'Witch It' wins top prizes at German Computer Games Awards
The most important prize in the country's gaming industry, the German Computer Games Awards selects innovative games in 14 categories. This year's winners include "Huxley," "Assassin's Creed Origins" and "Townsmen VR."
The German Computer Games Awards (Deutscher Computerspielpreis), were presented on Wednesday in Munich. First awarded in 2009, it is the most prestigious accolade in the German game industry, recognizing innovative and educational games mainly produced in the country.
This year's big star was "Witch it," by Hamburg-based indie developers Barrel Roll Games. Their new title won in the category Best German Game, Best International Multiplayer Game as well as Best Youth Game.
"Witch It" is a multi-player hide-and-seek game set in a medieval world where farmers need to join forces in order to chase witches in their village. The witches can turn into objects, which makes them hard to find. Players need to work together to catch them.
Escape VR, Berlin-based developers specialized in virtual reality environments, won in the category Best Innovation with their game "Huxley."
The virtual reality adventure allows up to eight players to participate in a mission at the same time. Equipped with VR glasses, they need to find their way out of the escape room. For now, the game can only be played in Berlin, but other locations are already being planned.
'Townsmen VR' — another virtual reality game
The winner in the category Best Design, "Townsmen VR," is also set in a medieval context. HandyGames, indie developers headquartered in Giebelstadt, came up with this historical strategy game with an innovative style.
The aesthetics of the game and the perspective of the village are reminiscent of the virtual god video game "Black & White," which was highly acclaimed when it came out in 2001.
As in "Black & White," players in "Townsmen VR" can use their virtual hands to get involved in the action of the game and speed up the progress of the village. VR technology creates effects that feel impressively real.
Learning geometry in a playful way with 'Monkey Swag'
Going on a treasure hunt with pirates is certainly more fun than plain geometry, and that's what "Monkey Swag" is all about. The players hardly notice that they are learning through the treasure hunt, adding to the game's educational value. The developers, Tiny Crocodile Studios and kunst-stoff, won in the category Best Children's Game.
Another game that was recognized for its educational value was "Ernas Unheil" (Erna's mischief). The award went to its five young female developers, who are students of the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin.
The designers created a mystery game for children based on a book. If you only read the book, however, you won't understand the story. Readers find their way through the adventure with an app. "By combining an app with a book, we aimed to make books more interesting for children," explains Lisa Forsch, one of the five developers. Depending on which decisions are made, the children reach one of 24 different exits.
A journey in Ancient Egypt with 'Assassin's Creed Origins'
Although the German Computer Games Awards mainly recognize German titles, there is also a Best International Game category. The award went to "Assassin's Creed Origins."
The latest episode of the popular adventure series, set in Ancient Egypt, features outstanding design and a lot of action.
The recognition given to French game developer Ubisoft is a symbolic one, while the other awards come with prize money to help develop the German gaming industry.
The Association of German Games Industry and the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, the co-sponsors of the endowment, invested a total of €560,000 ($692,000) in the 2018 awards — €10,000 more than the previous year. A 55-member jury decided on the winners in 14 categories from a total of 432 candidates. The focus is on promoting innovative, culturally relevant or educational computer and video games primarily produced in Germany.
The Sims: in a world of its own
The Sims are the inhabitants of an imaginary world. They speak "Simlish" and pay for goods and services with "Simoleans." Creating characters and helping them go about their daily lives — as unspectacular as it sounds, "The Sims" is the best-selling PC game franchise of all time. It is considered a pioneer of the "sandbox" genre, which gives players almost total freedom to do what they want.
Counter-Strike: the ultimate shoot-‘em-up
"Counter-Strike" hit the gaming scene in 1999 and has since become synonymous with the "first-person shooter" genre. The hugely popular game, in which terrorists battle counter-terrorists, is not without its critics, who claim the violent content has had a negative psychological impact on teens — including several real-life school shooters.
GTA: gangster game with a message
Burning rubber on the streets of the United States, stealing cars and committing armed robbery — different titles of this aggressive game have earned an Adults Only rating. Despite this, fans claim "Grand Theft Auto" is about more than just violence: It paints a picture of US society in which the "American Dream" fails many and even manages to push petty criminals into a life of gangster crime.
Pac-Man: the arcade staple
In 1980 Pac-Man, the greedy, round-headed monster with the big mouth, was born in Japan. The aim of the game is to gobble down as many points as possible, while staying out of the way of the colorful ghosts who are always hot on Pac-Man's trail. The simple yet addictive game kept players coming back for more — making it ideal for arcades.
Super Mario: Nintendo's celebrity mascot
Super Mario, the little Italian with the blue dungarees, red cap and bushy mustache, is perhaps the most recognizable video-game character in history. The stout plumber and his friend Luigi are pioneers of the "platform" video game, in which characters spring between different levels, collecting points and avoiding mishaps. These days Mario can also be found on the racing track in "Mario Kart."
Pokémon Go: reality gets augmented
"Pokémon Go" made headlines in 2016 as one of the first games to use location-based augmented reality technology — making it look like digital elements within the game were actually part of the real world. The free app was downloaded over 500 million times that year. While some condemned the game and its Pokémon-hunters as a public nuisance, others praised the app for getting gamers off the sofa.
Minecraft: the possibilities are endless
"Minecraft" is the best-known example of an "open-world" game — in which players are free to explore a virtual world, rather than having to follow a linear gameplay. Users "mine" blocks and use them to construct buildings in a virtually infinite 3D landscape. Players who are not sure what to do with this creative freedom can choose to fulfill pre-defined missions.
Tetris: a Soviet classic
Another 80s classic, "Tetris" is built on the simple premise of racing the clock to piece different shaped blocks together in a certain way. The game was created by a young Soviet engineer in 1984 and fast became a hit in arcades and for home computers. However, its real moment in the spotlight came when Nintendo released it as one of the first games for the hand-held Game Boy console.
Fifa: sporting glory
Every year since its initial release in 1993, a new version of "Fifa" (named after the world governing body of football) has hit the market. Each version strives to be that little bit more realistic than the last — keeping the game at the forefront of sport simulation gaming. It also doesn't hurt the game's image to have cover stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Angry Birds: ruffling feathers
The most downloaded "freemium" game series of all time involves catapulting angry birds into the fortress of the green pigs to retrieve stolen eggs. The runaway success of the mobile app led to a spin-off TV series and feature film. But the birds suffered a PR setback when NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed how state security services were able to gather data about the game's users.