LAS VEGAS--With presentations by Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, OnLive founder Steve Perlman, and Naughty Dog designer Richard Lemarchand out of the way, the 2010 DICE Summit headed into the homestretch Thursday evening. Though Friday still has a full session schedule, the annual industry insider event's crowning jewel, the 13th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards, takes place tonight.
Modeled on the Oscars, the IAAs are selected by members of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, which organizes DICE, as well as leading industry-representation body the International Game Developers Association. This year, the top honoree is Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, with 15 nominations in 14 categories. Those include overall game of the year, which was won last year by Media Molecule's PS3 platformer Little Big Planet.
This year, four other games are in the running for the top IAA prize: Ubisoft Montreal's Assassin's Creed II (10 nominations), Infinity Ward's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (nine nominations), Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Asylum (eight nominations), and BioWare's Dragon Age: Origins (two nominations).
For the fourth year in a row, the event will be hosted by comedian Jay Mohr (Action, Gary Unmarried), whose hilariously profane riffs have become one of the show's highlights. For a blow-by-blow of the awards in all 27 categories, check out GameSpot's liveblog of the event, below. A rebroadcast of the event will be available via the Independent Film Channel later this month.
[7:32] Lit up in blue and white, the stage is dominated by a massive reproduction of the actual Interactive Achievement Award statuette. It would not look out of place in Captain Picard's cabin in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
[7:34] Captain Qwark and "far-less-important" hero Ratchet introduces the show in a prerendered clip. Before Qwark can get too far into his acceptance speech, Ratchet whispers to him that he's there only to introduce the show's actual host, Jay Mohr.
[7:35] "This is where all the Asians go if the poker rooms are full," Mohr says as he takes the stage and drops a few cracks about how far off the Las Vegas strip the Red Rocks casino is.
[7:37] He now enters into his traditional monologue, which roasts the audience. "I want to point out all the famous people in the audience. (pauses) OK, I am done."
[7:38] "Lot of people not here tonight. Will Wright is not here tonight, he's at the Stupid Fun Club, or as I like to call it, the [strip club] Spearmint Rhino."
[7:39] "Tim Schafer also not here tonight. He cast Jack Black as the lead in that because he's hosted the show for the last five years. Oh no, wait, that's f****** me."
[7:41] He pokes fun of the fact that he's on the sitcom Gary Unmarried on (GameSpot parent company) CBS. "I'm on there with CSI. CSI New York, CSI in Space. Did you see that? They sent David Caruso into space. That makes about as much sense as Richard Garriott going into space."
[7:43] "Besides Wii Sports Resort there were a lot of good games last year--I didn't have to talk to my kid for a year."
[7:44] Mohr likes to play Beatles: Rock Band with his family. "There's always a lot of tension over who's going to be Ringo. I tell my son, 'If you are Ringo, you get to die last!' You know, because the Beatles are dying in order of coolness."
[7:45] "You guys hear about this cool new game where your hand gets pinned down in this giant claw and you have to cut your hand off to get out of it? It's called working at Activision."
[7:47] "By my count Activision released about 500 Guitar Hero games. Guitar Hero 5 had the most balls. I mean Kurt Cobain singing Bon Jovi? That's like Elvis singing Hasselhoff."
[7:48] "Now Courtney Love sued Activision over this, so I want to congratulate Activision for making Courtney Love look sane."
[7:50] Mohr now complains how his Wii Fit gets "uppity" when he comes back from a week at work. "It yells at me for gaining four pounds. What's next, Nintendo? You gonna have a game that calls my wife when I surf porn?"
[7:50] "I love the Wii Fit sports--all that exercise without any of that pesky fresh air."
[7:52] "We have a new category called social gaming, which I want to congratulate for keeping sexual predators off the street."
[7:55] "Lot of sequels came out this year--Left 4 Dead 2, Ratchet & Clank. The difference between a movie sequel and film sequel? Game sequels are good and are based on scripts."
[7:57] "I finally got the Indiana Jones sequel I wanted. It was called Uncharted 2. No fridges, no nukes, no monkeys, no Shia LaBeef!"
[7:59] "A lot happened this year. Nintendo dropped the price of the Wii, which would've been a good gesture if everyone in the world didn't already own one. Thanks a lot, that's awfully white of you."
[8:00] Mohr goes into an insanely profane bit about G4 host Morgan Webb, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, and angry onanism, which can't be repeated here.
[8:02] While on the subject of Activision, Mohr also takes a couple of potshots at Tony Hawk Ride.
[8:04] "FIFA Soccer 2010 is up for game of the year, which is an amazing feat, because soccer is the most boring thing on the planet."
[8:05] "Here's something I want to ask the EA people. Forget the Madden curse--what happened to the guy in your golf game? Guy hits a fire hydrant with his SUV and 14 whores fall out."
[8:07] "There hasn't been a tiger controversy that big since that one mauled Roy Horn a few miles away from here," quips Mohr before cracking up uncontrollably.
[8:10] He then launches into an obscenity-filled tirade against Woods before saying, "But hey, the game is good."
[8:10] Now (finally) on to the awards!
[8:11] Presenting the first awards are ThatGameCompany's Kellee Santiago and Jenova Chen. They start with Outstanding Achievement in Animation.
[8:12] The nominees are Assassin's Creed II, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
[8:13] Uncharted 2 wins its first of the night!
[8:13] Next up is Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction. The nominees are Assassin's Creed II, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Machinarium, Resident Evil 5, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
[8:13] Uncharted 2 wins again.
[8:14] Uncharted 2: Among Thieves also wins for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering.
[8:14] Outstanding Achievement in Gameplay Engineering also goes to Uncharted 2. Can you say "sweep"?
[8:15] Outstanding Character Performance is up next. The nominees are Batman: Arkham Asylum - The Joker, Brutal Legend - Eddie Riggs, Resident Evil 5 - Sheva Alomar, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - Chloe Frazier, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - Nathan Drake.
[8:15] And the winner is…Batman: Arkham Asylum - The Joker, played by Mark Hammill. Hammill has become a prolific voice actor since his Star Wars days.
[8:16] Don Daglow and Her Interactive president and CEO Megan Gaiser are out to present Family Game of the Year.
[8:17] The Beatles: Rock Band takes home that prize.
[8:19] Next up is Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year. Brutal Legend Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, Halo Wars, The Sims 3, and Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2 are all nominated.
[8:20] And Brutal Legend snags the award. Too bad Tim Schafer isn't here to accept it.
[8:21] EA Partners' Jamil Moledina accepts the award on his behalf.
[8:23] Now it's time to hand out the brand-new Pioneer Award for contributors to the early days of game industry. Not to be confused with the Game Developers Choice Award of the same name, which is basically handed out for the same thing.
[8:23] This year's recipient is David Crane, who created Pitfall for the Atari 2600 back in 1982.
[8:27] Now it's time for the sizzle reel, which points out that Crane cofounded Activision and that Pitfall is credited with being the first platformer.
[8:28] Crane gets onstage and gets a thunderous standing ovation.
[8:29] Crane takes the stage and thanks the Academy members for "remembering him" despite his recent work on lower-profile casual games.
[8:30] "You never set off to be a pioneer; you just simply jump a cliff and see what's out there."
[8:31] "I started out tearing apart game consoles and soldering them together just to see if programming was possible. There wasn't even a game artist in the industry, and the first PC tools would not be made for years. There was no middleware."
[8:32] "Now before you go thinking that was the dark ages, it wasn't--it was the most fun I've ever had."
[8:36] Mohr returns to the stage to introduce Joseph Olin, who explains how the awards are chosen. Members of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences are assembled into panels who play a lot of games and choose the finalists. Then the entire academy votes on the winners.
[8:36] Now a comic interlude courtesy of Borderland's Claptrap, or as Mohr calls him, "Wall-E's lecherous uncle."
[8:37] Now it's time for Outstanding Achievement in Adapted Story. The nominees are: Batman: Arkham Asylum, Ghostbusters: The Video Game, and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2.
[8:38] Batman takes it! Winner, winner, chicken dinner. For those keeping score at home, Uncharted has four awards, Batman now has two.
[8:39] Next up: Outstanding Achievement in Original Story. The noms are Assassin's Creed II, Brutal Legend, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
[8:40] Uncharted 2 takes it despite some drunken vocal protest.
[8:42] Now it's time for Role-Playing/Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year. Borderlands, Champions Online, Demon's Souls, Dragon Age: Origins, and Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story are all up for the award.
[8:45] Dragon Age: Origins takes it. The Doctors BioWare--Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk--give shout-outs to EA, console port developer Edge of Reality, and all the other nominees "for providing hours of entertainment."
[8:47] Disney Interactive Studios Alex Seropian takes the stage next to present Outstanding Innovation in Gaming. Possible winners include: Demon's Souls, Farmville, Flower, Scribblenauts, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
[8:47] Despite some drunken cries of support for Flower, Scribblenauts wins.
[8:51] Now it's time for the legend award, which goes to Mark Cerny, who worked on Marble Madness and Sonic the Hedgehog. Most recently, he collaborated with Naughty Dog on Jak and Daxter and with Insomniac Games on the Ratchet & Clank Future games for the PlayStation 3.
[8:52] Cerny also contributed to Uncharted and the first Resistance game for the PS3.
[8:55] The surprisingly youthful Cerny takes the stage and reminisces about landing his first gig at 18 at Atari.
[8:57] The next presenter is Chris Taylor from Gas Powered Games.
[8:58] "I'm going to get a little metaphysical on you guys. That's legal in this state, right?"
[8:59] He's here to give out the award for Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition. Nominees include Assassin's Creed II, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Flower, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
[8:59] Uncharted 2 wins yet again, bringing its haul to six.
[9:00] Brutal Legend, DJ Hero, Skate 2, and The Beatles: Rock Band are all up for Outstanding Achievement in Soundtrack. Brutal Legend wins, bringing its total to two.
[9:01] The Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design award goes to Uncharted 2, its seventh of the night.
[9:02] Jay Cohen, president of development for Jerry Bruckheimer Games (yes, that's apparently still happening), takes the stage to present Adventure Game of the Year.
[9:02] Assassin's Creed II, Batman: Arkham Asylum, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves are all up.
[9:03] Uncharted 2 gets its eighth trophy of the night. Act surprised.
[9:05] Next up is Lord British himself, Richard Garriott.
[9:07] "We got into developing games for two reasons: To avoid the arduous task of leaving the house and to make enough money to get shot into space."
[9:09] Now, the man behind the failed MMORPG Tabula Rasa will present the Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay award to…Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. "Take that, Naughty Dog!" the Infinity Ward developers taunt. There's no laughter from the Borderlands section.
[9:10] Speaking of Borderlands, out comes Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford.
[9:11] He's handing out the Action Game of the Year award to one of the following: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Prototype, Red Faction: Guerrilla, and Shadow Complex.
[9:11] Modern Warfare 2 takes it, bringing its total to two.
[9:17] Now it's time for a lifetime achievement award, to be handed out by Ted Price. That's three career nods tonight, and this latest one goes to to Doug Lowenstein, who was head of the Entertainment Software Association game lobby. Price hails his antipiracy efforts, his game ratings system, and, most of all, his efforts against legislation to restrict the sales of games.
[9:17] Price points out that Lowenstein was undefeated in court, and also called him a "hero" for championing games as art.
[9:21] Following a sizzle reel, Lowenstein gets a standing ovation from the crowd.
[9:23] Lowenstein helped found the academy, feeling there needed to be an association for video game professionals.
[9:25] "When we founded the ESA in 1994, it was hard to get many member companies in the same room together," declares Lowestein.
[9:25] Lowenstein notes that the original members of the ESA predecessor IDSA didn't have any grand visions. "We just wanted to get Joe Lieberman off our backs!" Thunderous cheers ensue.
[9:27] Lowestein says he shares the award with such ESA board members as Sony's Kaz Hirai, Microsoft's Robbie Bach, and former EA CEO Larry Probst.
[9:28] He praises his wife for reducing all their troubles with one simple maxim: "F*** 'em if they can't take a joke."
[9:31] Lowenstein walks off to another standing ovation. Epic Games president Mike Capps gets onstage to present Sports Game of the Year. FIFA Soccer 10 wins it, beating out MLB 09: The Show, NBA 2K10, NHL 10, and the Wii Version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10.
[9:32] Forza Motorsport 3 wins Best Racing Game, and Street Fighter IV wins Best Fighting Game.
[9:36] Mohr is back and griefs the sole Japanese translator, telling him to tell the non-English speakers that he must rub their calves when they use the bathroom. The Japanese speakers are (depending on how much English they know) baffled and/or offended.
[9:36] Now it's time for a new category, Outstanding Achievement in Portable Game Design. Nods go to Henry Hatsworth, Little Big Planet, LocoRoco 2, Patapon 2, and Scribblenauts.
[9:36] Scribblenauts takes the prize, bringing its total to two.
[9:39] Now it's time for the top prize for handhelds, Portable Game of the Year. Little Big Planet PSP, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, Scribblenauts, and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks are up.
[9:39] Scribblenauts wins again for the hat trick.
[9:40] Mohr is back, saying, "We're now at the halfway point, everyone!"
[9:40] He asks where the clothing-optional afterparty is.
[9:41] Mohr turns back to the poor translator, asking if they have Gary Unmarried in Japan. The translator is completely baffled.
[9:42] Blizzard's Frank Pierce is on hand to give out the Casual Game of the Year honor.
[9:42] Flower wins and gets a huge cheer.
[9:43] The free and flowing libations are making the crowd ornery now.
[9:45] The Social Networking Game of the Year award is now being handed out to Farmville.
[9:46] The first version of Farmville was created in just five weeks apparently--now 30 million people around the world play it.
[9:48] Two days after appearing on a panel together, David Crane and God of War creator David Jaffe take the stage.
[9:49] They're presenting Outstanding Achievement in Game Design to one of the following: Batman: Arkham Asylum, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Plants vs. Zombies, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
[9:50] Batman: Arkham Asylum takes it. Three points for Rocksteady!
[9:51] A heavily intoxicated--and well-known--member of the audience bellows out, "TWISTED METAL!" at the top of his lungs at David Jaffe, in reference to his classic car combat game. Jaffe has been long-rumored to be working on a sequel for the PlayStation 3.
[9:52] Now it's time for the Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction trophy. A montage of Assassin's Creed II, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Brutal Legend, Flower, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
[9:54] "TWISTED METAL!!!!" is screamed again. Jaffe stares at the audience member and hollers back, "Soon, b****!" and mutters something about "eight or nine months." Is that an announcement?
[9:54] Oh, and Uncharted 2 won, by the way. That's nine little glass trophies for Uncharted 2.
[9:57] Finally, it is Game of the Year time. Media Molecule's Alex Evans and Siobhan Reddy come out to hand out the award they took home last year for Little Big Planet.
[9:57] OK, this is it. Would-be GOTYs include: Assassin's Creed II, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Dragon Age: Origins, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
[9:59] Uncharted 2 takes it. That's 10 for Naughty Dog's game, the most of the night.
[10:01] "See you at the bar!" says Mohr, and that's it! Check back tomorrow for ongoing coverage of the DICE Summit in Las Vegas.