Game Developers Choice Awards
Awarded for Outstanding game developers and games
Presented by Game Developers Conference
First awarded March 24, 2001; 17 years ago (2001-03-24)
Website Official website

The Game Developers Choice Awards are awards annually presented at the Game Developers Conference for outstanding game developers and games.[1] Introduced in 2001, the Game Developers Choice Awards were preceded by the Spotlight Awards, which were presented from 1997 to 1999.[2]

Nomination and voting process

In 2007, took over management of the awards from the IGDA.[3] An advisory board selected by the editors of and Game Developer magazine oversees the selection process.

Nominations are accepted from registered users, confirmed to be game developers, and from the advisory board. Once the nomination process is complete, the advisory board identifies five finalists for each regular category.

The recipients of the Lifetime Achievement, Pioneer (formerly known as First Penguin) and Maverick awards are selected by the advisory board. For the other awards, a vote open to all those who participated in the nomination process chooses a recipient from each category's finalists.[4]

List of winners

Note: Events held for awards are held early in the following year. Winners are listed first and highlighted in bold.

Game of the Year

The Game of the Year Award recognizes the overall best game released during the previous calendar year, as interpreted by the members of the Game Developers Conference.

Year Game Genre Platform(s) Developer(s)
2000 The Sims[5] Life simulation Mac OS, Microsoft Windows Maxis
2001 Grand Theft Auto III[6] Action-adventure Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2 DMA Design
2002 Metroid Prime[7] Action-adventure GameCube Retro Studios
2003 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic[8] Role-playing Microsoft Windows, Xbox BioWare
2004 Half-Life 2[9] First-person shooter Microsoft Windows Valve Corporation
2005 Shadow of the Colossus[10] Action-adventure PlayStation 2 Team Ico
2006 Gears of War[11] Third-person shooter Xbox 360 Epic Games
2007 Portal[12] Puzzle-platformer Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Valve Corporation
2008 Fallout 3[13] Action role-playing Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Bethesda Game Studios
2009 Uncharted 2: Among Thieves[14] Action-adventure PlayStation 3 Naughty Dog
2010 Red Dead Redemption[15] Action-adventure PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Rockstar San Diego
2011 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim[16] Action role-playing Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Bethesda Game Studios
2012 Journey[17] Adventure PlayStation 3 Thatgamecompany
2013 The Last of Us[18] Action-adventure PlayStation 3 Naughty Dog
2014 Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor[19] Action-adventure Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One Monolith Productions
2015 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt[20] Action role-playing Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One CD Projekt Red
2016 Overwatch[21] First-person shooter Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One Blizzard Entertainment
2017 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild[22] Adventure game Nintendo Switch, Wii U Nintendo

Best Audio

Best Audio award recognizes the overall excellence of audio in a game, including sound effects, musical composition, sound design and orchestration.

Best Debut

The Best Debut Award recognizes the best game from any development studio which released its first publicly available title during the calendar year. This was formerly known as the New Studio of the Year Award. In years prior to 2008, the award was awarded to the studio name, as opposed to the game title.

Best Design

Best Design award recognizes the overall excellence of design in a game, including gameplay, mechanics, puzzles, play balancing and scenarios.

Best Mobile/Handheld Game

Best Mobile/Handheld Game Award recognizes the overall best game commercially released on any handheld platform.

Innovation Award

The Innovation Award recognizes games that demonstrate innovation and push the boundaries of games as an expressive medium. Multiple awards are given each year.

Best Narrative

Best Narrative award recognizes the quality of writing in a game, including story, plot construction, dialogue and branching narratives.

Best Technology

Best Technology award recognizes the overall excellence of technology in a game, including graphics programming, artificial intelligence, networking and physics.

Best Visual Art

Best Visual Art award recognizes the overall excellence of visual art in a game, including animation, modeling, art direction and textures.

Best VR/AR Game

Special Awards Recipients

Audience Award

These awards are voted by the audience for best game of that year.

The Pioneer Award

Known as the First Penguin award until 2007, the Pioneer Award celebrates individuals who developed a breakthrough technology, game concept or gameplay design.

GDC had announced their intention to award Nolan Bushnell (co-founder of Atari) the 2017 Pioneer Award.[24] However, after several people asked the GDC to reconsider this in light of documented sexist activities in Bushnell's past in light of the current #MeToo movement, GDC opted to not award the Pioneer Award and instead "will dedicate this year's award to honor the pioneering and unheard voices of the past".[25][26]

Ambassador Award

The Ambassador Award is given to individuals within or outside the industry who helped video games "advance to a better place."[27] It replaced the IGDA Award for Community Contribution after 2008.[28]

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the achievements of a developer who has impacted games and game development.

Retired awards

The following award categories have been retired or replaced with a different focus.

Best Downloadable Game

Best Downloadable Game Award recognizes the overall best game released on console or PC platforms specifically and solely for digital download - with an emphasis on smaller, more 'casual'-friendly titles.

Character Design

The Character Design award recognizes the overall excellence of non-licensed character design in a game, including originality, character arc and emotional depth.

Excellence in Level Design

Excellence in Programming

IGDA Award for Community Contribution

The IGDA Award for Community Contribution recognized developers for significant efforts "building community, sharing knowledge, speaking on behalf of developers and/or contributing to the art form of game development".[28] The Ambassador Award replaced it after 2007.[27]

Original Game Character of the Year

Maverick Award

The Maverick Award recognizes the current achievements of a developer who exhibits independence in thought and action while experimenting with alternate/emerging forms of digital games.

Best New Social/Online Game


  1. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards". Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Archive". Archived from the original on May 29, 2010. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Press Release:THE 2008 GAME DEVELOPERS CHOICE AWARDS". December 20, 2007. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  4. ^ "rules and regulations". Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2000". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2001". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2002". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2003". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2004". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2005". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2006". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2007". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2008". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2009". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2010". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2011". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2012". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2013". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2014". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards 2015". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Dornbush, Jonathan (March 1, 2017). "GDC 2017: Overwatch Wins Game of the Year at Game Developers". IGN. Retrieved March 1, 2017. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h Chan, Stephanie (March 21, 2018). "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is GDC 2018's game of the year". Venture Beat. Retrieved March 21, 2018. 
  23. ^ a b "Anita Sarkeesian, Riot co-founders win GDCA 2014 Special Awards". Gamasutra. February 11, 2014. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  24. ^ a b c "Nolan Bushnell, Tim Schafer, and Rami Ismail to be honored at the 2018 GDC Awards!". Gamasutra. January 30, 2018. Retrieved January 30, 2018. 
  25. ^ Fogel, Stefanie (January 30, 2018). "GDC Re-Examines Award for Atari Founder After Outcry Over Past Conduct". Glixel. Retrieved January 31, 2018. 
  26. ^ Kim, Matt (January 31, 2018). "GDC Announces It Will Not Award Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell After Controversy". US Gamer. Retrieved January 31, 2018. 
  27. ^ a b "Ambassador Award Archive". Game Developers Choice Awards. 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2014. 
  28. ^ a b "Community Contribution Archive". Game Developers Choice Awards. 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2014. 
  29. ^ (March 2011). "Ambassador Award Archive". Retrieved 16 January 2012. 
  30. ^ Takahasi, Dean (January 20, 2017). "Epic Games' Tim Sweeney to receive lifetime achievement award at GDC". Venture Beat. Retrieved January 20, 2017. 

External links