there may not be any slaying going on in these games it really is an introduction to gaming that allows parents and kids to share a common bond. The games nominated for this category were; Mario Kart 7, LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, Kinect Sports 2, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, Dance Central 2 and LittleBigPlanet 2. LittleBigPlanet 2 won this making it the second award of the night for the game. LittleBigPlanet 2 is light-hearted fun for the whole family; it is easy to see why it won.
Performer: Games often feature famous voices that sometimes can go completely unrecognized like Mark Hamill as The Joker in Batman: Arkham City. Or sometimes you recognize them as soon as they speak like Stephen Fry as the Narrator of LittleBigPlanet 2. As well as these two the following were nominated; Aaron Staton (Cole Phelps) in L.A. Noire, Togo Igawa (Diplomat, Advisor and Military General) in Shogun 2, Stephen Merchant (Wheatley) in Portal 2, and Nolan North (Nathan Drake) in Uncharted 3. The winner of this award was Mark Hamill who couldn’t make it to the awards which I thought was really a shame as it would go a long way to giving more credit to the industry while also being really cool.
Best Game: The final award of the night, the one everyone had been waiting all night to see was Best Game. This category was filled with big names from several genres. The award was presented by Jonathan Ross, a well known English TV and radio presenter who is also a gamer. In reality all of the games nominated for this category deserved to win. They were FIFA 2012, Skyrim, Skyward Sword, L.A. Noire, Batman: Arkham City and Portal 2. The winner, Portal 2 was a huge surprise even to the people accepting the award. It really is amazing to think that a puzzle game could win against giants like FIFA 2012 and Skyrim. This made a total of 3 awards for Valve tonight with Portal 2.
MMOs have largely been overlooked by BAFTA in these awards. Though in previous years World of Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons Online both have been part of the ceremony. DDO actually won for the Multiplayer category in 2006 going up against Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfare, Battlefield 2: Modern Combat and 2006 Fifa World Cup, to name a few. World of Warcraft has gone up against huge names twice and sadly come away both times without an award. Hopefully in the future more MMOs will be nominated. A big congratulations to all the winners. Keep up the fantastic work! And I look forward to watching the award ceremony again next year.