Predictions for the 2023 Game Awards

Promotional poster for/by the Game Awards
Promotional poster for/by the Game Awards

The Game Awards is an award show that gives recognition to games for achievement in specific categories. This year the awards are being announced on Dec. 7 with a pre-show starting at 7:30p ET/4:30p PT. The nominees were decided on Nov. 1– consisting of 100+ games published in 2023. 

According to the Game Awards, awards are considered in parts: 90% by “an international jury of over 100 global media and influencer outlets, selected for their history of critical video game evaluation”, and 10% is allotted for public voting, where the public can choose between 5-6 games per category.

There are 31 Categories that can be arranged into three different types: aspects (specifying games by their elements), genre (specifying games by their genre), and eSports (specifying competition-focused video game personalities and organizations).

This will cover 25 of 31 categories and provides thoughts for the categories that need more discourse/explanation. 

Predictions are subjective and spoiler-free.

Game of the Year: “Baldur’s Gate 3”

Promotional poster for/by Larian Studios

Game of the Year is the Game Awards most notable and anticipated award and is theorized before the year even begins. Of all of the games published in 2023, six games stood out to the jury: “Alan Wake 2”, “Baldur’s Gate 3”, Marvel’s “Spider-Man 2, “Resident Evil 4”, “Super Mario Bros Wonder”, and the “Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom”.

Of these games, three are made most notable by social media. Marvel’s “Spider Man 2” was the sequel to Sony’s Marvel “Spider Man”, which is considered one of the best superhero stories of all time. The sequel attempted to live up to these expectations, but was unable to stack up to the other two games. “Legends of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” is another sequel, this time to “Legends of Zelda: Breath of the Wild”, a game which won Game of the Year in 2017. “Tears of the Kingdom” was released in May and took internet conversations by storm, until “Baldur’s Gate 3” came out in early August.

“Baldur’s Gate 3” is the third game of the “Baldur’s Gate” series, set in the Dungeons and Dragons Forgotten Realms setting. The game applies the format of the Tabletop Role Playing Game and adapts it into Video Game format. “Baldur’s Gate” is the 5th most purchased game of all time on Steam and has won six Golden Joystick awards, including their “Ultimate Game of the Year” award. I think with its widespread popularity and recognition as one of the most purchased and played games on Steam, that it is hard to consider any other game for the award.

Best Game Direction: “Baldur’s Gate 3”

“Baldur’s Gate” was created by Larian Studios and was directed by the company’s founder, Swen Vincke. In interviews, Swen Vincke has spoken out about the Studios commitment to the fanbase. In an interview with Dungeons and Dragons, Swen Vincke delved into what it took to cultivate his team at Larian and what their core drive is.

“The most important thing to the team actually is the players and their reactions,” Vincke said, “So you have a lot of player empathy within the studio. Thinking about what it is going to be like. We would have arguments because we f**ked up somewhere and [the players experience] would be where the arguments would come from. Because, ‘Ah s**t, that’s not how it was’, or ‘that was boring, we broke that’. So that is the biggest source of discussion. Honestly, that is the unifying fret. It is just care for the player experience.”

Larian’s overall direction and team seems to be focused on accountability and staying true to their audience, which is something that is missing from a lot of larger studios right now.

Best Narrative: “Spider Man 2”

Promotional poster for/by Insomniac Games

For Best Narrative, it is difficult to have a game that feels strong all the way through. Some games fall short in some of their aspects, usually in their ending. “Spider Man 2” seemed to have its story all the way through, despite some shortcomings and lived up to the expectations set by the first game.

Josh Horton, 11th grade teacher at State High and video game fan, had a different view on the winner of Best Narrative. 

“I really could see ‘Alan Wake 2’ winning it,” Horton said, “I haven’t beaten it. I played the first two or three chapters when it first came out but I got sidetracked. It was good. It is a very narrative heavy game. I could see Alan Wake 2 stealing that. I’ve heard mixed reviews on the story of ‘Baldur’s Gate 3’.”

The real difference between the two games may lie in their reception and viewer base; the viewer base behind “Spider Man 2” is exceedingly vocal and, despite whether or not “Alan Wake 2” has a better narrative, some categories lie in the hands of recognition and appeasement to fans. 

Best Art Direction: “Lies of P”

“Lies of P” honestly came out of nowhere when it comes to video games. It had very little recognition before its initial release and had a lot of people playing it after the first week. “Lies of P” is Soulslike, meaning it contains the same combat and narrative structure as the Dark Souls games produced by From Software. I think what sets “Lies of P” apart from other Soulslikes or games in the award category is its design and art. 

“Lies of P” centers around the story of “Pinocchio” and dark steampunk, creating an atmosphere that is both amazing to look at and terrifying to explore. 

Best Score and Music: Nintendo (“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom”)

Nintendo was able to make the world of Hyrule seem more real through its music. The people behind the music for “Tears of the Kingdom”, Manaka Kataoka and Masato Ohashi, both made music for “Animal Crossing”, another game known for its music. 

Best Audio Design: “Resident Evil 4”

Promotional poster for/by Capcom

“Resident Evil 4” (2023) is the remastering of the original “Resident Evil 4” (2005), which brought “Resident Evil” to the larger gaming landscape and was one of the first of its kind in terms of technology and controls.

“Resident Evil 4” is a horror game which has been praised for its immersion and its construction of a seemingly realistic world through sound effects or audio. Being a remaster, it built from the original game (which won the VGX Game of the Year award in 2005) and improved on graphics, controls, and, most notably, audio.

Best Performance: Neil Newbon

Neil Newbon has been a part of very large productions, including Detroit “Becomes Human” (2018), “Resident Evil Village” (2021), and the “Xenoblade Chronicles “(2022). However, Newbon’s performance as Astarion in “Baldur’s Gate 3” has been his best. 

Games for Impact: “Chants of Sennaar”

Promotional poster for/by Rundisc

“Chants of Sennaar” is a game which flew under the radar. The game was published by independent studio, Rundisc, and delivers on the title of Games for Impact.

The category of “Games for Impact” sounds relatively ambiguous and insignificant. However, it is a category which focuses on social impact and commentary. “Chants of Sennaar” delivers on this wholeheartedly. The game follows a wanderer, who travels up the levels of a tower, decrypting and translating languages along the way. The tower is split into five levels, which hold their own languages, people, and culture. The only connection among the levels lies in miscommunication and misconceptions. 

The larger conversation of the story is the connection of language and the importance of understanding people (on an individual and societal level) beyond superficiality, delving into what makes them how they are and how we are connected. 

Best Ongoing: “Cyberpunk 2077”

Promotional poster for/by CD Project Red

The category of Best Ongoing is a difficult topic to delve into, considering the nominations this year. “Fortnite” is a game which saw a spike of growth with their release of “Fortnite OG”, which held onto its nostalgic ties with the player base by bringing the game back to their status from years prior. However, it is difficult to consider this as the “Best Ongoing” game.

“Cyberpunk 2077” has seen a revival since its release. When “Cyberpunk 2077” was released in 2020, the game saw a majority of its player base criticizing the game. In the past three years, the game has seen waves of updates, DLC, and adaptations which have drawn players back to the game and what it originally attempted to uphold.

Best Indie: “Dave the Diver”

Best Mobile Game: “Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis”

Best Community Support: “Baldur’s Gate 3”

Innovation In Accessibility: “Marvel’s Spider Man 2”

Best VR/AR: “Resident Evil Village”

Best Action Game: “Remnant 2”

Best Action/Adventure Game: “Marvel’s Spider Man 2”

Best Roleplaying: “Baldur’s Gate 3”

It is difficult to argue that a game like “Baldur’s Gate 3”, that is Game of the Year worthy, does not win a less broad category. However, there are games in the Best Roleplaying category which were talked about years before their release, specifically “Starfield”.

A Bethesda game, “Starfield” was held as a pedestal and was meant to be the new generation of Open-World games, despite the company’s past of game breaking bugs or disinterest.

“’Starfield’ might be a good example of [a studio losing interest in a game],” Horton said. “I don’t hate the game. When it first came out, I was like, ‘this is definitely going to be a Game of the Year nominee’. It wasn’t. The more I played, it was really empty. I had fun with it and I’ll go back to it every once and a while but it’s a game that waits for the mods.”

“Starfield” fell short on its promises to its player base and missed out on not just Best Roleplaying, but Game of the Year, of which it had the potential to win. 

Best Fighting: “Mortal Kombat 1” 

Promotional poster for/by Netherrealm Studios

“Mortal Kombat 1” in the wake of “Mortal Kombat 11”, a game which represented the downfall of fighting games, or the 2021 “Mortal Kombat” movie, a movie which represented the downfall of game adaptations, has revived such games. Originally an arcade game, “Mortal Kombat” has been around for over three decades. “Mortal Kombat 1” builds on this and has seen acceptance by fans. 

Best Family: “Super Mario Bros. Wonder”

Best Sim/Strategy: “City Skyline II” 

“City Skyline” is one of the most played Simulation games of all time and is most likely going to win the Best Sim/Strategy category based merely on recognition. The reception of “City Skyline II” has not been good but, despite this, the other games have not had as much viewership as “City Skyline II”.

Best Sports/Racing: “F1 23”

Best Multiplayer: “Baldur’s Gate 3”

Best Debut Indie: “Viewfinder”

Promotional poster for/by HBO

Best Adaption: “The Last of Us” HBO

“The Last of Us” HBO is exceedingly notable, especially for what it can mean for the future of adaptations. “The Last of Us” HBO has nearly two dozen awards, among the Game Awards, MTV awards, Emmys, TCA awards, and Gotham Awards. Beyond being an adaptation of a critically acclaimed game, “The Last of Us” HBO is a critically acclaimed show and is able to function beyond the game it is based on.

Most Anticipated Game: “Hades II”

“Hades I” is one of the best roguelikes and, if delivered well, “Hades II” can follow in its footsteps. Even before it was announced or a trailer was released, “Hades II” was still one of the most anticipated games for 2024. The “Hades II” trailer has 5.5 million views and 246 thousand likes and represents the future of roguelikes. 

Players’ Voice: Unknown

The Players’ Voice Award is a bonus award, consisting of the most voted games over all categories and allows players to choose between 10 games. The list is up to players only and is purely based on audience votes. The amount of games to choose from is vast and it is hard to pick which one will be considered the “Players’ Choice game”.

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