The 12th Annual New York Video Game Awards Made Everyone Winners

The New York Game Awards was hosted on January 17th, 2023

Last night was the 12th annual New York Video Game Awards, hosted by the New York Videogame Critics Circle. Thanks to our friends over at the VGXL Podcast for inviting us to attend the event ourselves! Be sure to check them out via their YouTube channel where they host episodes related to all things gaming! This segues into what I felt was the central theme of the New York Video Game Awards as well as being a content creator in New York — Building a community. 

I learned more than anything in the years I’ve been writing that this begins by starting from zero. In the anime Blue Lock, the various football teams are given a task to solve a riddle. The puzzle is that everything that becomes great ultimately “begins from zero” and it was revealed that all it takes is one foundation, one seed, to promote an entire team of growth.

Everyone who was present on stage had to begin from “zero” in order to become who they were – even the attendees in the audience like myself. As I see various faces and names I recognize from other ventures and chance encounters, I also realize — It’s a very small world in the New York City creative scene. Most importantly, it was a sense of community that helped 1 UP Infinite grow into what it has become in such a short time.

Credit: Video Game Amateurs

Before that, I’d like to talk about the venue. Although the SVA Theatre is relatively small, the energy was massive with merely standing in the same room as several prominent figures in the industry. Being mere meters away from Reggie Fils-Aimé, Phil Spencer, and many others would be enough to make anyone nervous. For me, it was more like hubris. 

Before 1 UP, I had my first gig writing freelance during the lockdown era and one of my first articles was about the 2021 New York Video Game Awards. Two years later, I would attend the event in person, as a much different person. My heart was beating because it finally hit me. From all of the articles I’ve written here, to the events I’ve covered, and the people I have met, I’ve grown a lot since two years ago. Many people who would join the stage would also have grown a lot since the pandemic shut down in New York.

During that time, Broadway and most other theaters were shut down, forcing many creatives to find unique ways to thrive. This affected video game content from a development and a media standpoint when working from home was the default method. As a part of the latter, it gave me more time to build myself not only as a writer but doing things to supplement it. Learning skills, increasing my creativity, and reaching out to others were core elements in ensuring that I would use the pandemic to build myself up.

Phil Spencer received the Andrew Yeon Memorial Legend Award as the guest of honor.

No one person is an island and that’s the premise of the New York Videogame Critics Circle. Founded by Harold Goldberg, the Circle was founded as a way not only to unite video game writers but to help struggling students. The Bronx is one of the most notorious boroughs in the city but like most areas of that nature, there are plentiful diamonds in the rough. In 2023 and within the past several years, there have been students who have expressed interest in careers in gaming, but also as writers.

Gaming journalism has always been a field that I have had a passion for since I was once a high school student myself. Back then, there weren’t as many support programs to encourage teenagers like myself to pursue their passion. You were lucky to find a mentor in a field relative to yours and learn a thing or two from them. Having something like the New York Videogame Critics Circle would have been a huge boon to me during the late 2000s. Gaming was receiving a surge in popularity, but it was still something that most who weren’t either in the industry or fans of video games deemed as “a waste of time” or a “nerdy niche thing.”

The year 2020 was an eye-opening one for many, as for the first time in years, video games were at the forefront of mainstream entertainment. Just like in the nominees in the article I’ve written, games like Hades and Animal Crossing New Horizons were two of many examples of the beautiful sides of gaming. One adheres to bettering yourself as a person, advancing a little bit past the rough spots at a time. The other allowed connecting via friends a possibility without the looming threat of urgency. Both offered different ideas of relaxation, but for others, it was much more. It was a chance to finish that one project, a chance to work on new ventures and take risks that’d pay off in dividends.

Shouts out to Mega Ran for the vocals as well.

One highlight of the show was the reveal of Treachery in Beatdown City: The Ultra Remix, which makes its Xbox debut in April. One of the developers, Shawn Alexander Allen, went to the stage to discuss more about the game. Rocking the Supreme Tekken King sweater, their fit was equally as impressive as the visuals and aesthetics of Treachery in Beatdown City, but they also discussed the hardships leading up to its development. Deaths and births in the family combined made it a rough journey, but it was one of several motivations to make its March 2020 release date a reality. 

Aside from wanting that sweater because I missed the Supreme drop, I was mesmerized by the story as I also experienced the loss of my mom a year ago, as many readers know. Personally, it was the motivation for me to go full throttle on my dreams and turn them into reality. as I “wanted to make her proud.” The point is that while we’re still in this pandemic, now more than ever, young creatives are aspiring to do their best while using the hardships to keep going.

Several of the students who were living in dire situations had turned to video games and mentors to lead the way. Having the assurance that you’re not alone and you have a team, a village, and a community, that has your back is one of the best foundations to have. This was when I realized the central theme that everything I’d seen at the event had in common — Grassroots. It’s a word I’ve repeated several times in many articles and it always brings me joy when I see it used properly.

8-Bit Adventures 2 was another title announced, which also looks like a fun RPG to check out.

When I was asked at the end of the awards show how I felt about it, I mentioned I loved the sense of “community.” The premise of the New York Videogame Critics Circle and the success of the New York Video Game Awards are the results of grassroots. When I saw the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Anne Del Castillo, name drop Chinatown Fair, I understood that video games and arts weren’t far apart. It’s one and the same and New York City’s acknowledgment of “Video games as an art” is important. Aside from the obvious, like funding, it helps when programs and events like this help shine a positive light on the city I was born and raised in.

A few weeks ago I asked myself – “Why do I write?” Being there reminded me of what got me into this, to begin with. Seeing a new generation of writers and people interested in the industry, knowing that at one point I was just like them. It was great to experience how far the industry as a whole had come and how much of a spotlight New York City has been in building future generations. 

I’ve been building toward a career in game journalism for the past two years and it’s one thing I’ve learned. You’re never too old to start anything and it’s always great to pay it forward to others and build something beautiful together. Thank you once again to Harold Goldberg, Reggie Fils-Aimé, the New York Videogame Critics Circle, the city council of New York City, and many others for giving back to the community. I sincerely mean it. 

Here were the nominees and the winners in each of the respective categories that night. Winners are highlighted in bold, beginning with the winner for the Game of the Year. One thing I always found intriguing about the titles is how New York they all are. Beginning with the Big Apple Award. Needing no introduction, as the Big Apple obviously refers to the name for New York City and it’s the grandest award of them all.

Credit: @NYVGCC

Big Apple Award for Best Game of the Year

In this award category, “Off Broadway” refers to performances that may not be The Lion King’s and the Hamilton, but are still the backbone of any theater performance. Such is the same for indie games — These are titles that are the cornerstone of the industry and it’s these games that should be equally celebrated.

Off Broadway Award for Best Indie Game

  • Immortality
  • Neon White
  • Return to Monkey Island
  • Trombone Champ
  • Vampire Survivors
  • Wordle
  • Wylde Flowers 

Herman Melville was an author born and raised in New York, best known for Moby Dick. It seems appropriate that he was the name for “Best Writing.” Engaging an audience with lore and storytelling is just as important as the gameplay itself.

Herman Melville Award for Best Writing in a Game

  • As Dusk Falls
  • Elden Ring
  • God of War Ragnarök
  • Immortality
  • Norco
  • Return to Monkey Island
  • Roadwarden

The Statue of Liberty is the most iconic landmark in New York City, much less in the world, which coincidentally is the title for “Best World.” Like Lady Liberty, these game worlds had a lasting effect on the player and are easily identifiable for their landmarks. 

Statue of Liberty Award for Best World

Tin Pan Alley was based on a real location on West 28th Street, coincidentally a few blocks away from where the New York Game Awards were held. It would ultimately become known as a dominant force in music, much like the nominees for this award. If any melodies from a game moved a player, it was deserving of an award named after this location.

Tin Pan Alley Award for Best Music in a Game

What is known today as Broadway was once called the “Great White Way,” making it a perfect association with “Best Acting in a Game.” Offering a compelling performance with one’s voice, alongside great writing, had been some of the best foundations for a memorable gaming experience.

Great White Way Award for Best Acting in a Game

  • Alex Jarrett as Zoe Walker in As Dusk Falls
  • Ashly Burch as Aloy in Horizon Forbidden West
  • Christopher Judge as Kratos in God of War Ragnarök
  • Grace Zabriskie as Eliza Vorez in The Quarry
  • Justice Smith as Ryan Erzahler in The Quarry
  • Manon Gage as Marissa Marcel in Immortality

Dreamland was the name of an amusement park in Coney Island in the early 1900s. While I could go on about the history of Dreamland and the amusement park business n the Brooklyn neighborhood, amusement parks in general tap into the sensories of their attendees. AR and VR titles do much of the same, complete with a headset and its clever functionality.

Coney Island Dreamland Award for Best AR/VR Game

  • Lost Recipes
  • Moss: Book II
  • The Last Clockwinder

Central Park Children’s Zoo, like many zoos across all five boroughs, are classic staples of school trips across many decades. These were the games that offered the same amount of thought-provking fun meant to give children a way to enjoy video games the best way possible.

Central Park Children’s Zoo Award for Best Kids Game

The iron horse is one of the most reliable methods of transporting thousands of passengers each day throughout New York City. With the possibility of playing console-sized games through the palm of your phone, these are the games you may be interested in playing on the A-Train on your way through work. Or while grumbling due to another delay on the MTA.

A-Train Award for Best Mobile Game

  • Desta: The Memories Between
  • Marvel Snap
  • Poinpy
  • Railbound
  • Wylde Flowers

The Freedom Tower was built with the intention of a New York City rebirth. The remakes in this category were developed with the intention of rebirth for many generations of gamers. Whether they are remakes of classics or modern titles, the games here capture the spirit of their origins.

Freedom Tower Award for Best Remake

  • Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration
  • Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – Reunion
  • Life is Strange Remastered Collection
  • Live A Live
  • The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe

Joe DiMaggio, or “Joltin’ Joe,” was one of the premier players of the New York Yankees in the 1900s. His legacy lives on much like the eSports player of the year as competitive gaming is as much of a sport as New York baseball.

Joltin’ Joe Award for Best Esports Player of the Year

  • Arslan “Arslan Ash” Siddique (FATE Esports/Red Bull Esports) – Tekken 7
  • Bryan “pANcada” Luna (Sentinels, formerly with LOUD) – Valorant
  • Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu (DWG KIA) – League of Legends
  • Masaya “aMSa” Chikamoto (VGBootCamp/Red Bull Esports) – Super Smash Bros. Melee
  • Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev (Natus Vincere) – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • Yoo “smurf” Myeong-hwan (Boston Uprising) – Overwatch

Chumley’s was a speakeasy pub in Greenwich Village, one of many that provided entertainment behind the scenes from the public eye. These hidden gems are titles that are cherished and have become ‘cult classics’ in the same way. While players don’t have to worry about the woes of speakeasies in the past, they can still enjoy games that are underrated yet cherished.

Chumley’s Speakeasy Award for Best Hidden Gem

  • A Memoir Blue
  • Norco
  • Patrick’s Parabox
  • Perfect Tides
  • Strange Horticulture
  • The Case of the Golden Idol
  • Wayward Strand

Best known for its appearance in Metal Gear Solid 2, the George Washington Bridge connects New York and New Jersey, extending to a location outside of the metropolitan area. In the same way, DLC extends a game outside of its current boundaries into other areas that enhance the experience. New Jersey is New York's DLC, I'll just come out and say it.

NYC GWB Award for Best DLC

  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök
  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Tombs of the Fallen Pt. 2
  • Bugsnax: The Isle of BIGsnax
  • Destiny 2: The Witch Queen
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator: Top Gun Maverick DLC
  • Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak

Leave a Reply