The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell A Different Tale

If the Video Game Awards are actually an awards show, and not just a keynote for promoting upcoming games, then the big news from last night was The Walking Dead: The Game. Eminently quotable analyst Michael Pachter said before the show that if this title, a downloadable self-published game, took home Game of the Year, he'd eat his hat. To his credit, Pachter later tweeted out a request for one, presumably to consume.

But the surprises don't just stop there. The Walking Dead won Game of the Year coming out of the Best Adapted Game category. Except for 2003, the first year of the VGAs, when things were very different from today, only two adapted games have even been nominated for GOTY: Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City and neither won. This is a different time in games development, with publishers looking for games whose characters and stories they fully own.

Some might look to a licensed or adapted work and consider that the game derives its significance, or at least the attention given to it, because it draws on some other franchise in popular entertainment. So it's strange that a licensed, adapted work reminds us that story, and characters, and choices, and the memorable experiences they create, matters most.

Here's another surprise nugget: The Walking Dead: The Game earned its makers five Video Game Awards. The next big winner? Journey, with three (including a nomination for Game of the Year.) Borderlands 2 also took home three awards, the best haul for a traditional boxed console game.

So if you're thinking this might have been a different Video Game Awards, in its 10th year, you're probably right. Had the show given more attention to that purpose — only a handful of these awards were actually presented in the broadcast — we might be pondering it as a landmark year. The VGAs are often accused of being an industry popularity contest, but maybe this year they acquired recognisable critical heft. We'll have to see what happens next year, and the year after.

So here are the 25 winners of the 2012 Video Game Awards, plus the Game of the Decade. Two fan-voted awards gave Character of the Year to Claptrap from Borderlands 2, and Most Anticipated Game to Grand Theft Auto V.

Game of the Year

The Walking Dead: The Game

Telltale Games

Also nominated: Assassin's Creed III, Dishonored, Journey, Mass Effect 3

Studio of the Year

Telltale Games

Also nominated: 343 Industries, Arkane Studios, Gearbox Software

Best Xbox 360 Game

Halo 4

Microsoft Studios/343 Industries

Also nominated: Assassin's Creed III, Borderlands 2, Dishonored

Best PS3 Game


Sony Computer Entertainment/thatgamecompany

Also nominated: Assassin's Creed III, Borderlands 2, Dishonored

Best Wii/Wii U Game

New Super Mario Bros. U


Also nominated: The Last Story, Xenoblade Chronicles, ZombiU

Best PC Game

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

2K Games/Firaxis Games

Also nominated: Diablo III, Guild Wars 2, Torchlight II

Best Shooter

Borderlands 2

2K Games/Gearbox Software

Also nominated: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Halo 4, Max Payne 3

Best Action-Adventure Game


Bethesda Softworks/Arkane Studios

Also nominated: Assassin's Creed III, Darksiders II, Sleeping Dogs

Best Role-Playing Game

Mass Effect 3

Electronic Arts/BioWare

Also nominated: Diablo III, Torchlight II, Xenoblade Chronicles

Best Multiplayer Game

Borderlands 2

2K Games/Gearbox Software

Also nominated: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Guild Wars 2, Halo 4

Best Individual Sports Game


Electronic Arts/EA Canada

Also nominated: Hot Shots Golf World Invitational, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13, WWE '13

Best Team Sports Game

NBA 2K13

2K Sports/Visual Concepts

Also nominated: FIFA 13, Madden NFL 13, NHL 13

Best Driving Game

Need For Speed: Most Wanted

Electronic Arts/Criterion Games

Also nominated: Dirt: Showdown, F1 2012, Forza Horizon

Best Song in a Game

"Cities" (Beck) for Sound Shapes

Also nominated: "Castle of Glass" (Linkin Park for Medal of Honor: Warfighter); "I Was Born for This" (Austin Wintory for Journey); "Tears" (Health for Max Payne 3)

Best Original Score


Sony Computer Entertainment/thatgamecompany

Also nominated: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Halo 4, Max Payne 3.

Best Graphics

Halo 4

Microsoft Studios/343 Industries

Also nominated: Assassin's Creed III, Dishonored, Journey

Best Independent Game



Also nominated: Dust: An Elysian Tail, Fez, Mark of the Ninja

Best Fighting Game

Persona 4 Arena

Atlus/Arc System Works/Atlus

Also nominated: Dead or Alive 5, Street Fighter X Tekken, Tekken Tag Tournament 2

Best Handheld/Mobile Game

Sound Shapes

Sony Computer Entertainment/Queasy Games

Also nominated: Gravity Rush, LittleBigPlanet (PS Vita), New Super Mario Bros 2

Best Performance by a Human Female

Melissa Hutchison for The Walking Dead: The Game

Also nominated: Emma Stone for Sleeping Dogs; Jen Taylor for Halo 4; Jennifer Hale for Mass Effect 3

Best Performance by a Human Male

Dameon Clark for Borderlands 2

Also nominated: Dave Fennoy for The Walking Dead: The Game; James McCaffrey for Max Payne 3; Nolan North for Spec Ops: The Line

Best Adapted Video Game

The Walking Dead: The Game

Telltale Games

Also nominated: Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

Best Downloadable Content

Dawnguard for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Bethesda Softworks/Bethesda Game Studios

Also nominated: Leviathan for Mass Effect 3; Mechromancer Pack for Borderlands 2; Perpetual Testing Initiative for Portal 2

Best Downloadable Game

The Walking Dead: The Game

Telltale Games

Also nominated: Fez, Journey, Sound Shapes

Best Social Game

You Don't Know Jack

Jellyvision Games

Also nominated: Draw Something, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, SimCity Social

Game of the Decade

Half Life 2

Valve Corporation

Also nominated: Batman: Arkham City, BioShock, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Mass Effect 2, Portal, Red Dead Redemption, Shadow of the Colossus, Wii Sports, World of Warcraft


    the list sucks, game of the year could have been Sleeping Dogs or far cry 3 or halo 4 or black ops 2 but no, they gave us 4 crappy games to chose from, screw that list, its bull crap

      4 crappy games? Are you mental, the only game I wouldn't have in that set on nominees would be Mass Effect 3 and swap that with Max Payne 3. But in what way are those games crappy? I would be willing to put money on you not having played at least The Walking Dead or Journey. The amount of great games that have come out this year it's a shame they only did nominate 5 games as there were so many that could be in that list. I am happy that Dishonored got a nomination though, that is a very good and very underrated game.

        the walking dead is shit, the TV show and the game are shit, mass effect was shit, ass greeders 3 was shit, Dishonored was alright, lots of better games came out this year though, not sure about journey, looked rather lame from previews

          We can't vote for the lesser minded like yourself. This was more of a general vote for everyone, not you (whom is obviously suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder and wastes their time writing their terrible opinions of video games in the Kotaku comments section).

            Well seeing as this person wants Black Ops 2 for GOTY then they are obviously pretty closed minded(like most CoD fans) I would love to know why you think Dishonored was just alright.

        I totally agree with you about replacing Mass Effect 3 with Max Payne 3 for game of the year. I totally agree that the Walking Dead deserve game of the year. COD? NO. BO2 is not bad but it's not that good ether. BO2 is mediocre. Halo 4 is VERY GOOD. Max Payne 3 is TOTALLY EPIC. Sleeping Dogs is good, but NOT good enough to be goty or action/adventure game of the year.

          well actually, i very much enjoyed sleeping dogs it was heaps fun, it would have gotten my vote if it had of been on that list

          I have to agree. I love Sleeping Dogs. I love the driving, the combat and the story. But even with all that, I still think it falls quite short of being GOTY.

          I also 100% agree with swapping out ME3 for MP3. I think Max Payne 3 is my personal choice for GOTY. Even though it slightly disappointed me as a sequel to 2 of my favourite games of all time, it was still an amazing game to experience. Especially with how good it looked on the PC.

      Recommends COD for GOTY, still thinks its crap.
      "i only played black ops 2 for about 30 minutes, thought it was crap"

        it was it was a terrible game, even the shooting style sucked, but developers work hard on these games so they should at least be in the running for GOTY or better yet, scrap the idea of GOTY completely

          Your opinions make no sense.

            no, you just don't read it all and only interpret what is good to your opnion

              Are you even sure why your still mad or did you get lost in your own rage?

    Was I the only one who thought Clem's voice actress was terrible? Ruined the game for me at times. Jennifer Hale or Jen Taylor would've been my picks.

      I agreed that Jennifer Hale was awesome as Shepard. I think Melissa deserved it though because she actually sounded like how I expected an 8-year old girl to sound in a video game - a much more challenging job I think.

    Mass Effect 3? Where was the role playing in that steaming pile? WHERE!!!!?

      To be fair, this year didn't have many RPGs (at least mainstream wise) to put on a best of list so games like Diablo 3 and Mass effect being action games with lite RP features end up in the "well can't not have a list, throw whatever in there". Next year should be a lot better if only for Wasteland 2!

    I gotta say im kinda suprised by a few of the winners, like the fact that BL2 actually beat COD in both the shooter and multiplayer area yet it wasnt a nominee for GOTY . Also how fuck can people say that HL2 was the game of the did nothing revolutionary and did nothing to reinvent the genre, yet WoW for better or worse actually became so big that publishers are trying to get a slice of the pie.

      I'm still wondering why HL2 got those honors, since as a game it really didn't do much besides give us a physics engine that was used in games like Portal. However, outside of the game itself, it was the launch point for Steam and was the game that turned Valve from publisher to powerhouse in PC gaming.

      I'm surprised and happy that BL2 was awarded as highly as it was.
      A bt confused by HL2 being game of the decade but there is no way WOW should get the title.
      WOW may be a huge seller but if I could erase my memory of a game to experience the story again, it would have to be Red Dead.

      Everything about that game was epic in the truest sense of the word.

      Yeah, I have similar thoughts. HL2 may be great (I've never played it), but if you ask an average person on a street, they most likely will not know what HL2 is. If you ask the same person what Mario is, or what Pac-man is, they will know. And that same person will probably know what CoD is too, although they may not have played it, and probably will know/heard about WoW.

      I think WoW and/or CoD made more of a social impact than HL2. For good or for worse, but an impact nonetheless. I think one of these title deserve the Game of the Decade honour than HL2. I think they helped bring gaming more mainstream than any other title.

      For the record, I've never played WoW, and I prefer Battlefield over CoD...

    Joke of a list to have AC3 to be nominated so many times . Its a good game but there is heaps of other games better than AC3. Best graphics nomination for AC3??????? GOTY nomination for AC3??????

    How the hell did Dawnguard get an award. The PTI for Portal 2 was much better, as it has INFINITE maps and is free, not a rip off price like $25

    Who the hell decides these awards?

      "With the exception of the fan-voted "Most Anticipated Game", "Character of the Year", and a few other non-annual categories, the award nominees and winners are voted by an advisory council, featuring 25 journalists from various media outlets. Fans, however, can vote online for which games they think should win each category." - Wikipedia

      a team of people who haven't played games before and don't like games pull names out of a hat, then people go vote on the games they add to the list, not the game you really want to vote for

    good it looks like they're finally treating this seriously instead of just giving it to whichever game had the highest meta score.
    also Emma Stone nominated for best voice actress for sleeping dogs WTF that character had like 30 lines of (lets be honest) pretty weak dialogue and you never saw her again more like a cameo but they didn't throw it to the biggest celebrity so its good.

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