The BAFTAs, also known as the British Academy of Film and Television Awards, is a prestigious awards show that recognizes outstanding achievements in media. The BAFTA Game Awards, in particular, have gained significant recognition and are considered just as iconic as other industry-run shows like The Game Awards.
In an interview with part of BAFTA’s game team at Develop: Brighton, we had the opportunity to discuss the role of the game awards and the position of mobile gaming within the process. The interview included Lewis Peet, the games officer, Grace Shin, the games programme manager, and Luke Hebblethwaite, the academy’s first-ever head of games.
Wot, no mobile?
Established in 1947, BAFTA aims to promote the cultural and artistic value of British film, television, and more. Since 1998, with the BAFTA Interactive Entertainment awards, and from 2004 with the BAFTA Game Awards, the organization has been recognizing and awarding games across all platforms, including mobile. Our interview with the BAFTA team provided insight into the inner workings of this esteemed institution.
Our first question revolved around the absence of a specific mobile category in recent BAFTA Game Awards. While mobile games have been featured and acknowledged in the awards, such as Poncle’s Vampire Survivors winning Best Game in 2023, we were curious why there wasn’t a dedicated mobile category. The team explained that BAFTA aims to be platform agnostic and doesn’t want to segregate the great game design and work that goes into mobile games.
We don’t want to separate the great games design and work that goes into mobile games [from console and PC].
The BAFTA team emphasizes the growing trend of multiplatform games, which can no longer be confined to a single category based on hardware. It’s worth noting that there are no specific categories for PC or individual consoles either. The multiplatform approach is deeply ingrained in the BAFTA Game Awards, and the jury members are encouraged to experience and evaluate games across multiple devices to assess overall performance.
While some mobile developers may find the lack of a specific category frustrating, this approach reflects BAFTA’s broader view of mobile gaming’s artistic value and gameplay depth. Games like “Monument Valley” and “Genshin Impact” have demonstrated that mobile games can offer exceptional experiences that rival those on other platforms.
When discussing mobile games’ unique attributes, Lewis Peet highlighted their accessibility and their role in introducing people to the world of gaming. Mobile games often serve as a gateway for individuals who are not familiar with traditional gaming platforms.
Overall, BAFTA plays a crucial role in promoting games as a legitimate art form and an integral part of the entertainment landscape. While other organizations focus on promoting the UK game industry in policymaking and regulatory matters, BAFTA focuses on enhancing understanding and appreciation of games. Winning a BAFTA award is widely recognized as a significant indicator of a game’s quality.
The importance of recognition
Awards shows are not typically seen as crucial elements in promotional strategies, but they have proven to be influential in recent campaigns. Snowprint Studios, for example, prominently features their Pocket Gamer Award for Best Mobile Game in their marketing for “Warhammer 40,000: Tacticus” to showcase the value and quality associated with such honors.
As live-service games become more prevalent, mobile gaming is becoming increasingly vibrant, with new commercial and artistic possibilities. Grace Shin highlighted the emergence of challenging gameplay mechanics, subversion of expectations, and the rise of wholesome and experimental games across all platforms, including mobile.
Luke Hebblethwaite believes that BAFTA provides value for the entire games industry, including the mobile ecosystem. BAFTA welcomes mobile game developers to participate in their activities and awards, ensuring that they are not excluded from any opportunities.
Although the platform agnostic approach may pose challenges in terms of distinguishing mobile from PC and console games, the BAFTA game team firmly believes in the value of mobile gaming. The team encourages mobile games to compete alongside commercially and critically successful titles based on their own multiplatform merits.
Ultimately, the position of mobile games within the BAFTA Game Awards is rooted in recognizing their artistic and cultural significance. While some may overlook the work that BAFTA does for the mobile games industry, the organization welcomes all who want to collaborate and engage with them.
As the game team at BAFTA affirms, games are highly valued and mobile gaming is an integral part of the ecosystem. With BAFTA’s continued efforts to promote games and their creators, mobile games have the opportunity to thrive alongside their console and PC counterparts on a prestigious platform.