Alt.GDC: Take THAT Academy Awards!

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Alt.GDC: Take THAT Academy Awards!
Role-playing game superhero Warren Spector accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award

Last night’s gaming award double feature at GDC was an emotional roller coaster. From the misty-eyed acceptances of indy game developers, to laugh out loud videos from game comedy group Mega64, to inspired speeches, the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Choice Awards were as heart-warming as they were inspirational. But above it all rose industry icon Warren Spector (Steve Jackson Games, Wing Commander series, Ultima series, System Shock, Deus Ex, Epic Mickey). In accepting the Lifetime Achievement award, he moved newly minted indy developers and hardened industry vets alike with his message of encouragement in continuing to pursue their dreams and to make games as important as they are entertaining. Here are some of his comments:

Games are unique among all media, among all art forms. We’re not novels, we’re not movies, we’re not television. And we shouldn’t try to be these things. We can do things that no other medium in human history has ever been able to do. We have to focus on those things, the things that make us unique, and not on imitating other media… The key is for each of you to find your own take on what makes us special and to NEVER settle in pursuit of that. Do that and you’ll discover that games are more than a way to make some money… And you’ll inevitably create games that are more than just ways for players to waste time in endless button-mashing, key-clicking, and finger swiping (no matter how much fun that might be). We can provide players with experiences as profound, lasting, and life-changing as any novel, play, film, or television program. And if we can do that, we MUST do that — or we risk, deservedly so, to being relegated to the ash heap of history… Always strive to make your games special, make them SAY something, better yet, make the players SAY something, or learn something, about themselves, through their choices and their interactions. I promise you — effecting people’s lives, maybe changing people’s lives, is far more satisfying than generating a ton of revenue, or getting a great review. If you embrace the uniqueness of our medium and strive for greatness, even if you fail, your future, OUR future, will be bright.

After the event, attendees and online viewers were commenting on what a great show it was — well-produced, decently written, well-paced. The producers of the Oscars (and the VMAs) might learn a thing or two from the team that mounted this fun and spirit-rousing show.

Oh, and if you want to see all of the night’s winners, they’re listed here.

You can watch an archive of the awards here (IGF portion) and here (GDCA).

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I design games for work and for fun. I recently graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design, and am now employed as a designer at Toys for Bob.

View more articles by Blake Maloof


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