Portal BioShocks GDC Awards

Valve's mind-bending puzzler takes home Game of the Year, ties 2K's undersea adventure with three awards; Phantom Hourglass, Crackdown also honored.

SAN FRANCISCO--As is the case every year, Wednesday comprises the most frantic 24 hours of the Game Developers Conference. The first day of both the conference and expo starts off with a high-profile keynote speech--in this case, Microsoft's John Schappert unveiling an ambitious Xbox Live community development program and Gears of War 2 being announced. It ends with the Annual Game Developers Choice Awards, in which organizers CMP Media, its readers, and a select jury choose what they feel are the year's top games.

This year, two titles dominated the 8th Annual GDCA nominations: BioShock, 2K Boston/Australia's critically lionized undersea adventure, and Portal, the dimension-hopping puzzler included in Valve Software's Orange Box compilation. Each had five nominations, one more than the next-most nominated games, BioWare's Mass Effect and Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

But while COD4 cleaned up at the Interactive Achievements Awards in Las Vegas, both it and Mass Effect walked away empty-handed in San Francisco. The night's big winner at the GDCA ceremony in the massive South Hall of the Moscone Center was Portal, which took home the ceremony's top prize, Game of the Year 2007, as well as Best Game Design and the Innovation Award.

For its part, BioShock also won three slightly less prestigious honors: Best Visual Art, Best Writing, and Best Audio. The rest of the awards were handed out to one game each: Real Time Worlds' Crackdown won Best Debut, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass won Best Handheld Game, and Best Downloadable Game went to flOw.

As for the ceremony itself, it began with Finnish developer Kloonigames taking home the top prize at the Independent Games Festival for its quirky game Crayon Physics Deluxe. Following a series of parody videos from game-comedy troupe Mega64, the GDC awards were doled out in a leadup to the higher-profile awards.

Naughty Dog cofounder Jason Rubin hosted the ceremony, saying he was entering the "Billy Crystal" phase of his career. Since he hasn't made games in the last few years, Rubin said he finally had a chance to play them, and was impressed with the abundance of quality candidates. However, Rubin's public speaking skills are also a bit rusty. In announcing Real Time World's Crackdown as the Best Debut Game, he accidentally proclaimed the award went to "Crack Time," drawing a chorus of laughs.

International Game Developers Association president Jason Della Rocca was honored with the Ambassador Award during the show, a change of pace for the industry face who normally finds himself presenting hardware instead of receiving it. "And here I thought being called a jackass and an idiot on national TV by [antigame activist] Jack Thompson was reward enough," Della Rocca said before rattling off a list of others he felt more deserving of the honor. After singling out the Penny Arcade Child's Play project, Della Rocca implored everyone in the audience to act as an ambassador for gaming and not give in to apathy.

Picking up on a theme from earlier in the day, Al Alcorn presented the inventor of the first gaming console with the Pioneer Award. In receiving the honor, Baer said it was a privilege to be there, and reminded the crowd in his succinct acceptance speech that he is still "cranking out stuff." As in the day's earlier session, Baer received a lengthy standing ovation from an appreciative audience.

Railroad Tycoon and Civilization builder Sid Meier received this year's Lifetime Acheivement Award, an honor presented to him by Electronic Arts' Louis Castle. Like Baer, Meier received a standing ovation as he took the stage. Saying he was an independent developer when he started just because there was no other kind, Meier remarked at the amazing growth of the industry, and thanked it as a whole for everything it has done since he first started developing.

When recapping all the nominees, Portal was the crowd favorite, drawing loud cheers from throughout the hall. Those cheers were then trumped when Portal was actually named the Game of the Year and the developers took the stage for the third time of the night. Valve CEO Gabe Newell took first crack at the acceptance speech with a haiku:

Orange Box puzzle game?
Digipen students are smart.
The cake is a lie.

As the applause died down, Rubin thanked the event's attendees and sponsors, wished the crowd a good night, and the schmoozing and networking of GDC resumed anew.

A full list of the Game Developers Choice Award winners is below. Tonight's ceremony also saw the Independent Game Festival winners crowned.

2007 Game of the Year
Portal (Valve)
Kim Swift, Erik Wolpaw

2007 Best Game Design
Portal (Valve)
Kim Swift, Realm Lovejoy, Paul Graham

2007 Best Visual Art
BioShock (2K Boston/2K Australia/2K Games)
Scott Sinclair, Shawn Robertson, Andrew James

2007 Best Technology
Crysis (Crytek/Electronic Arts)
Cevat Yerli, Douglas Binks, Timur Davidenko, Martin Mittring

2007 Best Writing
BioShock (2K Boston/2K Australia/2K Games)
Ken Levine, Emily Ridgway, Joe McDonagh, Susan O'Connor

2007 Best Audio
BioShock (2K Boston/2K Australia/2K Games)
Eric Brosius, Pat Balthrop, Emily Ridgway, Justin Mullins

2007 Best Debut
Crackdown (Real Time Worlds/Microsoft Game Studios)
Ramon Gonzalez, Violetta Sanchez, Rafael Diaz, Jose Guerra

2007 Innovation
Portal (Valve)
Kim Swift, Erik Wolpaw

2007 Best Handheld Game
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (Nintendo/Nintendo)
Eiji Aonuma

2007 Best Downloadable Game
flOw (thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment)
Kellee Santiago, Jenova Chen, Martin Middleton, Hao Cui, John Edwards, Nick Clark

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Discussion

178 comments
DUUUUUUDEn51
DUUUUUUDEn51

I can't believe I still don't own Bioshock or The Orange Box... x (

Granulated
Granulated

What a lot of Portal 'haters' dont realise is that the game life is MASSIVELY extended by the fantasic TIME/ PORTAL/ STEP challenge maps.

Neoyamaneko
Neoyamaneko

Portal isn't even a "feature length" game. Sounds like the GDCs were trying to be avant garde and counterculture rather than going with the popular choice in BioShock.

pause422
pause422

I'm glad that basically every major award show,or gamesite didn't give Halo 3 any awards,cuz it deserved nothing.As far as people even thinking its a good game(except the people just wanting Halo and Halo 2 wth upgraded visuals) cuz thats all Halo3 is;if they stripped the Forge and video playback mode,it probably would of got n average rating of 6-7/10 instead of 8-9s.

waza000
waza000

FLOW ? well .... i find it extremely boring .... next time i play it i better be damn high or drunk

Peaches1347
Peaches1347

portal deserves the game of the year award its a completely unique game and deserves to be reconigzed

kalkhaja
kalkhaja

looking back on 2007, the three games that really stood out to me were uncharted (ps3), bioshock (360) and portal (pc)...i would have been happy if any of the three won, im glad and a bit surprised it was portal..brilliant game that

ReckHavoc
ReckHavoc

Anyone who thinks Call of Duty 4 should have won GOTY is crazy... it's all been down before, Battlefield 2 comes to mind. It's a great game, but its just a rehash of the same ol' things.

go-cizmek
go-cizmek

Crysis won the best technology award? Yes! Portal's the game of the year? Don't really agree with that.

Naoryo
Naoryo

It's so good to hear that Halo3 didn't get award for the most innovation game like it did in Edge magazine. But hey, this game (Portal) is just too short to be Game of the Year. Don't get me wrong, it's a great game, but Bioshock deserve this award more. Also "Best Visual Art" should go to Super Mario Galaxy imo. The rest is ok, but i can't understand why there is "Best Debut" award ^^

billybobjimbo
billybobjimbo

carrierj1 , sure mass effect had glitches, almost all games do eva played a little game called gears of wars that 9+ in most reviews and that game has the most glitches ive eva seen in a game

done_with_it
done_with_it

portal deserves the innovation award.but game of the year.....comin.

Erebus
Erebus

Apparently they played Portal with the sound and subtitles off..

carrierj1
carrierj1

Mass Effect didn't deserve anything. It's the only game I've seen that had massive glitches and areas that were obviously unfinished that critics just ignored. Massive glitching and unfinished areas does not make a great game.

Darthnaevus
Darthnaevus

portal deserves game of the year, all the way....

nate1222
nate1222

@SpEdPngn I agree. Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 were just well polished rehashes. And I'm sick of the LACK OF BOTS! My internet ocasionally gltches up (like most peoples), so sometimes I like to play offline aganst the AI. Thank God for Unreal Tournament 2004 and UT3.

zaidpass
zaidpass

Portal was fun and all but Game of the year whenn all the sick games came out??? wowwww

SpEdPngn
SpEdPngn

Considering that they were original titles (Bioshock's relation to System Shock 2 aside...), I think that Portal and Bioshock were far more deserving of this attention than sequels like Call of Duty 4, Guitar Hero 3, and Halo 3, regardless of how well polished they are. And Portal was effin funny.

markevens
markevens

Portal FTW!!!111!!!!!1oneoneone

AmazoLK
AmazoLK

Portal as overall game of the year? It's good but... Come on.

nate1222
nate1222

Portal and Bioshock are both VERY DESERVING of their awards. But I'm in love with Mass Effect. ME and Oblivion are my new crack. And I'm 'skrung out' like a crack hoe. I've got Oblivion on PC and 360, ME on 360 and plan to get the PC version of ME in May. By then I'll have upgraded my GPU to a GeForce 8600GT.

liam72
liam72

Damn, whats with COD4? It's good but it's not exceptionnal, it's a recycled concept with an excellent gameplay, the kinda game you really, really like for 1 year than you forget.

Malcom90k
Malcom90k

Not totally sure why they gave it to Portal alone (they could've given it to the entire Orange Box package, Episode 2 and TF2 are both fantastic), and I would've picked Bioshock or SMG over Portal by itself (though not the entire Orange Box), but I'm happy to see Valve getting some love.

ratradler
ratradler

I agree with portal getting the Innovation award, but Game of the Year.. Comeon now, there are plenty of other games that deserve that title over portal.

Sharvie
Sharvie

What a surprise! I would have considered Portal more of an 'expansion' rather than a full game though.

KillbombX
KillbombX

Bad-Chad- "Portal is a nice novelty and a good game overall. It is just way too short and shallow overall to be considered game of the year. Think of how rich and complex games like COD 4 and Bioshock. Now, ask yourself which you'd pick if you could only have one of the three. I'm guaranteeing you that you wouldn't pick Portal over those two masterpieces 100% of the time." QFT

StarKiller2127
StarKiller2127

@peeweeshift no halo 3 sucked it didn't do anything new it just repeated the same old things they did in the first 2 games. as for portal and bioshock they where both great games. i have played portal through atleast 5 times. just trying new things.

bobbsy
bobbsy

Portal fully deserves the accolades. It's a brilliantly designed game that had me smiling from start to finish. Well done Valve.

BarnabyPanton
BarnabyPanton

@peeweeshift How the hell could Halo 3 get best debut!? Bungie have made plently of games before, it's not their debut game is it? Crackdown was Real time Worlds first game, hence "debut". And I think Portal deserves all the praise it gets. I enjoyed that game immensely, who cares if it's short? The add on maps more than make up for that, and seeing as it was part of the amazing Orange Box I don't see how anyone can complain. Bioshock is also a great game, but I enjoyed Portal more.

snoopy248
snoopy248

Portal! Apeture Science ftw!

goyolap
goyolap

Portal is an excellent game but it was weird that it took game of year.Maybe their will be cake their will be cake

frankfurter209
frankfurter209

COD4 has had enough praise. Orange Box deserves it more

hunter8man
hunter8man

Even though it was short, it was the most innovative game of the past year. I thought it was excellent, along with Bioshock (which I think should have won it), but I can't see much fault in Portal. The Cake is a Lie!

elozl
elozl

Well i believe that Super Mario Galaxy and COD4 should be on that list! and not bioshock

bigcalkenobi
bigcalkenobi

Where the heck is Super Mario Galaxy, that game deserved at least award because that game was every bit as innovative as portal. It also had some of the best level design in years. Portal is an awesome game still, I don't think it deserved game of the year but it is an awesome game.

peacenutman
peacenutman

Bioshock deserves it, but I don't know about Portal, it's great, fun, innovative, but not GOTY IMO.

ocdog45
ocdog45

portal was tight, can't ahte on bioshock. good pick overall IMO.

peeweeshift
peeweeshift

portal didn't deserve it. it was too short and the graphics could have been pushed farther. i think halo 3 deserved best debut.

Bad-Chad
Bad-Chad

Portal is a nice novelty and a good game overall. It is just way too short and shallow overall to be considered game of the year. Think of how rich and complex games like COD 4 and Bioshock. Now, ask yourself which you'd pick if you could only have one of the three. I'm guaranteeing you that you wouldn't pick Portal over those two masterpieces 100% of the time.