The SXSW Gaming Awards

By Andy Rather Murray

The 4th Annual SXSW Gaming Awards

The SXSW Gaming awards were first introduced in 2014 with hosts Justine “iJustine” Ezarik and Smosh (Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla). This would be the first in an annual event. In 2012, Matthew Crump, a veteran game developer, led SXSW Gaming’s efforts to creating a Gaming Awards Ceremony. Along with his team, Crump created 13 categories that games would be judged in. Though, shortly before the first ceremony, Crump died of a heart attack and was never able to see his creation. The SXSW Gaming Awards have, since their start in 2014, grown, becoming a “must see” to the thousands that attend the festival. Held this year at the downtown Hilton’s Grand Ballroom, this year’s Awards were incredible.

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(Xavier Woods and Sonja “OMGitsfirefoxx” Reid – Photo Credit: Thomas Tischio)

The beginning of the awards was predictable, a few good games pitted against each other. The first category was Excellence in Sound Effects. Those nominated were: Battlefield 1, Dishonored 2, Inside, Titanfall 2, and Uncharted 4. In the end, Battlefield 1 took home the trophy. The next category was Excellence in Musical Score. Nominated were: Thumper, The Last Guardian, Hyper Light Drifter, Doom, and Final Fantasy XV. Where Doom was awarded because of it’s incredible score. We then moved on to Excellence in Visuals, where Uncharted 4 won over Battlefield 1 and Final Fantasy XV. Then came Excellence in Animation where Uncharted 4 also dominated.

What came next was what I expected to win everything: Overwatch, but it only won awards like: Exports Game of the Year, Trending Game of the Year, and Multiplayer Game of the Year. Then came Best Gameplay which was given over to Doom and Best Design to Dishonored 2. We then came to the Best Fan Creation which was awarded to Brutal Doom 64, a modified version of the original Doom. Of course, SXSW didn’t pull any stops when it came to Pokemon Go, awarding it Mobile Game of the Year. But what I didn’t expect was the popularity of Uncharted 4, which won Excellence in Animation, Excellence in Visuals, Excellence in Narrative, Best Character, and finally Uncharted 4 came home with the Game of the Year 2017 award. Before the Game of the Year had been announced, the crowd had begun chanting: “Overwatch, Overwatch” until the news broke that Uncharted 4 would be taking home the trophy, at which time a good portion of the audience stood and left the theater. But none the less, Uncharted 4 beating Overwatch for Game of the Year was a big upset in the minds of many.

One winner that I thought deserves special mention is the recently released That Dragon, Cancer. Winner of the Matthew Crump Cultural Innovation Award, That Dragon, Cancer is a story-driven game about the life of the head developer’s third son. Their son, Joel, was diagnosed with an atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor at twelve, and was given four months to live, but despite the doctor’s estimation, Joel lived on for four more years. It has won multiple innovation awards and gameplay awards, and has received high praises throughout development and after release.

Overall, this year’s Awards Ceremony was a major success, even though Overwatch was not the Game of the Year. Xavier Woods and Sonja “OMGitsfirefoxx” Reid were incredible hosts and really lightened the experience. Whether talking about Overwatch, Uncharted 4, or the emotional story-game That Dragon, Cancer, everyone enjoyed the experience. The audience was lively, the nominees and winners were humble, and Rockit Gaming definitely did NOT Rock-it. (See what I did there…?)

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