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Game Awards

There has been a valiant attempt over the last handful of years to create an awards night that celebrates video games. These shows have been put on with lofty goals, but have fallen flat and the ratings have followed suit. Last year’s VGX show was such a mess that I had my doubts that anyone would try again, but here we are. Geoff Keighley, the man behind Gametrailers.com, has spearheaded another awards show. It was aired entirely online on Friday December 5th.

There were two big differences between this show and those that came before it.

First, the fact that it was streamed online allowed the producers to skip out on the required nonsense that came with being aired on television. All of the advertising during the show was for games that were nominated for an award.

Second, while it did not feel like an interactive experience, it felt more connected to the gaming community. Everyone who went on stage was excited to be there. It was refreshing considering some of the guests from previous years.

The Game Awards serve a duel purpose. They spend equal parts celebrating the games of the past year and looking forward to the games coming out in the future.

Below are the nominees for each award that was given and the winner.

Game of the Year

2014 has been a great year for video games. All five nominees are excellent games in their own right. The fact that Mario Kart 8 and Shovel Knight didn’t make this is a testament to just how good these games are.

The Nominees:

Blizzard has taken their first stab at releasing a digital collectible card game in Hearthstone and it has proven to be wildly successful. There are millions of active players each day and it has been adopted by the e-sports scene as well.

I predict that Hearthstone will end up the winner here because it is has succeeded in bringing collectible card games to the masses the same way World of Warcraft brought did. It represents a paradigm shift in the video game industry.

How I would have voted: Hearthstone

My prediction: Hearthstone

WinnerDragon Age: Inquisition

I clearly missed the mark on my prediction, but this makes sense Dragon Age: Inquisition is an amazing game that is everything that RPG fans have wanted from their new consoles.

Developer of the Year

You can’t have a great year in video games without having a whole lot of great developers. The five companies listed here are responsible for some of the best games released in 2014.

I would have voted for Nintendo this year. Not because of my well documented number one fan status, but because they came into the year with a tarnished track record. Things were looking very grim and they managed to bring hit after hit all year and set up a great deal of momentum for the years to come.

I did, however, think that Telltale would win the award. They have managed to produce multiple episodes of several different adventure games over the course of the year. The project management skills required to make that happen are uncanny. They should be applauded.

The Nominees:

  • Blizzard
  • Monolith
  • Nintendo
  • Telltale
  • Ubisoft Montreal

How I would have voted: Nintendo

My prediction: Telltale

Winner: Nintendo

My prediction may have been wrong, but I can’t say that I was disappointed to see Nintendo win. They deserved it considering the games they released this year.

Best Independent Game

The independent game scene has grown significantly in recent years. It has grown so much that the very definition of “indie” has had to be adapted. Indie games used to be small, bite sized experiences, but many of them have grown in scope to rival Triple-A titles.

This year’s nominees are all amazing, but of the five of them I feel that Shovel Knight is the best game. It was an amazing experience from start to end that scratched my retro itch while augmenting the old school mechanics with modern game design.

The Nominees:

  • Broken Age Act I
  • Monument Valley
  • Shovel Knight
  • Transistor
  • The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

How I would have voted: Shovel Knight

My prediction: Shovel Knight

Winner: Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight is an amazing game that needs to be played by anyone who can. It will be proliferating to new platforms at some point. Keep your eyes peeled PlayStation and Xbox owners!

Best Mobile/Handheld Game

I really like the way they combined mobile and handheld games for this category. Any category that can pit a classic JRPG like Bravely Default with the addictive gameplay of Threes! is a great idea!

Hearthstone was basically made for mobile devices, so as much as I LOVE Bravely Default I cannot imagine another winner.

The Nominees:

  • Bravely Default
  • Hearthstone
  • Monument Valley
  • Super Smash Bros. for 3DS
  • Threes!

How I would have voted: Hearthstone

My prediction: Hearthstone

Winner: Hearthstone

This one was obvious. Hearthstone was the dominant mobile game this year. It is just way too good top be beaten.

Best Narrative

Story is getting more and more important as the video game industry matures. Only one of the five games nominated was appropriate for Engaged Family Gaming, but I can say that all of these had very strong stories.

My prediction is that South Park will walk away with the trophy. It was a huge surprise earlier this year and made a huge splash. It isn’t appropriate for children by any stretch, but anytime a company manages to turn

The Nominees:

How I would have voted: Valiant Hearts: The Great War

My prediction: South Park: The Stick of Truth

Winner: Valiant Hearts: The Great War

I should have stuck with me vote here and I would have gotten another one right. Valiant Hearts The Great War was a great story and is one that I expect to see used in History classrooms as soon as the use of games in education is more widely accepted.

Best Score/Soundtrack

Music is a huge part of every game. All five of the nominees here have amazing soundtracks that are an integral part of the game experience.

I personally would have voted for Child of Light, but the winner really could be any of them.

The Nominees:

  • Alien: Isolation
  • Child of Light
  • Destiny
  • Sunset Overdrive
  • Transistor
  • How I would have voted: Child of Light

My prediction: Too close to call.

Winner: Destiny

No real surprise here. I skipped out of making a predicition here, but the team over at Bungie did do a great job. Well deserved!

Best Performance

Technology has increased significantly in recent years. This has given skilled voice actors a chance to deliver some amazing performances.

None of these nominees are in family friendly games, but all of them wee amazing. Of them, my favorite was Troy Baker for his work in Shadow of Mordor.

The Nominees:

  • Adam Harrington as Bigby Wolf, The Wolf Among Us
  • Kevin Spacey as Jonathan Irons, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  • Melissa Hutchison as Clementine, The Walking Dead: Season Two
  • Trey Parker as various voices, South Park: The Stick of Truth
  • Troy Baker as Talion, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

How I would have voted: Troy Baker as Talion, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

My prediction: Troy Baker as Talion, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Winner: Trey Parker as various voices, South Park: The Stick of Truth

I missed the mark here. But, Trey Parker is hilarious and he did the voice acting for several different characters. The volume of work he had to do was worth an award all by itself.

Games for Change

This category featured games that were intended to deliver a message. My favorite of all of the nominees was Valiant Hearts. As I said above, I strongly believe that it will be used in classrooms to help teach World War I eventually.

With that said, I predicted that This War of Mine would win thanks to the creative way it expresses the depression of living in a war torn area.

  • Mountain
  • Never Alone
  • The Last of Us: Left Behind
  • This War of Mine
  • Valiant Hearts: The Great War

How I would have voted: Valiant Hearts: The Great War

My prediction: This War of Mine

Winner: Valiant Hearts: The Great War

I missed the mark with my prediction again. I definitely agree with the decision though. Valiant Hearts was an amazing experience.

Best Remaster

I have to admit that it is odd to even have this is a category. But, companies are doing such a good job with them that it is worthy of recognition. I personally would vote for the Pokemon remakes because they were such massive upgrades from their Game Boy Advance roots.

My vote aside I have to predict that The Master Chief Collection would win on the merits of remaking every single HALO multiplayer map ever released. That is a huge amount of work that was done well (despite server issues).

  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire
  • The Last of Us Remastered
  • The Master Chief Collection
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

How I would have voted: Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire

My prediction: The Master Chief Collection

Winner: Grand Theft Auto V

I was way off here, but this win also makes sense. The developers not only improved the graphical fidelity of the game, but they added a first person mode that fundamentally shifted some of the games mechanics. In a way this created a completely different game play experience.

Best Shooter

We don’t talk about shooters much here on Engaged Family Gaming, but I predicted Far Cry 4 would take home the trophy here.

The Nominees:

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  • Destiny
  • Far Cry 4
  • Titanfall
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order

How I would have voted: Far Cry 4

My prediction: Far Cry 4

Winner: Far Cry 4

I got it right! Far Cry is an amazing series, but that doesn’t take away from the other options here. This was a good crop of games.

Best Action/Adventure

None of the nominees are particularly family friendly here either. But, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is an amazing game and should win.

The Nominees:

  • Alien: Isolation
  • Assassin’s Creed: Unity
  • Bayonetta 2
  • Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • Sunset Overdrive

How I would have voted: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

My prediction: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Winner: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Looks like I managed to call this one right as well!

Best Roleplaying Game

I would absolutely love for Bravely Default to pull out a win here. It is easily my favorite roleplaying game in years. But There is no way that it will be able to beat Dragon Age: Inquisition.

The Nominees:

How I would have voted: Bravely Default

My prediction: Dragon Age: Inquisition

Winner Dragon Age: Inquisition

This one went as predicted. Dragon Age: Inquisition ended up being game of the year so it held its own category easily.

Best Fighting Game

I don’t bother trying to hide it. I love the fighting game genre. There is just something about it that is very exciting. The nominees this year were great, but none of them hold a candle to Super Smash Bros WiiU.

The Nominees:

How I would have voted: Super Smash Bros WiiU

My prediction: Super Smash Bros WiiU

Winner: Super Smash Bros WiiU

Glad to see they went with the good choice here. Super Smash Bros WiiU might be the best fighting game ever made. Love it!

Best Family Game

Now this is a category we can sink our teeth into. All five of these games are worthy contenders. I discuss all of them in greater detail tomorrow.

The Nominees:

  • Disney Infinity 2.0
  • Fantasia: Music Evolved
  • Mario Kart 8
  • Skylanders: Trap Team
  • Tomodachi Life

How I would have voted:Mario Kart 8

My prediction: Mario Kart 8

Winner: Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart 8 is definitely the strongest game in the bunch even if only because it will be seeing play in homes for years while these other titles will likely be replaced very quickly. That kind of longevity deserves to be rewarded.

Best Sports/Racing Game

I find it interesting that they combined the sports and racing categories for this iteration of the awards show. It makes sense in a way because there really aren’t that many different games released each year so this helps increase the competition.

Mario Kart 8, however, is miles ahead of the competition. They should just wait for next year.

The Nominees:

  • FIFA 15
  • Forza Horizon 2
  • Mario Kart 8
  • NBA 2K15
  • Trials Fusion

How I would have voted: Mario Kart 8

My prediction: Mario Kart 8

Winner: Mario Kart 8

As predicted, Mario Kart 8 took home the crown. This was the clear choice.

Best Online Experience

The online experience is critically important as more and more games take their players onto the web to play. I predicted that Hearthstone would win here because it has managed to bring the online collectible card game into the mainstream.

The Nominees:

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  • Dark Souls II
  • Destiny
  • Hearthstone
  • Titanfall

How I would have voted: Hearthstone

My prediction: Hearthstone

Winner: Destiny

I did not see that one coming at all. But, it does make some sense. Destiny is a first person shooter that features a significant online component. The game has been very successful so far and a lot of that has been riding on the back of strong server stability and well designed multiplayer game play.

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