The two-part award ceremony that serves as a centerpiece of the conference began with the 13th Annual Independent Games Festival awards. Dozens of creative (and bizarre) games were showcased, a can’t-miss mixtape of avant-garde game design, all worth checking out. The heavily favored Minecraft took the top honors; designed by one man, Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, it's become the perfect indie success story, selling millions of copies despite still being in beta. Not bad for a pixely game about...well, blocks.

The IGF awards were followed by the 11th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards, hosted by the immensely entertaining Tim Schafer (Brutal Legend, Costume Quest). Plenty of AAA games got their due (though Minecraft took some prizes here, too), Peter Molyneux of Fable fame received the lifetime achievement award and—to the sound of riotous cheers and tipped chairs—Rockstar San Diego claimed Game of the Year for Red Dead Redemption. Take that, Mass Effect 2!