These award categories focus on rewarding and recognizing innovation and excellence in the art of making games. Please refer to the Archives for a listing of past nominees and recipients. Please refer to the Rules & Regulations for details on the nomination/voting process, eligibility and so on.
The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the career and achievements of a developer who has made an indelible impact on the craft of game development and games as a whole. The list of previous Lifetime Achievement Award winners can be found here.
The Pioneer Award (formerly known as the First Penguin Award) celebrates those individuals who developed a breakthrough technology, game concept, or design, or broke through social barriers at a crucial juncture in video game history - paving the way for the myriads who followed them. The list of previous Pioneer Award winners can be found here.
The Ambassador Award honors an individual or individuals who have helped the game industry advance to a better place, either through facilitating a better game community from within, or by reaching outside the industry to be an advocate for video games and help further our art. The list of previous Ambassador Award winners can be found here.
Main Category Awards
All awards are for the 2021 calendar year.
Game of the Year
The Game of the Year Award recognizes the choice of game developers for the overall best game release.
The Audience Award winner is selected from the list of finalist games from every Main Category. The Audience Award winner is selected through a public vote.
The Best Audio Award recognizes the overall excellence of audio in a game - including, but not limited to, sound effects, musical composition, sound design, orchestration, etc.
The Best Design Award recognizes the overall excellence of design in a game - including, but not limited to, gameplay mechanics, playability, play balancing, and level design.
The Best Debut Game Award recognizes the best game from any development studio which released its first publicly available title.
The Innovation Award recognizes the single game that demonstrates true innovation, advances the state of the art, and pushes the boundaries of games as an expressive medium.
The Best Narrative Award recognizes the overall excellence of storytelling in a game - including, but not limited to, scenario, plot construction, story, dialogue, and other major factors.
Social Impact Award
The Social Impact award recognizes a game that advances equality, justice, intersectionality, and/or sustainability, and works to positively impact lives in a meaningful way.
The Best Technology Award recognizes the overall excellence of technology in a game - including, but not limited to, graphics programming, artificial intelligence, networking, and physics.
Best Visual Art
The Best Visual Art Award recognizes the overall excellence of visual art in a game - including, but not limited to, art direction, animation, modeling, character design, texture creation, and so on.