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INTERVIEWS: Meeting the winners of the BAFTA Game Awards 2019

INTERVIEWS: Meeting the winners of the BAFTA Game Awards 2019

Sony's God of War was the big winner at last night's annual BAFTA Game Awards, with the Santa Monica-developed title walking away with five awards. 

The PlayStation 4 smash hit won Audio Achievement, Best Game, Music and Narrative, while Jeremy Davies of Lost-fame walked away with the Performer category prize for his depiction of Baldur. 

It was a big night for Lucas Pope, too, who won two awards for Return of the Obra Dinn - Artistic Achievement and Game Design. Pope was previously at the BAFTAs in 2014 for Papers Please. 

British Game went to Playground Games' Forza Horizon 4, while A Way Out and Into the Breach won out in the Multiplayer and Original Property

The awards show was held at BAFTA headquarters in London with Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain compering the event.

You can see the full list of winners below. PCGamesInsider.biz was lucky enough to be at the event speaking to some of the winners of this year's show. 

Artistic Achievement

Return of the Obra Dinn

Audio Achievement

God of War

Best Game

God of War

British Game

Forza Horizon 4

Debut Game

Yoku’s Island Express

Evolving Game

Fortnite

Family

Nintendo Labo

Game Beyond Entertainment

My Child Lebensborn

Game Design

Return of the Obra Dinn

Game Innovation

Nintendo Labo

Mobile Game

Florence

Multiplayer

A Way Out

Music

God of War

Narrative

God of War

Original Property

Into the Breach

Performer

Jeremy Davies

EE Mobile Game of the Year (voted by the public)

Old School RuneScape


Click here to view the list »
  • 1 Audio Achievement - God of War - Keith Leary

    God of War kicked off the night by walking away with the Audio Achievement. Backstage we spoke to producer Keith Leary about the Sony Santa Monica win 

    Congratulations - how does it feel to win?

    It feels absolutely fabulous. Three years of hard work on such an inspirational game, such a great story and, of course, have to congratulate Bear McCreary for writing such a truly spectacular score.

    What do you think God of War winning this category says about the state of the industry right now?

    The industry is doing marvellously well. It's great for Sony Interactive Entertainment to have such a great success this year with God of War and other games as well.

    Could you tell me a bit about the process by which you and McCreary developed the score for God of War?

    In a nutshell, Bear McCreary met with the director Cory Barlog and the score producers, Peter xx and myself, about three years ago. Cory presented the story, which was really inspiring and from that moment on we knew it was based in Norse mythology. We knew what sort of instrumentation to do, we know we'd need a choir, we'd need brass and orchestral strings. We were very fortunate to record in London, Iceland and Los Angeles as well. It all worked out fine.


  • 2 Narrative - God of War - Cory Barlog

    Narrative - God of War - Cory Barlog  logo

    Since its launch in April 2018, it feels like creative director Cory Barlog has been on a perpetual lap of honour, discussing how the game was made and the challenges therin. We caught up with the man himself to discuss his win in the Narrative category

    Congratulations. How does it feel to win?

    It's amazing and a little overwhelming. I was not prepared.

    Really? You must have been ready to win something. God of War was down for nine categories. 

    Honestly, we haven't really won narrative awards that much.

    Didn't you win Story and Character back in 2007?

    For God of War 2 - yes! I didn't get to come. I didn't even have a passport at the time and Sony was like: 'Oh, that's fine, we have people out there that can take care of it'. I've always regretted not coming to the BAFTAs that first time that we won. It's exciting. It's an overwhelming experience.

    What do you think God of War winning in the narrative category says about where the industry is right now?

    We started to realise in the first few years of development was that our colleagues in other studios were making these games that are really interesting and challenging stories that are larger games - not just independent ones, which are always reaching, challenging and motivating us, to tell these interesting stories. To see triple-A titles starting to do this and to see people wanting that was exciting. It means that collectively, the desire for the why is there finally. We've always felt that game mechanics are great and an important part of games, but the why, what drives you through these experiences - especially when they're 40-to-80-hours long is super important.

    For a while, the sign of maturity in video games storytelling was how 'cinematic' and film-like a narrative was, but it feels now that developers are starting to embrace what's possible in our medium and throwing off those shackles. Is that something you've noticed?

    We've moved a little bit past the buzzwords, but we still attach them a little bit. You're right, a lot of times people said: 'It's a great narrative because it's so cinematic, it looks like a movie'.

    And it was like 90 minutes of cutscenes with a bit of gameplay on either side.

    Yeah. There are probably great stories inside of those experiences, but we've somewhat become shackled to this idea of in order to be a really interesting story, it has to feel like a movie. Even with the no-cut camera, that was an intentional thing to remove the verbs of film with cuts and say that we're going to do this on our own terms. We can do interactivity, we can do have a single camera shot over 40 hours - they can't really do that in a movie. We're going to embrace the fact that we have this ability to do it.

    The original God of War games were a bit adolescent - a bit 'mature' with lots of violence and so on. Now it feels like it actually has matured. Why did you make that shift with this game?

    We all grew up. The team and I all had more grey hair, we had kids, we look at things differently. We were sort of in our college years when we were making the original God of War - we were trying to thumb our nose at the industry, at Eastern developers who were saying that Western developers couldn't make great action games. We were like: 'Oh yeah? We can totally do that'. It was a fun rivalry challenge. Mature, at the time, meant being contrarian and edgy. It's interesting that, now, mature really is this sense of reflection and curiosity about our mistakes and our failures, and far less about the bravado.


  • 3 Mobile Game - Florence, Mountains

    Mobile Game - Florence, Mountains logo

    We caught up with (from left to right) composer Kevin Penkin, producer Kamina Vincent and creative director Ken Wong just moments after their big win in the mobile category for their debut game, Florence

    How does it feel to win?

    Kamina Vincent: It's incredible. I still can't quite believe that I'm here and holding the mask. This is amazing - especially because there were four of us as part of the core team in Melbourne who made Florence and we're here now at such an event.

    Ken Wong: I feel very pleased because we really didn't know how well Florence was going to do. There's no real precedent for this sort of love story on a mobile device that's like an interactive comic. Almost a year ago we were up for the Apple Design Awards and then we were thinking that maybe we were on to something. At that point, I said to Kam, I'm going to bring you to the BAFTAs. That's what I'm really happy about. I just wanted to come here and celebrate excellence in our field. To come back with an award is the icing of the cake.

    With something like console or PC games, it's readily accepted that you can tell stories. But with mobile titles do have that perception of being simple match-three titles - and Florence proved that you can tell a really fantastic story on these platforms.

    Wong: When people underestimate you, that just challenges you to go above and beyond. Defying expectations is part of what creatives thrive on.

    Kevin Penkin: From the musical point of view, it's nice to do things that are unexpected - it's nice to have that little: 'Ah ha!' moment when people start realising what's going on - you think you're going left but in fact you are going up. It's nice to be able to subvert expectations and have a huge payoff as a result.

    Wong: One of the great things about mobile is that it's a device that you hold in your hands. It feels more intimate - you are touching the screen and acting with the characters directly. You take these devices where you go. In some ways, the intimate nature of the platform itself prompted us - things like how the music was handled. You don't want a huge soaring score; it's about trying to tell something very personal and intimate.

    Penkin: You don't need that many ingredients in the kitchen to make it work - sometimes it's about just having a couple of things on the plate and if you can have them perfectly executed, you can have something that's very intimate but still hits every note you need.


  • 4 EE Mobile Game of the Year - Old School RuneScape, Jagex

    EE Mobile Game of the Year - Old School RuneScape, Jagex  logo

    The EE Mobile Game of the Year category was voted for by the community, so in retrospect, it should come as no surprise that Jagex took the award away for its mobile version of Old School RuneScape. CEO Phil Mansell tells us more 

    So you just won a BAFTA. How does that feel?

    It's mindblowing. We thought had a bit of a chance, but you look at the likes of Roblox, Brawl Stars and Fortnite... I guess that's why it feels so special in that our community have really spoken loud and cut through against these other games.

    Jagex has been nominated for BAFTAs a few times, but this is the first win.

    Yes! And for it to be voted for by the players is very apt for what we're about as a company.

    Also, Jagex has historically been a very PC-centric company. Yet a mobile game is your first BAFTA win.

    We've been beavering away on the mobile version of Old School RuneScape - and we're still working on RuneScape for mobile - for ages. We've been on this path for a while. It's been tough, we've had to learn a huge amount along the way. Our engine wasn't cross-platform two years ago. We were just used to knocking out updates when we wanted to - we were just tuning for PC. To get a game that has at least 20,000 hours of authored content in it working well on mobile, and it's completely interoperable with PC, took a lot of time. We made mistakes, we had to learn along the way. it took longer than we wanted - our players were patient with us, which is good. We know we're not an exclusive mobile developer which has a certain focus and skillset, but we've got a good chunk of that. And cross-play is the topic of the moment - it was all anyone was talking about at GDC, you have games like Fortnite really putting that concept on the map. In five or ten years, that'll be ubiquitous, so the fact we're in that first wave is great. We feel like a proper multiplatform developer now.

    What would you say that Old School RuneScape winning the mobile category here says about where the games industry is right now?

    We've gone through a few years on mobile where the charts have shaken up a bit. You still have the real big beasts in there, but those companies are coming out with new games and doing cool stuff. Mobile is a red ocean. It's hard but for the people with the right ideas, if you can find your audience - even if it's a big niche audience - you can do well. We've had a huge advantage in bringing our playerbase with us and tapping into a big former userbase that doesn't really play PC anymore, but they do on mobile. Those sorts of opportunities are opening up more and more for people.


  • 5 Multiplayer - A Way Out, Josef Fares

    Multiplayer - A Way Out, Josef Fares logo

    The multiplayer category at this year's BAFTA Game Awards featured big triple-A games like Rare's Sea of Thieves and Battlefield V from EA. But it was indie title A Way Out from Hazelight Games - ironically published by EA's Original label - that took the prize on the night. We caught up with the game's writer and director Josef Fares to get his thoughts on why this smaller title won

    Congratulations - how does it feel to win?

    It's good, man, I'm proud. I'm super surprised but you kind of know you're going to win when you sit down in the audience because you get sat and you know it's going to happen. It's good that it was nominated for multiplayer - it should be. It's doing something a bit different. If you look at the category, there are a lot of great games but A Way Out won fairly. The jury has good taste.

    You were against some big names - Sea of Thieves, Mario, Overcooked... why do you think that A Way Out won?

    It's different. It's doing something that hasn't been done before. It's a split screen co-operative experience, it's not something that can be done as single-player then brought to co-op. When you finish A Way Out - I can't really talk about the ending as I don't want to spoil it - the whole essence of the design is created for two players. Without spoiling, that's one of the reasons we won tonight.

    What do you think A Way Out winning the multiplayer BAFTA say about the industry right now?

    It says a lot. In general, the industry pushes innovation all the time. Many people ask the question: 'What do players want to play?'. For me, the question is: 'What do players want to play that they don't know they want to play?' - that's what I like about video games. I know a lot of people are talking about community and this kind of thing - and that's important, don't get me wrong - but we should only listen to the community. We should also believe and trust our feelings of what we want.

    It's the Henry Ford problem.

    Exactly. Of course, you should listen to the audience, but you can't just say: 'The community says x, let's do x'. The community can also change - sometimes they want to play this but then they'


  • 6 Artistic Achievement and Game Design - Return of the Obra Dinn, Lucas Pope

    Artistic Achievement and Game Design - Return of the Obra Dinn, Lucas Pope  logo

    This year was the second time that indie developer Lucas Pope has been on stage collecting awards for his titles. Back in 2014, he took away the Best Simulation Game category but this time around he walked away with not one, but two prizes

    How does it feel to be back at the BAFTAs picking up awards left and right?

    It feels fantastic. The pageantry and the pomp and circumstance is pretty cool to experience. The first time I was pretty shellshocked. This time is still pretty crazy but I can reflect a bit more and enjoy it.

    Beyond the event itself, how does this compare to when you won for Papers Please in 2014?

    Papers Please was the peak of my ability. I like Return of the Obra Dinn a lot, but it definitely feels like a downhill ride from what Papers Please was.

    How do you mean? Is it the difficult second album problem?

    A little bit. Papers Please took nine months; Obra Dinn took four and a half years. If I just think about effort versus result, Papers Please was a home run. Also, I feel that game was a lot more accessible than Obra Dinn. there's a lot about Papers Please that I look back fondly on.

    What do you think Obra Dinn winning these awards at the BAFTAs says about where video games are as an industry right now?

    I think a small game from one person being able to compete with these other huge titles is fantastic. Seeing lots of indie games represented at the BAFTAs is great. I really like that there are ways that players can both make and reach these kinds of games.

    I'm getting the impression from you comparing Papers Please and Obra Dinn that your next project will be something shorter and sweeter next time around.

    Absolutely. But here's the thing - I thought that Obra Dinn would take six months. It was just a huge miscalculation and I don't think I can promise to not make that same mistake again. But I'll try for sure.


  • 7 British Game - Forza Horizon 4, Playground Games

    British Game - Forza Horizon 4, Playground Games logo

    Many would have bet big money that Red Dead Redemption 2 was going to win the British Game category at this year's BAFTA Game Awards. But, in fact, this prize went to Forza Horizon 4 from Leamington Spa-based Playground Games. The studio's creative director Ralph Fulton - wearing an awesome kilt - shares his surprise at winning this award

    Congratulations - how does it feel to win tonight?

    Honestly, we came with zero expectations. The category was so strong. It had this cowboy game that was kind of a big deal last year

    Yeah, I think I remember hearing about that one... 

    We honestly didn't expect to win. And that's not the thing you say at these events - it's the honest truth. We're still a little bit in shock and incredibly proud of the award and the recognition that it represents of the team and the work that they did over the last two and a half years.

    Why do you think Forza Horizon 4 won over the other British games, including That Cowboy Game.

    I could not tell you. The way BAFTA juries work, who knows what happens.

    It's such a lottery.

    Absolutely - I've been on BAFTA juries before and know the kind of conversations that rage in that room. They were all great games, that's the thing. An incredibly diverse range of games, too, but all characterised by high quality. It just makes it incredible that we won.

    It's been a big year for Playground in general. Not only has Forza Horizon 4 done well for itself, but the studio was also bought by Microsoft. I bet [Xbox chief] Phil Spencer was watching in Redmond, very happy with how he's spent his money.

    I hope so, yes. Awards are lovely. But the most important thing for us and everyone at Microsoft - all the way up to Phil - is the response that the game has had from our community and Xbox fans since it launched. Millions and millions of people play the game every single month and we're continuing to support it. We're doing really cool and interesting things with the game. It has a long path ahead of it in terms of our team supporting it and our fans as well.

    What do you think Forza Horizon 4 winning this category says about the state of the games industry right now?

    I don't think us winning this category necessarily is an indication of anything other than we made a really good game and it got recognised and we are super proud of that.


  • 8 Game Beyond Entertainment - My Child Lebensborn

    Game Beyond Entertainment - My Child Lebensborn logo

    The Game Beyond Entertainment category celebrates titles that have more to offer than amazing gameplay, graphics and so on. This year, My Child Lebensborn, which details the plight of children born as part of the Nazi Lebensborn initiative, took away the prize for this category. the CEO of developer Sarepa Studio Catharina Bøhler (right) and publisher Teknopilot's boss Elin Festøy (far right) tell us what this win means

    How does it feel to win tonight?

    Elin Festøy: It's unbelievable. It's really surreal. The fantastic games that were also nominated for this category; we're a small indie team form Norway that has been working for four years on something even we didn't know was possible to do. It's been such a journey.

    Catharina Bøhler: Yeah, it's been surreal. Just going up on stage and giving the speech... I don't think I've actually landed yet.

    Are you expecting to wake up at any second?

    Bøhler: Maybe I will during dinner. I'll suddenly go: 'Oh my GOD!'

    Why do you think My Child Lebensborn won in this category?

    Festøy: One thing at the core of the game is that you as the player are there to help a child. You are a force of good. Since everything is based on a true story and it's checked with the Lebensborn children so that it is representative, nothing is blown up or out of proportion. It's just the subtleties; you can really recognise that these are things that have happened.

    So it's that sense of authenticity?

    Bøhler: Yeah, and also the game is used actively to try and change the world. We give a portion of the revenue we make from this to children born of war and we are working with the Lebensborn children to try to tell their story. I think the connection with real-life problems, and the fact that it's not that long ago since Denmark said made the children of ISIS born of Danish women homeless. It's a very relevant game.

    Festøy: That really shocked us. When we started this project, there was no discussion of children born of war. Then we launched this and suddenly it's a topic in the mainstream media. It's so scary. The way that some people are talking is just like what was said in Norway in 1945 - that these children will grow up to be enemies among us. Now we have children in their 70s and can tell what it feels like to be that small, defenceless child in all of this. No-one sees you because all the discussion is about big politics.

    Bøhler: And of course, it's a game that really touches most of the people who play it. We managed to make people cry and really care. That's important for this topic.

    What do you think My Child Lebensborn winning says about the current state of the industry?

    Bøhler: It gets a lot of good attention towards how important games are and the power that they have. People have a problem with taking games seriously, but I think us getting this type of award shows people that there is more to this.

    Festøy: There's so much media around us. We are consuming so much and it makes us numb, so it's harder to feel for things. You see these headlines and they have stopped meaning anything. You need interactivity to really feel like you are part of it and to understand with your emotions rather than your logic. It's very important that documentary content gets more attention in the games industry. It just works; interactivity works.


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Editor - PC Games Insider

Alex Calvin launched PCGamesInsider.biz in August 2017 and has been its editor since. Prior to this, he was deputy editor at UK based games trade paper MCV and content editor for marketing and events for London Games Festival 2017. His work has also appeared in Eurogamer, The Observer, Kotaku UK, Esquire UK and Develop.

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