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The DeanBeat: We can't celebrate games enough

Ed Boon was one of the older statesmen at the Dice Awards last week. Twenty-seven years ago, he worked with three other people on the first Mortal Kombat game, and here he received an award for Mortal Kombat 11, which was voted the best fighting game at the prestigious awards ceremony in Las Vegas.

I stood by The green room at the award ceremony was waiting with other media to interview winners like Boon as they went from stage to game history. Boon and the other winners received applause.

"It feels good," Boon said in an interview with me. "After 27 years, Mortal Kombat can still be the fighting game of the year."

When Mortal Kombat made its debut in the arcades in 1

992 and found its way to consoles in 1996, it was greeted by adults who wanted videos as Pariah games so as not to "corrupt" the youth. Mortal Kombat spurred congressional hearings and led to the creation of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).

It was the idea of ​​the programmer Boon, John Tobias (art and history), John Vogel (graphics) and Dan Forden (sound) design). And now it has survived many of its critics and has become part of mainstream culture.

Hundreds of developers are now required to develop a game like Mortal Kombat 11, published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, one of the world's largest Games manufacturers. Boon was amazed how people are now making a living playing Mortal Kombat as an esport. Boon said he felt games were gradually shifting to the mainstream when the first movie based on the game debuted in 1995.

Boon and others are on the awards circuit these days, bouncing from The Game Awards, Dice Awards, GDC Choice Awards, and SXSW Gaming Awards. And even at the not so famous GamesBeat Summit Visionary Awards (we're working to make them better known).

It seems to be overexposure and it is enough to put a cynical person in a bad mood. But I don't think we celebrate video games enough.

Listen to me.

Above: The developers of Pistol Whip at Cloudhead Games. From left to right: Antony Stevens (Level Design), Daniel Taylor (Level Design), Cameron Oltmann (Design Lead) and Denny Unger (CEO and Creative Director)

Photo credit: Dean Takahashi

At least as Boon When he was 20 Was years old, you learned that some people like to attack video games. Back then, the exaggerated comic violence of tearing someone's heart out in Mortal Kombat was considered a threat to the well-being of our children. Video games were a "bad influence".

Decades later, although gaming has surpassed (twice) the income from films and music together, we are still faced with an ignorant scapegoat by illegitimate politicians and others fighting war of some kind of culture. Games are also attacked as no better than gambling, with loot boxes emptying the coffers of addicted players. Boon's games have generated billions of dollars over the years, but I'm pretty sure his name isn't as recognizable as Brad Pitt's.

And so it felt good for me to share a table with ShackNews boss Asif Khan and see it. The winners log in and enjoy their moment in the spotlight. What I liked about these awards – over which 30,000 game developers and other members of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences voted – is that they were fairly evenly distributed. That meant that all sorts of characters came across the room.

I had a few minutes to chat with each guest, and I had no specific rhyme or reason for my questions. So I just asked what came to my mind.

I asked Shuhei Yoshida, head of indie games at Sony, if he understood the end of Death Stranding. He received the awards for Hideo Kojima's game for best audio design and best technical performance. He laughed and said he didn't think it was, but it was great that it was open to interpretation. And yes, I played this game for 64 hours and ended up getting confused myself.

Above: Vince Zampella (left) is CEO of Respawn. Chad Grenier is Game Director at Apex Legends.

Credit: Dean Takahashi

Vince Zampella, whose respawn entertainment won for both Apex Legends (best online game) and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (best adventure game), said It was a night for his team, to "celebrate the beauty of the game they created". His team said it was about developing an accessible Star Wars game for everyone that was easy to learn and play, yet was inspired by difficult sword fighting games like Bloodbourne.

Zampella acknowledged his team, but noticed that he was deliberately looking for ways to diversify Respawn's games.

"There are so many talented people at Respawn," he said in an interview. “I personally play so many different types of games. I wanted to show what we can do. In some cases, like Apex Legends, it's about improving a genre that was started by someone else. We wanted to put our own spin on it. "

He and his team said that a respawn game has a tactile feel with great controls and player placement. The team grows and grows (makes games like the upcoming virtual reality title Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond), but adheres to a number of core values. Gameplay comes first. It has to be fun, great, and focused on what fans want, said Zampella.

Above: Feargus Urquhart, CEO of Obsidian, accepted the award for The Outer Wilds.

Photo credit: Dean Takahashi

Meanwhile, Feargus Urquhart, CEO of Obsidian, was thrilled that The Outer Worlds received the award for best role-playing game. He said Obsidian was not done with the universe of this game.

"We put people in these worlds they believe in and we let them choose who they want to be in," he said. We create these worlds where they can be a hero and control their destiny and change what happens in this world. "

Nintendo guy Nate Bihldorff told me he felt" incredibly awkward "to accept awards on behalf of the creators of Nintendo's best games of the year. The company received four awards and Bihldorff became famous in 2018 for receiving so many awards for Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild. Bihldorff, a localization manager, has been recognized for games like Luigis Mansion 3, Super Mario Maker 2, Mario Kart Tour and Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Although Bihldorff has gone viral as a "Nintendo Guy" in the past, he swears he has not tried to be tall on social media.

Those in charge at Cloudhead Games, the maker of the virtual reality game Pistol Whip, said they wanted it to be a game that you can understand in 30 seconds.

Denny Unger, CEO of Cloudhead Games, said the team wanted to create an arcade-like feel with a game that allowed you to play the way you wanted. It has also been designed so that you can quickly show it to your friends. And it was a must to be part of the Oculus Quest VR platform, which reduced friction for onboarding players new to VR.

Above: Daniel Olson is a music composer for Sayonara Wild Hearts.

Photo credit: Dean Takahashi

And Daniel Olson, the composer of Simogo’s Sayonara Wild Hearts, winner of the best portable game, said it’s about “doing things that make you feel great”. He added, "It's like a love letter to many different genres, but especially to music games."

These were some of the wisdoms I had gathered for some of the most successful game managers during a festive evening, game developers and games. Even though we only talked for a few minutes at a time, none of these people seemed to come out enough to celebrate what is great about their games. They were clearly over the top when they won the awards and it was fun to see them enjoying the moment.

And I felt good to be part of it. Congratulations to all winners.

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