The big winner at this year's BAFTA Video Games Awards was storytelling, represented by the success of Naughty Dog's The Last of Us and the emerging trend of expansive, cinematic experiences that elevate gaming to an art form. Long-time gamer and Mill VFX supervisor Hugo Guerra shares his event experience and perspective of the industry - and its future - with us below.
It was an amazing year for gaming, from the blockbuster GTA 5 selling a blistering 32.5 million units worldwide (earning 1 billion dollars in 15 days), to the amazing artistic achievements of games like The Last of Us, Beyond Two Souls, and BioShock Infinite to “one man shows” like the indie hit game Papers, Please. It was definitely a year of some of the biggest storytelling and emotional games to date, proving once again that the video game industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world from both a commercial and artistic point of view.
For the first time in its 10-year history, the BAFTA Video Games awards opened to the public, allowing everyday gamers to attend the ceremony alongside industry stars. The event was held at Tobacco Dock in London on an amazingly sunny day, giving attendees the rare opportunity to truly enjoy the red carpet.
The day began with the Inside Games Showcase 2014, where visitors could test out the latest beta version of upcoming games and future blockbusters. The highlights, represented by the big queues, had to be the new open world Metal Gear Solid 5 and the Oculus Rift shooter Elite: Dangerous.
This year the awards focused on video games as an art and their impact on society. Throughout the night, videos featured all types of fans, from everyday gamers to in-house presenters, speaking on the importance of video games to art and culture, especially in the UK since many of biggest games of the last 15 years originated here.
For the 5th year in a row, the ceremony was hosted by comedian Dara O Briain. Being a big gamer himself, Dara represented the avid fans, filling the show with amazing inside jokes and geeky one-liners. The best joke of the night, involved Dara paying tribute to Metal Gear Solid with creator Hideo Kojima and a cardboard box to hide from the bad guys. (You can view it here.)
The Last of Us led the nominees with ten nominations, including 'Artistic Achievement', 'Best Game', 'Game Design', and 'Story'. GTA 5 and the surprise of the year, Media Molecule’s Tearaway, weren’t too far behind with nine and eight nominations respectively. Papers, Please! represented the indie games with four nominations.
The big winner of the night was The Last Of Us with five awards including 'Best Game'. Grand Theft Auto V and Tearaway followed with three awards each, while Gone Home won 'Debut Game'.
The general trend across the winners was definitely storytelling. There has been a huge increase in quality scriptwriting in games and The Last of Us and Gone Home really showcase that trend. They are both emotional and heartbreaking, and able to compete with any Oscar winning drama.
Opening the event to the general public really gave a warm feeling to the event. A special nod goes to Tearaway for presenting some of the best moments of the night. Media Molecule's entire staff was in attendance and were, by far, the most enthusiastic nominees, bringing the house down every time the game was mentioned.
All in all, it was a great day, showcasing, once again, that the gaming industry is alive and well with huge growth in storytelling, performance and drama.
The 20th century saw storytelling develop through cinema, becoming a modern art form and thriving industry. With advancements in technology, artists drove audiences to the edge of their imaginations and evolved storytelling into a beautiful cinematic experience. I think the 21st century is going to see a continued evolution with video games, advancing the extraordinary equilibriums between 'Technology and Art', 'Interactivity and Drama', and 'Entertainment and Hardcore Gaming'.
The 21st century will also see the full democratization of games. No longer confined to entertainment for teens playing alone in their bedrooms, games are played by everyone, everywhere and across devices. From the casual Angry Bird mobile phone gamer playing on the train to the dedicated fans in attendance at the BAFTA ceremony, the gaming industry is set to be the next major platform for storytelling.
View a full list of the night's winners (every single one of them are worth playing) and the ceremony below: