Rules

Best of E3 Awards
In order to be eligible for consideration in the 2014 Game Critics Awards: Best of E3, a game must be on display at the 2013 E3 Expo in Los Angeles, June 10-12, 2012. Games shown in private meeting rooms are eligible along with those shown publicly on the show floor.

Playable Format
In order to compete, a game be shown in hands-on playable format.  For the 2014 awards season, playable format is defined as the ability for the judge to manipulate a game in real-time while running on its native platform (i.e. "hands on" gameplay).  Games that are only demonstrated on videotape or through screenshots, concept art, rendered movies, pre-scripted (i.e. non-interactive) gameplay sequences, or developer-controlled theater demos are automatically disqualified from consideration in the major award categories.  Non-playable games are still eligible for Special Commendations in Graphics, Sound Design and Innovation. 

The onus is on the game publisher, developer and company representative to clearly communicate to judges how they can obtain "hands on" time with playable games. Games will be ruled "unplayable" if a judge is denied hands-on time with a product at any point during E3, no exceptions. The best way to avoid any confusion during E3 is to communicate with the judges in advance of the show as to how they can obtain hands-on time.  Also note that a game's eligibility status cannot be changed during the course of E3.  For example a game cannot be playable only on day two or three of E3 and not on day one.

Publishers and developers should keep in mind that Game Critics Award Judges have many obligations during the week of E3. Publishers and developers are welcome to host events in and around E3 and invite judges to attend these events to play eligible titles.  But a publisher/developer must also make accommodations to have a game available to play during normal E3 show hours at the Convention Center. If a judge is denied access to a game during regular E3 hours, the game in question will immediately be ruled "unplayable" and  ineligible. To clarify: It is not acceptable for a publisher/developer to say a game is playable "only" at an off-site event or evening party, in effect sending the message that the only opportunity to go hands-on with a game is at an off-site location.. 

For hardware, judges must be able to experience "hands-on gameplay" on final hardware or development kits in order for the system to be eligible for "Best of Show."  New hardware does not need "hands on gameplay" to be eligible in Best Hardware/Peripheral, since the focus of this category is technology, not necessarily gameplay.  New hardware must, however, be shown running in real-time in order for it to be eligible for Best Hardware/Peripheral.

Selection of Judges
The Judges for the 2014 Game Critics Awards are determined at the sole discretion of the Game Critics Awards Co-Chairmen. The list of judges is formulated before the E3 show and made available to marketing and public relations representatives at major interactive entertainment software and hardware developers.  This list is provided only to assist in booking hands-on time with products featured at the show.

Judges are generally Editors in Chief of major North American media outlets that have consistently covered the videogame industry and have clearly shown an interest in critically evaluating interactive entertainment.  Each media outlet is allotted one slot on the judge panel.  Judges are encouraged, where appropriate, to solicit the opinions of colleagues at their respective media outlets when determining the nominees and winners. 

Voting media outlets for the awards are determined on a year-by-year basis.  The inclusion of a media outlet during one year’s awards process does not necessarily guarantee that they will be included in future years.  Freelance writers can be included on the panel on a year-by-year basis, but only if they are empowered to act as the sole representative for a major North American media outlet that is qualified as a voting publication.

Category Selection and Definition
Before E3, the Game Critics Awards Co-Chairmen determine the list of categories that will be eligible for voting.  The inclusion of a category one year does not necessarily dictate that it will be included in future years.  In the event that there is a debate as to which category a game falls under, the Co-Chairmen have final say as to the category definition.

For 2014, the categories are as follows:

Best of Show
Best Original Game
Best PC Game
Best Console Game
Best Handheld/Mobile Game
Best Peripheral / Hardware
Best Action Game
Best Action/Adventure Game
Best Fighting Game
Best Role Playing Game
Best Racing Game
Best Sports Game
Best Strategy Game
Best Social/Casual/Family Game
Best Online Multiplayer Game
Best Independent Game

Special Commendation for Graphics (non-playable games eligible)
Special Commendation for Sound (non-playable games eligible)
Special Commendation for Innovation (non-playable games eligible)

Nomination and Voting Process
After the E3 show, the Co-Chairmen declare a date when nominations are due.  Based on the category definitions, the Judges submit their top five choices in each category, which are then weighted based on ranking. (For example, the top choice receives five points, whereas the fifth choice receives one point).  These results are tabulated by two independent parties, then compared to ensure accuracy.  The nominees are then announced, with five nominees in each category. In the case of a tie for fifth place, all tying titles are nominated.  The judges are then asked to vote for their top choice among the five (or more) nominees in each category. 

These votes are tabulated by two independent parties, then compared to ensure accuracy.  The winners are announced at www.gamecriticsawards.com.  In the event of a tie for a winning slot, the weighted points from the nomination round are used to break the tie.  In the unlikely event that two games tie during the nomination process and during the final voting, both games are named winners in that category.

Questions
If you have further questions about the Game Critics Awards and its rules and regulations, please see the About page for contact information.