Games of the year

Hosted by Goff Keighley, The Game Awards is a glitzy annual celebration of the very best games of the year. We’ve looked at all the nominees and winners from every show (2003-2018) to see how the games stack up, using a special scoring system to grade them.

So, with that in mind, here’s what we’ve discovered. Discover our key findings below.

© Blizzard Entertainment

Data analysis

Diversity is slowly improving

Big publishers are showing a greater readiness to back multidimensional casts in new releases. Look no further than games like Overwatch and Spider-Man.

A chart showing diversity improvements in Game of the Year nominees over time.
2012 was a turning point

2012 was something of a watershed year. From 2012 onwards, diversity levels have been markedly improved. Has Telltale’s The Walking Dead had something to do with it? Released that same year, the game starred a black man (Lee) and a young mixed-race girl (Clementine) and was a critical and commercial hit.

A chart illustrating the way games have become more diverse since 2012.
GOTY winners are slightly more diverse than nominees

Our scoring system (read about it here) found that winners were slightly more diverse than the nominees. 27% of winners were found to be “Very Diverse” as opposed to 16% of nominees.

A chart showing the difference in diversity levels between Game of the Year winners and nominees.

Games in Focus

Aloy - Horizon: Zero Dawn

Aloy is the empowered female lead of Horizon: Zero Dawn, but she’s not the only character of note. There’s a diverse supporting cast and the odd LGBTQ+ theme in focus as well. Horizon is a rarity in the AAA space: a big-budget offering not afraid to take risks.

“Aloy is a tough woman who is both empowered and emotional; she isn't the typical 'reskinned man' protagonist that you sometimes get when developers try to create a 'strong woman' character.” Alayna M. Cole, managing director of Queerly Represent Me.

An image of Aloy from Horizon: Zero Dawn, a PS4 exclusive. © Guerrilla Games

Valve’s Half-life 2 features Alyx Vance as a highly resourceful, intelligent character with a scientific background. Her father in the game is also a black scientist – both are very positive representations of people of colour.”

Adam Campbell Co-founder of POC in Play
A low-angle shot of Alyx from Half-Life 2. © Valve Corporation
5 of the most diverse

Overwatch, Celeste, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Walking Dead: The Game

© Blizzard Entertainment, Matt Makes Games, Ubisoft, Guerrilla Games, Telltale Games
5 of the least diverse

Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty 2, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Gears of War, Gears of War 2

© Treyarch, Infinity Ward, Rockstar Games, Epic Games

Behind the data

Our scoring system assigns numerical points to games that tick certain diversity boxes: female representation, LGBTQ+ themes and so forth. 20 points are on offer, but games are only judged out of 10. In theory, a game can score 20/10, but games with this level of diversity are the exception rather than the rule, and we also want to reward games that tick one or two boxes very well.

“Very diverse” = 10 or more points; “Good diversity” (8-10 points); “Somewhat diverse” (5-7 points); “No/low diversity”(0-4).

Read all about the scoring system methodology on our about the campaign page.

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