Little Big Planet wins big at D.I.C.E.

Media Molecule's adorable platformer cleans up with eight Interactive Achievement Awards, including Overall Game of the Year; Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead, and Dead Space rack up two each.

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LAS VEGAS--The first 24 hours of the 2009 D.I.C.E. Summit were all business, with presentations from Valve founder Gabe Newell, Capcom creative director Jun Takeuchi, and Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello. Tonight, though, the annual game-industry confab, noted for its exclusivity and insider access, got its glamour on with the 12th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards.

Jay Mohr hams it up.
Jay Mohr hams it up.

Dually doled out by D.I.C.E. organizers the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences and the International Game Developers Association, the Interactive Achievement Awards stand in stark contrast to the Spike TV Video Game Awards. Whereas that event embraces the notion of games as hip and youthful entertainment, the IAA show is a more Oscar-esque attempt at seriously acknowledging the growing medium.

If there is a breach in the IAA's high-class facade, it is the blue humor of comedian Jay Mohr, who emceed the ceremony for the fourth year running. Despite the disparity, Mohr has proven to be a popular part of the program, even as he ruthlessly mocked the crowd as a crowd of "guys and blow-up dolls."

"We're going to give out some awards to some people who deserve them, and some who quite frankly do not deserve them," Mohr joked. "Some people are gonna come up here who are real ***holes."

Other early victims of Mohr's sarcasm included Harmonix cofounder Alex Rigopoulos and Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski. Richard "Lord British" Garriott was singled out for particular ridicule. "This guy spent $30 million to go into space," joked the comedian, "Maybe he should have spent that money on [his failed MMORPG] Tabula Rasa!"

But unlike Jamie Kennedy, with his infamous nerd-bashing at E3 2007, Mohr actually displayed a knowledge of gaming. He made jokes that former Sony Worldwide Studios president Phil Harrison's takeover of Atari was akin to salvaging the Titanic, and pointed out that Leonardo DiCaprio is now playing company founder Nolan Bushnell in a forthcoming Atari film.

"Did anyone here actually finish Fallout 3?" he then asked of the crowd, before poking fun at Bethesda Softworks' Todd Howard. "100 hours of gameplay? How much time do you think we have?" Shortly after, when Media Molecule's Alex Evans took the stage, Mohr mockingly referred to the pale Briton as "that guy from Trainspotting."

But it was Media Molecule that had the last laugh. Its adorable platformer Little Big Planet was the big winner of the evening with eight awards, including Family Game of the Year, Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction, Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering, Outstanding Character Performance, Outstanding Innovation in Gaming, Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction, Console Game of the Year, and the big kahuna, Overall Game of the Year.

Valve's Left 4 Dead snagged two major prizes in the form of Computer Game of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Online Game Play, with Fallout 3 nabbing Outstanding Achievement in Original Story and Best Role-Playing Game. Two surprise winners from EA were Dead Space, which took home Action Game of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design, and Mirror's Edge, which won Adventure Game of the Year.

Despite the comic tone of the night, the ceremony took a moving turn when Bruce Shelley, cofounder of the now-defunct Ensemble Studios, was inducted into the AIAS Hall of Fame. The developer, who had just delivered an unflinching postmortem of his studio's recent demise, was given a standing ovation when he took the stage.

Another interesting moment came when BioWare's Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk presented the award for Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year. The winner was World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King--the expansion to the massively multiplayer game that BioWare will fiercely challenge next year with its own epic MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic. When Blizzard vice president Rob Pardo took the stage to accept the statuette, the two soon-to-be archrivals greeted each other cooly, perhaps auguring the battle to come.

The full list of finalists for the 12th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards is below--winners are highlighted in bold.

Overall Game of the Year
Fallout 3 - Bethesda Softworks - Bethesda Softworks
Grand Theft Auto IV - Rockstar Games - Rockstar North
Left 4 Dead - Valve Software - Valve Software
Little Big Planet - Sony - Media Molecule
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - Konami - Kojima Productions

Console Game of the Year
Fallout 3 - Bethesda Softworks - Bethesda Softworks
Gears of War 2 - Microsoft Game Studios - Epic Games
Grand Theft Auto IV - Rockstar Games - Rockstar North
Little Big Planet - Sony - Media Molecule
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - Konami - Kojima Productions

Computer Game of the Year
Fallout 3 - Bethesda Softworks - Bethesda Softworks
Left 4 Dead - Valve Software - Valve Software
Mass Effect - Electronic Arts - BioWare
Spore - Electronic Arts - Maxis
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King - Blizzard Entertainment - Blizzard Entertainment

Adventure Game of the Year
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia - Konami - Konami
God of War: Chains of Olympus - Sony - Ready at Dawn
Mirror's Edge - Electronic Arts - Digital Illusions
Naruto: The Broken Bond - Ubisoft - Ubisoft
Prince of Persia - Ubisoft - Ubisoft Montreal

Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year
EVE Online: Quantum Rise - CCP - CCP
Pirates of the Burning Sea - Sony Online Entertainment - Flying Lab Software
PMOG - GameLayers - GameLayers
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning - Electronic Arts - Mythic Entertainment
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King - Blizzard Entertainment - Blizzard Entertainment

Sports Game of the Year
FIFA 09 - Electronic Arts - EA Canada
Madden NFL 09 - Electronic Arts - EA Tiburon
MLB 08: The Show - Sony - SCE Studios San Diego
NBA 2K9 - 2K Sports - Visual Concepts
NHL 09 - Electronic Arts - EA Canada

Racing Game of the Year
Burnout Paradise - Electronic Arts - Criterion Games
GRID - Codemasters - Codemasters
Mario Kart Wii - Nintendo - Nintendo
MotorStorm: Pacific Rift - Sony - Evolution Studios
Pure - Disney Interactive Studios - Black Rock Studio

Fighting Game of the Year
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe - Midway - Midway
Soulcalibur IV - Namco Bandai Games - Project Soul
Super Smash Bros. Brawl - Nintendo - Nintendo, Sora
Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix - Capcom - Backbone Entertainment
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 - THQ - Yuke's

Outstanding Achievement in Online Game Play
Call of Duty: World at War - Activision - Treyarch
Gears of War 2 - Microsoft Game Studios - Epic Games
Left 4 Dead - Valve Software - Valve Software
NHL 09 - Electronic Arts - EA Canada
Rock Band 2 - MTV Games - Harmonix

Action Game of the Year
Call of Duty: World at War - Activision - Treyarch
Dead Space - Electronic Arts - EA Redwood Shores
Far Cry 2 - Ubisoft - Ubisoft Montreal
Gears of War 2 - Microsoft Game Studios - Epic Games
Grand Theft Auto IV - Rockstar Games - Rockstar North

Handheld Game of the Year
Advance Wars: Days of Ruin - Nintendo - Intelligent Systems
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia - Konami - Konami
God of War: Chains of Olympus - Sony - Ready at Dawn
Patapon - Sony - Sony Computer Entertainment International
Professor Layton and the Curious Village - Nintendo - Level 5

Cellular Game of the Year
Reset Generation - Nokia - RedLynx
Spore Origins - Electronic Arts - Babaroga, Tricky Software
Trism - Demiforce - Demiforce

Casual Game of the Year
Braid - Microsoft Game Studios - Number None
Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhurst - Big Fish Games - Big Fish Games
Patapon - Sony - Sony Computer Entertainment International
Professor Layton and the Curious Village - Nintendo - Level 5
World of Goo - Nintendo - 2D Boy

Outstanding Achievement in Game Design
Fable II - Microsoft Game Studios - Lionhead Studios
Fallout 3 - Bethesda Softworks - Bethesda Softworks
Gears of War 2 - Microsoft Game Studios - Epic Games
Left 4 Dead - Valve Software - Valve Software
World of Goo - Nintendo - 2D Boy

Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction
Fallout 3 - Bethesda Softworks - Bethesda Softworks
Gears of War 2 - Microsoft Game Studios - Epic Games
Left 4 Dead - Valve Software - Valve Software
Little Big Planet - Sony - Media Molecule
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - Konami - Kojima Productions

Family Game of the Year
Boom Blox - Electronic Arts - EA Los Angeles
Little Big Planet - Sony - Media Molecule
Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party - Ubisoft - Ubisoft Paris
Rock Band 2 - MTV Games - Harmonix
Wii Fit - Nintendo - Nintendo

Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year
Advance Wars: Days of Ruin - Nintendo - Intelligent Systems
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - Electronic Arts - EA Los Angeles
Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution - 2K Games - Firaxis
Sins of a Solar Empire - Stardock Entertainment - Ironclad Games
Tom Clancy's EndWar - Ubisoft - Ubisoft Shanghai

Outstanding Achievement in Animation
Castle Crashers - Microsoft Game Studios - The Behemoth
Gears of War 2 - Microsoft Game Studios - Epic Games
Left 4 Dead - Valve Software - Valve Software
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - Konami - Kojima Productions
Prince of Persia - Ubisoft - Ubisoft Montreal

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction
Dead Space - Electronic Arts - EA Redwood Shores
Fable II - Microsoft Game Studios - Lionhead Studios
Little Big Planet - Sony - Media Molecule
Mirror's Edge - Electronic Arts - Digital Illusions
Prince of Persia - Ubisoft - Ubisoft Montreal

Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering
Gears of War 2 - Microsoft Game Studios - Epic Games
Little Big Planet - Sony - Media Molecule
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - Konami - Kojima Productions
Resistance 2 - Sony - Insomniac Games
Tomb Raider: Underworld - Eidos/Warner Bros. Interactive - Crystal Dynamics

Outstanding Achievement in Game Play Engineering
Fable II - Microsoft Game Studios - Lionhead Studios
Fallout 3 - Bethesda Softworks - Bethesda Softworks
Left 4 Dead - Valve Software - Valve Software
Spore - Electronic Arts - Maxis
Tom Clancy's EndWar - Ubisoft - Ubisoft Shanghai

Outstanding Character Performance
Gears of War 2 (Dom) - Microsoft Game Studios - Epic Games
Gears of War 2 (Marcus) - Microsoft Game Studios - Epic Games
Little Big Planet (Sackboy) - Sony Computer Entertainment America - Media Molecule
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (Old Snake) - Konami - Kojima Productions
Tomb Raider: Underworld (Lara Croft) - Eidos/Warner Bros. Interactive - Crystal Dynamics

Outstanding Achievement in Adapted Story
Lego Batman: The Videogame - Warner Bros. Interactive - TT Games
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe - Midway - Midway
Naruto: The Broken Bond - Ubisoft - Ubisoft
Quantum of Solace - Activision - Treyarch
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed - LucasArts - LucasArts

Outstanding Achievement in Original Story
Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway - Ubisoft - Gearbox Software
Fable II - Microsoft Game Studios - Lionhead Studios
Fallout 3 - Bethesda Softworks - Bethesda Softworks
Grand Theft Auto IV - Rockstar Games - Rockstar North
Professor Layton and the Curious Village - Nintendo - Level 5

Role-Playing Game of the Year
Fable II - Microsoft Game Studios - Lionhead Studios
Fallout 3 - Bethesda Softworks - Bethesda Softworks
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time - Nintendo - Chunsoft
Tales of Vesperia - Namco Bandai Games - Namco Bandai Games

Outstanding Innovation in Gaming
Braid - Microsoft Game Studios - Number None
Left 4 Dead - Valve Software - Valve Software
Little Big Planet - Sony - Media Molecule
Spore - Electronic Arts - Maxis
Wii Fit - Nintendo - Nintendo

Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition
de Blob - THQ - Blue Tongue
Dead Space - Electronic Arts - EA Redwood Shores
Fable II - Microsoft Game Studios - Lionhead Studios
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - Konami - Kojima Productions
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King - Blizzard Entertainment - Blizzard Entertainment

Outstanding Achievement in Soundtrack
Guitar Hero World Tour - Activision - Neversoft Entertainment
Little Big Planet - Sony - Media Molecule
Motorstorm: Pacific Rift - Sony - Evolution Studios
Rock Band 2 - MTV Games - Harmonix
Singstar PS3 Vol. 1 - Sony - SCE London Studio

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design
Dead Space - Electronic Arts - EA Redwood Shores
Gears of War 2 - Microsoft Game Studios - Epic Games
Little Big Planet - Sony - Media Molecule
Prince of Persia - Ubisoft - Ubisoft Montreal
Wipeout HD - Sony - SCE Studios Liverpool

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