When similar has happened at, say, the Oscars. I've always wondered why. It seems a bit weird, doesn't it? How can something win best director or script, but not best movie - or vice-versa?
I mean, surely if the judges think something is the best game, it has to be the best in other ways too? Is it just political voting, to give others a chance of winning something? Or a more strange and esoteric process - involving, let's imagine, prisms, troughs and naked pagans - that we normal plebs couldn't possibly hope to understand?
Turns out it isn't either. I know this now, because this year I was a BAFTA Games Awards judge - this pleb got to glimpse behind the famous golden mask, and see the writhing, bio-organic worms that really decide who gets what and why.
Yes, you read that right - I was a BAFTA judge. And now? And now I'm going to share my story with you. Sadly, I lied about the bio-organic worms.
So. Late last year, shortly after Digitiser 2000 rose triumphantly from the earth, I got an email from a guy called Rob Jones, who worked at BAFTA.
I'd met Rob once before at a BAFTA Children's Awards ceremony, when I was roughly five or six bottles of wine worse for wear, after my kids show 4 O'Clock Club (go watch it on BBC iPlayer) failed to win Best Comedy. He told me he was a big Digitiser fan, which was particularly lovely, as back then I honestly didn't think there were any Digitiser fans left. Incredibly, despite the alcoholihaze, I remembered his kind words.
Rob had emailed to ask if I'd be interested in judging the story category for the 2015 BAFTA Games Awards. I was as surprised as you probably are. Somehow, despite being the man who accidentally wrote Pudsey: The Dog: The Movie, Rob thought my background as a games journalist, and three-time BAFTA nominee (sorry - I tried for ten minutes, but there's honestly no way to write that without it looking like showing off: if it's any consolation, I've never won any of the times I've been nominated) made me a good fit.
And that, you see, is why a game can be considered best game, but lose out in other categories: each category has its own independent judging panel.
Rob sent over a list of games whose story I'd be helping to judge. The shortlist had apparently been whittled down from a very long list, in a process that I completely forgot to ask about. Let's imagine that one did involve prisms, troughs, and nude pagans.
However, most excitingly - more exciting than the honour and privilege of being a BAFTA judge - this also meant that, for the first time in years, I was going to get free games. Consequently, you can thank Rob for helping get Digi2000 off the ground in those early days (and probably for planting the seed in my drunken head that, potentially, not everyone still hated both Digitiser and myself).
On the downside, I had to play all of those games and not skip a single cut-scene. We'd been told we didn't have to finish all of the games - which was just as well in the case of some of them - but certainly we had to play them enough to properly get a sense of how they told their stories.
It was interesting. I don't typically play games for their plots - I'm quite militant about the fact that story should be there to serve a game, and not vice-versa. They should at least feel seamless. That did change, admittedly, with The Last of Us - the one and only time I've ever been emotionally invested in video game characters... but that did such a uniquely brilliant job of feeling like all the gameplay beats are tied to the story. It makes you care.
Still, I wanted to do a good job, so play through those games I did - with a little help from YouTube in some of the cases. By the end, I was pretty sure of what I was going to be voting for. What did surprise me was how close I came to changing my mind, as a result of the discussion.
The voting panel took place back in February, at BAFTA HQ in London.
Absurdly, I'd written enormous essays for each of the games on the shortlist, on the merits (or lack of merits) of their stories. When it came down to it, there simply wasn't the time for me to make my excellent and valid points in the detail I wanted. Everyone had plenty to say, and the debate was lively and long.
Here's how I approached the judging.
Basically, I was looking at how story worked in the context of the whole game; how each of the elements served to tell the story. We weren't judging "best script" - if we were I'd have approached it differently. From my perspective, this was about storytelling, and just as a movie's story is told through direction, editing, music and acting, so I was looking at how the games told their stories through gameplay, as much as cutscenes and script.
I might have recently come to appreciate the gameplay in something like, say, Dragon Age: Inquisition (to pluck a game out of the ether - "drag on" is right... ha ha ha), but if you look at it from a storytelling perspective, it's like an explosion in a word factory. It's just a glut of information and backstory - the actual narrative is pretty thin, in terms of story beats, but it's padded to the point of suffocation.
Plus, for my money, it suffers from that usual Bioware thing of lurching from an impressive, cinematic cutscene or action sequence, to a horribly static couple of poorly-acted talking heads, with a dialogue wheel. That, I don't feel, is good storytelling. It feels archaic, clunky and inconsistent.
There were games on the shortlist that - however charming and valid their narrative qualities might be - sported game mechanics that I felt were so hopeless that they impacted negatively on the storytelling.
There was a lot discussion about my top two games, and I'd expected them to be shoe-ins. From where I was sitting (near the sandwiches) - there seemed to be a lot of points being made about games that allowed the player to create their own story, versus games where the story was more linear, and handed to you on a plate. Like the sandwiches.
I'd gone into the room thinking I knew what I was going to vote for, but the arguments against it nearly convinced me otherwise. My finger hovered for a good minute or so over a different choice, but ultimately I went with my gut - the "story" that had impacted on me most, the one I felt touched by. The one, I believed, had been best told.
We didn't get the results on the night: I didn't know which game had won that final round of voting until it was announced at last night's BAFTAs. Without giving too much away, I was pleased that Left Behind won. It feels warm and furry to know that I had a hand in the journey that led to its victory.
As well as genuinely being a privilege, it was a fascinating process to be a part of. It made me think harder about video game storytelling than I've ever done before - what works, what doesn't - and the different ways that games can tell a story. Is an emotional connection with a character the same thing as a story? Is a well-told story worthy of winning an award, even if that story is cliched and unoriginal?
It was also nice to actually spend time with games people. Much as I've loved my years working in TV, there's a real sense - on a very personal level - of coming home. I'm more excited than ever about the possibilities of video games, and interactive narratives - I honestly think it's the future of storytelling.
But anyway. There you go. You can debate whether having independent panels for each category is the best way to judge an awards ceremony, but - rightly or wrongly - that's how one bit of the 2015 BAFTA Games Awards was judged. No prisms, no troughs, and no naked pagans.
That was the after-party.
FROM THE ARCHIVE: