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GDC 2009: G.A.N.G. Awards, the “wow, it’s bright up here.” drinking game.

March 31, 2009 | | 7 Comments Share thison Facebook GDC 2009: G.A.N.G. Awards, the “wow, it’s bright up here.” drinking game.on Twitter

Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.) held it’s annual awards show this past week at the 2009 Game Developers Conference in San Fransisco, CA. This would mark the guild’s 7th award show since it’s inception, and as in previous years, featured a number of performances, speeches and a bar–albeit not an open bar as I had hoped. On the topic of alcohol though, the show could make for an interesting drinking game should anyone go back and try to watch recordings of it.

Find out what I mean and check out the winners after the jump.

The show itself was definitely eventful and while only a handful of nominees received the rewards in their respective categories, each nominee certainly deserved some sort of recognition. This year, they expanded the awards to include voice acting, which I suppose is good considering voice acting has become far more prominent in the last decade. With categories such as Best Original Soundtrack Album however, you end up wondering why arranged soundtracks still aren’t recognized. To some extent, I could understand that arranged soundtracks are not all that common here in the west. That said, it’d be easy to argue that game music arrangement is a definite art which takes place not only in Japan or Korea, but in the actual process of scoring here in the states. Then, of course, there are concerts such as Video Games Live that provide us with arrangements of classical music as well.

Awards were also given to certain sponsors of the guild, which I can only assume means they were the most generous of numerous sponsors who provide support for the guild. An award for Lifetime Achievement was given to Bob Rice who–for those of us who may not know–provides representation to a number of composers, many of which have gone on to successful careers in the industry. He’s also known for giving unusually long speeches, but thankfully Tommy Tallarico managed to keep the winner a secret, forcing Bob to come up with a speech on the fly. Still, Bob gave a rather long, but heart filled speech for a standing ovation. Another surprise was Sony’s safari simulation AFRIKA and it’s composer Wataru Hokoyama, who went on to collect three awards, including Music of the Year, Best Song Instrumental, and Rookie of the Year.

The show itself had a number of snafus that are barely worth mentioning, unless of course you were playing the drinking game, in which case you may have wanted to note the number of times someone took the stage only to remark “It’s bright up here.” Needless to say, you’d be wasted halfway through the show. There were also some technical difficulties, where sound would cut out or the video would reset. That said, even Konami had issues during their keynote presentation, so we can’t really judge them for that and, all things considered, the show went well.

Among the higher points of the night was the amazing sax and electric koto performances by Norihiko Hibino, who had been giving a panel at the conference days before. He performed a classic game music medley, featuring a number of games including Sonic, Final Fantasy, and the Tommy Tallarico classic, Color a Dinosaur, a title that may be considered by some to be the best Nintendo soundtrack ever made. He later took the stage once more to perform a selection from the upcoming Xbox 360 title Ninja Blade, and even snuck in a little “Snake Eater” from Metal Gear Solid 3. The final performance of the night was given by Planet Skill, whom I happen to be rather fond of. Unfortunately it wasn’t his best performance, and Skill noted as much in a conversation I had with him after the show. Despite the minor issues, it was still wonderful evening. A full list of the winners is included below.

AUDIO OF THE YEAR
Dead Space

MUSIC OF THE YEAR
Afrika

SOUND DESIGN OF THE YEAR
Dead Space

BEST CINEMATIC/CUT-SCENE AUDIO (TIE)
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
Gears of War 2

BEST USE OF MULTI-CHANNEL SURROUND IN A GAME
Left 4 Dead

BEST ORIGINAL VOCAL SONG – CHORAL
“Main Title” – World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

BEST ORIGINAL VOCAL SONG – POP
“Still Alive” – Mirror’s Edge

BEST ORIGINAL INSTRUMENTAL (TIE)
“The Garden” – LittleBigPlanet
“Main Theme” – Afrika

BEST ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK ALBUM
Video Games Live: Volume One

BEST DIALOGUE
Grand Theft Auto IV

BEST USE OF LICENSED MUSIC
Rock Band 2

BEST HANDHELD AUDIO
God of War: Chains of Olympus

BEST INTERACTIVE SCORE
LittleBigPlanet

BEST GAME AUDIO ARTICLE, PUBLICATION OR BROADCAST
“The Complete Guide to Game Audio” 2nd Edition – Aaron Marks

BEST AUDIO – OTHER
Watchman Motion Comic

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Wataru Hokoyama (Afrika, Resident Evil 5)

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Bob Rice

G.A.N.G. DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARDS
Richard Jacques
Tom Salta
Stephen Years

G.A.N.G. RECOGNITION AWARDS
Jim Charne
John Broomhall

STUDENT/APPRENTICE COMPETITION WINNERS
MUSIC – Tom Graczkowski
SOUND DESIGN – Benoit Babin

DIAMOND SPONSORS
5 Rockets, Inc.
AFM (American Federation of Musicians)
Sumthin Else Musicworks

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