GGUK were in Nottingham for GameCity6, Europe’s biggest and brightest videogame culture festival and we were honoured to attend the inaugural GameCity Prize.
Created as part of the festival’s mission to encourage understanding whilst promoting and celebrating videogame culture to as wide and diverse an audience as possible, the award ceremony took place in the Council City Hall which is a beautiful and impressive building. It’s great that Nottingham council see the value and benefit of supporting and embracing the festival and prize, which is important when more people than ever, from all walks of life are gaming.
Greeted by a fabulous trio of Balkan Folk musicians in the neon lit foyer, talk over sparkly wine turned inevitably to the shortlist. This prize is different in criteria and ambition than say the Golden Joystick awards. In the same vein as the Turner or Mercury Music Prize that seeks out interesting work and brings it vividly into public consciousness, the shortlist was put together by an anonymous, international and gender-neutral academy of videogame experts, drawn from within and outside the industry. Any videogame released in the last twelve months, irrespective of budget, format or genre was eligible but those that made it onto the shortlist have certainly contributed to popular culture, without necessarily selling millions of copies. Aesthetics, emotion and charm were all taken into account by the high profile judges who were predominately non-gamers and included Jude Kelly OBE (Chair), author Charlie Higson, musician Dave Rowntree and producer Nitin Sawhney.
The seven games on the shortlist were:
Minecraft (Mojang/ Mojang)
Ilomilo (Southend Interactive/ Microsoft)
Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP (Superbrothers/ Capybara Games)
Pokémon Black (Game Freak/ Nintendo)
Portal 2 (Valve/ EA)
Child of Eden (Q? Entertainment/ Ubisoft)
Limbo (Playdead/ Playdead)
The awards host and judge MP Tom Watson reminded us that the winner doesn’t necessarily represent the best game on the list, but that which is the most interesting cultural artefact – the videogame which serves as an entry into a rich and valuable interactive world.
And the winner is…
Minecraft! The much loved world of cubes took the top spot. The simplicity of placing blocks in a huge sandbox world has allowed millions of players to let their imaginations run riot (so long as they have built suitable shelter first, in time for nightfall when the monsters come out…). Over 300,000 video creations have been uploaded to YouTube and a whole new audience are set to get building when the game comes to XBLA in 2012. Minecraft is engaging, inclusive, creative and challenging but is accessible and best of all, fun.
So as the first ever GameCity Prize came to an end, we danced to vinyl requests by moustachioed DJ Carl and we’re already looking forward to next year.