Game Audio Network Guild Award Ceremony
The 2016 G.A.N.G. Award ceremony was a classy affair this year. To add class, the Boston based Videri String Quartet (and sought after video game recording ensemble) played video game themes that were specially arranged for quartet. MC’s Brian Schmidt and Alexander Brandon played to a standing room only audience of game audio students professionals alike. It was a jovial atmosphere, and Brian kicked it off with a Jimmy Fallonesqe “Future of Gaming” parody where he noted that each year, GDC has a particular theme proclaiming one trend or another to be the “future of gaming.” Here are the examples he started off the night with:
GDC 2006: The future of games is MMOs! Every game will have 1000 people working on it and take 10 years to develop.
GDC 2007: wait. Never mind. The future of games is mobile! Every game team will have four people and take three months to make.
GDC 2010: The future of games is gamification!
GDC 2011: The future games is monetization!
GDC 2014: The future of games is eSports and MOBAs!
GDC 2015/16: The future of games is _____?
And everyone in the audience shouted VR!!!!
Brian’s continued and revealed that his point was not that tech prognostication is slippery, but that game audio has a timeless quality to it. As he eloquently stated: “Regardless of the changing nature of the tech, despite the Moore’s law disrupting so many other aspects of our industry…. what we deal in is timeless. Music, sound and voice touch the human soul in a way that doesn’t depend on clock speeds or polygon counts.”
Then the spotlight turned to Alexander Brandon. Besides being one of the icons of game audio who does it all – music, sound design, voice overs and implementation, Alexander may also have a promising career as a stand up comic or impersonator. There is nothing he cannot do! His extemporaneous speech started with several impersonations, which I vaguely recognized as Inon Zur and Morgan Freeman making some sort of humorous remark about Charles Deenen. The crowd of industry insiders all got the joke, and even those who did not could not hold back the laughs. Alexander then went on to talk about how cool (and mind blowing) it is to be in game audio these days. He spoke about what a thrill it was to be at MAGFest and see all those bands on multiple stages geeking out and dancing to the game audio anthems of our youth.
Then the Awards ceremony began. It is no Grammy or Oscar level event yet, but it is certainly working its way there, especially as the creators of game audio content gain more fame and recognition through movies like BEEP and all of the wonderful game audio websites, podcasts and conventions are starting to make stars out of typically very shy game audio denizens who spend most of our time in dark studios…
However, though many luminaries and famous composers and sound designers were nominated, the awards went to a number of underdogs and crowd favorites. Names like Jessica Curry (who was not present, but sent along a hilarious acceptance speech), Gareth Coker, Gordy Haab, and Dren McDonald were all honored with multiple wins!
One thing notably missing from the categories this year was a category for VR. I am not sure if there needs to be a separate category for this, but just like there are categories for AAA, Hand Held, Casual and Indie, can VR be far off? It is, after all, the future of games!
First and foremost, congratulations to all the nominees at this year’s event. To view a complete list of nominees: Finalists.
Some very notable winners this year were Gareth Coker and Andrew Lackey – Ori and the Blind Forrest won 3 awards, and Gareth won Rookie of the Year. I saw their talk at GDC this year and it was very interesting. Moon Studios is a “distributed” collective of developers spread all over the globe. It is a flat organization that allows members from all disciplines to comment an all aspects of the game development. So anytime new art, music or sound design is proposed, anyone from any walk of life can make a comment. Sounds like chaos theory in action, but the end result is undeniable.
Also, Dren McDonald and Gathering Sky developer A Stranger Gravity also won 3 awards. Dren not only composed the score, he did the sound design and FMOD implementation for the game. He also wrote a 3 part article about his process on Gamasutra that won for Best Publication! Part One is here – a very satisfying read.
Continuing the Indie theme, The Chinese Room and Jessica Curry won 4 awards, including Best Original Soundtrack, and Best Original Vocal Song – Choral and Pop. If you have not heard this score yet, run, don’t walk to check it out!
So maybe 2016 is the year of the Indie!
The biggest AAA game winner this year was Star Wars Battlefront developed by EA DICE. Audio Director Ben Minto (who was not able to make it to the show this year) and Composer Gordy Haab were responsible, along with a team of other amazing audio folks at EA DICE for taking home four awards including Music of the Year and Sound Design of the Year.
Other winners in the AAA category were 343 Industries, Tencent and Ubisoft.
343’s Audio Director Paul Lipson (Now at Fomosa Group in LA) and Composer Tom Salta were on hand to accept those awards.
Tencent hired composer Duncan Watt, and their game Honor of Kings won for Best Music in a Casual Game. Music from Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe, and Jeff Broadbent were also part of this amazing score.
Ubisoft’s game, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, won for best Cover/Remix and the honor went to composer Peter Hollens.
Special Recognition Awards
One of the highlights of the award ceremony came when four veteren members of the game audio community were recognized for thier outstanding service and achievements. Penka Kouneva received the G.A.N.G. RECOGNITION AWARD, Chance Thomas and Savina Ciaramella both received Distinguished Service Awards, and Marty O’Donnell was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations to everyone, and thank you all for your tremendous efforts in supporting the game audio community.
Complete List of Winners
AUDIO OF THE YEAR Ori and the Blind Forest (Audio Director: Andrew Lackey, Composer Gareth Coker)
MUSIC OF THE YEAR Star Wars Battlefront (EA DICE, Composer: Gordy Haab)
SOUND DESIGN OF THE YEAR Star Wars Battlefront (EA DICE, Audio Director Ben Minto)
BEST ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK ALBUM Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (Jessica Curry)
BEST INTERACTIVE SCORE Star Wars Battlefront (EA DICE, Audio Director Ben Minto, Composer: Gordy Haab)
BEST HANDHELD AUDIO Halo: Spartan Strike (343 Industries, Audio Director: Paul Lipson, Composer: Tom Salta)
BEST CINEMATIC/CUT-SCENE AUDIO StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void (Blizzard, Audio Director: Russel Brower)
BEST DIALOGUE Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (The Chinese Room)
BEST ORIGINAL INSTRUMENTAL Ori and the Blind Forest Main Theme (Moon Studios, Composer: Gareth Coker)
BEST ORIGINAL VOCAL SONG – CHORAL Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture The Light We Cast (The Chinese Room, Composer: Jessica Curry)
BEST ORIGINAL VOCAL SONG – POP Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture The Mourning Tree (The Chinese Room, Composer Jessica Curry)
BEST AUDIO FOR AN INDIE GAME Gathering Sky (A Stranger Gravity, Composer, Sound Designer: Dren McDonald)
BEST GAME AUDIO ARTICLE, PUBLICATION OR BROADCAST Audio Journals: Gathering Sky Dren McDonald
BEST AUDIO MIX: CREATIVE MIX: Ori and the Blind Forest (Moon Studios, Audio Director: Andrew Lackey, Composer Gareth Coker)
BEST AUDIO MIX: TECHNICAL MIX: Star Wars: Battlefront (EA DICE, Audio Director: Ben Minto)
BEST SOUND DESIGN IN A CASUAL/SOCIAL GAME Gathering Sky (A Stranger Gravity, Composer, Sound Designer: Dren McDonald)
BEST MUSIC IN A CASUAL/SOCIAL GAME Honor of Kings (Tencent, Composer: Duncan Watt)
BEST GAME MUSIC COVER/REMIX Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Peter Hollens
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR Gareth Coker
G.A.N.G. RECOGNITION AWARD Penka Kouneva
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD “Marty O’Donnell”
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD Chance Thomas
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD Savina Ciaramella
We tried our best to mention everyone who was involved in these projects, but If we missed anyone – please write to us at email@example.com and we will update the article with any corrections and additions!