South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference and Festivals has announced the nominees for the eighth annual SXSW Gaming Awards, recognizing the most creative and influential titles, teams and individuals in the industry, and the opening of public voting to determine this year’s winners.

For 2021, SXSW has partnered with IGN to produce the SXSW Gaming Awards show, presented by Discord, on Saturday, March 20 at 7:00pm CT. The show will be broadcast live on SXSW Online, ign.com, and on twitch.tv/sxswgaming and twitch.tv/ign.

“Gaming is a key part of the creative ecosystem that makes up SXSW, and provides our community an opportunity to honor the achievements with the brightest minds in the field,” said Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer for SXSW. “We’re excited to partner with IGN to bring this celebration to a global audience for 2021.”

“We’ve learned so much from our communities on Discord over the last year. The power that games can have in bringing people together no matter where you are in the world inspires us.”said Tesa Aragones, Chief Marketing Officer at Discord. “Creating space for people to come together to share the things they love – music, games, and anything else that interests them – is core to our beliefs and we are proud to support the SXSW Gaming Awards as the presenting sponsor.”

This year the nominations for the 2021 SXSW Gaming Awards include 43 nominees across 12 different categories with public voting open now through Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at sxsw.com/gaming-awards/voting. Winners of the awards will be determined by a weighted total between staff and advisory board input and public voting.

2021 SXSW Gaming Awards Nominees

Video Game of the Year
Awarded to the game that exemplifies overall excellence and creates a distinct gaming experience across all platforms and genres.

  • DOOM Eternal — id Software / Bethesda Softworks
  • Ghost of Tsushima — Sucker Punch Productions  / Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Hades — Supergiant Games
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps — Moon Studios / Xbox Game Studios
  • The Last of Us Part II — Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment

Indie Game of the Year
Awarded to the indie game that exemplifies overall excellence and creates a distinct gaming experience across all platforms and genres.

  • Bugsnax — Young Horses
  • Cloudpunk — Ion Lands
  • Crown Trick — NExT Studios / Team17
  • Deep Rock Galactic — Ghost Ship Games / Coffee Stain Publishing
  • Huntdown — Easy Trigger Games / Coffee Stain Publishing
  • Ikenfell — Happy Ray Games / Humble Games
  • Monster Sanctuary — Moi Rai Games / Team17
  • Raji: An Ancient Epic — Nodding Heads Games / Super.com
  • Risk of Rain 2 — Hopoo Games / Gearbox Publishing
  • The Last Campfire — Hello Games

Tabletop Game of the Year
Awarded to the game that exemplifies overall excellence and ingenuity of any tabletop game in any genre.

  • Calico — Flatout Games
  • Fort — Leder Games
  • Oceans — North Star Games
  • The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine — KOSMOS
  • The Search for Planet X — Renegade Game Studios / Foxtrot Games

VR Game of the Year
Awarded to the VR game that exemplifies overall excellence in gameplay and design across any VR platform.

  • Down the Rabbit Hole — Cortopia Studios / Beyond Frames Entertainment
  • Half-Life: Alyx — Valve
  • Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond — Respawn Entertainment / Electronic Arts
  • Star Wars: Squadrons — Motive Studios / Electronic Arts
  • The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners — Skydance Interactive

Matthew Crump Cultural Innovation Award
Awarded to the game that best challenges the “norm” of everyday gaming and offers a culturally innovative view of a game world, character, or gameplay.

  • Astro’s Playroom — Team ASOBI! / Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Dreams — Media Molecule / Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • If Found… —  Dreamfeel / Annapurna Interactive
  • Tell Me Why — DONTNOD Entertainment / Xbox Game Studios
  • The Last of Us Part II — Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment

Excellence in Animation, Art, & Visual Achievement
Awarded to the game with the most well-designed and stunning visuals, including animation effects and graphics.

  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla — Ubisoft Montreal / Ubisoft
  • Cloudpunk — Ion Lands
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake — SQUARE ENIX
  • Ghost of Tsushima — Sucker Punch Productions  / Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps — Moon Studios / Xbox Game Studios

Excellence in Game Design
Awarded to the game with the best overall design concept, gameplay mechanics, and best execution.

  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time — Toys for Bob / Activision
  • Desperados III — Mimimi Games / THQ Nordic
  • Hades — Supergiant Games
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps — Moon Studios / Xbox Game Studios
  • Watch Dogs: Legion — Ubisoft Toronto / Ubisoft

Excellence in Score
Awarded to the game that best exemplifies artistic excellence in musical score and how it progresses the narrative of the game.

  • Cyberpunk 2077 — CD Projekt Red / CD Projekt
  • DOOM Eternal — id Software / Bethesda Softworks
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake — SQUARE ENIX
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps — Moon Studios / Xbox Game Studios
  • Trials of Mana — Xeen / SQUARE ENIX

Excellence in Multiplayer
Awarded to the game with the best player-to-player interaction experience.

  • Deep Rock Galactic — Ghost Ship Games / Coffee Stain Publishing
  • Huntdown — Easy Trigger Games / Coffee Stain Publishing
  • Risk of Rain 2 —  Hopoo Games, Gearbox Publishing
  • Star Wars: Squadrons — Motive Studios / Electronic Arts
  • VALORANT — Riot Games

Excellence in Narrative
Awarded to the game with the best storyline and dialogue.

  • Ghost of Tsushima — Sucker Punch Productions  / Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Hades — Supergiant Games
  • Immortals Fenyx Rising — Ubisoft Quebec / Ubisoft
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales — Insomniac Games /  Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • The Last of Us Part II — Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment

Excellence in Audio Design
Awarded to the game with the most outstanding and impactful sound effects.

  • Bugsnax — Young Horses
  • DOOM Eternal — id Software / Bethesda Softworks
  • Observer: System Redux — Bloober Team
  • Star Wars: Squadrons — Motive Studios / Electronic Arts
  • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 — Vicarious Visions / Activision

Excellence in Technical Achievement
Awarded to the game that pushed the capabilities of technology and programming furthest or most effectively.

  • Astro’s Playroom — Team ASOBI! / Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Dreams — Media Molecule / Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Genshin Impact — miHoYo
  • Ghost of Tsushima — Sucker Punch Productions  / Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator — Asobo Studio / Xbox Game Studios

SXSW dedicates itself to helping creative people achieve their goals. Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. In 2021, the event moves to a digital format. SXSW Online offers conference sessions, music showcases, film screenings, exhibitions, and a variety of networking and professional development opportunities. An essential destination for global professionals, SXSW Online 2021 will take place March 16 – March 20. For more information, please visit sxsw.com. To register for the event, please visit sxsw.com/attend.

SXSW Online 2021 Platinum Partners are White Claw, High Grade Hemp Seed, and The Austin Chronicle. The SXSW Online 2021 Conference is powered by Audible.

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Jerry Paxton

A long-time fan and reveler of all things Geek, I am also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of GamingShogun.com