2014 SXSW Gaming Expo introduced one of the most exciting components of the Interactive Festival, the first-ever Gaming Awards. The ceremony was scheduled for Saturday, March 8, at Dell Hall at the Long Center in Austin, Texas. Although the show was well organized and in high spirits, news of the recent death of the ceremony’s fantastic organizer, Matthew Crump, cast a slight overcast of mourning over the proceedings. Categories for which the game titles were nominated for included Excellence in Gameplay, Art, Animation, Design and Direction, Convergence, and Musical Score. Game titles such as The Last of Us, Grand Theft Auto V, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Super Mario 3D World, Tearaway, Bioshock Infinite, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and many other games for various systems were nominated for these awards. For a detailed list of all of the nominees for each of these categories, visit the SXSW Gaming Awards page. The winners for the awards were as follows according to the order they were given:
- Excellence in Gameplay Award: "Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons"
- Excellence in Art Award: "BioShock Infinite"
- Excellence in Animation Award: "Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch"
- Excellence in Technical Achievement Award: "Grand Theft Auto V"
- Excellence in Narrative Award: "The Last of Us"
- Excellence in Design and Direction Award: "Tearaway"
- Best Multiplayer Game Award: "Super Mario 3D World"
- Excellence in Gaming Marketing Award: "Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag"
- Convergence Award: "Injustice: Gods Among Us"
- Excellence in SFX Award: "The Last of Us"
- Excellence in Musical Score Award: "The Last of Us"
- Texas Arts Achievement Award: "The Stanley Parable"
- SXSW Gamer's Voice Award: "Nidhogg"
- Matthew Crump Cultural Innovation Award: "Papers, Please"
- Game of the Year Award: "The Last of Us"
Hosting the ceremony was internet sensations Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla from their YouTube channel SMOSH and Justine Ezarik from her channel iJustine. Ian and Anthony’s channel was formally the most subscribed channel on YouTube and currently have about 17 million subscribers on their main SMOSH channel and are in the top three channels. Their legacy started in 2005 with the release of one of their earliest videos “Pokémon Theme Song” which amassed an astounding 24 million views over the course of 6 months. Their channel has grown increasingly popular and has a wide variety of videos which range from movie parodies, original songs, and sketches to lots of other random hilarity. Justine, with nearly 3 million subscribers and 700 videos, is one of the most-subscribed and influential female personalities on YouTube. Her videos consist of music videos, videos about the company Apple and technology, playing video games, doing embarrassing things that most people wouldn’t have the nerve to do in public, and other hilarious shenanigans.
In addition to the excitement with the ceremony, performers from the world renowned Cirque du Soleil entertained the audience with a never before seen act which left everyone in awe. The 2014 SXSW Gaming Awards also featured new exclusive videos from Wren the Reaper, Rooster Teeth, Adam de la Pena of Unpossible Productions, and SMOSH. Fans of the games awarded/nominated were stoked to see their favorite video game titles being awarded with such an honor and recognition. The Gaming Awards was all in all an incredible experience and will hopefully be featured at the 2015 SXSW Gaming Festival.