The Game Awards 2021 (sort of) honors the year's best in gaming

This year's Game Awards ceremony continued the tradition of speeding through awards, despite running for more than three hours.

The Game Awards 2021 aired on December 9, celebrating the year’s best games and the people who make them–or, at least, that’s the program’s intention. If you think you might have missed some of the winners, you’re probably right. 

“i love to not remember the last time this show gave out an award,” Polygon editor-in-chief Maddy Myers quipped on Twitter as the show sped through announcements about future games without actually acknowledging those who made this year’s biggest hits.

Over the ceremony’s 230-minute run time, showrunner Geoff Keighley introduced trailers for new titles, such as Remedy’s Alan Wake II and Quantic Dream’s Star Wars Eclipse–a problem in itself thanks to the developers’ history of toxic workplace culture, as Jason Schreier also pointed out. There were plenty of updates on in-development projects too, including FromSoftware’s Elden Ring and Rocksteady’s Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Meanwhile, award winners had roughly 30 seconds to acknowledge their achievements before being rushed off the stage for the next announcement or commercial.

“All these people were invited to be ‘celebrated for their hard work’ but I think maybe only 5 or so awards were physically handed to winners,” Disruptive Games’ community lead said on Twitter.

Several rewards, including Games for Impact and Best Indie Game, were given out during the pre-show. Others received only a passing mention without acknowledging the people they were intended for, and as many viewers pointed out, no women–aside from the winner of Best Performance–were allowed to speak on stage after their teams won an award.

  • Game of the Year — It Takes Two
  • Best Game Direction — Deathloop
  • Best Narrative — Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Best Art Direction — Deathloop
  • Best Score and Music — NieR Replicant
  • Best Audio Design — Forza Horizon 5
  • Best Performance — Maggie Robertson (Lady Dimitrescu, Resident Evil Village)
  • Games for Impact — Life Is Strange: True Colors
  • Best Ongoing Game — Final Fantasy XIV Online
  • Best Indie Game — Kena: Bridge of Spirits
  • Best Mobile Game — Genshin Impact
  • Best Community Support — Final Fantasy XIV Online
  • Innovation in Accessibility — Forza Horizon 5
  • Best VR/AR Game — Resident Evil 4 VR
  • Best Action Game — Returnal
  • Best Action/Adventure Game — Metroid Dread
  • Best RPG — Tales of Arise
  • Best Fighting Game — Guilty Gear Strive
  • Best Family Game — It Takes Two
  • Best Simulation/Strategy Game — Age of Empires 4
  • Best Sports/Racing Game — Forza Horizon 5
  • Best Multiplayer Game — It Takes Two
  • Content Creator of the Year — Dream
  • Best Indie Debut — Kena: Bridge of Spirits
  • Most Anticipated Game — Elden Ring
  • Best Esports Game — League of Legends
  • Best Esports Athlete — S1mple
  • Best Esports Team — Natus Vincere
  • Best Esports Coach — Kkoma
  • Best Esports Event — 2021 League of Legends World Championship
  • Players' Choice — Halo Infinite

While the show continues to draw criticism among the media, it’s also drawing extensive attention outside the industry. For a time, The Washington Post’s live update piece was the publication’s most-viewed page, dethroning even current political news. Despite “awards” being in the program’s title, NPD Group director of gaming Mat Piscatella said on Twitter it’s these people The Game Awards are meant for, the ones who only want to see new announcements and care little for the developers themselves.

Barring any surprises, The Game Awards is likely the year’s last round of announcements and reveals. The quiet will be short-lived, though. 2022 already has a full schedule of highly anticipated releases, including The Pokemon Company’s Pokemon Legends: Arceus, Guerrilla’s Horizon: Forbidden West, Elden Ring, and at least two Square Enix titles, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin and Triangle Strategy

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News Writer

Josh is a freelance reporter and critic who’s appeared on PC Gamer, Upload VR, and SPIN online, among others. Outside of games writing and work in digital marketing, he also has an academic background in history and public relations. You can usually find him outside playing with his Belgian Malinois when he’s not working or spending too much time in Final Fantasy XIV.