Bafta Games Awards: God of War leads nominations with 14

The return of Kratos and his son Atreus to the PlayStation has received the most nominations for the 2023 Bafta Games Awards.

God of War: Ragnarok, which sees players battle with Norse gods, is in the running to win 14 of the famous golden masks.

Cat simulator and underground success story Stray is nominated eight times.

Dark fantasy roleplaying epic Elden Ring, which won big at The Game Awards, is nominated seven times.

The awards are one of the most prestigious nights in the calendar for the gaming industry.

God of War: Ragnarok is the follow-up to the Bafta-winning God of War, and has become the most-nominated game since these awards began in 2004.

Leading in the number of nominations doesn’t necessarily mean success on the night, however. In 2020 mysterious adventure game Control was nominated 11 times and picked up one solitary golden mask.

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Stray had a lot of love on social media after its release and is nominated eight times

The game could win in categories ranging from best animation to best game. The title was praised by critics and fans for the performances of the actors, and many of the title’s nominations come in the performer categories.

Nominations for the second year running went to Christopher Judge, who plays lead character Kratos, Sunny Suljic who performs as his son Atreus and Danielle Bisutti who plays the goddess Fryea.

A Plague Tale: Requiem is nominated five times, as is PlayStation exclusive Horizon Forbidden West, along with the charming (yet exceedingly difficult) independent game Tunic.

These awards have often thrown up a surprise or two, like when Zelda was beaten to best game in 2018 by What Remains of Edit Finch.

Titles with unorthodox mechanics, stories or gameplay, and games that many may not have heard of, let alone played, can do well – such as 2020’s Untitled Goose Game. It was an experience which centred around a disgruntled goose, and was nominated four times.

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Elden Ring won big at the Game Awards just before Christmas and is nominated seven times at the BAFTAs

This year it’s Stray, a cat simulator where players work with robots to solve mysteries and puzzles in a dangerous city, which is competing with the big blockbuster releases.

Those who keep up to date with the twist and turns of the games industry on social media won’t be too surprised, given the game’s release in July 2022 was accompanied with lots of buzz and positive reaction.

Speaking to the BBC before the nominations were announced, Bafta CEO Jane Millichip said that the awards were an important platform to raise awareness of the industry to the broader public.

She hopes they can show that working in games is an option for anyone, saying: “Our charity work, whether focused on talent and skills development, bursaries and scholarships feed into the awards.

“The awards can elevate all that work, and enable us to provide the inspiration for new people to join the industry and put games in front of more people. Whether it’s monster commercial games like God of War or Elden Ring, or all of the games nominated in the debut game category.”

She added that they wanted to “help level the playing field for people who come from backgrounds who might find barriers to entry”, and said: “It’s as important for us to do that in gaming as it is in film and television.”

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Horizon Forbidden West has five nominations including Best Game Design

For Tara Saunders, Chair of the Bafta Games Committee, the awards help “validate gaming as a serious career choice.”

“The industry has a perception issue when it comes to career advisers in schools, or with parents,” she said.

“Not enough is known about it, but the fact that Bafta host the awards, and people who love games can see that then there’s a lot of future talent learning that you can have a career in games. They will see that Bafta spotlight and it will bring them through. It has been a historical issue.”

UK games studio Creative Assembly, famous for making the grand strategy franchise Total War, has earned its 16th nomination for its work on the series. Total War: Warhammer 3 is up for best British game.

The Evolving Game category often contains some of the industry’s biggest names, games that are constantly updated and tweaked. Titles like Apex Legends, Forza Horizons 5, Dreams and No Man’s Sky have also been nominated.

One category that isn’t decided by a panel of experts is the EE Game of the Year. First awarded in 2021, it is the only category at the awards to be voted for by members of the public. Some have already made their choice between Elden Ring, God of War: Ragnarok, Horizon: Forbidden West, Immortality, Marvel Snap and Stray.

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