Journey takes top prize at GDC Awards

Thatgamecompany's adventure title beats out Mass Effect 3, Walking Dead, and others to secure top honor; Cart Life wins grand prize at Independent Game Festival Awards.

by

The votes are in and Journey has taken top honors at the 13th annual Game Developers Choice Awards this evening in San Francisco, California. Journey not only took home the top award, but also accolades for innovation, best visual arts, best downloadable game, best audio, and best game design.

Thatgamecompany's adventure game beat out XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Mass Effect 3, The Walking Dead, and Dishonored to secure the Game of the Year Award.

Jenova Chen, cofounder of Thatgamecompany, thanked his parents and his educators for helping him get where he is today. He said creating Journey was no easy task, but noted he has learned a great deal since beginning on his own journey to make the game.

The 2013 Game Developers Choice Awards was hosted by Double Fine founder Tim Schafer. Last year's winner was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

The GDC Awards were preceded by the 15th annual Independent Games Festival Awards, where Cart Life took home the Seumas McNally Grand Prize. In addition to the top prize, Cart Life--developed by Richard Hofmeier--won the excellence in narrative and nuovo award.

A full list of the night's nominees with winners in italics follows below.

GAME DEVELOPERS CHOICE AWARDS

Game of the Year
Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks)
The Walking Dead (Telltale Games)
Mass Effect 3 (BioWare/Electronic Arts)
XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Firaxis Games/2K Games)
Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment)

Best Audio
Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment)
Hotline Miami (Dennaton Games/Devolver Digital)
Sound Shapes (Queasy Games/Sony Computer Entertainment)
Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)
Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios)

Best Debut
Humble Hearts (Dust: An Elysian Tail)
Polytron Corporation (Fez)
Giant Sparrow (The Unfinished Swan)
Subset Games (FTL: Faster Than Light)
Fireproof Games (The Room)

Best Game Design
Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks)
Mark of the Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios)
Spelunky (Derek Yu/Andy Hull)
Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment)
XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Firaxis Games/2K Games)

Best Downloadable Game
The Walking Dead (Telltale Games)
Spelunky (Derek Yu/Andy Hull)
Trials: Evolution (RedLynx/Microsoft Studios)
Mark of the Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios)
Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment)

Best Technology
Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)
PlanetSide 2 (Sony Online Entertainment)
Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios)
Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Treyarch/Activision)
Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)

Best Handheld/Mobile Game
Gravity Rush (SCE Japan Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment)
Hero Academy (Robot Entertainment)
Sound Shapes (Queasy Games/Sony Computer Entertainment)
The Room (Fireproof Games)
Kid Icarus: Uprising (Sora/Nintendo)

Best Narrative
Spec Ops: The Line (Yager Entertainment/2K Games)
Mass Effect 3 (BioWare/Electronic Arts)
Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks)
The Walking Dead (Telltale Games)
Virtue's Last Reward (Chunsoft/Aksys Games)

Best Visual Arts
Borderlands 2 (Gearbox Software/2K Games)
Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment)
Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)
Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks)
Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios)

Innovation
Mark of the Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios)
Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment)
FTL: Faster Than Light (Subset Games)
The Unfinished Swan (Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment)
ZombiU (Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft)

Ambassador Award
Chris Melissinos, curator of The Smithsonian's The Art of Video Games exhibit

Pioneer Award
Spacewar creator Steve Russell

Audience Award
Dishonored

Lifetime Achievement Award
BioWare founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk

INDEPENDENT GAMES FESTIVAL AWARDS

Seumas McNally Grand Prize
Hotline Miami (Dennaton Games)
FTL: Faster Than Light (Subset Games)
Cart Life (Richard Hofmeier)
Little Inferno (Tomorrow Corporation)
Kentucky Route Zero (Cardboard Computer)

Excellence in Visual Art
Incredipede (Northway Games and Thomas Shahan)
Kentucky Route Zero (Cardboard Computer)
Guacalamelee! (Drinkbox Studios)
Loves in a Dangerous Spacetime (Asteroid Base)
Year Walk (Simogo)

Excellence in Narrative
Thirty Flights of Loving (Blendo Games)
Cart Life (Richard Hofmeier)
Kentucky Route Zero (Cardboard Computer)
Dys4ia (Auntie Pixelante)
Gone Home (The Fullbright Company)

Technical Excellence
StarForge (CodeHatch)
Perspective (DigiPen Widdershins)
Little Inferno (Tomorrow Corporation)
Intrusion 2 (Aleksey Abramenko)
LiquidSketch (Tobias Neukom)

Excellence In Design
Samurai Gunn (Beau Blyth)
FTL: Faster Than Light (Subset Games)
Starseed Pilgrim (Droqen & Ryan Roth)
Super Hexagon (Terry Cavanagh)
Super Space (David Scamehorn and Alexander Baard/DigiPen)

Excellence In Audio
Kentucky Route Zero (Cardboard Computer)
Bad Hotel (Lucky Frame)
140 (Jeppe Carlsen)
Hotline Miami (Dennaton Games)
Pixeljunk 4AM (Q-Games)

Nuovo Award
Cart Life (Richard Hofmeier)
Spaceteam (Henry Smith)
Dys4ia (Auntie Pixelante)
Bientot l'ete (Tale of Tales)
7 Grand Steps (Mousechief)
MirrorMoon (SantaRagione + BloodyMonkey)
VESPER.5 (Michael Brough)
Little Inferno (Tomorrow Corporation)

Audience Award
FTL: Faster Than Light (Subset Games)

Discussion

118 comments
chyng85
chyng85

Good to Journey, good to Sony~

jark888
jark888

Congratulate to Journey. Good work.

willzihang
willzihang

This game, to my knowledge, has won EVERY category that it has ever been nominated for, in any event. There is something fishy going on here-- not even the best games deserve this much sucking up to.

Hurvl
Hurvl

You can't blame the GDC for pciking the same thing over and over when it comes to Game of the Year awards. Last year Skyrim, a very expansive and expensive (budget wise) AAA game won and this year a small indie game, Journey, wins. It's good that Journey has been commercially successful as well, because prizes don't cover development costs, although awards often give sales a boost. I don't know how strong an effect awards have when it comes to games, but for books and movies it's often significant because of the whole "people who are not me likes it, so that's why I should buy it"- mentality with certain people.

USAPATRIOT21
USAPATRIOT21

Glad to see the more deserving titles passed up for the little guy.

ryogapower
ryogapower

the little game that could. makes me smile to see it taking on the big dogs and winning every time. Well done thatgamecompany.

JusXice
JusXice

it goes to show that small games can triumph over the big ones. Like how (The walking dead aka the best game i have ever  played so far won GOTY)

belgrave
belgrave

I feel that Journey is more of an experience rather than a game. Not surprised it won though. It is amazing.  

Spicemoose
Spicemoose

It's looks cool...but...I don't want to pay that much for something like that...only because of the extra chiropractor bill

AjenoMerveilles
AjenoMerveilles

Would've preferred X:Com myself but that is merely down to nostalgia more than anything. I did enjoy Journey a lot. More experience than game and I was lucky enough to acquire a "partner" early on. We stayed together throughout, investigating, completing then squeaking goodbye as we completed.

God. That makes it sound like the most hackneyed romantic movie of all time. But it was quite moving, which was really the main point of this game. So...

Zignoff
Zignoff

Doesn't one have to first be a GAME to get this award and not an over priced slideshow?

Dante-xero
Dante-xero

I have to say i find Journey slightly overrated.

purutrehan
purutrehan

well you know that eddie makuch is my neighbour

purutrehan
purutrehan

hey i need a new profile picture can anyone post it here PLEASE.

purutrehan
purutrehan

well panda juicy is right i dont know how juicy it is but he or she is right.....

purutrehan
purutrehan

Journey takes 2-3 hours to complete and it is the best game HOW ??????

purutrehan
purutrehan

jourey JOURNEY journey wins !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorciere_basic
Sorciere_basic

And with that Journey Awards 2013 are over.

Journey is practically the only game that has a noticeable level of originality and is still mainstream enough to appeal to many people.

It doesn't win because it's so amazingly great but rather because in an industry that lately is desperately lacking in originality and ambition there is a dearth of competition. 

Pandajuicy
Pandajuicy

Tiny indie games with only 2 hours of gameplay should not be winning awards over far more substantial, well made AAA titles, especially GOTY awards.  This is like a 10 minute short film winning Best Picture at the Oscars.

Arab_Spring
Arab_Spring

I LOVE AGE OF WUSHU 

it is better than heroin, it gives me the same rush as heroin, and i dont even have to go to rehab after, no ugly track marks on my arm, no being caught and thrown in jail were i get raped.

dont do drugs, do age of wushsu

(this is a parody btw)

MatrixGamer78
MatrixGamer78

WellDonE JOURNEY :D u better deserve for what u achieve.

Spartan_418
Spartan_418

Journey was a great game, but not without its flaws.

I really wish there had been some element of complexity or challenge in the puzzles; since the whole game revolves around the "struggle" of making it to the top of the mountain in the distance, it's a bit odd that there's no actual challenge involved. The game practically plays itself.

nickaugust20
nickaugust20

Journey was an amazing game. For the price, there's never been a game that's been a better deal. Not sure if these awards proves that point... or just that all exclusive games get the nod

lmaocarrots
lmaocarrots

@willzihang Who would suck up to an unknown, lower budget, indie company? They've just created an important work of art that has redefined a medium, I think that deserves recognition.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@belgrave Instead of gathering experience in a game, the game itself is an experience. That must be the reason why they won the innovation award, lol.

dogfather76
dogfather76

I agree.  I think that a lot of people just think liking it makes them sound sophisticated.  Kind of like saying that Charlie Chaplin movies are the best ever.  I thought Journey was ok, but it was not even in my top ten last year.

BladeStrike1234
BladeStrike1234

The game was never designed to be challenging. You seem to have missed the point of the "journey" completely.

willzihang
willzihang

@lmaocarrots @willzihang Sucking up to that ever increasing entity that is popular opinion. Yes, I can understand that the game is worthy of praise-- but for heaven's sake, it clearly doesn't deserve to beat every single other game, for every category. There are loads of original indie games out there, it's not original to be original. I applaud originality, but in the context of the quality of the game itself one has to be reasonable.

lmaocarrots
lmaocarrots

@dogfather76 People don't like it because they think it makes them sophisticated, they like it because it takes them on a journey and gives one of the purest forms of escapism out there. The game is graphically beautiful, wonderfully paced and the soundtrack was nominated for a grammy. The idea of a game as an experience as opposed to entertainment is not for everyone, but never before has it been done this well in EVERY regard.

Ravenheart00
Ravenheart00

@dogfather76 i disagree. when i first saw journey and the company's previous titles flower and flow i didn't think it would appeal to me in the slightest. But im glad i gave it a try cause i found it to be an awesome experience. my personal fave game of the year was Far cry 3, but im not going to knock Journey for winning it, great game, as developers also thought.

purutrehan
purutrehan

@King9999 @Pandajuicy but old games were used to be more longer than this time


Spartan_418
Spartan_418

@BladeStrike1234here's a quote from Game Informer's review, he puts it better than I can:

"I find no fault with simple, accessible design, but the lack of any real challenge over the course of the game lessens the impact of the journey’s conclusion – how am I meant to feel like I’ve just come through an arduous quest if nothing ever made me really think or work hard? In the pursuit of highly scripted moments of beauty, the game loses a sense of player agency and choice."

Spartan_418
Spartan_418

@BladeStrike1234 No, I didn't.

The player is supposed to feel some sense of achievement or accomplishment with reaching the end of the game, and that is diminished by the "journey" requiring absolutely no effort. 

lmaocarrots
lmaocarrots

@willzihang @queuing_for_PS4 Then which are the best? 

Nintendo has shown severe lack of innovation in it's last couple years. 

Microsoft cares more about getting sales then making the games that matter, and therefore you wind up with the KinectBox that's "the center of the living room" as opposed to the best platform to game on.

PC is limited in it's exclusives to mostly RTS's and MMO's, however PC has room for a great indie game market.

willzihang
willzihang

@lmaocarrots @willzihang Well, neither of us can make such a claim. You, or I. One can only speculate as to how long it will be remembered.

The case for it being 'high art' is also a subjective one; indeed subjective like my own personal opinion. But I just suspect it infringed by the 'I like it because many do" to do some degree.

lmaocarrots
lmaocarrots

@willzihang @lmaocarrots But it's original to be high art. This game could be at a display in 100 years at an art museum easily, not not many games do that. It's also unique to evoke emotions out of the player for sometimes no reason other than how beautiful it is. Yes it does deserves to beat out every game, because Dishonored, The Walking Dead, Halo 4, Borderlands 2, Assassin's Creed 3, Mass Effect 3 are simply just not as important as it. In 50 years if gaming is still streamlined, this game will be spoken of, just as Pong and Super Mario Bros are now, and the others will just be distant memories.

lmaocarrots
lmaocarrots

@Hurvl @lmaocarrots Journey was released in april and fans and critics everywhere loved it. It wasn't until 8-10 months later that it started getting bombarded with awards, so I don't think that has anything to do with it. I played it early on in it's life and continue to feel that it's the finest game I ever played.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@lmaocarrots A lot of people buy games simply because they're popular or get awards. When the next Nobel Prize in literature is revealed, a large number of people will go "Who the fuck is that? Oh, well it doesn't matter, they won the nobel Prize, so I have to buy some of their books." Though that's an extreme case and I don't know if any game awards get even close to that effect.

ryogapower
ryogapower

@King9999 well said King, i'm done trying to explain the merits of this short game to people who don't get it. quality is quality, no matter how much of it you have. Journey is a near perfect game in that it sets out to achieve something and does so in spades. Its just long enough.

King9999
King9999

@purutrehan Not really.  The thing you have to realize is that a lot of games aren't going to be 20+ hours without padding in some way.  You can tell which games do that and which ones don't.  IMO, replay value is more important than game length.

ryogapower
ryogapower

@Spartan_418 @BladeStrike1234 there are challenges but in a different way. to get the meditation trophy you have to somehow convince an anonymous party to sit still with you for a minute. took me the longest time flapping about to get them to do that. if you want a true challenge i recommend you pick up dark souls, hardest game this generation (a game i platinum'd). this is just not that type of game, think about it, if a gamer that likes a challenge like me that has platinum'd dark souls can thoroughly enjoy Journey... it must have done something right.

lmaocarrots
lmaocarrots

@willzihang Yeah, there's a couple truly amazing examples of PC indie games, but it's so open that you get tons of crap and tons of just so-so stuff. 

PS3 continues to move the mainstream games forward in unique and innovative ways and has a huge amount of indie support to boot.

willzihang
willzihang

@lmaocarrots @willzihang @queuing_for_PS4 PC has room for a great indie market? Methinks you understate the reality a little considering PC MADE the indie world of games. Just peruse the Steam library-- to get a mere taste of the PC indie scene. Not even to mention the Green light project. I played indie games way back in 1995 on PC, they were called PD and shareware back then.


I'd name FTL as one example. Amnesia The Dark Descent is another.