Last month, Raeyn wrote about the first ever Emotional Games Awards (EGAs) which wants to present victory “to video game companies and professionals in our industry to specifically reward the quality of the emotions produced in this medium.”
The nominees for the awards were just announced, and they were both interesting and encouraging. You can find them here.
What stands out to me immediately is the diversity of the stories that are being told in these games. Unsurprisingly, the list consists primarily of heavily narrative driven games, but these narratives are full of different kinds of characters and issues. I’m developing a habit of running the numbers on game awards nominees to see what genders their characters are, and the EGAs’ nominees are 45% female. Compare this with 19% at the DICE awards and 14% at The Game Awards, and there’s an obvious discrepancy.
I said this in my analysis but I think it bears repeating: I’d hazard a guess that the reasons for this are twofold: indie games, which are more likely to have hard hitting storylines, are also more likely to include women than AAA games; and because the perceived audience for emotional (and indie games in general) is considered in a more nuanced way than your standard gritty FPS’ audience.
These reasons probably also contribute to the other diversities in the list. You’ve got black women (Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture), gay and bisexual women (Life is Strange), Inuit legends (Never Alone), disabled children (Beyond Eyes), Brazilian boys (Papo & Yo), and so on and so forth. A list like this really reminds me that there are great games out there, each with their own story to tell that doesn’t revolve around the standard straight white male protagonist as well as tackling such diverse issues as abuse, a lost cat, time travel, and anti-fascism. It’s a nice reminder and also a great encouragement for the industry to continue with and expand on these kinds of stories.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is my personal favourite of the nominees, and I loved it because of the emotions it inspired.
In her original piece, Raeyn wondered whether they would “consider awarding a wider range of emotions than just sadness or empathy. I want games that encourage joy and hope; games that will make me laugh out loud.” Whilst most of the games on the list that I’m familiar with do inspire sadness, most of them also inspire other emotions as well. Most of Life is Strange, for example, was a joyous experience despite the tragedy within it due to its humour and other moments of calm. As Chloe says, “how can it be such a shitty week, and yet one of the best of my life?” Tragedy and joy are intertwined wonderfully in both Life is Strange and many of the other nominees. Nonetheless, as far as I can see there are no games that are purely nominated for positive emotions, which I feel is an oversight. Perhaps next year these could even have their own category.
Overall, I love the idea of the EGAs and I love the nominees. In researching those that I hadn’t played or heard of, I found many that I can’t believe weren’t already on my radar and that I absolutely want to play soon. Online voting begins today (15 January), with the top four chosen by the public going through to the jury voting. Personally I’m definitely going to be pushing for Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture to win Best Emotional Music, because…wow.
The winners will be announced on February 12.