For those of us who prefer entertainment of the interactive variety, the Oscars can be a bit of a drag. It’s great to recognize accomplished movie actors like Amy Adams and Leonardo DiCaprio, but what about all the incredible talents behind video games?
There are some annual video game awards shows, of course, including the Canadian Videogame Awards and Spike TV’s VGX. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards – the UK’s version of the Oscars and the Emmys – even has a separate set of awards just for video games.
But as different as games and movies can be, we think it would be a lot of fun to apply some of the Academy Award categories to 2013’s video games. If that were to happen, these would be the ones going home with shiny Oscar statuettes. Which, if you squint your eyes, look kind of like golden joysticks.
Ashley Johnson, The Last of Us
You might remember Johnson as the waitress saved by Captain America in The Avengers or Amber Ahmed in The Killing. But for gamers, Johnson is the heart and soul of Ellie, the 14-year-old girl at the centre of this harrowing, post-apocalyptic odyssey. Her performance perfectly nails Ellie’s mix of hopeful innocence and hardened cynicism.
Troy Baker, The Last of Us
Baker had a busy year, lending his voice to BioShock Infinite hero Booker DeWitt and following in Mark Hamill’s footsteps to voice the Joker in Batman: Arkham Origins. But Baker truly made us believe the gruff smuggler Joel’s character arc in The Last of Us, as a coldhearted opportunist becomes a man willing to sacrifice everything to save one girl.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Courtnee Draper, BioShock Infinite
BioShock Infinite’s success depended on players being able to connect with Draper’s Elizabeth, a mysterious woman held prisoner in the floating city of Columbia. The emotional spectrum she had to navigate for this part would daunt many film actors.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Steven Ogg, Grand Theft Auto V
The murderous, drug-dealing, omnisexual yet weirdly loveable Trevor wouldn’t have been half as memorable without the manic performance of Canadian actor Ogg, who also provided the physical likeness of GTA V’s maddest madman.
Dan and Sam Houser, Grand Theft Auto V
The sprawling world of GTA V’s San Andreas is a staggering technological marvel with hundreds of thousands of moving parts, so it’s no wonder it took five years and a reported $265 million to create. The brothers Houser, founders of GTA V developer Rockstar Games, oversaw one of the biggest and most impressive games of all time.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Despite their sci-fi underpinnings, the Assassin’s Creed games try to remain grounded in historical fact. For this instalment, set in the golden age of piracy, special attention was paid to making the characters’ clothing historically accurate, yet very badass.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Killzone: Shadow Fall
While it wasn’t the greatest game of the year by any stretch, this PlayStation 4 launch title was easily the best-looking, with jaw-dropping vistas of a future metropolis and enough eye-searing explosions and massive gun battles to give Michael Bay some serious stiffness.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Gustavo Santaolalla, The Last of Us
Argentine composer Santaolalla won the best original score Academy Award for both Brokeback Mountain and Babel, so it’s no surprise his music for this game is so emotionally evocative. It’s mournful, hopeful and unforgettable, and could stand side by side with any film score nominated for an Oscar this year.