We’ve been looking forward to this moment for a very long time, but today was finally the day for another big celebration of Belgian video games. Having just returned from the virtual island where the Belgian Game Awards 2021 found their way into the hands of their new owners, we can safely say the most ambitious version of this event yet, livestreamed on VRT.nu, RTBF Auvio, and Twitch, didn’t disappoint.
With over 100 submissions resulting in close to 30 nominees, it’s abundantly clear that the #BelgianGamesIndustry is in pristine health. More than saluting the winners, this event is about showcasing the broad variety in game experiences that are being created in our small country. Still, there were winners to be announced, so let’s recap them all.
The biggest winner was The Almost Gone. Happy Volcano, supposedly surprised by the nominations for their gorgeous narrative adventure, took home the awards for both Best PC/Console and Best Mobile Game of the Year. The jury called the long and winding development journey of the video game a testament to both the perseverance of the developers and the strength of their concept.
It was a good night for atmospheric puzzle games altogether: Sizeable by Business Goose Studios won the brand new award for Debut Game of the Year. Meanwhile, the spooky stealth puzzles of Glint created by Fabian Caytan, Flavio Infantino, Théa Cantagallo and Zachary Lefèbvre at Haute Ecole Albert Jacquard delivered the Best Student Game of the Year. They were surprised by MNM DJ Laura Govaerts at their school, and were visibly shaken.
Another speechless winner was Tommy Maloteaux who won Best AR/VR Game of the Year with Deisim. This virtual reality game grants the player godlike powers and the freedom to use them however you see fit. Want to help your followers live long and prosper? Great. Want to chuck them in the mouth of a volcano like yesterday’s garbage? That’ll work too.
Most of the nominees for Best Non-Entertainment Game of the Year tackled a modern social-cultural problem, but according to the jury none did so as expertly as Pollinator Park. At the end of this Poppins & Wayne tale, a beautiful warning of a dark future, you can’t be anything but convinced that saving pollinators is a vital and pressing issue.
Traditionally, Most Anticipated Game of the Year is always a hard-fought category and this year was no different. With five nominees instead of the usual four, the competition was ever so fierce, but in the end, Roguebook emerged victorious. The deckbuilder by Abrakam Entertainment and Richard Garfield (he of Magic: The Gathering fame and King of Tokyo fortune) even entranced jury members who didn’t like the genre at all.
It wasn’t just the jury that had their say. VR Kuub, a VR experience by Cybernetic Walrus, that encourages teamwork among classmates by Cybernetic Walrus, could count on the most votes and so won the Audience Award.
The Belgian Game Awards isn’t just about great video games, they also put a spotlight on the people who create them. Awarded by the business experts at Flanders DC, Fishing Cactus was celebrated as the Best Studio of the Year. Previous winners of the PC/Console Game of the Year award with Nanotale – Typing Chronicles, the Mons based studio that has been around since 2008 has plenty more exciting projects up their sleeve.
On top of the impressive growth of the studio, Fishing Cactus has always given back to the #BelgianGamesIndustry. Co-founder Bruno Urbain is founder and president of WALGA, a role in which he actively helps to promote, inspire, and professionalise local game development.
That sounds like a Lifetime Achievement Award in the making, but for now that title goes to Appeal Studios founder Yves Grolet. A huge influence on game development in Wallonia, Grolet created his first game on the Commodore 64 at the age of 15. He was the game director on Outcast, the Belgian cult classic that was one of the first games to let players go wild in an open world. A couple of weeks ago, it was revealed that Appeal, currently 60 people strong, is working on a sequel to the 1999 original for pc and next-gen consoles.
In a video where he gets a visit from RTBF journalist Kamal Messaoudi, he explains all game creation is a team effort. While he doesn’t like to get awards personally for that reason, he feels it’s a good thing that award ceremonies like this put the spotlight on video games.
Salty Lemon Entertainment is the first studio to receive the award for Most Promising Startup Studio of the Year. And what a redemption story it is! After almost hitting rock bottom with their very first project, they managed to turn the tide by going all-in on their indoor rowing application EXR.
Ever growing in popularity and a vital part of the video game ecosystem: it’s only logical that esports get their time in the spotlight as well.
- Vincent “Slyex” Tobaly was named Esports Rookie Player of the Year for his performances in Rocket League
- League of Legends prodigy Raphaël “Targamas” Crabbé is henceforth known as Esports Pro Player of the Year
- Last but not least, the Tarmac Online Sessions win Esports Event of the Year.
Congratulations to all winners and a big thank you to the other nominees for never making it easy on the jury. We’d also like to express our special thanks to hosts Eva Mundorff and Kamal Messaoudi for being our island tour guides. Also a big thank you to all partners who made this continued celebration of Belgian games possible, to all jury members and viewers at home, and, of course, to our mom (thanks for stealing our joke, Jeroen!).
This year, the BGA’s are organised by Flanders DC in collaboration with BelgianGames and VRT.nu and is made possible thanks to the support of these partners: Studio Brussel, MNM, TIPIC, TARMAC, FLEGA, WALGA, hub.brussels, Cronos Interactive, VAF|Gamefund, Belgian Esports Federation and speelhetslim.be/jouezmalin.be.