The Biggest Heart award: Epic Games for Oculus VR
The team at Oculus VR was devastated when it lost a cofounder just before the big show. Chief executive Brendan Iribe said that the untimely death of Andrew Scott Reisse also threw the company off-schedule for its big E3 demo. For a time, the whole company was thunderstruck because Reisse, a brilliant programmer, was killed in a police car chase while he was walking through a crosswalk in Santa Ana, Calif. Police arrested an alleged gang member for the fatal accident.
Iribe said that programmers from Epic Games came out to finish the work that Reisse was doing. They did it voluntarily and were instrumental in finishing the demo on time. He was grateful for their contribution and proud of the team for getting the work done. — Dean Takahashi
The Game Most Trying to Emulate Skyrim award: Bound by Flame
Bethesda’s open-world fantasy series, The Elder Scrolls, is pretty much the standard by which most new fantasy role-playing titles are judged, but this year several games really want to take The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on directly. The most obvious is Bound by Flame, a dark fantasy adventure from Spiders. You play as a hero possessed by a flame demon, and how the story progresses depends on whether you give into your fancy new flame powers or not. While battling for your soul, you’ll take on massive enemies, explore dangerous tombs, and even woo a few people. It’s most like Skyrim from a combat and crafting perspective, two areas that really gave the Elder Scrolls game its addictive edge. Bound by Flame looks intriguing, but it might feel too familiar for gamers wanting to explore different takes on fantasy RPGs. –Jasmine Rea
The People’s Console vs The Big White Trailer Truck award: Ouya vs. the ESA
Ouya chief executive Julie Uhrman rented a space in a parking lot for her company’s exhibit, Ouya Park, because that was the only way that gamers would be able to visit the booth and play Ouya’s games. (The Entertainment Software Association does not let the general public into E3.) But the ESA apparently didn’t like the parking lot move and rented a big truck to block the view of Ouya Park from the convention hall. Ouya then rented parking spaces in front of the truck and posted its signs there. The police visited on the first day of E3 to see if Ouya’s permits were in order. They were. So the people’s console exhibit was able to continue. The ESA declined comment, but the controversy gave Ouya a lot of awareness above the noise at E3.
“Ouya is all about being open, and we want to have any gamer be able to come and experience Ouya, meet developers, and play great games,” Uhrman said. “Being outside the convention center was the only way that we could be open to everybody.” –Dean Takahashi
Game Most Likely to Cause an Acid Flashback award: SoundSelf
Many games are colorful and trippy, but only developer Robin Arnott’s SoundSelf caused me to have a transcendental experience. SoundSelf is a game for the Oculus Rift VR visor that creates a swirl of light and shapes that responds to the player’s voice. After humming for a good five minutes in the software — and watching as the game began reflecting my inner peace — I now know what it means to be at one with the universe. I would like to take this time to announce that I am ending my career as a game journalist to pursue my new passion of writing the world’s most-respected treatise on growing hair. –Jeff Grubb
Above: Nah, that’s not trippy at all.
Non-Press-Conference Press Conference award: Nintendo
Nintendo defied conventions by announcing it would not stage an E3 press conference this year and instead would offer a Nintendo Direct webcast for its fans. It announced games during the webcast and then proceeded to have a … press conference. Reggie Fils-Amie, the president of Nintendo of America, and game design chief Shigeru Miyamoto made presentations for the press in Nintendo’s booth. Then the press was able to play games and interview game developers on the spot. It was a much smaller affair than usual, and Scott Moffitt, the executive vice president of sales and marketing, said it was appropriate given the company’s focus on games this year. –Dean Takahashi