GDC 07: Gears rolls Developers Choice Awards

Epic Games' Xbox 360 shooter takes home four statuettes at GDC-related ceremony; Okami, Zelda, Wii Sports, and Guitar Hero II also win.


Gears of War
Guitar Hero II

SAN FRANCISCO--Taking a big risk, the organizers of the 2007 Game Developers Choice Awards gave emcee duties to Tim Schafer, the head of Psychonaut-maker DoubleFine Studios. The designer wasted no time in displaying his cutting-edge humor. "Since the first game caveman began developing the first caveman video game 10 years ago," he began, sparking uproarious laughter. "Most designers, like me, got into it for the drugs, the women, and the glamour."

Shiggy gets his props.
Shiggy gets his props.

The night's first major award went to The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for Best Writing. The next honor was the Maverick Award, which is doled out each year to those who, in the words of presenter GameLab CEO Eric Zimmerman, "kick us in the b****." This year, the winner of the testicular-fortitude-fueled honor was Manifesto Games founder Greg Costikyan, a veteran of paper-and-pencil, PC, and mobile development. Calling games "a divine product of the human soul," he went on to praise the medium as a way to introduce the masses to "interactive systems" like physics and the environment.

Costikyan rouses the rabble.
Costikyan rouses the rabble.

Then, as Schafer not-so-subtly transitioned, it was time for the games that "sound best"--the best audio awards. Surprising no one, Guitar Hero II rocked away with the prize, the second year in a row for a GH product.

Schafer proved himself a character again onstage--making a Napoleon Dynamite-esque riff about how a "pantheon" is a cross between a "panther" and a "lion"--before presenting the year's character design award to Okami. However, the game's crack Capcom Japanese design team was nowhere to be seen, leaving a sheepish American stand-in to accept the award and flee the stage posthaste.

Then, Schafer stayed true to his roots by saying he had planned a risqué performance art number called "Brown Rage on the Stage," refering to Okami's initially drab color palette. "The janitors had a problem with it, though," he quipped. Then came one of the evening's most hilarious moments via a video skit from Mega64.

In the taped segment, two members of the game-centric comedy troupe dressed as Mario and Luigi and harassed pedestrians in front of the Moscone Convention Center. They then turned a corner and were confronted by Mario Creator Shigeru Miyamoto himself. The development legend played along, staring coldly at the Mega64 comedians, making them scurry. As Miyamoto did so, another actor dressed as the Legend of Zelda hero, Link, popped his head out of a door behind the game giant before also shrinking into the shadows.

Next up was the Penguin Award, which was handed out to a game designer of far greater stature than any flightless bird (excluding ostriches). The honoree in question was Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov, who received only minimal moneys from the game he created in 1985 in the then-Soviet Union. However, the 51-year-old designer received rich applause tonight, getting a minutes-long standing ovation from nearly every member of the adoring crowd.

"In Soviet Union, Tetris rotates you!"

After a bit of the "nerds shall inherent the Earth" boilerplate, Schafer handed out the Best Technology award to GameSpot's 2006 Game of the Year, Epic Games' Gears of War. The host then joked about paying a kid to play the Game of the Year nominee The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for the Xbox 360 achievements. Then he wisecracked further. "Speaking of outsourcing abroad, here are the nominees for Best Visual Arts," he told a giggling throng before handing Gears of War another statuette.

But when it comes to big guns at the Game Developers' Choice Awards, they don't come any bigger than Shigeru Miyamoto. The legendary designer of The Legend of Zelda capped off the night's proceedings by accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award for his three decades in game design. In case anyone forgot, a clip reel showcased Miyamoto's resume of seminal hits, ranging from the original Donkey Kong to his most recent design achievements, Wii Sports and the Wii console hardware itself.

After a brief introduction by Richard "Lord British" Garriott, Miyamoto took the stage to a sea of thunderclaps. Despite his impressive record, though, Miyamoto was humble. "I have done of a lot of embarrassing things." He said via a translator. "And sometimes getting awards like this makes me feel old and makes me think about retiring...However, I hope to continue doing this for a very long time. I've always had a certain fondness for America, for its fondness for taking on new challenges, and I look forward to taking them on together."

Last but certainly not least, the Game of the Year honor went to Gears of War. The end was short but not so sweet. To accept the trophy, Epic Games' Cliff Bleszinski leapt onto the stage, summing up his feelings with typically succinct profanity. "Holy S***!" he exclaimed.

The full list of winners is as follows:

Game of the Year
***WINNER***Gears of War (Epic Games / Microsoft Game Studios)
Cliff Bleszinski, Michael Capps, Rod Fergusson

Okami (Clover Studio / Capcom Entertainment)
Atsushi Inaba, Hideki Kamiya

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda Game Studios / 2K Games/Bethesda Softworks)
Todd Howard

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo EAD / Nintendo)
Eiji Aonuma, Satoru Iwata, Shigeru Miyamoto

Wii Sports (Nintendo)
Satoru Iwata, Shigeru Miyamoto, Keizo Ohta, Takayuki Shimamura, Yoshiaki Yamashita

Company of Heroes (Relic Entertainment / THQ)
Crispin Hands, John Johnson, Jennifer Lewis, John Tennant

DEFCON: Everybody Dies (Introversion Software)
Alistair Lindsay, Michael Maidment

***WINNER***Guitar Hero II (Harmonix Music Systems / RedOctane)
Jeff Allen, Eric Brosius, Izzy Maxwell

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend (Crystal Dynamics / Eidos Interactive)
Troels Folmann, Karl Gallagher, Mike Peaslee, Gregg Stephens

LocoRoco (Sony Computer Entertainment)
Kemmei Adachi, Tomonobu Kikuchi, Kouji Niikura, Nobuyuki Shimizu

Character Design
Final Fantasy XII (Square Enix)
Hideo Minaba, Hiroshi Minagawa, Akihiko Yoshida

LocoRoco (Sony Computer Entertainment)
Tsutomu Kouno, Keigo Tsuchiya

***WINNER***Okami (Clover Studio / Capcom Entertainment)
Mari Shimazaki, Sawaki Takeyasu, Kenichirou Yoshimura

Rayman Raving Rabbids (Ubisoft Montpellier Studio / Ubisoft Entertainment)
Michel Ancel, Charles Beirnaert, Hubert Chevillard, Florent Sacre

Viva Piñata (Rare / Microsoft Game Studios)
Ryan Stevenson

Game Design
Bully (Rockstar Vancouver / Rockstar Games)
Michael Skupa

Okami (Clover Studio / Capcom Entertainment)
Hideki Kamiya

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda Game Studios / 2K Games/Bethesda Softworks)
Todd Howard

Viva Piñata (Rare / Microsoft Game Studios)
Justin Cook, Gregg Mayles

***WINNER***Wii Sports (Nintendo)
Keizo Ohta, Takayuki Shimamura, Yoshiaki Yamashita

Company of Heroes (Relic Entertainment / THQ)
Drew Dunlop, Shelby Hubick, David Swinerd, Ian Thomson

Dead Rising (Capcom Entertainment)
Shinya Ikuta, Tomofumi Ishida, Yasuhide Sawada, Tomohiro Ueda

***WINNER***Gears of War (Epic Games / Microsoft Game Studios)
Michael Capps, Ray Davis, Tim Sweeney, Daniel Vogel

Rockstar Games presents Table Tennis (Rockstar San Diego / Rockstar Games)
Ted Carson, Eugene Foss, Wil Paredes, Steve Reed

Wii Sports (Nintendo)
Takuhiro Dohta, Takeshi Miyamoto, Keizo Ohta, Kenta Sato

Visual Arts
Final Fantasy XII (Square Enix)
Isamu Kamikokuryo, Hideo Minaba, Akihiko Yoshida

***WINNER***Gears of War (Epic Games / Microsoft Game Studios)
Jerry O'Flaherty, Chris Perna

Okami (Clover Studio / Capcom Entertainment)
Naoki Katakai, Kenichirou Yoshimura

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda Game Studios / 2K Games/Bethesda Softworks)
Matthew Carofano, Christiane Meister, Istvan Pely

Viva Piñata (Rare / Microsoft Game Studios)
Ed Bryan, Ryan Stevenson

Bully (Rockstar Vancouver / Rockstar Games)
Dan Houser, Jacob Krarup

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (Funcom / Aspyr Media)
Dag Scheve, Ragnar Tørnquist

Sam & Max Episode 1: Culture Shock (Telltale Games / GameTap)
Brendan Ferguson, Dave Grossman, Steve Purcell

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda Game Studios / 2K Games/Bethesda Softworks)
Ken Rolston

***WINNER***The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo EAD / Nintendo)
Kyogoku Aya, Nate Bihldorff, Mitsuhiro Takano

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