Supergiant Games’ critically acclaimed roguelike Hades is the first game to receive the illustrious prize. The Hugo Awards are awarded every year for works of outstanding literary fantasy and science fiction.
The action-packed dungeon crawler follows the exploits of Zagreus, son of Hades, as he attempts to escape the underworld and reach Mount Olympus. On his journey, he is aided by gods and other fantastical characters from classical mythology. Each escape attempt draws the player deeper into a complex narrative about family, redemption and perseverance.
Originally released on PC and Switch in 2020, followed by PlayStation and Xbox in 2021, Hades drew universal praise from games critics. They praised its challenging mechanics, compelling story and earworm-riddled soundtrack. Receiving a Hugo Award, however, is unprecedented for a work of its kind.
Presitigious science fiction awards
The Hugo Awards date from 1953, named after Hugo Gernsback, founder of the influential magazine Amazing Stories. The awards traditionally celebrate novels, short fiction and fanzines, plus long- and short-form ‘dramatic presentations’. Previous winners include the likes of Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. Le Guin and Frank Herbert. The list of screen works that have received the Hugo includes Alien, Blade Runner, Moon and Arrival, as well as television episodes of Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica. The awards are voted for by science fiction and fantasy fans who are members of the World Science Fiction Society and its annual WorldCon.
The Best Video Game category was added this year for DisCon III, the 79th WorldCon (World Science Fiction Convention) in Washington, DC. As such, it’s not yet a permanent category, but may be headed that way in future. The Hugo Awards website states that it has been under consideration for ‘several years now’. Interestingly, it was offered as a category in the 2006 awards but dropped from the final ballot due to lack of interest.
Supergiant Games were not able to accept the award in person, but Creative Director Greg Kasavin posted a video on Twitter thanking his team, as well as ‘the Greek gods themselves, above and below.’
‘At Supergiant, we’ve tried to marry the traditions of fantasy and science fiction and literature with that unique interactive component and create these worlds that feel as though they are alive as you navigate through them’, he says. ‘We’re so grateful that our work on Hades has stood out in that way and we hope that the Hugo Awards continue to recognize the amazing work being done in this space.’
Hades took the top videogame prize over runners-up Animal Crossing, Spiritfarer, Final Fantasy VII Remake, The Last of Us: Part II and Blaseball.
Other winners at the Hugo Awards this year include Network Effect by Martha Wells for Best Novel, The Old Guard for Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form and The Good Place for Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form.