Activision’s online sci-fi shooter Destiny picked up best game at the Bafta video game awards on Thursday night, while The Last of Us: Left Behind triumphed in the Story and Performance categories.
However, it was very much an a night for the smaller games studios.
Smartphone and tablet puzzler Monument Valley from London-based studio Ustwo won two Baftas: mobile game and best British game.
The sport category was won by skateboarding sim OlliOlli, best debut game went to Alaskan adventure Never Alone, and artistic achievement was claimed by experimental mobile game Lumino City.
Best game design went to Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Game developer Tim Schafer, who presented the award, said: “The game of the year category had, like, Monument Valley and Mordor, just completely different games. I think it just shows that it doesn’t matter how big or small you are. The budget of your game doesn’t really affect its ability to reach people and touch people and be addictive and fun.”
There were some other successes for major Triple A titles. Far Cry 4 claimed best music, while Alien: Isolation won in the audio category.
Blizzard’s card game title Hearthstone beat the likes of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Grand Theft Auto V to the multiplayer prize. Elite co-developer David Braben was awarded the Bafta fellowship.
But this was a night in which the sheer range of video game experiences available today was celebrated. Lumino City by State of Play, a puzzle adventure set in a world that the small team constructed out of cardboard, was the artistic achievement winner, symbolising the aesthetic variety of the modern industry.
“I think Bafta pride themselves on awarding an artistic feeling about games,” said State of Play co-founder Katherine Bidwell. “Blood, sweat, and literal tears went into this project, and I think that jumps out on the screen when you see Lumino City, and I just hope that other people see it. This award means so much to us, it’s unbelievable.”
Ashley Johnson, the actor who played Ellie in the post-apocalyptic adventure add-on The Last of Us: Left Behind collected the awards for best story and best performance.
She gave the acceptance speech of the night, dedicating her success to all the misfits and weirdos in the world and praising Last of Us developers Naughty Dog for creating a female character who was strong yet vulnerable and who wasn’t sexualised.
“They definitely took some risks with the story,” said Johnson. “I think a lot of people, if you told them: ‘It’s a story about two teenage girls hanging out, just figuring out who they are in the world,’ maybe they wouldn’t be interested in playing that.
“But I think after the full game and connecting with the character of Ellie, they wanted to find out more about who she was. The story is focused on their love and that relationship, and the importance of that, and that excited me a lot.”
Actor Rufus Hound, who hosted the evening, also took time to acknowledge the influence that Terry Pratchett and Leonard Nimoy have had on the industry. “Live long and prosper,” said Johnson as she left the stage with her Bafta for best performance.
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