Game Developers Choice Awards

Game Developers Choice Awards
Awarded for Outstanding game developers and games
Presented by Game Developers Conference
First awarded 2001
Official website

The Game Developers Choice Awards are awards annually presented at the Game Developers Conference for outstanding game developers and games.[1] Introduced in 2001, the Game Developers Choice Awards were preceded by the Spotlight Awards, which were presented from 1997 to 1999.[2]

Nomination and voting process

In 2007, took over management of the awards from the IGDA.[3] An advisory board selected by the editors of and Game Developer magazine oversees the selection process.

Nominations are accepted from registered users, confirmed to be game developers, and from the advisory board. Once the nomination process is complete, the advisory board identifies five finalists for each regular category.

The recipients of the Lifetime Achievement, Pioneer (formerly known as First Penguin) and Maverick awards are selected by the advisory board. For the other awards, a vote open to all those who participated in the nomination process chooses a recipient from each category's finalists.[4]

List of winners

Note: Events held for awards are held early in the following year. Winners are listed first and highlighted in bold.

Game of the Year

The Game of the Year Award recognizes the overall best game released during the previous calendar year, as interpreted by the members of the Game Developers Conference.

Year Game Genre Platform(s) Developer(s)
2000 The Sims[5] Life simulation Mac OS, Microsoft Windows Maxis
2001 Grand Theft Auto III[6] Action-adventure Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2 DMA Design
2002 Metroid Prime[7] Action-adventure GameCube Retro Studios
2003 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic[8] Role-playing Microsoft Windows, Xbox BioWare
2004 Half-Life 2[9] First-person shooter Microsoft Windows Valve Corporation
2005 Shadow of the Colossus[10] Action-adventure PlayStation 2 Team Ico
2006 Gears of War[11] Third-person shooter Xbox 360 Epic Games
2007 Portal[12] Puzzle-platformer Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Valve Corporation
2008 Fallout 3[13] Action role-playing Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Bethesda Game Studios
2009 Uncharted 2: Among Thieves[14] Action-adventure PlayStation 3 Naughty Dog
2010 Red Dead Redemption[15] Action-adventure PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Rockstar San Diego
2011 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim[16] Action role-playing Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Bethesda Game Studios
2012 Journey[17] Adventure PlayStation 3 Thatgamecompany
2013 The Last of Us[18] Action-adventure PlayStation 3 Naughty Dog
2014 Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor[19] Action-adventure Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One Monolith Productions
2015 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt[20] Action role-playing Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One CD Projekt RED

Best Debut Game

The Best Debut Game Award recognizes the best game from any development studio which released its first publicly available title during the calendar year. This was formally known as the New Studio of the Year Award. In years prior to 2008, the award was awarded to the studio name, as opposed to the game title.

Best Handheld Game

Best Handheld Game Award recognizes the overall best game commercially released on any handheld platform.

Best Downloadable Game

Best Downloadable Game Award recognizes the overall best game released on console or PC platforms specifically and solely for digital download - with an emphasis on smaller, more 'casual'-friendly titles.

Excellence in Audio

The Excellence in Audio award recognizes the overall excellence of audio in a game, including sound effects, musical composition, sound design and orchestration.

Excellence in Game Design/Best Design

The Excellence in Game Design award recognizes the overall excellence of design in a game, including gameplay, mechanics, puzzles, play balancing and scenarios.

Best Technology

The Technology award recognizes the overall excellence of technology in a game, including graphics programming, artificial intelligence, networking and physics.

2016: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt[21]
2015: Destiny
2014: Grand Theft Auto V
2013: Far Cry 3
2012: Battlefield 3
2011: Red Dead Redemption
2010: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
2009: LittleBigPlanet
2008: Crysis
2007: Gears of War
2006: Nintendogs
2005: Half-Life 2

Excellence in Visual Arts

The Excellence in Visual Arts award recognizes the overall excellence of visual art in a game, including animation, modeling, art direction and textures.

2016: Ori and the Blind Forest[21]
2015: Monument Valley
2014: BioShock Infinite
2013: Journey
2012: Uncharted 3
2011: Limbo
2010: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
2009: Prince of Persia
2008: BioShock
2007: Gears of War
2006: Shadow of the Colossus
2005: World of Warcraft
2004: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
2003: Kingdom Hearts
2002: ICO
2001: Jet Grind Radio

Excellence in Writing/Best Narrative

The Excellence in Writing award recognizes the quality of writing in a game, including story, plot construction, dialogue and branching narratives.

2016: Her Story[21]
2015: Kentucky Route Zero: Episode 3
2014: The Last of Us
2013: The Walking Dead
2012: Portal 2
2011: Mass Effect 2
2010: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
2009: Fallout 3
2008: BioShock
2007: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
2006: Psychonauts
2005: Half-Life 2
2004: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
2003: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell

Game Innovation Spotlights/Innovation Award

The Game Innovation Spotlights recognize games that demonstrate innovation and push the boundaries of games as an expressive medium. Multiple awards are given each year.

2016: Her Story[21]
2015: Monument Valley
2014: Papers, Please
2013: Journey
2012: Johann Sebastian Joust
2011: Minecraft
2010: Scribblenauts
2009: LittleBigPlanet
2008: Portal
2007: Line Rider; Ōkami; Wii Sports
2006: Nintendogs; Guitar Hero
2005: Donkey Konga; I Love Bees; Katamari Damacy
2004: EyeToy: Play; Viewtiful Joe; WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!
2003: Animal Crossing; Battlefield 1942; Medal of Honor: Allied Assault; The Thing
2002: Black and White; Grand Theft Auto III; ICO; Majestic; Rez
2001: Counter-Strike; Crazy Taxi; Deus Ex; Jet Grind Radio; No One Lives Forever

Special Awards Recipients

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the achievements of a developer who has impacted games and game development.

2016: Todd Howard[21]
2015: Hironobu Sakaguchi (Final Fantasy series)
2014: Ken Kutaragi
2013: Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk (Bioware)
2012: Warren Spector (Deus Ex, System Shock, Thief: The Dark Project)
2011: Peter Molyneux (God games)
2010: John Carmack (Doom series)
2009: Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear series)
2008: Sid Meier (Civilization series and many different simulators)
2007: Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Mario, Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda)
2006: Richard Garriott (Ultima)
2005: Eugene Jarvis (Defender and Robotron: 2084)
2004: Mark Cerny (Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon)
2003: Gunpei Yokoi (1941–1997) (Game Boy, Super Mario Land series, Metroid series)
2002: Yuji Naka (Sonic the Hedgehog)
2001: Will Wright (Sim games)

The Pioneer Award

Known as the First Penguin award until 2007, the Pioneer Award celebrates individuals who developed a breakthrough technology, game concept or gameplay design.

2016: Markus "Notch" Persson (creator of Minecraft)[21]
2015: David Braben (founder of Frontier Developments, co-creator of the Elite series)
2014: Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill (creators of Riot Games)[22]
2013: Steve Russell (creator of Spacewar!)
2012: Dave Theurer
2011: Yu Suzuki
2010: Gabe Newell (founder of Valve Corporation)
2009: Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy (founders of Harmonix)
2008: Ralph Baer (inventor of the Magnavox Odyssey)
2007: Alexey Pajitnov (creator of Tetris)
2006: Don Woods, Will Crowther (creators of the early text game Adventure)
2005: Richard Bartle (co-creator of MUD, ancestor to MMOs)
2004: Masaya Matsuura (founder of NanaOn-Sha, pioneer of music/game integration)
2003: David Crane, Larry Kaplan, Jim Levy, Alan Miller, Bob Whitehead (founders of Activision)
2002: Hubert Chardot ("for his risk-taking work on Alone in the Dark")
2001: Chip Morningstar and Randy Farmer (creators of LucasArts's Habitat)

Ambassador Award

The Ambassador Award is given to individuals within or outside the industry who helped video games "advance to a better place."[23] It replaced the IGDA Award for Community Contribution after 2008.[24]

2016: Tracy Fullerton[21]
2015: Brenda Romero
2014: Anita Sarkeesian (Feminist Frequency)[22]
2013: Chris Melissinos (Sun Microsystems)
2012: Kenneth Doroshow and Paul M. Smith (the lawyers in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association who argued for the Entertainment Merchants Association in the US Supreme Court.)
2011: Tim Brengle and Ian Mackenzie (Organizers of the Game Developers Conference volunteer program for 20+ years[25])
2010: Jerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik and Robert Khoo
2009: Tommy Tallarico
2008: Jason Della Rocca

Audience Award

These awards are voted by the audience for best game of that year.

2016: Life Is Strange[21]
2015: Elite: Dangerous
2014: Kerbal Space Program
2013: Dishonored

Retired awards

The following award categories have been retired or replaced with a different focus.

Character Design

The Character Design award recognizes the overall excellence of non-licensed character design in a game, including originality, character arc and emotional depth.

2007: Ōkami
2006: Shadow of the Colossus
2005: Half-Life 2

Excellence in Level Design

2003: Metroid Prime
2002: ICO
2001: American McGee's Alice

Excellence in Programming

2004: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
2003: Neverwinter Nights
2002: Black and White
2001: The Sims

IGDA Award for Community Contribution

The IGDA Award for Community Contribution recognized developers for significant efforts "building community, sharing knowledge, speaking on behalf of developers and/or contributing to the art form of game development".[24] The Ambassador Award replaced it after 2007.[23]

2007: George Sanger
2006: Chris Hecker
2005: Sheri Graner Ray
2004: Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk
2003: Doug Church (Eidos Interactive)
2002: Jeff Lander
2001: John Carmack

Original Game Character of the Year

2004: "HK-47" from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
2003: "Sly Cooper" from Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus
2002: "Daxter" from Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
2001: "Seaman" from Seaman

Maverick Award

The Maverick Award recognizes the current achievements of a developer who exhibits independence in thought and action while experimenting with alternate/emerging forms of digital games.

2007: Greg Costikyan
2006: Mike Dornbrook, Eran Egozy, Greg LoPiccolo, and Alex Rigopulos (Harmonix Music Systems)
2005: Matt Adams, Ju Row Farr, and Nick Tandavanitj (Blast Theory)
2004: Brian Fiete, Jason Kapalka, and John Vechey (PopCap Games)

Best New Social/Online Game

2010: FarmVille


  1. "Game Developers Choice Awards". Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  2. "Archive". Archived from the original on May 29, 2010. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  3. "Press Release:THE 2008 GAME DEVELOPERS CHOICE AWARDS". December 20, 2007. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  4. "rules and regulations". Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  5. "Game Developers Choice Awards 2000". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  6. "Game Developers Choice Awards 2001". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  7. "Game Developers Choice Awards 2002". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  8. "Game Developers Choice Awards 2003". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  9. "Game Developers Choice Awards 2004". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  10. "Game Developers Choice Awards 2005". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  11. "Game Developers Choice Awards 2006". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  12. "Game Developers Choice Awards 2007". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  13. "Game Developers Choice Awards 2008". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  14. "Game Developers Choice Awards 2009". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  15. "Game Developers Choice Awards 2010". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  16. "Game Developers Choice Awards 2011". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  17. "Game Developers Choice Awards 2012". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  18. "Game Developers Choice Awards 2013". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  19. "Game Developers Choice Awards 2014". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  20. McWhertor, Michael (March 17, 2016). "Game Developers Choice Award winners led by Her Story, The Witcher 3". Polygon. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  21. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 "Witcher 3 wins Game of the Year at 16th annual Game Developers Choice Awards". GDC News and Information Blog. Game Developers Conference. March 16, 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  22. 1 2 "Anita Sarkeesian, Riot co-founders win GDCA 2014 Special Awards". Gamasutra. February 11, 2014. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
  23. 1 2 "Ambassador Award Archive". Game Developers Choice Awards. 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  24. 1 2 "Community Contribution Archive". Game Developers Choice Awards. 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  25. (March 2011). "Ambassador Award Archive". Retrieved 16 January 2012.

External links

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