The Golden Joysticks are the longest running and most popular awards in the history of gaming. Also known as the people's gaming awards, they now enter this, their 33rd year, of celebrating all that's great in gaming.
The reason the Joysticks have such a special place in gamers' hearts is that they're voted for by gamers themselves - and there's still time this to vote this year if you'd like to have your say. Head on over to the Golden Joystick voting site, hosted by our friends at GamesRadar. It's easy, it's free and you'll get yourself a copy of Bioshock Infinite on PC for just £1/$1 for your trouble.
The dawn of gaming history
Way back in the dawn of gaming history - well, 1982 to be precise - in the Joysticks' very first year, the classic Jetpac from Ultimate Play the Game (who eventually became Rare) became the Joysticks' very first Game of the Year. The Strategy title was scooped by Melbourne House's pioneering graphic adventure The Hobbit, while Best Arcade Game went to Matthew Smith's seminal platformer, Manic Miner. Some amazing titles there for the gaming greybeards amongst you (youngsters, ask your parents).
Peering back through the mists of Joystick history is like taking a stroll through the archives of some gaming museum, and will evoke golden memories for anyone who ranks gaming as their first love. Titles like Elite (1984), The Secret of Monkey Island (1991), GoldenEye 007 (1996), Grand Theft Auto III (2002) and Half-Life 2 (2005), are just some of the many of the all-time classics honoured over the years.
And it's not just about the games. The Joysticks have also always honoured the people who create them too. From the early Programmer of the Year awards won by the likes of Jon Ritman (Match Day) and The Bitmap Brothers (Speedball), to more recent Life Time Achievement winners like Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear Solid series) and Ken Levine (Bioshock series), the Joysticks have celebrated the visionaries who have expanded gaming's frontiers and created its finest electronic dreams.
But just as gaming constantly re-invents itself, so the Joysticks have evolved too. This year console-specific award categories have been reintroduced to honour amazing titles like Uncharted, Halo or Zelda, which are only available on each platform. New awards like the Critic's Choice reflect the global nature of the Joysticks too, for they've now become an annual phenomenon. Votes are cast from all corners of the world by gamers from many different countries, many of whom will be tuning in via Twitch TV on October 30 to see the live ceremony and which of their favourite titles have won.
This year blockbuster titles like Bloodborne, Elite Dangerous and The Witcher 3 rub shoulders alongside innovative indies like Her Story and Everybody's Gone to the Rapture. A total of 21 different gamer-voted categories, ranging from Best Audio, to Innovation of the Year, to Best Gaming Moment, form the Golden Joysticks. But who will win the most coveted prize in gaming, the Ultimate Game of the Year 2015?
Well ultimately that's for you, the gamers, to decide - although, as we know of course, you're a shy, retiring bunch, who rarely have an opinion about any aspect of your favourite pastime (ahem).
So if you've not voted yet, or if you've never voted in the Joysticks before, now's the perfect time to stake your claim by taking part in its favourite awards. Head on over to GamesRadar and make yourself part of gaming history.
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