DICE Awards organizer's new festival will honor video game art

Talent from Naughty Dog and Insomniac Games will help to pick outstanding visuals from the past 18 months.

Ian Jun Wei Chiew / Sucker Punch Productions

The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS) is putting the spotlight on video game art. The not-for-profit, which organizes the long-running DICE awards, is launching an annual festival to honor the technical talent that helps shape a game's visual identity.

At the inaugural event, called The Game Maker's Sketchbook, a jury of industry insiders will dish out accolades across categories including storyboard, environment art, character art, iconography, curiosities, and impact. The committee will include representatives from Ratchet & Clank studio Insomniac Games, Mass Effect developer Bioware, Naughty Dog, Warner Bros and Valve.

Starting tomorrow, submissions for the first showcase will be open for roughly a month. The launch event will highlight art from the illustrious games released since January, 2020. Of course, there was no shortage of visually distinctive titles during that period: From scorched indie Hades to the neon sheen of Cyberpunk 2077 to the sun-kissed escapism of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Many fans will be thinking it's about time. Because, though there are a number of high-profile video game awards, most focus on the best title from a specific platform or genre. The only major gong for visuals that springs to mind is the best art direction category at The Game Awards — which deservedly went to Sucker Punch and Sony's Japanese period epic, Ghost of Tsushima, at last year's ceremony.

The Game Maker's Sketchbook will also give fans the chance to buy associated art prints from festival co-founder iam8bit. While artists will participate in podcast conversations and feature at DICE-related events.