On the second day of the Tokyo Game Show, the first round of awards started being handed out. One of Tokyo Game Show’s newer award is the Game Designer’s Award. Unlike other awards that focus on top sellers in each genre or large production creations, which leads the largest of games dominating many awards, the Game Designer’s Award brings a new factor into account, uniqueness.
Uniqueness is being rated by a panel of some of the most innovative game designers and directors, specifically excluding game producers and publishers, known in the industry. Notably, Yoko Taro was on the board for 2020, who is best known for his work directing the Nier and Drakenguard series, all of which as produced games that often get elevated for its philosophical themes.
Many games were considered, from Gris to Unfinished Swan. This year the award went to Baba Is You, developed by the Finnish developer Hempuli Oy. The game is an 8-bit puzzle game that has the player rewriting the rules of the environment in each level to complete it. Such rules include, Flag is Win or Rock is Stop, by changing the rules the win conditions can be changed itself, to rock is win or rock is push.
The game was pushed out March of 2019, and while it is technically a puzzle game, the panel that reviewed the game described it as potentially a game that could spawn off a new genre. Baba is You is also notable for being an amateur game or developed by an indie studio, something that the Tokyo Game Show judges took into consideration as the limited budget is what pushed the game to be particularly innovative over its larger scale competition. The Tokyo Game Show will be continuing later with more awards and panels as the event is a three-day affair.