Game Developers Choice Awards

The Game Developers Choice Awards are awards annually presented at the Game Developers Conference for outstanding game developers and games.
Introduced in 2001, the Game Developers Choice Awards were preceded by the Spotlight Awards, which were presented from 1997 to 1999. Since then, the ceremony for the Independent Games Festival is held just prior to the Choice Awards ceremony.

Winner selection process

Nominations for games are by made by International Choice Awards Network, a group of leading game creators. Votes are then additionally made by editors of Gamasutra. Any video game released in the preceding calendar year, regardless of medium, is eligible to be nominated, through upgrades, expansions, and mission packs are not eligible to be nominated.
The top nominated games are assembled into the list of nominees, typically presented in January, are then voted on by final voting body, made up of ICANs, and editors of Gamasutra. In this final stage of voting, games with the highest votes in a category are the winners.
Winners for Special Awards are decided by a "Special Awards Jury", which appears to consist of a variety of 5 people. This group may consider recommendations from ICAN members.
The winners are announced during the Game Developers Conference, which is typically held in March of the calendar year.
GDC related properties are owned by the UBM technology group.

Historical process

In 2007, took over management of the awards from the IGDA.
An advisory board selected by the editors of and Game Developer magazine oversees the selection process.
In the past, nominations are accepted from registered users, confirmed to be game developers, and from the advisory board.
Once the nomination process is complete, the advisory board identifies five finalists for each regular category.
The recipients of the Lifetime Achievement, Pioneer and Maverick awards are selected by the advisory board.
For the other awards, a vote open to all those who participated in the nomination process chooses a recipient from each category's finalists.

List of winners

Note: Events held for awards are held early in the following year. Winners are listed first and highlighted in bold.

Game of the Year

The Game of the Year Award recognizes the overall best game released during the previous calendar year, as interpreted by the members of the Game Developers Conference.
2000The SimsLife simulationMac OS, Microsoft WindowsMaxis
2001Grand Theft Auto IIIAction-adventureMicrosoft Windows, PlayStation 2DMA Design
2002Metroid PrimeAction-adventureGameCubeRetro Studios
2003'Role-playingMicrosoft Windows, XboxBioWare
2004Half-Life 2First-person shooterMicrosoft WindowsValve
2005Shadow of the ColossusAction-adventurePlayStation 2Team Ico
2006Gears of WarThird-person shooterXbox 360Epic Games
2007PortalPuzzle-platformerMicrosoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360Valve
2008Fallout 3Action role-playingMicrosoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360Bethesda Game Studios
2009'Action-adventurePlayStation 3Naughty Dog
2010Red Dead RedemptionAction-adventurePlayStation 3, Xbox 360Rockstar San Diego
2011'Action role-playingMicrosoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360Bethesda Game Studios
2012JourneyAdventurePlayStation 3, Microsoft WindowsThatgamecompany
2013The Last of UsAction-adventurePlayStation 3Naughty Dog
2014'Action-adventureMicrosoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox OneMonolith Productions
2015'Action role-playingMicrosoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox OneCD Projekt Red
2016OverwatchFirst-person shooterMicrosoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox OneBlizzard Entertainment
2017'AdventureNintendo Switch, Wii UNintendo
2018God of WarAction-adventurePlayStation 4Santa Monica Studio
2019Untitled Goose GamePuzzleMicrosoft Windows, Nintendo SwitchHouse House

Best Audio

Best Audio award recognizes the overall excellence of audio in a game, including sound effects, musical composition, sound design and orchestration.
The Best Debut Award recognizes the best game from any development studio which released its first publicly available title during the calendar year. This was formerly known as the New Studio of the Year Award. In years prior to 2008, the award was awarded to the studio name, as opposed to the game title.
Best Design award recognizes the overall excellence of design in a game, including gameplay, mechanics, puzzles, play balancing and scenarios.
Best Mobile/Handheld Game Award recognizes the overall best game commercially released on any handheld platform.
The Innovation Award recognizes games that demonstrate innovation and push the boundaries of games as an expressive medium. Multiple awards per year were given before 2007.
Best Narrative award recognizes the quality of writing in a game, including story, plot construction, dialogue and branching narratives.
Best Technology award recognizes the overall excellence of technology in a game, including graphics programming, artificial intelligence, networking and physics.
Best Visual Art award recognizes the overall excellence of visual art in a game, including animation, modeling, art direction and textures.

Audience Award

These awards are voted by the audience for best game of that year.
Known as the First Penguin award until 2007, the Pioneer Award celebrates individuals who developed a breakthrough technology, game concept or gameplay design.
GDC had announced their intention to award Nolan Bushnell the 2017 Pioneer Award. However, after several people asked the GDC to reconsider this in light of documented sexist activities in Bushnell's past in light of the current #MeToo movement, GDC opted to not award the Pioneer Award and instead "will dedicate this year's award to honor the pioneering and unheard voices of the past".

[|Ambassador Award]

The Ambassador Award is given to individuals within or outside the industry who helped video games "advance to a better place." It replaced the IGDA Award for Community Contribution after 2008.
The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the achievements of a developer who has impacted games and game development.
The following award categories have been retired or replaced with a different focus.

Best Downloadable Game

Best Downloadable Game Award recognizes the overall best game released on console or PC platforms specifically and solely for digital download - with an emphasis on smaller, more 'casual'-friendly titles.
The Character Design award recognizes the overall excellence of non-licensed character design in a game, including originality, character arc and emotional depth.
The IGDA Award for Community Contribution recognized developers for significant efforts "building community, sharing knowledge, speaking on behalf of developers and/or contributing to the art form of game development". The Ambassador Award replaced it after 2007.
The Maverick Award recognizes the current achievements of a developer who exhibits independence in thought and action while experimenting with alternate/emerging forms of digital games.