By Gary Watkins

02/19/2021

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2021 SXSW Gaming Awards — Public Voting Now Live

Gaming Awards Ceremony at SXSW 2019. Photo by Shannon Johnston.

Every year, video games become more important as a medium. Creative and technical boundaries are pushed to greater heights in pursuit of artistic expression — whether in the form of compelling narrative, timely social commentary, soaring aesthetic achievement, or cerebral and emotional satisfaction from innovative and engaging gameplay.

To celebrate the technical, artistic and design achievements of each year’s best titles and their creators, we host the annual SXSW Gaming Awards — this year entirely digitally as part of SXSW Online. After a rigorous process of nominee selection, this year’s awards feature 43 unique games contending for honors in 12 categories. As with each year, we turn to the SXSW community to help us determine the final winners. Browse the list of nominees below, and vote now for your favorite titles — the polls are open until 11:59pm CT on Tuesday, February 23, so don’t delay.

Once the polls close, we’ll determine the winners through a weighted total of public voting, advisory board and SXSW staff input before presenting the most innovative, culturally influential and technically perfect games of the year at the SXSW Gaming Awards Ceremony on Saturday, March 20 at 7:00pm CT. We’re partnering with gaming and entertainment news veterans IGN to host a phenomenal online award ceremony, presented by community platform Discord. The show will be broadcast as part of SXSW Online and on ign.com, and streamed live twitch.tv/sxswgaming and twitch.tv/ign.

Vote Now

2021 SXSW Gaming Awards Nominees

Video Game of the Year

Awarded to the game that exemplifies overall excellence and creates a distinct gaming experience across all platforms and genres.

DOOM Eternal — id Software / Bethesda Softworks
Ghost of Tsushima — Sucker Punch Productions / Sony Interactive Entertainment
Hades — Supergiant Games
Ori and the Will of the Wisps — Moon Studios / Xbox Game Studios
The Last of Us Part II — Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment

Indie Game of the Year

Awarded to the independently-developed game that exemplifies overall excellence and creates a distinct gaming experience across all platforms and genres.

Bugsnax — Young Horses
Cloudpunk — Ion Lands
Crown Trick — NExT Studios / Team17
Deep Rock Galactic — Ghost Ship Games / Coffee Stain Publishing
Huntdown — Easy Trigger Games / Coffee Stain Publishing
Ikenfell — Happy Ray Games / Humble Games
Monster Sanctuary — Moi Rai Games / Team17
Raji: An Ancient Epic — Nodding Heads Games / Super.com
Risk of Rain 2 — Hopoo Games / Gearbox Publishing
The Last Campfire — Hello Games

Tabletop Game of the Year

Awarded to the game that exemplifies overall excellence and ingenuity of any tabletop game in any genre.

Calico — Flatout Games
Fort — Leder Games
Oceans — North Star Games
The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine — KOSMOS
The Search for Planet X — Renegade Game Studios / Foxtrot Games

VR Game of the Year

Awarded to the VR game that exemplifies overall excellence in gameplay and design across any VR platform.

Down the Rabbit Hole — Cortopia Studios / Beyond Frames Entertainment
Half-Life: Alyx — Valve
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond — Respawn Entertainment / Electronic Arts
Star Wars: Squadrons — Motive Studios / Electronic Arts
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners — Skydance Interactive

Matthew Crump Cultural Innovation Award

Awarded to the game that best challenges the “norm” of everyday gaming and offers a culturally innovative view of a game world, character, or gameplay.

ASTRO’s PLAYROOM — Team ASOBI / Sony Interactive Entertainment
Dreams — Media Molecule / Sony Interactive Entertainment
If Found… — Dreamfeel / Annapurna Interactive
Tell Me Why — DONTNOD Entertainment / Xbox Game Studios
The Last of Us Part II — Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment

Excellence in Animation, Art, & Visual Achievement

Awarded to the game with the most well-designed and stunning visuals, including animation effects and graphics.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla — Ubisoft Montreal / Ubisoft
Cloudpunk — Ion Lands
Final Fantasy VII Remake — SQUARE ENIX
Ghost of Tsushima — Sucker Punch Productions / Sony Interactive Entertainment
Ori and the Will of the Wisps — Moon Studios / Xbox Game Studios

Excellence in Game Design

Awarded to the game with the best overall design concept, gameplay mechanics, and best execution.

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time — Toys for Bob / Activision
Desperados III — Mimimi Games / THQ Nordic
Hades — Supergiant Games
Ori and the Will of the Wisps — Moon Studios / Xbox Game Studios
Watch Dogs: Legion — Ubisoft Toronto / Ubisoft

Excellence in Score

Awarded to the game that best exemplifies artistic excellence in musical score and how it progresses the narrative of the game.

Cyberpunk 2077 — CD Projekt Red / CD Projekt
DOOM Eternal — id Software / Bethesda Softworks
Final Fantasy VII Remake — SQUARE ENIX
Ori and the Will of the Wisps — Moon Studios / Xbox Game Studios
Trials of Mana — Xeen / SQUARE ENIX

Excellence in Multiplayer

Awarded to the game with the best player-to-player interaction experience.

Deep Rock Galactic — Ghost Ship Games / Coffee Stain Publishing
Huntdown — Easy Trigger Games / Coffee Stain Publishing
Risk of Rain 2 — Hopoo Games, Gearbox Publishing
Star Wars: Squadrons — Motive Studios / Electronic Arts
VALORANT — Riot Games

Excellence in Narrative

Awarded to the game with the best storyline and dialogue.

Ghost of Tsushima — Sucker Punch Productions / Sony Interactive Entertainment
Hades — Supergiant Games
Immortals Fenyx Rising — Ubisoft Quebec / Ubisoft
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales — Insomniac Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment
The Last of Us Part II — Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment

Excellence in Audio Design

Awarded to the game with the most outstanding and impactful sound effects.

Bugsnax — Young Horses
DOOM Eternal — id Software / Bethesda Softworks
Observer: System Redux — Bloober Team
Star Wars: Squadrons — Motive Studios / Electronic Arts
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 — Vicarious Visions / Activision

Excellence in Technical Achievement

Awarded to the game that pushed the capabilities of technology and programming furthest or most effectively.

ASTRO’s PLAYROOM — Team ASOBI / Sony Interactive Entertainment
Dreams — Media Molecule / Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genshin Impact — miHoYo
Ghost of Tsushima — Sucker Punch Productions / Sony Interactive Entertainment
Microsoft Flight Simulator — Asobo Studio / Xbox Game Studios

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Join Us for SXSW Online 2021

Register for SXSW Online today! Passholders have access to the full range of content available during SXSW Online including Conference Keynotes, Featured Speakers, Mentor Sessions, Networking Meet Ups, Film Festival Screenings, Comedy Festival Showcases, Online Exhibitions, and Professional Development.

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$149 SXSW Online Passes Nearly Sold Out

2019 SXSW Gaming Award – Photo by Shannon Johnston

By Gary Watkins

02/19/2021

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