On March 25th, 2021, the 17th Annual British Academy Games Awards were held and streamed exclusively online to commemorate the greatest gaming achievements of 2020. Since their first presentation in 2004, the BAFTA Games Awards have celebrated video games as an art form and every year they take the opportunity to recognize and honor the incredible work that goes into making games.
During their second award ceremony held during the pandemic, the British Awards addressed subjects such as video games as a means of human connections, inclusivity within the game industry, and the artistic future of games.
Gaming during lockdown
2020 was a rough year for everyone as the COVID-19 virus forced the world to go into lockdown, making physical social interaction impossible for most people. However, now more than ever, people started looking to games as a way of socializing with their friends during isolation. This is why the 2021 BAFTA awards opened with a segment recognizing the importance of video games in the forging of human connections.
With games like Among Us and Fortnite raking in millions of daily players, it’s no surprise that the digital space became the new form of social interaction, and as such the awards looked to recognize games like these for their ability to unite people from afar.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure won the Family game category at BAFTA Games Awards 2021. The universally acclaimed Animal Crossing: New Horizons won the Best Multiplayer Game category as well as the Game Beyond Entertainment category for becoming the go-to quarantine game of 2020.
Games beyond the screen
When presenting the category for Game Design, Hideo Kojima, developer of Metal Gear Solid, said that “Games are a comprehensive art form, like a ballet”. He also predicted that “Game design will continue to grow as a profession”. With this continuous influx of new players, people from all different backgrounds are starting to participate more in the community, and the BAFTA awards want to promote inclusivity and diversity within their space. Siobhan Reddy won the BAFTA Fellowship for her work as the studio director of Media Molecule, the company responsible for games such as LittleBigPlanet and Dreams. She received this recognition for her “pioneering work on advocacy for diversity, inclusion and creative and collaborative working culture”.
A Supergiant Victory
Despite competing against massive AAA games such as The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima, the game that dominated the show with 8 nominations and 5 awards won, including game of the year, was Hades from Supergiant Games.
The independent game studio that created the Greek mythology-inspired dungeon crawler consists of only 20 developers, but still managed to win the awards for Artistic Achievement, Game Design, Narrative, Performer in a Supporting Role, and Game of the Year. This victory will surely inspire future independent studios and is a testament to how a big budget is not essential to tell a compelling story.
Fan-favorite The Last of Us Part II broke records with nominations for an astounding 13 prizes, but only managed to win in 2 categories at BAFTA Games Awards 2021: Performer in a Leading Role and Animation. Finally, other notable winners include Ghost of Tsushima for audio achievement, Carrion for debut game, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales for music, and Dreams for technical achievement.
To watch the full show, click here: