Skyrim takes top honors at GDC Awards

The Elder Scrolls V fends off multiple award winner Portal 2 to take home Game of the Year as Fez wins top prize in Independent Games Festival.

After warming up with a handful of special events and focused summits, the 2012 Game Developers Conference officially kicked off Wednesday with the first assortment of sessions and the 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards, hosted by Epic Games' Cliff Bleszinski.

Skyrim is the Game Developers Choice Awards Game of the Year.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim took home Game of the Year honors, just as it did last month at the Interactive Achievement Awards. Todd Howard accepted the award with a chunk of the development team on stage, emphasizing that creating a title like Skyrim is a group effort that depends on a multitude of talented people working together.

Skyrim wasn't the only big winner of the evening. Portal 2 won the game design, audio, and narrative categories, while Supergiant Games took home Best Downloadable Game and Best Debut for its first effort, the Xbox 360 and PC game Bastion. The GDC also doled out special awards for developer Dave Theurer (Missile Command, Tempest), Junction Point Studios founder Warren Spector (Epic Mickey, Deus Ex), and Ken Doroshow and Paul M. Smith, the two lawyers who successfully argued on the game industry's behalf before the Supreme Court.

The GDC Awards were preceded by the 14th Annual Independent Games Festival Awards, created "to encourage innovation in game development and to recognize the best independent game developers." Although it only won one of the two categories for which it was nominated, Fez loomed large over the ceremony by winning the Seumas McNally Grand Prize Award. Designer Phil Fish, who had stirred controversy at a Monday screening of Indie Game: The Movie by saying modern Japanese games suck, appeared overwhelmed at winning, only able to offer a blanket "thank you" as an acceptance speech.

An archived version of GameSpot's live video stream of the event should be available later tonight.

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

GAME DEVELOPERS CHOICE AWARDS

Game of the Year
Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady Studios)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)
Portal 2 (Valve)
Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos Montreal)
Dark Souls (FromSoftware)

Best Game Design
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo)
Portal 2 (Valve)
Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady Studios)
Dark Souls (FromSoftware)

Innovation
Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (Toys For Bob)
Portal 2 (Valve)
Bastion (Supergiant Games)
Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik)
L.A. Noire (Team Bondi)

Best Technology
Battlefield 3 (DICE)
L.A. Noire (Team Bondi)
Crysis 2 (Crytek Frankfurt/UK)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog)

Best Handheld/Mobile Game
Tiny Tower (NimbleBit)
Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo)
Jetpack Joyride (Halfbrick)
Infinity Blade II (Chair Entertainment)
Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery EP (Capy Games/Superbrothers)

Best Audio
Bastion (Supergiant Games)
Little Big Planet 2 (Media Molecule)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)
Dead Space 2 (Visceral Games)
Portal 2 (Valve)

Best Downloadable Game
Stacking (Double Fine)
From Dust (Ubisoft Montpellier)
Bastion (Supergiant Games)
Outland (Housemarque)
Frozen Synapse (Mode 7)

Best Narrative
Portal 2 (Valve)
The Witcher 2 (CD Projekt RED)
Bastion (Supergiant Games)
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog)
Saints Row: The Third (Volition)

Best Debut
Supergiant Games (Bastion)
Team Bondi (L.A. Noire)
Re-Logic (Terraria)
BioWare Austin (Star Wars: The Old Republic)
Eidos Montreal (Deus Ex: Human Revolution)

Best Visual Arts
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog)
Rayman Origins (Ubisoft Montpellier)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (Ignition Japan)
Battlefield 3 (DICE)

Pioneer Award
Dave Theurer, creator of Missile Command; Tempest; and I, Robot

Ambassador Award
Ken Doroshow and Paul M. Smith, game industry lawyers for the Supreme Court case against California

Lifetime Achievement Award
Warren Spector, founder Junction Point Studios

INDEPENDENT GAMES FESTIVAL AWARDS

Seumas McNally Grand Prize
Dear Esther (thechineseroom)
Fez (Polytron)
Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games)
Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik)
Spelunky (Mossmouth)

Technical Excellence
Antichamber (Demruth)
Fez (Polytron)
Prom Week (Expressive Intelligence Studio, UC Santa Cruz)
Realm of the Mad God (Wild Shadow Studios & Spry Fox)
Spelunky (Mossmouth)

Excellence in Visual Art
Botanicula (Amanita Design)
Dear Esther (thechineseroom)
Lume (State of Play Games)
Mirage (Mario von Rickenbach)
Wonderputt (Damp Gnat)

Excellence in Design
Atom Zombie Smasher (Blendo Games)
English Country Tune (Stephen Lavelle)
Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games)
Gunpoint (Tom Francis, John Roberts, and Fabian van Dommelen)
Spelunky (Mossmouth)

Excellence in Audio
Botanicula (Amanita Design)
Dear Esther (thechineseroom)
Pugs Luv Beats (Lucky Frame)
To the Moon (Freebird Games)
Waking Mars (Tiger Style)

Best Mobile Game
ASYNC Corp (Powerhead Games)
Beat Sneak Bandit (Simogo)
Faraway (Steph Thirion)
Ridiculous Fishing (Vlambeer)
Waking Mars (Tiger Style)

Nuovo Award
(Designed "to honor abstract, short form, and unconventional game development.")
At a Distance (Terry Cavanagh)
Dear Esther (thechineseroom)
Fingle (Game Oven Studios)
GIRP (Bennett Foddy)
Proteus (Ed Key and David Kanaga)
Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik)
Storyteller (Daniel Benmergui)
Way (CoCo & Co.)

Best Student Game
The Bridge (Case Western Reserve University)
Dust (Art Institute of Phoenix)
The Floor Is Jelly (Kansas City Art Institute)
Nous (DigiPen Institute of Technology)
One and One Story (Liceo Scientifico G.B. Morgagni)
Pixi (DigiPen Institute of Technology - Singapore)
The Snowfield (Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab)
Way (Carnegie Mellon University)

Audience Award
Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games)

XBLA Award
Super Time Force (Capybara Games)

Written By

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Discussion

96 comments
RussellGorall
RussellGorall

With what is happening recently with BioWare it is good to see a good developer get kudos.

TechnologoDoom
TechnologoDoom

I'm seeing lots of comments for the GDC awards, but people - there's some darn fine indies up here...Dear Esther, Frozen Synapse, Spelunky and the to be released Fez... very psyched.

Evenios
Evenios

honestly i think skyrim is a little overated. I think they got lazy on the design of a lot of the towns. they really look the same and a lot of areas are recycled interior setups and what. I know the world is large and all but it just i guess would be nice in future games if they didnt seem all that cookie cutter. though for some reason i seemed to not mine that in Oblivion. Skyrim is ok.....but i dunno just feel something is missing. i will say the landscapes do look great though!

RavenXavier
RavenXavier

The guy doing the "hosting" this year comes off as a total putz. Next year they should use a hosting duo, one of them being an actual comedian and the other one being an industry insider.

Techn1c4l
Techn1c4l

@penpusher Well, not every those hour was so bad. The first 70 hours were fine. Until I started to do quests.

penpusher
penpusher

@Techn1c4l You played a game you hate for 168 hours just for acheivements? :S I really cant find words to describe what I think of that :S

ErlendN
ErlendN

First of all, those who get bored of playing Skyrim have a seriously short attention span. The Elder Scrolls games are for people that are adventurous and like to explore and take in all this world. The enviroment, the people. A real Elder Scrolls-fan play slowly and try to avoid fast travel. If that's not your kind of game. Fine, I don't care. I don't need everybody to like my favorite game. I am not neutral enough to comment on the Game of the year win. There's some very good games this year like Portal. But I know one thing, Skyrim deserved to be nominated for one of the best games of the year. No doubt. Elder Scrolls-gamers aren't like other gamers. That's for sure. And I'm proud to say I have played the series for 13 years.

Techn1c4l
Techn1c4l

@KrnDuDe, @penpusher Hell, THAT was a torture. I just wanted to get some achievements. You can't imagine how hard it was playing the last weeks. So boring, so easy, so predictable, so many glitches. Not a day without a glitch. And then finally I got every achievement.

CLOCKWORKIAN
CLOCKWORKIAN

I seemed to have missed the bandwagon when it comes to Skyrim. I have tried playing it multiple times, and it is an effort for me to continue. You get a little bit of everything in Skyrim, but, to me, none of it is that fun to play. I like RPGs with a great story and writing and I just do not find it here. Skyrim did nothing with its story, graphics, animation, voice acting, and gameplay that other games of 2011 did not do better. Glitches aside, I just don't see the game as a shining example of the art form that should be remembered over other quality games of 2011 in years to come.

CLOCKWORKIAN
CLOCKWORKIAN

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Aydenuille
Aydenuille

Hype or not, the experience Skyrim has given me was so much more than worth the money and had me made up my mind about my favorite genre. I've spent countless hours in this province of Tamriel, and allthough I never played Morrowind and only a bit of Oblivion, I find myself wanting to play them now just to bring those references you find all over Skyrim come to life. Kevin VanOrd once said: 'A game is allways hated not for what it is, but what it stands for.' I'd say that's just about on the spot.

NicholasT33
NicholasT33

lol to all the people hating on Skyrim. The reason your not all getting bashed back by the all the die-hard fans of the series is because there all busy PLAYING it! Not worrying about little awards.

Marky360
Marky360

I think it's crap that the glitchiest game of the year got top honors at GDC. There were plenty of great games that came out last year that actually worked that deserve GOTY a hell of alot more then Skyrim did hell the game wasn't even fully playable until 4 months after release. I feel sad for all the devs out there who worked hard to make sure there game was fully playable before releasing it instead of pulling the release it broken and patch it later technique used by Bethesda. I guess real devs will never be appreciated for the hard work they put into there games.

ar6ra6sh9
ar6ra6sh9

great to see deaus ex and skyrim there for lots of choices :)

MVan86
MVan86

What absolute nonsense - Batman Arkham City or Portal 2. Skyrim has been overhyped, and it continues to be hyped unlike any of the other big names of 2012. Just because it's got a large following does not mean it's perfect.

Syk0_k03r
Syk0_k03r

They'll let anyone be a judge nowadays. To give a game like Skyrim awards left and right, even though it does NOTHING exceptionally well... AMAZING :roll:

AndCarlsen
AndCarlsen

There are some people complaining about portal 2 having won best narrative, but I think I understand why it won. In my opinion, this narrative they are talking about is mistaken by the most as being the story, but it isn't. This narrative is how the story is told , while the story everyone thinks is the same as the narrative is actually the plot . Portal 2 has a very weak story/plot, but it has a great narrative. Anyone that played the game knows very well how the environment itself tells the game's story. There are no texts to read, only some very good and funny dialogues that together with the whole game's setting tell this not so good story in a great way. I haven't played the other games, but I think this award was deserved.

Albelnox0
Albelnox0

@moldyspud dark souls has story, its just optional, and the graphics to dark souls is amazing, plus its waaaaay less buggy then skyrim. And the gameplay is awesome. Im guessing you either sucked or didn't play it

cloud7570
cloud7570

Batman arkham city should have been game of the year

GamerOuTLaWz
GamerOuTLaWz

@thenephariousson audio only? Audio,visuals,gameplay,longevity,best multiplay,goty

GamerOuTLaWz
GamerOuTLaWz

so,video games culture is becoming the same as modern day music? dumbed down,only visually-appealing and reharshed/repetitive trash gets all the fame?

dybbuk
dybbuk

Well...it certainly is a great game, worthy of GOTY, but I do believe it was/is to buggy for that honor. As great as it is Bethesda owed it to its consumers to put out a higher quality product. I originally bought the PS3 version but was unable to play it after a certain length of time. I was very fortunate that gamestop allowed me to trade it for a 360 version like two weeks after I bought it. I still can't get Lydia to take interest in me whenever I wear the amulet of Mara!! and yes I am thane.

moldyspud
moldyspud

How the heck does Dark Souls even get mentioned?? Terrible gameplay, awful graphics, no story, it literally punishes you for playing the game and people call that challenging. .. Has the gaming world gone mad? I forced myself to play this game to the end for the sake of review... It has no relevance in the awards. Also, elder scrolls is still an unfinished product i basically paid out the nose for beta testing. There were bugs that completely stunted the main story (Esbern ) you can't reset your perks... The inventory system was made for consoles, so it was a huge chore to play on PC. Why they didn't make hotkeys and the inventory more manageable than a ridiculous windows folder of time wasting is beyond me. The Witcher deserved to win.

Cwagmire21
Cwagmire21

I enjoyed Skyrim, but I would have chosen Batman AC if the saves weren't (still) broken.

csftar
csftar

"GOTY" ....Meh. The Witcher 2 takes that place for me. But, Skyrim is good and superior to TW2 in a few aspects. Congrats to Bethesda for The Award, but i still think TW2 deserved it.

Uchiha_Sasuke1
Uchiha_Sasuke1

that was a weird show, The games are the same for every poll. How come nobody cares about this.

XxKing_BlazexX
XxKing_BlazexX

@GamerLegend10 Don't forget those clunky unclear graphics on the 360. :D

Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

In honor of this win I'm going to play another 80 hours of Skyrim on top of the 80 I already put into it.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

Suprised at the absence of BF3 in the Audio catagories

YouVandal3
YouVandal3

@trappedinlimbo that's cause of how hyped Skyrim was I'm guessing.

Albelnox0
Albelnox0

yay the glitch fest that is skyrim was i sold my 360 copy after a month with it. At first its nice but it got really boring doing the same thing over and over walking back and forever, even fast travel couldn't save it for me. Plus all the lagy bugs

TrappedInLimbo
TrappedInLimbo

This is what I don't understand, Skyrim didn't win any other awards, besides GOTY. Its like that with every single other awards this year its so stupid because it didn't do anything particularly better than any other game but for some stupid reason it wins GOTY.

atopp399
atopp399

I'd love to see Skyrim on the Vita.

mtait01
mtait01

I just started playing Skyrim again since I haven't played it for 2 months... such a brilliant game, the only problem is the glitches, and not the funny ones! Game crashes, bad lag, excruciatingly long load times. I have the PS3 version, but hey, we are 4 updates in now and the game (although still a brilliant game) is not fixed... at least on PS3 anyway

CptRexKramer
CptRexKramer

Since Team Bondi is no longer with us, I wonder who would have accepted the award had they won for Best Debut? It's nice to see Mr. Dave Theurer get some love, as well as a nod to Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I love that game. I do have an issue with Portal winning the Best Audio award (And judging by some of the comments below, I'm not the only one.). I'm sorry, but Dead Space 2 should have walked away with that one. And how the hell is Battlefield 3 not even nominated in that category? It's sound design was superior to that of Portals as well. Or at least I thought so.

Mkeegs79
Mkeegs79

It would have been nicer use bold for the winners and not italics. They would have stood out more.

23Jarek23
23Jarek23

@jcwainc This isn't twitter.

the_requiem
the_requiem

Sad day when a glitch-fest like Skyrim is hailed as the best gaming has to offer. But then, this is GDC, so makes sense as Devs can appreciate the sort of effort it takes to even get out a game like Skyrim.

jcwainc
jcwainc

@The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim so bs!! the game is so over rated. the best game last year was @Batman: Arkham City. better story, better game system and tons of secrets. but what ever i feel like zelda fans feel looked over and under rated.

evil-zodiark
evil-zodiark

As long as skyrim or the WT2 gets Goty, I am happy.... DS is an average game but a challenging one(most games now days are very easy). but that's not a reason to dump down story and immersion , especially in an rpg...

PS3BigFan
PS3BigFan

I played Portal 2 but I can't understand why everyone is so impressed with this game. I sold it within a month after I bought it, it offered some clever ideas but not that much of a good game. It feels like a prototype rather than a real game. It looks like it missing lot of skins, so empty. Batman: Arkham City deserve best game design and best audio.

jspillen
jspillen

Skyrim has some decent qualities, but the story was boring, and the action never really happens. Additionally, I bought this game for PS3 and it was straight up broken beyond playability. And it turns out Bug-esda knew about it ahead of time. It makes me sick to hear that this got honors, when it was broken when it was sold to me and three months later it's only just now 'mostly fixed'. How can that even be a Game of the Year contender? Especially versus games that actually worked like Dead Space 2, UC3, or even Call of Duty honestly. Those games worked when I put them into my console... unlike Skyrim which was coded in a way that makes it not accessible on one of the three sources for play (PC, PS3, X360). Personally, I would never buy another Bugesda game, because they have handled this so freakin poorly. Has there been an actual apology yet? I don't think so. And on top of that they've tried to point a finger at the PS3... even though in 5 years I've never had a problem like this with any other games... EVER... not once. This is a Bugesda screw-up that they charged me $60 for. And then I had put in enough time that I bought it on PC and finished it out. So yeah, $120 to play this open-world, no loot worth-a- crap, bore-fest. There is nothing visceral about this game... except the hole in your wallet, and the waste of time.

jspillen
jspillen

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

hunter8man
hunter8man

Skyrim is a good game and it completely immerses you into its world, but the story is lacking. Still, it deserved the awards it received.

Wavory
Wavory

Im happy skyrim won awards because it deserves every single award. The game just gives you so much freedom that I cant stand it.

nickythenewt21
nickythenewt21

I've spent over 100 hours so far in Skyrim, and I feel like I've barely touched the surface. Such a great game, I'm happy for it along with the other games' success. Just goes to show how great of a year it was.

ZombehDino
ZombehDino

I will never understand how BF3 was not even NOMINATED for best audio, but congratulations to Bethesda. They've earned everything they've received.

Landsharkk
Landsharkk

What I find ironic is the most popular game of the entire year did not make it onto any of the 'top' lists above. I'm looking at you MW3! Aside, I think BF3 should have made some kind of best audio list, but then again I haven't played all of the competition. I really enjoy Skyrim, but I'm also really glad Dark Souls was in there, another huge favorite of mine and I was afraid it would be overlooked.