Game Developers Choice Awards

The Game Developers Choice Awards are awards annually presented at the Game Developers Conference for outstanding game developers and games.[1] Introduced in 2001, the Game Developers Choice Awards were preceded by the Spotlight Awards, which were presented from 1997 to 1999.[2] Since then, the ceremony for the Independent Games Festival is held just prior to the Choice Awards ceremony.

Game Developers Choice Awards
Game developers choice awards logo.jpg
Awarded forOutstanding game developers and games
Presented byGame Developers Conference
First awardedMarch 24, 2001; 20 years ago (2001-03-24)
WebsiteOfficial website

Winner selection processEdit

Nominations for games are by made by International Choice Awards Network (ICAN), a group of leading game creators. Votes are then additionally made by editors of Gamasutra.[3] Any video game released in the preceding calendar year, regardless of medium, is eligible to be nominated, through upgrades, expansions, and mission packs are not eligible to be nominated.[3]

The top nominated games are assembled into the list of nominees, typically presented in December, are then voted on by final voting body, made up of ICANs, and editors of Gamasutra.[3] In this final stage of voting, games with the highest votes in a category are the winners.[3]

Winners for Special Awards (Lifetime Achievement, Pioneer, Ambassador) are decided by a "Special Awards Jury", which appears to consist of a variety of 5 people.[4] This group may consider recommendations from ICAN members.[3]

The winners are announced during the Game Developers Conference, which is typically held in March of the calendar year.

GDC related properties are owned by the UBM technology group.

Historical processEdit

In 2007, took over management of the awards from the IGDA.[5] An advisory board selected by the editors of and Game Developer magazine oversees the selection process.

In the past, nominations are accepted from registered users, confirmed to be game developers, and from the advisory board. Once the nomination process is complete, the advisory board identifies five finalists for each regular category.

The recipients of the Lifetime Achievement, Pioneer (formerly known as First Penguin) and Maverick awards are selected by the advisory board. For the other awards, a vote open to all those who participated in the nomination process chooses a recipient from each category's finalists.[6]

List of winnersEdit

Note: Events held for awards are held early in the following year. Winners are listed first and highlighted in bold.

Game of the YearEdit

The Game of the Year Award recognizes the overall best game released during the previous calendar year, as interpreted by the members of the Game Developers Conference.

Year Game Genre Platform(s)[a] Developer(s)
2000 The Sims[7] Life simulation Mac OS, Microsoft Windows Maxis
2001 Grand Theft Auto III[8] Action-adventure Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2 DMA Design
2002 Metroid Prime[9] Action-adventure GameCube Retro Studios
2003 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic[10] Role-playing Microsoft Windows, Xbox BioWare
2004 Half-Life 2[11] First-person shooter Microsoft Windows Valve
2005 Shadow of the Colossus[12] Action-adventure PlayStation 2 Team Ico
2006 Gears of War[13] Third-person shooter Xbox 360 Epic Games
2007 Portal[14] Puzzle-platformer Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Valve
2008 Fallout 3[15] Action role-playing Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Bethesda Game Studios
2009 Uncharted 2: Among Thieves[16] Action-adventure PlayStation 3 Naughty Dog
2010 Red Dead Redemption[17] Action-adventure PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Rockstar San Diego
2011 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim[18] Action role-playing Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Bethesda Game Studios
2012 Journey[19] Adventure PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows Thatgamecompany
2013 The Last of Us[20] Action-adventure PlayStation 3 Naughty Dog
2014 Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor[21] Action-adventure Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One Monolith Productions
2015 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt[22] Action role-playing Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One CD Projekt Red
2016 Overwatch[23] First-person shooter Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One Blizzard Entertainment
2017 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild[24] Adventure Nintendo Switch, Wii U Nintendo
2018 God of War[25] Action-adventure PlayStation 4 Santa Monica Studio
2019 Untitled Goose Game[26] Puzzle Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch House House
  1. ^ At the time of the award ceremony. Most games were later released on other platforms.

Best AudioEdit

Best Audio award recognizes the overall excellence of audio in a game, including sound effects, musical composition, sound design and orchestration.

Best DebutEdit

The Best Debut Award recognizes the best game from any development studio which released its first publicly available title during the calendar year. This was formerly known as the New Studio of the Year Award. In years prior to 2008, the award was awarded to the studio name, as opposed to the game title.

Best DesignEdit

Best Design award recognizes the overall excellence of design in a game, including gameplay, mechanics, puzzles, play balancing and scenarios.

Best Mobile/Handheld GameEdit

Best Mobile/Handheld Game Award recognizes the overall best game commercially released on any handheld platform.

Innovation AwardEdit

The Innovation Award recognizes games that demonstrate innovation and push the boundaries of games as an expressive medium. Multiple awards per year were given before 2007.

Best NarrativeEdit

Best Narrative award recognizes the quality of writing in a game, including story, plot construction, dialogue and branching narratives.

Best TechnologyEdit

Best Technology award recognizes the overall excellence of technology in a game, including graphics programming, artificial intelligence, networking and physics.

Best Visual ArtEdit

Best Visual Art award recognizes the overall excellence of visual art in a game, including animation, modeling, art direction and textures.

Best VR/AR GameEdit

Special Awards RecipientsEdit

Audience AwardEdit

These awards are voted by the audience for best game of that year.

The Pioneer AwardEdit

Known as the First Penguin award until 2007, the Pioneer Award celebrates individuals who developed a breakthrough technology, game concept or gameplay design.

GDC had announced their intention to award Nolan Bushnell (co-founder of Atari) the 2017 Pioneer Award.[32] However, after several people asked the GDC to reconsider this in light of documented sexist activities in Bushnell's past in light of the current #MeToo movement, GDC opted to not award the Pioneer Award and instead "will dedicate this year's award to honor the pioneering and unheard voices of the past".[33][34]

Ambassador AwardEdit

The Ambassador Award is given to individuals within or outside the industry who helped video games "advance to a better place."[35] It replaced the IGDA Award for Community Contribution after 2008.[36]

Lifetime Achievement AwardEdit

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the achievements of a developer who has impacted games and game development.

Retired awardsEdit

The following award categories have been retired or replaced with a different focus.

Best Downloadable GameEdit

Best Downloadable Game Award recognizes the overall best game released on console or PC platforms specifically and solely for digital download - with an emphasis on smaller, more 'casual'-friendly titles.

Character DesignEdit

The Character Design award recognizes the overall excellence of non-licensed character design in a game, including originality, character arc and emotional depth.

Excellence in Level DesignEdit

Excellence in ProgrammingEdit

IGDA Award for Community ContributionEdit

The IGDA Award for Community Contribution recognized developers for significant efforts "building community, sharing knowledge, speaking on behalf of developers and/or contributing to the art form of game development".[36] The Ambassador Award replaced it after 2007.[35]

Original Game Character of the YearEdit

Maverick AwardEdit

The Maverick Award recognizes the current achievements of a developer who exhibits independence in thought and action while experimenting with alternate/emerging forms of digital games.

Best New Social/Online GameEdit


  1. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards". Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  2. ^ "Archive". Archived from the original on May 29, 2010. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Game Developers Choice Awards".
  4. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards".
  5. ^ "Press Release:THE 2008 GAME DEVELOPERS CHOICE AWARDS". December 20, 2007. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  6. ^ "rules and regulations". Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  7. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2000". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  8. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2001". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  9. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2002". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  10. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2003". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  11. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2004". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  12. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2005". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  13. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2006". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  14. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2007". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  15. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2008". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  16. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2009". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  17. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2010". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  18. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2011". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  19. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2012". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  20. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2013". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  21. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2014". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  22. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2015". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Dornbush, Jonathan (March 1, 2017). "GDC 2017: Overwatch Wins Game of the Year at Game Developers". IGN. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i Chan, Stephanie (March 21, 2018). "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is GDC 2018's game of the year". Venture Beat. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Williams, Mike (March 20, 2019). "God of War Wins Another GOTY at 2019 Game Developers Choice Awards". USGamer. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Untitled Goose Game nabs Game of the Year at the 2020 Game Developers Choice Awards!". Gamasutra. March 18, 2020. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ a b "Anita Sarkeesian, Riot co-founders win GDCA 2014 Special Awards". Gamasutra. February 11, 2014. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
  30. ^ "Trailblazing Sega dev Rieko Kodama to be honored with Pioneer Award at GDC 2019!". Gamasutra. January 17, 2019. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  31. ^ "Adventure game trailblazer Roberta Williams to receive Pioneer Award at GDC 2020". Gamasutra. February 26, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  32. ^ a b c "Nolan Bushnell, Tim Schafer, and Rami Ismail to be honored at the 2018 GDC Awards!". Gamasutra. January 30, 2018. Archived from the original on January 30, 2018. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  33. ^ Fogel, Stefanie (January 30, 2018). "GDC Re-Examines Award for Atari Founder After Outcry Over Past Conduct". Glixel. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  34. ^ Kim, Matt (January 31, 2018). "GDC Announces It Will Not Award Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell After Controversy". US Gamer. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  35. ^ a b "Ambassador Award Archive". Game Developers Choice Awards. 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  36. ^ a b "Community Contribution Archive". Game Developers Choice Awards. 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  37. ^ (March 2011). "Ambassador Award Archive". Retrieved 16 January 2012.
  38. ^ "Death Stranding leads the pack of 2020 Game Developers Choice Awards nominees". Gamasutra. January 8, 2020. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  39. ^ Takahasi, Dean (January 20, 2017). "Epic Games' Tim Sweeney to receive lifetime achievement award at GDC". Venture Beat. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  40. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (December 11, 2018). "Amy Hennig to receive lifetime achievement award". Retrieved December 11, 2018.

External linksEdit