Shadow of the Colossus Falls on GDC

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.’s fantasy-adventure title, Shadow of the Colossus, was the big winner at Wednesday night’s Game Developers Choice Awards, held in conjunction with the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Jose, Calif. In addition to making off with thee Game of the Year kudo, the development team accepted the awards for innovation, game design, character design and visual arts.

The evening kicked off with the 8th annual Independent Games Fesival, which this year honored outstanding members of the modding community as well as students and indie game studios. The game of the hour was U.K.-based Introversion Software’s Darwinia, which has the inhabitants of a virtual theme park battling viruses in a massive computer network. Darwinia claimed the prizes for innovation in visual art and technical excellence before receiving the $20,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize.

In an acceptance speech, Mark Norris, who oversees all of Introversion’s activities, drew thunderous applause by declaring, ‘We didn’t take money from publishers because we didn’t want publishers f***ing up our game.’ He added that it’s moments like this that vindicate the difficult decisions the company had to make to get a game out to players without compromising the creative vision.

IGF sponsor [adult swim] presented the $5,000 AdultSwim.com Award to Los Angeles-based Rabidlab’s Dodge that Anvil, which casts the player as a rabbit trying to get a garden snack during a storm of blacksmith tools. The title was chosen by [adult swim] staffers from a field of 118 entries.

A record 2,000 online votes decided the winner of this year’s IGF Audience Choice Award. The coveted chunk of Lucite was handed off to Ankama of Northern France, the developer off the popular fantasy-adventure MMOG Dofus.

The Game Developers Choice Awards followed. The Shadow of the Colossus lovefest was also good to Double Fine Prods., which was named best new studio and collected the writing award for Tim Schafer and Erik Wolpaw’s work on Psychonauts. Another big winner was Guitar Hero, a musical game developed by Harmonix Music Systems and RedOctane. The title won the Best Audio award and the Harmonix team of Mike Dornbrook, Eran Egozy, Greg Lopiccolo and Alex Rigopulos accepted the Maverick Award for exhibiting independence in thought and action while experimenting with alternative/emerging forms of digital games. Meanwhile, Nintendo’s best-selling Nintendo DS game, Nintendogs, took the award for excellence in technology.

On hand to accept the Lifetime Achievement Award was Richard Garriot, exec producer of NCsoft North America and creator of the groundbreaking Ultima series of games, which was instrumental in helping to usher in massively multiplayer online role playing games. Garriot, who published his first game at the tender age of 19, said he was fortunate to be the right age at the right time to catch the gamming wave. However, he observed how everyone who came after him seemed to get younger and younger, making him constantly feel like one of the oldest people in the business.

Another highlight of the ceremony was a spirited acceptance speech by Chris Hecker, a game innovator who helps to organize the yearly Indie Game Jam and Experimental Gameplay Workshop. After listing a few gaming issues he could rant about, Garriot said, ‘Id rather rave about how f***ing cool video games are and how lucky we are to be here at the beginning of a whole new art form. How often does that happen?’

For more information regarding the Independent Games Festival, go to www.igf.com. The Game Developers Conference is online at www.gdconf.com