Shadow of Mordor takes top prize at Game Developers Choice Awards

Monolith Productions’ open-world action game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was honored with the Game of the Year award this evening at the 15th annual Game Developers Choice Awards ceremony, which was hosted by industry veteran Tim Schafer as part of the ongoing 2015 Game Developers Conference.

But it was the critically-acclaimed mobile puzzle game Monument Valley which came away with the most awards of the night, including the Best Visual Art, Innovation & Best Handheld/Mobile Game Awards. Inspired by the visual style of Japanese prints & set in an M.C. Escher-esque world, Monument Valley was developed over the course of ten months.

The Best Debut Award went to indie firm Stoic Studio, founded by former BioWare developers, which developed the notable The Banner Saga, an epic Viking-themed tactical role-playing game.

Additional winners of the night include Blizzard Entertainment, which nabbed the Best Design Award for its expertly crafted digital card game, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. The haunting score and ambient sound of Alien: Isolation netted the Best Audio Award, and Bungie’s multiplayer sci-fi hit Destiny took home the award for Best Technology. 

The Best Narrative Award went to Kentucky Route Zero: Act III, for the engaging story in the third act of the mysterious point-and-click adventure series. Finally, the second annual Audience Award was given to Elite: Dangerous, which continues the classic space adventure, trading and combat simulation of the revered Elite series.

The Game Developers Choice Awards honor the very best games of the year, and was created for and voted on by developers. Winners are selected by the Game Developers Choice Awards-specific International Choice Awards Network (ICAN), which is an invitation-only group comprised of leading game creators from all parts of the video game industry.

The Game Developers Choice Awards also recognize developers who have contributed to the art, science and craft of video games. This year, the Pioneer Award was given to David Braben, who co-developed the seminal ‘open world’ 3D space trading game Elite in the early 1980s. The influential best-selling game featured revolutionary 3D graphics, and presented intriguing moral decisions for players. Elite saw a number of sequels, including the recently crowdfunded Elite: Dangerous, the winner of tonight’s Audience Award.

The Ambassador Award, which recognizes those whose actions have helped video games to “advance to a better place,” went to game designer and academic Brenda Romero who has been an important figure in video games for over three decades. Romero is one of the longest continuously serving women in the video game industry, and a 2014 Fulbright fellow for her work with Ireland’s game industry.

The Lifetime Achievement award was given to Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the classic Final Fantasy series and founder and president of Mistwalker. Before forming Mistwalker, Sakaguchi served as Director of Planning and Development at Square and created Final Fantasy, a groundbreaking role-playing game that has since gone on to spawn 13 sequels, numerous spinoffs, films and more.

“I continue to be amazed by the diversity of games that we honored tonight, from AAA action titles like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor to standout mobile games like Monument Valley,” said Meggan Scavio, General Manager of the Game Developers Conference. “The games recognized tonight highlight that the video game industry is moving in bold new directions, and they can offer experiences that can be big, small, intimate, epic, unique, grand and compelling. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners.”

Here’s the full list of this year’s Game Developers Choice Award winners:

Game of the Year

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Monolith Productions/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

Best Debut

Stoic Studio (The Banner Saga)

Innovation Award

Monument Valley (ustwo)

Best Technology

Destiny (Bungie/Activision)

Best Audio

Alien: Isolation (Creative Assembly/Sega)

Best Visual Art

Monument Valley (ustwo)

Best Narrative

Kentucky Route Zero: Act III (Cardboard Computer)

Best Design

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (Blizzard)

Best Handheld/Mobile Game

Monument Valley (ustwo)

Audience Award

Elite: Dangerous (Frontier Developments)

Pioneer Award

David Braben

Ambassador Award

Brenda Romero

Lifetime Achievement Award

Hironobu Sakaguchi

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