'Walking Dead' takes 4 prizes as downloadable games win top awards

The best videogames of 2012 weren’t found on store shelves, but they could be downloaded.

Thatgamecompany’s “Journey” was the big winner at the 16th annual D.I.C.E. Awards, capturing eight awards, including Game of the Year, Outstanding Innovation in Gaming, and Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction. “The Walking Dead,” an episodic downloadable game based on the Robert Kirkman comic, captured four awards, including Adventure Game of the Year and Downloadable Game of the Year for Telltale Games.

The award show, considered the Oscars of the videogames biz, wrapped up the 2012 D.I.C.E. Awards, which Variety co-sponsored.

“For the past 16 years, the D.I.C.E. Awards have brought together the brightest and most creative minds in games to celebrate outstanding achievement in interactive entertainment. This year is no exception,” said Martin Rae, president, Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.

The show, hosted by comedian and Nerdist host Chris Hardwick, featured many familiar names, with some of the year’s biggest names capturing kudos.

Gearbox Software’s “Borderlands 2,” which publisher Take-Two recently singled out as “an important long-term franchise” for the company, won action game of the year, besting Microsoft’s “Halo 4″ and Ubisoft’s “Far Cry 3.” “Xcom: Enemy Unknown” (another Take-Two published game) won the year’s best strategy/simulation title.

Both “Journey” and “The Walking Dead” paved new ground in the gaming world this year, eschewing the usual path of action or platform jumping.

“Journey,” released exclusively for Sony’s PlayStation 3, is a game in which players escort a robed figure through a vast desert, attempting to reach a mountain in the distance. The game, which was meant to give players a sense of wonder and smallness, let people play together, but did not let them communicate. (The game’s soundtrack is also a 2013 Grammy nominee for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.)

“The Walking Dead” de-emphasizes killing zombies and explores the emotional connections of players in a desperate environment, forcing players to make hard choices in a short time — like which character should be saved or who in their band of survivors must go hungry when food is scarce.

The ceremony also saw Gabe Newell, president and co-founder of Valve Corporation, inducted into the AIAS Hall of Fame. Infocom co-founders Dave Lebling and Marc Blank received the 2013 AIAS Pioneer Award.

The complete list of D.I.C.E. Award winners:

Action Game of the Year: “Borderlands 2″ (Publisher: 2K Games, Developer: Gearbox Software)

Mobile Game of the Year: “Hero Academy” (Publisher/Developer: Robot Entertainment)

Handheld Game of the Year: “Paper Mario Sticker Star” (Publisher: Nintendo of America, Inc., Developer: Intelligent Systems)

Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition: “Journey” (Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America, Developer: thatgamecompany)

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design: “Journey” (Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America, Developer: thatgamecompany)

Outstanding Achievement in Story: “The Walking Dead” (Publisher/Developer: Telltale Games)

Outstanding Character Performance: “The Walking Dead’s” Lee Everett (Publisher/Developer: Telltale Games)

Downloadable Game of the Year: “The Walking Dead” (Publisher/Developer: Telltale Games)

Casual Game of the Year: “Journey” (Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America, Developer: thatgamecompany)

Web Based Game of the Year:SimCity Social” (Publisher: Electronic Arts, Developer: Maxis, Playfish)

Family Game of the Year: “Skylanders Giants” (Publisher: Activision, Developer: Toys for Bob)

Role-Playing/Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year:Mass Effect 3″ (Publisher: Electronic Arts, Developer: Bioware)

Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year: “XCOM: Enemy Unknown” (Publisher: 2K Games, Developer: Firaxis Games)

Outstanding Innovation in Gaming: “Journey” (Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America, Developer: thatgamecompany)

Sports Game of the Year: “FIFA Soccer 13″ (Publisher: Electronic Arts, Developer: EA Canada)

Racing Game of the Year: “Need for Speed: Most Wanted” (Publisher: Electronic Arts, Developer: Criterion Games)

Fighting Game of the Year: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale” (Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America, Developer: SuperBot Entertainment, Inc.)

Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay: “Journey” (Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America, Developer: thatgamecompany)

Outstanding Achievement in Connectivity: “Halo 4″ (Publisher: Microsoft Studios, Developer: 343 Industries)

Outstanding Achievement in Animation: “Assassin’s Creed III” (Publisher/Developer: Ubisoft)

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction: “Journey” (Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America, Developer: thatgamecompany)

Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering: “Halo 4″ (Publisher: Microsoft Studios, Developer: 343 Industries)

Outstanding Achievement in Gameplay Engineering: “XCOM: Enemy Unknown” (Publisher: 2K Games, Developer: Firaxis Games)

Adventure Game of the Year: “The Walking Dead” (Publisher/Developer: Telltale Games)

Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction: “Journey” (Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America, Developer: thatgamecompany)

Game of the Year: “Journey” (Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America, Developer: thatgamecompany)

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