Thursday 7th April saw the creators of the very best video games from 2015 get together in London for the 12th annual BAFTA Game Awards. Popular comedian and gaming fan Dara O’Brian returned to host the ceremony yet again and brought his usual witty insight into the video gaming industry (most notably in this writer’s opinion in observing how Bloodborne, a game where you survive by avoiding ghosts is basically Pac-man). However, the awards were later dubbed ‘Night of the Indies’ as the majority of awards escaped the clutches of many mainstream favourites, instead being presented to some of the more left-field candidates.
The big winners of the night were Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Her Story and Rocket League, which each walked away with three awards a-piece after collectively receiving a whopping 22 nominations combined (10 for Rapture, 7 for Her Story and 5 for Rocket League). A British-developed first-person adventure game where you explore an abandoned village, Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture clearly excelled with its sound design as it took home the prizes for Audio Achievement, Original Music and Performer for Merle Dandridge, who is most arguably known for voicing Alyx Vance in the Half-Life 2 series.
THE BIG WINNERS OF THE NIGHT WERE EVERYBODY’S GONE TO THE RAPTURE, HER STORY AND ROCKET LEAGUE
Also from the British indie scene is Her Story, a detective game where you search through a police database of footage to work out whether a woman committed murder. Highly praised for its originality and ingenious non-linear storyline, it received the awards for Innovation, Debut Game, and Mobile & Handheld, but some critics cried foul when Viva Seifert, who portrays the suspected criminal in the game, didn’t get a Performer nomination.
Meanwhile from across the Atlantic, Rocket League, an extremely popular game where you play football with customisable cars, took away the awards for Family, Multiplayer, and Sport (which was amusingly contested by three other games about playing football and two other games about driving cars!). Other winners included Ori and the Blind Forest for Artistic Achievement, Until Dawn for Orginial Property, Prison Architect for Persistent Game, Bloodborne for Game Design, and Life is Strange for Story.
IT SEEMED THE ACADEMY STILL LARGELY FAVOURED THE BLOCKBUSTER TITLES
Lastly, and most definitely not least, were the awards for Best Game and British Game, which were very hotly contested by multiple candidates who had already scored an award or three on the night. But it seemed the academy still largely favoured the blockbuster titles with Batman: Arkham Knight receiving the British Game award (evidently they didn’t play the PC version!) and Fallout 4 taking home the grand prize of Best Game. This news, in particular, was met with considerable complaints among online viewers who argued either Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which both went away empty-handed despite multiple nominations, should have got the prize.
Overall, there weren’t any particular undeserving winners and there’s always going to be disagreement among those who want their favourite games to win in a competition featuring games more wildly varied than ever before. Hopefully, the interest in the BAFTA Game Awards will continue to grow in the years to come as video games become more widely accepted as a major cornerstone of British and international culture.