The 2011 Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, Cali ends tomorrow, but one of the show’s main events came last night in the Game Developer’s Choice Awards ceremony. Each year, the industry-focused trade show honors a set of games chosen and voted on by developers and no one else. This year, the top Game of the Year award went to the Rockstar Games Western Red Dead Redemption, which also picked up awards for Best Game Design, Best Audio and Best Technology.
Interestingly, out of the 10 categories featured in the ceremony, disc-based games won in only five of them: four for Red Dead and one for BioWare’s Mass Effect 2, for Best Writing. The other five categories went to downloadable releases for both console and PC, with Xbox Live Arcade release Limbo taking Best Visual Art, mobile game Cut the Rope taking Best Handheld Game and the rest — Innovation Award, Best Downloadable Game and Best Debut Game — going to Mojang’s popular (and notably still in beta) PC game, Minecraft.
Minecraft may well have been the day’s biggest winner overall, despite ceding Game of the Year status to the Rockstar release. The Mojang release also picked up the Audience Award and the Seamus McNally Grad Prize at the Independent Games Festival Awards, as part of the GDC festival-within-a-festival. Another big winner at the IGFAs was Amnesia: The Dark Descent from Frictional Games, a Mac/PC-based horror action/adventure/puzzle game that is similar in style to the developer’s Penumbra series of releases.
The dual awards show wins for Minecraft are nothing to laugh at. Here’s a game that is technically unfinished, with more than a million copies sold, going up as a contender alongside an admittedly spectacular release from one of the most recognizable game studios in the world. With developers casting the votes, the results are obviously going to swing toward excellence in design — and Minecraft has that and more to spare — but an achievement like this one is still something Mojang and its founder, Markus Persson, should be very proud of.