The Canadian Game Development Talent Awards announced Thursday the finalists for its inaugural ceremony, set to be held November 2nd in Montreal. The gala event will conclude the Montreal International Game Summit (MIGS), a popular conference attended by game makers from across the globe.
The event is designed to celebrate excellence in the Canadian game industry. Not surprisingly, many of the games named in the nominations are similar to those that were featured in a similar event, the Canadian Videogame Awards, held in May, and include major titles like Mass Effect 2 and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood as well as smaller productions such as Shank and Trainyard.
However the Montreal event, which is run by Alliance Numérique, an association that supports Quebec's game industry and hosts the MIGS, distinguishes itself in at least a couple of ways.
While most awards shows qualify contenders based on their year of release, the Canadian Game Development Talent Awards is considering games released between January 2010 and August 2011. This is at least partially due to MIGS' being held during the fall rather than the spring. I suspect future iterations of the event will continue to consider games released in two calendar years, but that they will be restricted to the 12 months immediately preceding the ceremony.
More importantly, the event is focused not on games but rather the people who make them. Its categories – which include Animator of the Year, Designer of the Year, Programmer of the Year, Emerging Talent, Audio Professional of the Year, Producer of the Year, and Visual Artist of the Year – are designed to call out specific game makers. This is likely an attempt to recognize specific professionals in game design the same way other awards ceremonies tend to honour their counterparts in the film, music, and television industries.
Whether centring the awards on specific personalities with which the vast majority of gamers are unfamiliar will make the event and its results more or less interesting to onlookers who aren't involved in the game industry is up for speculation. However, if events like this one grow in popularity, fans may eventually come to know more of the gaming world's best talents the same way they do the movie industry's most famous directors, writers, composers, and producers. That's not a bad thing.
The complete list of Canadian Game Talent Awards nominees is posted below.
Animator of the Year
Aaron Bouthillier ( Shank)
Cristinel Bostan ( Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood)
Matt Hammill ( Gesundheit! for iOS)
Roxy Liao ( Fight Night Champion)
Yvan Deschamps ( A Space Shooter for Two Bucks)
Designer of the Year
Jean-Francois Dugas ( Deus Ex: Human Revolution)
Kris Piotrowski ( Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP)
Mary DeMarle ( Deus Ex: Human Revolution)
Matt Rix ( Trainyard)
Preston Watamaniuk ( Mass Effect 2)
Programmer of the Year
Chris Thiffault ( Undergarden)
Frédérick Blais ( Michael Jackson The Experience)
James Hall ( Dead Rising 2)
Jean-Philippe Auclair ( Molehill for Flash 11)
Stéphane Girard ( Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood)
Alexandre Fiset ( Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions)
Annie Dickerson ( Blokhead)
Gerald Orban ( Skate 3)
Jared Thomson ( Jetpack)
Richard Flanagan ( Fract)
Audio Professional of the Year
Fabien Noel ( Splinter Cell: Conviction)
Mathieu Jeanson ( Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood)
Michael McCann ( Deus Ex: Human Revolution)
Simon Ashby (Wwise - WaveWorks Interactive Sound Engine)
Steve Szczepkowski ( Deus Ex: Human Revolution)
Producer of the Year
Casey Hudson ( Mass Effect 2)
David Anfossi ( Deus Ex: Human Revolution)
Marie-Jo Leroux ( Driver: San Francisco)
Mark Darrah ( Dragon Age 2)
Vincent Pontbriand ( Assassin's Creed : Brotherhood)
Visual Artist of the Year
Craig Adams ( Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP)
Derek Watts ( Mass Effect 2)
Jeff Agala ( Shank)
Jonathan-Jacques Belletête ( Deus Ex: Human Revolution)
Kun Chang ( Osmos)