ARTICLES | February 17th, 2008
NAViGaTR Winners of the new casual & independent game awards aboard the carnival cruise

The National Academy of Video Game Testers and Reviewers Corp. has announced a special NAViGaTR awards program dedicated to the casual games sector. The awards program will take place on the Carnival Paradise Fun Ship during a weekend cruise, November 14-17, 2008. A winner press conference on the docks is scheduled for the ship’s return to port on November 17, 2008 while celebrating their 8th year as an organization.

The categories to be awarded are:

SPECIAL INTEREST CATEGORIES (caucus voting)

1.Outstanding Senior Citizens’ Game of the Year
2.Outstanding Women’s Game of the Year
3.Outstanding Men’s Game of the Year
4.Outstanding Independent Game of the Year
5.Outstanding Casual Game of the Year

CREATIVE/TECHNICAL CATEGORIES (primary voting)

1.Outstanding Animation
2.Outstanding Art Direction
3.Outstanding Character Design
4.Outstanding Control Design
5.Outstanding Competitive Engineering
6.Outstanding Cooperative Engineering
7.Outstanding Game Design
8.Outstanding Innovation in Game Play
9.Outstanding Original Musical Score
10.Outstanding Original Sound
Entrants in the creative/technical categories will be divided into three qualification classes with each class receiving an award in the category. The classes are:

a.Games from companies with 1-10 employees
b.Games from companies with 11-50 employees, and
c.Games from companies with 51 or more employees.

Entrants must reserve cabin space for lodging and cabin space for exhibit booths by June 15, 2008. Games may be entered into the awards program through October 31, 2008. Eligible entries include games released in the period between January 1, 2007, and October 31, 2008. Products released in 2007 are eligible as long as they have not been previously nominated in the main awards program. To receive an entry packet or to make a general inquiry regarding the awards program, contact entries@navgtr.org for more information.

In our main awards program that has been running since 2001, voters are deeply familiar with the titles that receive a mainstream retail release, said President Thomas J. Allen.

Mainstream and hardcore games have the luxury of previews, reviews, and detailed critical analysis because there is a market for that content created by active consumers who inform purchasing decisions with media research. In contrast, casual games generally are not researched by the consumer and therefore do not receive significant consumer press coverage. Instead, casual games depend on social, viral, almost grass-roots discovery.

In order to maintain a quality nominations process for casual games, it was important for us to ensure that voters were still deeply familiar with the material submitted for consideration. The caucus system enables us to do that and make it fun.

The awards will take place on a special weekend cruise that takes place November 14 – 17, 2008 (Long Beach, California, to Ensenada, Mexico). The cruise will also benefit industry non-profits. 10% of cruise proceeds will be split between the International Game Developers Association and the Game Audio Network Guild.

For the NAViGaTR Casual Games Awards, developers or publishers send a representative to the cruise to make their games available during the caucuses and to provide coaching. Prior to the caucuses, representatives will also be able to hold short pitch meetings to make their case to the voters and to explain more about the development process in ways that might enhance the appreciation of the creative and technical work behind the game. Voters can then visit the cabin or conference room with the games they want to see more. They will also be able to preview user-submitted videos online for a sneak preview of games prior to the cruise.

The caucus rules will be similar to the 2008 Iowa Democratic Caucuses. The social aspect of a caucus is very exciting and is perfectly suited to casual games and cruises, said George Wood, Chairman of the Board for NAVGTR Corp. It’s also an exciting opportunity for non-traditional gaming consumers to have a significant influence in the awards process, while also giving senior citizens and traditional consumers a chance to interact and learn from each other about the great variety of the video game industry.

In addition, select NAViGaTR winners will be eligible to appear in a live game show on stage with Oscar winner and record-breaking nine-time Emmy winner Cloris Leachman, whose roles have transcended age differences in many ways.

Leachman is most recently known for playing Grandma Ida in Malcolm in the Middle, Mrs. Norris in Scary Movie 4, the prison warden’s secretary who spanks Adam Sandler in The Longest Yard, Great Gam Gam in the Broken Lizard film Beerfest, the reclining granny that Billy Bob Thornton thinks is dead in Bad Santa, and the boozy, tackling grandmother in Spanglish. Leachman is best known as Phyllis in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Old Frankenstein’s former girlfriend Frau Blucher in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, and the lonely housewife who hooks up with a high school student in The Last Picture Show, her Oscar-winning performance.

Also making appearances will be YouTube’s Hardcore Granny, the tough-talking, gun-wielding Internet sensation. Hilariously unsaintly at age 71, she’s been to the frontlines of (virtual) wars and lived to tell the tale to CBS, The Washington Post, Business Week, G4, MTV, and the Village Voice.

Onboard activities will include easy, light play for elder generations playing with their grandkids. The multi-generational mix is a growing trend for both games and cruises, said Allen. The mainstream media constantly reports on senior citizens discovering the Nintendo Wii, and National Geographic Kids and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) research shows that one third of cruising grandparents are taking their grandkids.

Cruise passengers who reserve prior to June 15, 2008, will be invited to participate in a video/costume contest in which auditioning entrants impersonate a celebrity or video game character while playing a game. Passengers with cruise reservations can audition online at http://www.youtube.com/navgtr prior to the cruise, or qualify in live tryouts on the cruise.

Early registrants can also participate in a two-part Name That Tune contest. One round challenges gamers and non-gamers to guess whether a piece of music identifies a Video-Game or Not-a-Video-Game. Another round tests the hard core gamers on just how much they know their video game music, asking players to identify the specific video game and/or the specific tune in the game.

The NAViGaTR Cruise has something for everyone, said Wood. We really want to show the positive aspects of the video game medium, from the artistry of its music, to the social and cooperative aspects of its multiplayer entertainment, to its therapeutic applications that have real world benefits.

As seen on ABC News, Dr. Albert Skip Rizzo will demonstrate how gaming technologies are used to rehabilitate stroke survivors, distract children from pain during surgery, and help veterans of Iraq deal with post traumatic stress disorder.

Cruise fares begin at USD 455. Tickets are on sale to the general public through June 15, 2008. To make a reservation, call 1-800-688-8031 or visit www.avatoy.com. Fare rates are per person based on double occupancy and do not include port processing fees, fuel supplements, and government taxes, or gratuities and optional insurance.

Special airfare and lodging deals for cruise passengers sailing with NAViGaTR will be offered after June 15, 2008.

Through annual awards, television specials, videos, and other future plans, the mission of NAVGTR Corp. is to preserve the history of the medium as well as honor the creative and technical individuals who have paved the way for new ideas and innovations. In addition to the annual awards show, NAVGTR Corp. also distributes the historical archive series, Gaming in the Clinton Years. Visit www.navgtr.org for more information on the Academy.

The main NAViGaTR program has a general voting body of more than 1,150 journalists and writers includes contributors for such varied outlets as About.com, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Austin American-Statesman, NBC, CNN, CNN.com, CNNmoney.com, Chicago Sun-Times, Computer Gaming World, Contra Costa Times, Digital Journal, ElectricPlayground.com, FHM, GamersTemple.com, GamingTarget.com, Gannett News Service, Gear, HappyPuppy.com, Kids & Computers, LA Weekly, Los Angeles Times, National Post, New York Times, Marquee, PC Gamer, Philadelphia Inquirer, PlanetPong.com, Salon, San Jose Mercury-News, USA Today, USAToday.com, Wired News, Wizard Magazine, WOW Weekly, ZDNet, Detroit Free Press, National Public Radio, Public Radio International, Play Magazine, Electronic Gaming Monthly (Ziff-Davis Media), Evergeek Media, The Ottawa Citizen, The Vancouver Sun, The Regina Leader-Post, and hundreds more.

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