The shambles of the BAFTA video games awards

Want a BAFTA Video Game award? It turns out your game doesn't even need to be finished to get a nomination! Full winners and nominees here.

Crysis. unfinished, but feck it, give it a BAFTA nomination anyway!

Am I missing something? I’ve just been reading through the winners from the BAFTA Video Games awards that have just been announced, and there are things here that simply don’t add up.

Firstly, there’s the usual contention when any awards are announced, that so-and-so should have beaten whatsitsface. That clearly applies here: the admittedly grand Crackdown beating both Zelda and The Orange Box for the Action and Adventure award and Wii Sports taking the Strategy and Simulation prize over World In Conflict.

But staggeringly, there are games that were nominated for awards that ARE NOT EVEN OUT YET. That AREN’T FINISHED. And yet they’re up for prizes that aim to “reward the individuals behind the very best in artistic, creative and technical innovation in video games”.

Is this really what BAFTA wants to be associated with? Nominating incomplete products for its so-called prestigious awards? What next? Giving a BAFTA film award to the drawings that thus far make up all of Toy Story 3?

Ad – content continues below

In fact, let’s go the whole hog and decide next year’s awards now, based on what we think will be out! It’s genius! I reckon the next Scorsese movie will be rollicking: let’s give him a BAFTA now and save him the trouble of, well, finishing it.

Of course, you may think that this is an over-reaction on my part. Well, tell me the shop that I can walk into and buy any of these:Crysis (current ETA: November)Ratchet and Clank: Tools Of Destruction (November)Singstar PS3 (November again)Eye of Judgement (late October)The Simpsons Game (yep, back to November)Lair (November)Kane & Lynch: Dead Men (that’ll be November)Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (December)

Find all of them, and I’ll take back my words. Or at the very least, give me some clue to the actual judging criteria: is it that games that look good in magazine previews get nominated? Is that what a BAFTA Award stands for these days?

Looking on the BAFTA website, and eligibility for these awards – given out in October, remember – is open to titles released between 6 October 2006 and 31 December 2007.

Why?

It specifically says that “currently uncompleted games” can be entered, “so long as they will be released in the UK by 31 December 2007”. See? It even seems to work on the honour system!

Ad – content continues below

Does anyone else think this is a shambles of a decision from a body that’s supposed to reward excellence? Shouldn’t consideration for an award from such a supposedly prestigious body at the very least demand that the nominee’s product is, well, finished?

But it actually gets worse. The nominations were actually announced on 25th September (must have been asleep that day), and the judging criteria is in two stages: a vote of BAFTA members, and a jury then selects the winners. Let’s be generous and say that process takes a month: this then throws doubt on the likes of October releases such as The Orange Box, Sega Rally, FIFA 08, Football Manager 2008 and Skate too, surely? [UPDATE: We’ve since discovered that the entry deadline was 12th July! 12TH JULY!]

Judging was thus done the basis of games that could have been – and let’s be generous here, and say that it took place from the end of August – four months from completion. That’s outrageous, and colours the whole exercise utterly worthless to the end consumer, making BAFTA look like a lapdog to big software publishers in the process. After all, what’s the point of getting a BAFTA nomination next year, when your game’s marketing might not be so dependent on it? Best let them have the unfinished code now, and they can judge it on the basis of that.

The shame, of course, is that some really good games won awards. We’re big fans of Crackdown, for instance, along with the likes of Bioshock, God of War 2, Zelda and Guitar Hero II. Fortunately, these games don’t need a hollow award to beat their drum. It’s a good job, too.

What’s shocking here is that it’s BAFTA. We’re supposed to look up to BAFTA, to have at least some respect for their opinions and see them as some sort of chartermark of quality.

Right now? They’re making the ITV National Movie Awards seem credible and prestigious.

Ad – content continues below

The full list of winners and nominees is as follows [winners in bold]Action and AdventureCrackdown (Xbox 360)Development TeamRealtime Worlds/Microsoft Game Studios

Gears of War (Xbox 360)Rod Fergusson, Michael Capps, Cliff BleszinskiEpic Games/Microsoft Game Studios

God of War 2 (PS2)Cory Barlog, Michael Cheng, Eric WilliamsSCE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

The Orange Box (PS3)Development TeamValve/Electronic Arts

Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction (PS3)Development TeamSCE Foster City Studio & Insomniac/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)Development TeamNintendo/Nintendo

Ad – content continues below

Artistic Achievement

Bioshock (Xbox 360)Development Team2K Boston/2K Australia/2K Games

Heavenly Sword (PS3)Development TeamNinja Theory/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Okami (PS2)Atsushi InabaClover(Capcom)/Capcom

Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction (PS3)Development TeamSCE Foster City Studio & Insomniac/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Skate (PS3)Development TeamEA Black Box/Electronic Arts

Ad – content continues below

Viva Piñata (Xbox 360)Ryan Stevenson, Ed BryanRare/Microsoft Game Studios

Best Game

Bioshock (Xbox 360)Development Team2K Boston/2K Australia/2K Games

Crysis (PC)Development TeamCrytek/Electronic Arts

Gears of War (Xbox 360)Rod Fergusson, Michael Capps, Cliff BleszinskiEpic Games/Microsoft Game Studios

Guitar Hero II (PS2)Development TeamHarmonix/Activision/Red Octane

Ad – content continues below

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men (Xbox 360)Development TeamIO Interactive/Eidos

Wii Sports (Wii)Development TeamNintendo/Nintendo

Casual

Big Brain Academy for Wii (Wii)Development TeamNintendo/Nintendo

Cake Mania (DS)Development TeamDigital Embryo/Sandlot Games/Majesco

Guitar Hero II (PS2)Development TeamHarmonix/Activision/Red OctaneMore Brain Training (DS)Development TeamNintendo/Nintendo

Ad – content continues below

SingStar (PS3)Development TeamSCE London Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment EuropeWii Sports (Wii)Development TeamNintendo/Nintendo

Gameplay

Crackdown (Xbox 360)Development TeamRealtime Worlds/Microsoft Game Studios

Gears of War (Xbox 360)Cliff Bleszinski, Ray Davis, Lee PerryEpic Games/Microsoft Game Studios

Sega Rally (PS3)Development TeamSEGA Racing Studio/SEGA

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)Development TeamNintendo/Nintendo

Ad – content continues below

Warhawk (PS3)Dylan Jobe, Bruce Woodard, Brian UptonIncognito/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Wii Sports (Wii)Development TeamNintendo/Nintendo

Innovation

fl0w (PSN)Jenova Chen, Nicholas Clark, Austin WintorySCE Santa Monica Studio/Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Okami (PS2)Atsushi InabaClover(Capcom)/Capcom

Super Paper Mario (Wii)Development TeamIntelligent Systems/Nintendo

Ad – content continues below

The Eye of Judgment (PS3)Kazuhito Miyaki, Yusuke WatanabeSCE Japan Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Trauma Center: Second Opinion (Wii)Development TeamAtlus USA/NintendoWii Sports (Wii)Development TeamNintendo/Nintendo

Multiplayer

Battlefield 2142 (PC)Development TeamEA Dice/Electronic Arts

Crackdown (Xbox 360)Development TeamRealtime Worlds/Microsoft Game Studios

Guitar Hero II (PS2)Development TeamHarmonix/Activision/Red OctaneWii Sports (Wii)Development TeamNintendo/Nintendo

Ad – content continues below

World in Conflict (PC)Development TeamMassive Entertainment/Sierra Entertainment/Vivendi Games

World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (PC)Development TeamBlizzard Entertainment/Blizzard Entertainment

Original Score

Final Fantasy XII (PS2)Hitoshi Sakimoto, Nobuo UematsuFinal Fantasy XII Project Team/Square Enix

God of War 2 (PS2)Clint Bajakian, Jonathan Mayer, Chuck DoudSCE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Lair (PS3)John Debney, Ryan Hamlyn, Clint BajakianSCE Foster City Studio & Factor 5/Sony Computer Entertainment America

Ad – content continues below

Okami (PS2)Atsushi InabaClover (Capcom)/Capcom

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)Development TeamNintendo/Nintendo

Viva Piñata (Xbox 360)Grant KirkhopeRare/Microsoft Game Studio

Sports

Colin McRae: DiRT (Xbox 360)Gavin Raeburn, Matt Horsman, Alex GrimbleyCodemasters/Codemasters

FIFA 08 (PS3)Development TeamEA Chicago/Electronic Arts

Ad – content continues below

Football Manager 2008 (PC)Development TeamSports Interactive/SEGA

MotorStorm (PS3)Mick Hocking, Martin Kenwright, Pete SmithSCE External Development Studio & Evolution/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Virtua Tennis 3 (Xbox 360)Development TeamSumo Digital/SEGAWii Sports (Wii)Development TeamNintendo/Nintendo

Strategy and Simulation

Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars (Xbox 360)Development TeamElectronic Arts LA/Electronic Arts

Forza Motorsport 2 (Xbox 360)Development TeamTurn 10/Microsoft Game Studios

Ad – content continues below

Medieval II: Total War Kingdoms (PC)Development TeamThe Creative Assembly/SEGA

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas (Xbox 360)Chadi Lebbos, Alexandre Parizeau, Maxime BelandUbisoft Studios (Montreal)/Ubisoft Entertainment

Wii Sports (Wii)Development TeamNintendo/Nintendo

World in Conflict (PC)Development TeamMassive Entertainment/Sierra Entertainment

Story and Character

Final Fantasy XII (PS2)Development TeamFinal Fantasy XII Project Team/Square EnixGod of War 2 (PS2)Cory Barlog, David Jaffe, Marianne KrawczykSCE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Heavenly Sword (PS3)Development TeamNinja Theory/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Okami (PS2)Atsushi InabaClover (Capcom)/Capcom

The Darkness (Xbox 360)Denby Grace, Lars Johansson, Jerk GustafssonStarbreeze Studios/2K

The Simpsons Game (Xbox 360)Matt Selman, Scot AmosEA/Gracie Films/Electronic Arts

Technical Achievement

Crackdown (Xbox 360)Development TeamRealtime Worlds/ Microsoft Game Studios

Gears of War (Xbox 360)Tim Sweeney, Ray Davis, Daniel VogelEpic Games/Microsoft Game Studio

God of War 2 (PS2)Tim Moss, Christer EricsonSCE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

MotorStorm (PS3)Scott Kirkland, Martin Kenwright, Pete SmithSCE External Development Studio/Evolution/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Okami (PS2)Atsushi InabaClover(Capcom)/Capcom

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (PS3)Development TeamNaughty Dog/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Use of Audio

Crackdown (Xbox 360)Development TeamRealtime Worlds/Microsoft Game Studios

Elite Beat Agents (DS)Development TeamiNiS/Nintendo

Gears of War (Xbox 360)Mike Larson, Lee Perry, Desmond RogersEpic Games/Microsoft Game Studios

God of War 2 (PS2)Dave Murrant, Philip Kovats, Chuck RussomSCE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Guitar Hero II (PS2)Development TeamHarmonix/Activision/Red Octane

Skate (PS3)Development TeamEA Black Box/Electronic Arts

BAFTA One’s To Watch Award in association with Dare to Be Digital

RagnarawkVoodoo Boogy (Malcolm Brown, Robert Clarke, Peter Carr, Lynne Robertson, Finlay Sutton)

ClimbActicCarebox (Jack Potter, Alan Campbell, Benjamin Rollinson, Zarek Cohen, Duncan Harrison)

Bear Go HomePhoenix Seed (Fengming Bao, Xi Deng, Yi Li, Guangyao Wang, Christopher Isaacs)

The PC World Gamers’ Award(The only award to be voted for by the public)

Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training (DS)Nintendo/Nintendo

FIFA 07 (PS2)EA Canada/Electronic ArtsFootball Manager 2007 (PC)Sports Interactive/SEGA

Gears of War (Xbox 360)Epic Games/Microsoft

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PSP)Rockstar Leeds/Take Two

Resistance: Fall of Man (PS3)Insomniac/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Wii Play (Wii)Nintendo/Nintendo

Leave your thoughts in the comments field. Don’t worry. We’ve got plenty of server space to hold any rants.