So as 2016 draws to a close, The Game Awards gave the industry a chance to celebrate all that is great in the gaming world. I’ve had a chance to sift through all of the winners and announcements made on the night and here are a few of my thoughts…

The ups

The Game Awards
Now in its third year under The Game Awards name, journalist Geoff Keighley is starting to establish this show in the gaming calendar and get noticed in the world’s media and online. Any chance to celebrate games is, in my eyes, a great move. It’s still rough around the edges and there are areas that need work, more on that later, but the buzz caused on social media before, during and after this event shows just how far the ceremony has come. Well done sir!

overwatch heroes

“Overwatch” popularity blew up over a night when the game launched in May (2016) for Windows, PS4 and Xbox One. So it´s no wonder that the game won a lot of awards during the Game Awards 2016 (GOTY, Best game direction, best mutiplayer and Esports game of the year).

Overwatch was the biggest winner on the night scooping Game of the Year, Best Multiplayer, Best ESports Game and Best Game Direction. Released in May, Overwatch has dominated the FPS arena combat market in much the same way as World of Warcraft in the MMORPG sector. In August, Blizzard announced that over 15 million players had clocked up more than 500 million hours already, phenomenal! So, considering the nominations in each category (I really thought Uncharted 4 would win Game of the Year), Overwatch has proven to be a massive success and will continue to be so for a long time yet. Not my personal taste in games, but you can’t argue with the success it’s achieved in a relative short space of time.

Game previews and announcements
We got lots of awesome games to look forward to in 2017. We got a further look at Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, showing us a new area and more of the world’s other inhabitants – I really can’t wait for this one. The completely open world approach looks fantastic. How they’ll build in Link’s traditional weapons and obtaining them into this world will be interesting. It looks like there’s going to be a hunger system, something I’m not so sure about as these usually just serve to distract and get in the way! While we’d have all liked to have seen it on the Switch, Nintendo have made it clear we won’t get any more on that until the new year. We also got to see gameplay footage from Mass Effect: Andromeda. Wow! This game looks huge while the environments look absolutely beautiful and suitably varied. The combat looks slick with lots of abilities at your disposal. Out in the Spring, I can’t wait. Hideo Kojima’s new game, Death Stranding was revealed via a cinematic teaser trailer.

Really strange one this, the cinematics were breath-taking but there’s not much else to tell about the game at this early stage. Oh, other than the fact that it stars Mads Mikkelsen, always plays fantastically evil characters. In addition to all of this, we also got to see Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition, Rocket League’s Christmas content, Telltale’s new game series Guardians of the Galaxy, Halo Wars 2, Prey and the brand-new Walking Dead season, A New Frontier. Finally, there was a reveal of Dauntless on PC. This has got lots of people talking as it looks like a chance for PC players to join in on the monster hunting phenomena that they’ve missed out on so far. This one looks interesting, despite the F2P model (buy to win?) and I’ll be keeping a close eye on this being such a huge fan of the Monster Hunter series on 3DS, be great to play on a bigger screen.

that dragon cancer

That Dragon, Cancer” has to be one of THE most emotional experiences that one could experience in a game to date.

That Dragon, Cancer
It’s not often that something gets me welled up, close to tears, but this was one of those occasions. Now unfortunately, I’ve not had a chance to play the game yet (not sure my emotions could handle it) but when one of the game’s co-creators, Ryan Green (father of Joel Green, the game’s story subject) appeared on stage to accept the award for Games for Impact, he managed to bring the audience to their knees with his speech. The whole speech is definitely worth watching

“You let us tell the story of my son Joel. In the end, it was not the story that we wanted to tell. But you chose to love us by being willing to stop and to listen and to not turn away. To let my son Joel’s life change you because you chose to see him and to experience how we loved him.

“And I hope that when we are all willing to see each other, not for just who we want to be, but who we are, and who we’re meant to be. This act of love and this act of grace can change the world.”

I challenge anyone not to feel really moved by Ryan’s words or the game itself.

The downs

The Game Awards
I’ve already touched on the positives around the show above. However, I also mentioned that the ceremony was rather rough around the edges. First up, what on earth was going on with the commercials? I completely understand that something like this needs money, but there are better ways of raising it, surely?! The bloody Hydrobot did my head in! It was truly badly timed as well, particularly appearing straight after That Dragon, Cancer segment, really bad taste. I’m not saying to make this awards ceremony into the Oscars, but there’s a lot that could be taken from some of the other top awards shows around the world, not least, the actual presenting of awards. On a number of occasions I had to look up who the other nominees were in each category and, as much as I get fed up with lengthy acceptance speeches, some provision for developers, producers, etc. to step up would have been nice. In addition to this, some awards were actually announced outside of the awards event (in the pre event, for example), what’s that about?!

Musical performances
One of the areas of gaming that’s really grown on me are the soundtracks. I often find myself listening to a good game soundtrack while working (I’ve got Deus Ex on right now as I write this) so why weren’t they celebrated more? There was no award for Best Soundtrack and the musical performances could have been more relevant. Aside from Doom winning Best Music/Sound design and an amazing, energetic performance by it’s composer (Mick Gordon), the rest of the music was needless!

Nolan North’s acceptance speech
I said I’d have liked more acceptance speeches, but if they were all like North’s, forget it! Ask any gamer to name a voice actor, I guarantee Nolan’s name will come up the majority of the time. Nolan seemed to be aware of this and used his speech to throw other voice actors under the bus in a growing dispute between developers and voice actors! You usually get someone using an awards ceremony as a political platform and, on this occasion, it was Mr North, totally unnecessary.

Overall verdict
I was asked to write an opinion article on The Games Awards and I hope I’ve got that across. Any ways, in overall, I truly enjoyed watching the ceremony. As I really like a good awards show and, while The Games Awards has a way to go to reach the established heights of others, it’s making great strides. As I said, anything that celebrates gaming and gets the positive side of gaming into the world’s media has to be a good thing. I think the winners were right and well deserved, everyone will obviously have their opinion on this, but it’s hard to argue with those that came out tops. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event (open to an invite if any organisers are reading this) and hope they take on board what people are saying online about the event. I’d thoroughly recommend finding a recording of the awards and watching it through.

Robin Ek – Editor

This is a personal opinion of the writer, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the other writers (nor The Gaming Ground´s) opinions.

Simon Bunyard
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @Lankysi

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