Video Game 'Hades' Makes History As First Video Game To Win A Hugo Award

from the games-are-art dept

While arguing that video games are a form of art and should be respected as such has been a personal drum I’ve enjoyed beating for a decade, it’s worth acknowledging just how far the public has come in its acceptance. While I spent a great deal of time ten years ago trying to get people, especially older folks, to see the light on this topic, the idea that video games are an artform has become far less controversial. As more people experience games, they’ve come to recognize better that games exhibit all the traditional hallmarks of an artform: creativity, political and ideological expression, efforts at preservation, and fights over expression in the courthouse.

But, of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone is convinced. So every once in a while comes a news story that gives me the opportunity to pull the old drum and sticks out and get back to playing persuasive percussion. Today that story is that a little bit of history was made by indie video game Hades, which has become the first game ever to win a Hugo Award.

The Hugo Awards are an annual literary award given to various sci-fi and fantasy works at the World Science Fiction Convention every year. Normally, video games aren’t nominated for the award, however, this year a new category was introduced for video games. This follows years of conversations among the governing members behind the prestigious and long-running Hugo Awards. The new category is only, at least for now, a one-off thing, but it could continue in the future.

Yesterday, Hades made history by becoming the first video game to ever win a Hugo Award.

Now, the Hugo Awards have a recent history filled with expanding categories like this to reflect the changing artistic landscape. Categories have been added for “best fancast”, for instance. But that’s how it should be. The artistic landscape is constantly changing and with it should industry recognition. Writing a script for a video game is certainly not the same as writing one for a screenplay, or writing dialogue for a novel. But it’s close enough that prestigious awards for quality writing in artistic content probably should have kept up with the times a long time ago. A game with a storyline and writing built on Greek myths was probably the perfect introduction for a writing award such as this.

But I would also argue that you’re going to start seeing more bleed-over and crossover in the awards space. Or, rather, that we should see that. For example, MTV’s Music Awards has a category for best video game soundtrack, but the Grammy Awards does not. There are categories for film soundtracks, but not video games. And if someone wants to point me to why John Williams should pile up all those Grammys for his work in film and television but not for the work he did years back as a composer and producer of video game soundtracks, well, good luck because that doesn’t make much sense to me.

Again, we’re on the tail end of the era in which games aren’t accepted as a true artform. The last of the old breed is dying off, or has been convinced, or is becoming a silent minority. But seeing the recognition so deserved for artistic games like Hades is still worth noting.

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Comments on “Video Game 'Hades' Makes History As First Video Game To Win A Hugo Award”

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Anonymous Coward says:

One might even hope recognition of work in the gaming field might result in better work in general. So many games have narratives, backstory, or what have you which utterly fall apart at the slightest prodding. Very likely reason is due to the fact that large games change radically from inception to completion (is actual completion for release even a thing anymore?), and no one addresses continuity error which creep in. Sometimes, though, it seems like hey this is a cool game concept, then someone decides to slapdash paint a story over it unnecessarily at the last minute.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Wyrm (profile) says:


So many games have narratives, backstory, or what have you which utterly fall apart at the slightest prodding.

Because this doesn’t exist in other formats?

Books, movies… They often have plot holes. Sometimes it’s so huge you could drive an alien mothership through them. Sometimes it’s in the details. Nowadays in particular, movies are "great" as long as they are visually impressive. To paraphrase one of the most cynical movie commenter I know, you miss one special effect and the whole internet is after your blood; your story doesn’t make sense and nobody notices.

(Here is a link to that website, but I’ll warn you first: it’s french, both in language and tone.
Note that his specialty is to point out the inconsistencies. He has other subjects, such as interesting war anecdotes, but I linked straight to his movie spoiler section. Also… spoiler warning: the whole section is about spoilers. 😀 )

You see, games are not unique in that their narrative can fail. It’s simply because the authors, regardless of the art form, are human. Imperfect. And so are their creations.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, games are not unique in this, but i think they have some failings which are unique to games, given the way they are produced.

My point is rather that perhaps game houses, given an award to go after, will allow the people actually working on the games to do a better job with story at least. Or, you know, skip the story if it wasn’t necessary and didn’t exist until the last minute.

Movies… peh. No comment.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"i think they have some failings which are unique to games, given the way they are produced"

There are some failings that are unique to games given the way they’re constructed, for example by having to make concessions for the immersion of a character, or by bolstering a central 15 hour campaign with 100+ hours of side quests and multiplayer activity rather than sticking to a linear plot throughout, especially if that content has to be patched to fix bugs or rebalance character types.

But, I don’t think there’s anything unique to games in terms of changing from conception to final product as you said – every media suffers from that, and especially once the product moves from a single book/movies/season to a wide expanding universe. Every narrative medium suffers from the same problems, not least because for some reason if you’re not writing a novel the writers tend to be treated as disposable accessories (and books have their own issues, be they deadline or editor/publisher related).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

ok, fuck me for saying anything here i guess.

No one claimed games aren’t art, or aren’t good, or that there’s a fucking celestial art committee. i get it, games are exactly the same as every other medium, there are no differences. Except when there are differences, it is because of some reasons.

i rather have the feeling y’all are choosing to read some shit into my comment that isn’t there. Ffs. Sorry i hit a nerve.

Wyrm (profile) says:

Depending on the genre, games have visual art (both static and animated), music, narrative…
It’s not only art, it’s a combination of multiple previous art forms with the addition of interaction. (Interaction has featured in some art as previously defined, but it’s basically central to the game format.)
It’s high time they get the same recognition as other art forms.
But resistance to change is the heart of most existing awards, so it will take time to be fully integrated.

Anonymous Coward says:

It took years for tech to advance from Nes to realistic 3d characters who look like real people and move in a realistic manner Some aaa games have better cgi and special effects than the average Sci fí action film Games can afford to employ skilled writers and voice actors games are constantly evolving in terms of Ai , graphics effects, realistic lighting, The story’s and scripts are becoming more complex it takes as much skill to write and compose a music score for a videogame as it does for a movie the music had to be designed to change as the player progress, s thru the story without being monotonous
As the quality of games scripting improve they will begin to get more respect and awards as happened to TV shows that is to be expected
There may be some resistance from old media that have to keep up with games time demands on consumers
Every one has limited time to consume media

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