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 Journey ,  Far Cry 3 ,  The Walking Dead  win at 13th Choice Awards
Journey, Far Cry 3, The Walking Dead win at 13th Choice Awards
March 27, 2013 | By GDC Staff

thatgamecompany’s emotionally-charged game Journey swept tonight’s Game Developers Choice Awards ceremony during GDC 2013 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, winning six of the evening’s eleven main awards, including Best Audio, Best Game Design, Best Visual Arts, Best Downloadable Game, the Innovation Award, and the coveted Game of the Year Award tonight.

The downloadable PlayStation Network title Journey received universal acclaim throughout 2012, and is a high point in a developer journey that started with IGF Student Showcase-nominated title Cloud in 2005, and spanned acclaimed titles fl0w and Flower.

Journey takes players on a trek towards a mysterious mountain across a desert, with wordless gameplay and serene natural visuals. Players can randomly encounter other travelers on the way to the temple, allowing them to share their voyage together, with a unique and touching experience changing on every playthrough.

Arkane Studios’ fantastical stealth adventure game, Dishonored, won the inaugural Game Developers Choice Awards Audience Award category, after thousands of votes were cast. The critically lauded Dishonored shares the story of a magic wielding assassin clearing his name for a murder he did not commit. The narrative commitment to multiple paths and player choice endeared itself to many game players in 2012.

Elsewhere, strategic space adventure FTL: Faster than Light won Best Debut at tonight’s ceremony. Developed by a two-man core team at Subset Games, the title began as a Kickstarter project and IGF China honoree prior to winning in categories at both the Game Developers Choice Awards and the Independent Games Festival tonight.

Other notable winners include the Best Narrative, awarded to Telltale Games’ critically and commercially-acclaimed The Walking Dead, Best Handheld/Mobile, won by Fireproof Studios’ puzzle game, The Room, and Best Technical, won by Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3.

The Game Developers Choice Awards, which honor the very best games of the year, 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 700 leading game creators from all parts of the video game industry.

In addition this year, BioWare founders, Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk, were honored by the Choice Awards Advisory Committee with the Lifetime Achievement Award for their contributions to the game development community. The two are responsible for a catalog full of classic RPG titles that inspired a generation, including Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect and Dragon Age.

Chris Melissinos, the creator and guest curator of the Smithsonian American Art Museum‘s The Art of Video Games was presented with the Ambassador Award for his efforts on the major exhibition, which is now touring the U.S. The installation, which features playable games alongside visual depictions of dozens of notable titles, has helped further establish video games as a creative medium that deserves to stand alongside all other artforms as an equal.

Finally, Spacewar! creator Steve Russell received the Pioneer Award at the awards, more than 50 years after the multiplayer space game he co-created first ran on a mainframe computer, for helping to create a vitally important precursor to today’s video game industry.

“This year we saw some amazing titles developed in the indie and downloadable game space, and the critical acclaim that titles like Journey, FTL: Faster Than Light, The Walking Dead, and The Room received could not have been more deserved,” said Meggan Scavio, General Manager of the Game Developers Conference. “2012 saw many exciting developments in the video game industry; I can’t wait to see what surprises 2013 will hold.”

The full list of recipients for the 13th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards are:

Best Downloadable Game
Journey (thatgamecompany)

Best Narrative
The Walking Dead (Telltale Games)

Best Visual Arts
Journey (thatgamecompany)

Ambassador Award
Chris Melissinos

Best Technology
Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft)

Best Game Design
Journey (thatgamecompany)

Best Handheld/Mobile Game
The Room (Fireproof Studios)

Best Audio
Journey (thatgamecompany)

Pioneer Award
Steve Russell

Best Debut
FTL: Faster Than Light (Subset Games)

Innovation Award
Journey (thatgamecompany)

Audience Choice Award
Dishonored (Arkane Studios)

Lifetime Achievement Award
Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk

Game of the Year
Journey (thatgamecompany)

For more information about the 13th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards, please visit the award website. For information about the 2013 Game Developers Conference, please visit its official website.

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Jon Boon
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Good choice on Journey for top game of the year. Definitely my pick (as well as game of this generation so far). Simply one of the single best games I have played. Glad to see it win the awards that it so rightly deserves.

Leroy Sylva
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I'm still not thrilled that the handheld and mobile categories are one (I really think that they are separate entities), but congrats to the winners, nonetheless.

Joshua Griffiths
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Only one award for The Walking Dead? That's shocking, much better than Journey I felt.

Bruno Xavier
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Walking Dead is amazing. So many choices in the game!
Great narrative.

Kyle Jansen
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Sort of a sad year for the games industry when one small downloadable title is so much better than everything else, that the only "mainstream" game to win an award gets it for technology.

I was going to say something about how while Journey was great, it didn't deserve this many awards. But then I tried to figure out which game *should* have gotten those awards, and I can't think of anything. Dishonored is the only game that came close last year. I'd probably have given the Gameplay award to it, but that's about it.

Adam Bishop
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I don't think it's sad. Money might buy flashier graphics and licensed soundtracks, but it can't buy good game design. If anything I'm glad that we're seeing smaller studios get recognition and good sales for the great work that they're doing.

Alex Covic
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I am 45 years old. Let me tell you, 2012 was an amazing year in video games! From Indie to AAA titles, mobile, online, console, even PC. The industry is changing by the minute. More, better quality titles, than ever before.

Winning 6 awards does not make the game 6x better than any other game. It just acknowledges its popularity (among peers, btw!).

If you look down on games and judge them condescending by "downloadable" and "small" you are using wrong parameters. You have to adapt quickly, if you want to be a game developer in the future (I read your bio).

John Flush
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What I think is the saddest is that even though Journey has won all these awards, it still pretty much bankrupted the company (their words) :

Dave Hoskins
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I've just been playing Papo & Yo, and it's much more of a game than the short Journey.
Sure, Journey should win for it's art, but it's an on-rails experience, without much thinking involved at all. I felt amazed but strangely let down by the time it ended. All I really did was travel forward and light up some physics scarves! Although they were clever by not including things that couldn't be done perfectly.
Papo & Yo on the other hand is so full of heart, soul, wonder AND puzzles. It really deserves more, much more consideration. They really threw themselves at this game, and I'm looking forward to seeing more stuff from them.