The stars came out to sparkle in Las Vegas for The Game Awards, but they weren't the Hollywood elite nor the latest band on the radio airwaves – except for Kiefer Sutherland and Imagine Dragons, of course. Instead, the night belonged to developers, designers, producers, and gamers, in a celebration of all things gaming that had a few surprises and upsets along the way.
The show itself had its share of glitches, being plagued by mic problems throughout the night, at some points resembling a presentation in speech class more than a smoothly-paced awards show. Issues aside, the night featured some great musical performances, including music from Dragon Age: Inquisition performed by the violin strings of the exceptionally-talented Lindsey Sterling and the theme to the upcoming indie game No Man's Sky performed by 65 Seconds of Static. Jamie N Commons also performed “Karma,” the theme to the next installment in the Battlefield franchise, Battlefield Hardline, a rockin' track that puts you in the mood to kick down some doors and bust some bad guys, and at the end of the show, Imagine Dragons teamed with legendary video game music composer Koji Kondo for some acoustic tunes from The Legend of Zelda and its various incarnations.
When it boils down to it, though, people went to celebrate games, and Nintendo certainly had reason to celebrate as they picked up a whopping twelve nominations with four wins, including Developer of the Year and Best Sports/Racing Game with Mario Kart 8 scoring a huge upset over the likes of EA and 2K. Mario Kart 8 also won Best Family Game, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U took home Best Fighting Game.
Bungie also went home with big smiles on their faces, with Destiny usurping Sunset Overdrive and Child of Light for Best Score/Soundtrack and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare for Best Online Experience. In fact, Advanced Warfare took a thumping during the ceremony, not winning any of their nominations. In a scenario that even the winner admitted could only happen in gaming, Trey Parker (South Park: The Stick of Truth) beat out Advanced Warfare's Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey for Best Performance in a Video Game, and Activision's powerhouse lost Best Shooter to Far Cry 4, leaving many in the audience a little stunned.
In the end, however, the night belonged to BioWare and Dragon Age: Inquisition, only walking in with two nominations but walking out with two victories for Best RPG and Game of the Year.
Unlike other awards shows, The Game Awards used its platforms on all three major consoles as well as Steam, YouTube, Twitch, and countless websites to tease a lot of games. Some made us want to throw money on stage, such as the Sony exclusive thriller, Supermassive Games' Until Dawn and the intriguing space survival game Adrift, from Three One Zero studios. Some left us curious, like the The Fullbright Company's sci-fi-esque Tacoma, while some, such as From Software's Bloodborne, left us a little squeamish.
Oh yes, there was also some game being called Zelda U. Nintendo finally sprung new, gorgeous footage of the next-gen Zelda entry, prompting fits of oohs, ahhs, and applause from the audience, myself included.
The founders of Sierra Entertainment, Ken and Roberta Williams, were honored with the first Industry Icon award, for their special contributions to gaming, including creating one of the first examples of a visual adventure game, Mystery House, as well as long-running series including Leisure Suit Larry, Space Quest, and King's Quest. King's Quest, it was also revealed, will be receiving a re-imagining in the near future, with the blessing of the Williamses.
Below, a list of all the winners from tonight's Game Awards 2014:
Game of the Year: Dragon Age: Inquisition (BioWare/EA)
Developer of the Year: Nintendo
Best Indie Game: Shovel Knight (Yacht Club Games)
Best Mobile/Handheld Game: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (Blizzard Entertainment)
Best Narrative: Valiant Hearts: The Great War (Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft)
Best Score/Soundtrack: Destiny (Marty O'Donnell – Bungie)
Best Performance in a Video Game: Trey Parker as multiple roles, South Park: The Stick of Truth (Obsidian Entertainment/Ubisoft)
Games for Change: Valiant Hearts: The Great War (Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft)
Best Shooter: Far Cry 4 (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)
Best Action/Adventure: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Monolith Productions/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
Best RPG: Dragon Age: Inquisition (BioWare/EA)
Best Fighter: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Sora Ltd./Bandai Namco Games/Nintendo)
Best Family Game: Mario Kart 8 (Nintendo EAD/Nintendo)
Best Sports/Racing Game: Mario Kart 8 (Nintendo EAD/Nintendo)
Best Online Experience: Destiny (Bungie/Activision)
Best Remaster: Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar North/Rockstar Games)
*Most Anticipated Title: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (CD Projekt Red/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
*eSports Player of the Year: Matt “NaDeSHoT” Haag (Call of Duty)
*eSports Team of the Year: Ninjas in Pyjamas (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive)
*Trending Gamer: TotalBiscuit
*Best Fan Creation: Twitch Plays Pokemon (Anonymous)
*The last five categories were determined by fan vote, not by the jury panel.