The nominations are in for the prestigious BAFTA games awards, and it's mostly business as usual. A predictable range of games have been nominated and small, lower-budget titles have, with one notable exception, been left by the wayside. In fact, the only surprising thing about the list is that industry darling Red Dead Redemption is up for just one award: the publicly-voted GAME Award of 2010.
Assassin's Creed Brotherhood leads the pack with seven nominations, closely followed by Call of Duty: Black Ops and Heavy Rain with six nominations each. Mass Effect 2 trails slightly behind with five, while Super Mario Galaxy 2 has four.
These are all great games, sure, but looking at nomination lists for ceremonies like this makes it easy to assume the industry goes no further than high-budget triple-A titles. In actuality, 2010 arguably played host to a far broader spectrum of games than we've ever seen before. Titles as diverse as the adorable Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale and the terrifying Amnesia: The Dark Descent showed that small-scale independent development produces some of the most creative ideas out there -- games with something to say rather than games that are designed with profit as their primary focus. Where is the high-profile recognition for these titles?
There's a small glimmer of hope for the underdogs, though: Limbo. The arty XBLA platformer is up for four BAFTAs, including Artistic Achievement, Use of Audio, Gameplay and, particularly notably, Best Game. It also has a position on the shortlist for the publicly-voted GAME Award 2010. Its chances of victory are probably slim when pitted against the combined might of Black Ops, Reach, Mass Effect 2, Heavy Rain and Red Dead Redemption, of course, but the fact it's on the list at all is an important step in the right direction.
The growth of the downloadable sector has meant an explosion in what could be termed "single-A" titles -- short-form, affordable titles that do their best to do things a bit differently. Will one of these titles ever win a high-profile Game of the Year award? Perhaps not this time. But who's to say what the future holds?