Heading in our third year of the festival, we’ve collected a lot of feedback over the past two years and to keep more in line with Play by Play’s atmosphere and aims, we’re pleased to announce that we’re overhauling the Play by Play Awards. “Why?“, we hear you lament. We’re happy to explain!

The Play by Play Awards were created so that we could have honours within our own country to celebrate our local talent (and also recognise neat development happening across the Tasman). However, Play by Play as a festival is light-hearted, laid back and appreciates the odd – we found that, over the past two years, there was not only a lot of overlap between award categories, but the categories could also be interpreted very arbitrarily while being judged. What is ‘best’ design and ‘best’ art, for instance, felt a little too hollow for us to continue with, and things like the Tabletop Award seemed very ‘token’. So, after much consultation with the directors and our new judging coordinator, we’ve created a new line-up of awards to cover all game formats which are based on outcomes rather than ‘best’ judgments (taking inspiration from awards from great festivals like A MAZE) and a little more tonally in line with the festival.

Keen to hear more about the new awards? Here’s a list – please note some of the titles may be subject to change before the 2018 festival, but not the criteria:

That Game That We Couldn’t Put Down
The game that had a solid game loop that kept us addicted and engaged from start to finish. It may also have impacted our daily productivity.

That World We Didn’t Want To Leave
The game that pulled us into a world or story which captured our imaginations, and stayed with us long after we had to get back to reality.

That Tall Glass of Juice
The game that exudes juicy feedback and polish on multiple levels. Clacky sounds, juicy UI feedback, camera shake, and effects, this is interaction design and player feedback at peak.

That Audiovisual Smörgåsbord
The game that exudes vibrancy in visual or audio form. We were left in a pleasant audiovisual coma at the end of it.

That Game That Entranced
That game that had us in a meditative zen like state, or kept us engaged with an innate beat and tempo. This award is for the game that had us hypnotically held in a new state of mind.

That Game With The Message
The game that makes an impact and has a message for us all, be it a game that touches on diversity, humanitarian stories, or politics.

That… What Even Is That
The award for games that display innovation, thinking outside the box or just well-thought-out weirdness. Could be peripherals, mechanics, thematic packaging – anything odd or new!

That Game Like Clockwork
The game that was pretty on the inside. Constructed with elegant mechanics, these feed into and build off each other to create depth in the design of the game.

That Game The Jury Liked
The award for jury’s choice. This game is something that stood out to the judging panel for a number of reasons!

That Game From Across The Ditch
The award that goes to the standout title from Australia. This is the only award that Australian-made games are eligible for.


We’ve also included two new awards – Te Maunga Kai Kapua (Teina) and Te Maunga Kai Kapua (Tuakana) – which will recognise professionals within our industry.


Te Maunga Kai Kapua (Teina)
The award for a rising star in the New Zealand game industry. This person has already made a mark early in their career, and their continuing work will sprout new life and opportunities in the local scene.

Te Maunga Kai Kapua (Tuakana)
This award goes to a stalwart industry pillar in the New Zealand community who has raised the profile and helped build the national industry into what it is today.

As a final note, kia ora and thank you to Te Waata, Eric-Rangi Hillman and the Te Whanau a Apanui iwi for their consultation and insight into the naming of our two individual awards. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them on this post, contact us on Twitter or shoot us an email from our contact page!

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