2016 Aggie Awards - Readers’ Choice poll

Aggie Awards Readers’ Choice
Aggie Awards Readers’ Choice

Not another vote!! Grooooooaaaann….

Yeah, between Brexit and Scotland and Hillary-Trump, we know everyone is feeling pretty polled out right now. But while all those were merely deciding the fate of the free world, there’s one last vote of the utmost importance to decide: the Readers’ Choice Aggie Awards!

You’ve seen our final nominees by now, and have already concluded that we’re completely off our rockers or geniuses ahead of our time (or some combination of both). So now it’s time to have your say.

There’s no electoral college overruling the majority at Adventure Gamers, so in a poll like this, believe us when we say that every vote counts! Some categories in the past have literally been decided by one or two votes, along with others being nosed out for runner-up recognition. YOURS could be that vote this year! So cast your ballot, or forego your civic right to complain.

If you’re wondering why Game X isn’t on the list, it’s either a remake, a port, an unfinished episodic series, or an adventure-ish game that’s more “ish” than adventure (namely, too few puzzles, or too much action to qualify). It just wouldn’t be fair to the 115 – count ‘em, a hundred and fifteen!! – games that ARE eligible to include all the ones that don’t meet our minimum (and really quite relaxed) genre standards.

As always, only one vote per category is allowed. To make your choice, simply select the appropriate game from the drop-down list available for each award. If you wish to pass on certain categories, simply pick the "N/A No answer" selection from the menu. There are two write-in votes for Best Character and Best Concept; if submitting an entry for these, please write the name of the character and/or brief description of the concept you’re nominating and the game in which each appears.

No ballot-stuffing permitted, as one submission per person is how voting works best. (No rampant voter fraud here!) We also ask that you vote only for games you feel are deserving of victory. Nominating your favourite game for everything just skews the balance unfairly, and leads to predictably boring results. So while this is all just for fun, remember that spoiling votes ruins the fun for everyone. “No answer” is a valid answer!

And so, without further ado, let the polling begin! Voting will end on Monday, February 20th, and winners will be unveiled in our final Aggie Awards presentation over the course of three days, beginning February 22nd.

One of the core components of any adventure, the game’s narrative must engage the player’s interest and imagination. Entertaining in its own right, a good story also immerses the player in a believable game world and serves as motivation to overcome the challenges presented. While often accompanied by quality writing, the plot is a distinct feature that may or may not be ably supported by the actual dialogue.
Arguably the hardest genre to write well, comedy done right has the ability both to amuse and uplift, finding humour in the ordinary and laughter in the unexpected. Often dismissed for not being “serious writing” (oh, the irony!), comedy has long been a beloved adventure staple and deserves appropriate recognition.
If comedy lifts the soul, then drama explores and challenges it. Though sometimes misrepresented as dry and boring or overly theatrical, a gripping drama simply engages players on a deeper emotional level. Quality writing is essential in maintaining the player’s connection to the characters, game world, and the story unfolding.
Gabriel Knight... April Ryan... Guybrush Threepwood. These names roll off the tongue of any adventure gamer as a testament to the importance of compelling protagonists in an adventure. But just as important are the villains, sidekicks, and significant supporting characters, which are often the juiciest parts. This category recognizes those who have made the most memorable contribution, regardless of role.
Puzzles are an integral aspect of adventure gameplay, but not the only one. Good pacing, rich exploration, and variety of activities are all factors in player enjoyment as well, all suitably integrated into the storyline. The best games seek the right balance of these elements for the most rewarding gameplay experience.
A somewhat ambiguous category meant to highlight any unusual, distinctive element. A creative concept can run the gamut from story premise to game mechanics, from stylistic choice to technical innovation. It doesn’t even need to have been successfully implemented, as it’s the idea itself that deserves the acknowledgement in a genre renowned for its conservative approach.
Adventures can transport us to memorable places we’ve never been before, including those we never even imagined. Or perhaps to locales we’ve visited before, but never quite like this, making them feel fresh and new and awe-inspiring all over again. In these games, the setting is like an integral character of its own, inseparable from the story taking place within its borders.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, this category speaks volumes. Regardless of style, this award recognizes games that are not only visually attractive but stylistically distinctive. One look at a screenshot should elicit a “Wow!” followed by “Hey, that’s from…!” This award includes both game world and character design, but not cinematics.
From “bustling” city streets that look deserted to clouds that never move, animation in adventure games is rarely a genre strong suit, often the victim of budget constraints. But richly animated adventures add so much to player immersion that any game that goes the extra mile in this area is deserving of appreciation. This category includes in-game character and ambient animations, plus cinematic cutscenes.
As a complementary element playing in the background, often a game’s soundtrack is noticeable only when it becomes intrusive, but a strong score and attention to timing can add so much to a game’s ambience. A catchy theme song can likewise make game music memorable, and an in-game musical number even more so. Whatever its particular strengths, the game that excels musically deserves its accolades, even if its impact is subtle.
Often under-valued by publishers but never by gamers, quality voice acting can enhance a player’s investment in characters as surely as poor acting can ruin it. With so much international localization, voice-overs can be difficult to skillfully oversee, but any game benefits greatly from proper direction and believable acting. This category refers to the overall quality of vocal roles in a game, not to individual characters.
As with music, sound effects are frequently given short shrift in adventures, but effective use of audio adds a vital layer of moody ambience. You may not be able to put your finger on the reason, but some games make you feel like you’re really there, and often the atmospheric sounds have drawn you in subconsciously.
For a genre that’s remained largely unchanged for decades, it’s actually got a rich history of experimental titles that push the creative envelope in unique, memorable ways. They don’t “evolve” or “redefine” adventures, but rather expand our understanding of what an adventure can be with their bold vision. Purists may resist, but this award honours those games that stretch beyond traditional genre conventions to offer something completely new, or at least present the familiar in imaginative new ways.
Why mess with a good thing? While innovative adventures provide a welcome breath of fresh air, the lifeblood of the genre continues to be the many games that closely adhere to the comfortable, tried-and-true design formulas. Full of inventory and logic puzzles, memorable character dialogue, epic storylines and immersive exploration, they may not have changed much since [i]Monkey Island[/i] and [i]Myst[/i] – or even the original [i]Zork[/i] for some – but they’re no less enjoyable when done well.
This is it! From these choices will emerge the crème de la crème of adventures: the one and only winner of the highly-coveted Reader’s Choice Aggie Award as Adventure Game of the Year for 2016!

Final Notes:To be eligible, a game must have been launched through digital distribution, self-published online, or commercially released in either North America or the United Kingdom in the calendar year 2016.

Any series designed to be episodic in nature that was not completed in 2016 is not eligible. Ports and remakes of commercial games are also disqualified, though updated rereleases of former freeware games are eligible.

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