You would think that as the producer of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you would expect the Game Award’s Game of the Year award to be sort of in the bag already from the start. However, that was not the case for Eiji Aonuma.
In an interview with Famitsu and translated by BlackKite, before receiving the award, Aonuma was slowly discouraged and even thought about leaving the awards show early. That was until Breath of the Wild was announced as Game of the Year. Surprised, he went up on stage with his head completely blank and not knowing what to say.
Famitsu: We saw you receiving the prize during the live stream, but you were in a situation where you wouldn’t know whether you would win it or not, weren’t you?
Aonuma: That’s right. When I was sitting at the awards ceremony, there were more and more foreign titles being mentioned… I somehow became discouraged, thinking it might be difficult at all for a Japanese game to win this. And as the event was about to close, I was talking to Fujibayashi saying, “Let’s prepare to leave.” And just as I underestimated it, the Game of the Year announcement came, and my head went completely blank. I stood up hugging Fujibayashi, but at that time I was already completely unconscious. I stood on the stage while still being in that situation, and the first words that came from me were “Thank you America!” Are you a middle schooler? [referring to himself at the awards ceremony] (laughs).
Aonuma: Now I understand how people cannot say anything at times like this. (wry laugh)
Famitsu: But we were moved when you were cheered. Aonuma-san must have been very excited.
Aonuma: No no, I didn’t even know whether I was excited or not. That’s why I had “Thank you America” as my first words. After that, the development staff tampered with the speech quite a lot… (laughs). But yes, I was that happy.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an excellent game and totally deserving every bit of the Game of the Year Award, maybe Aonuma just needed more confidence in the game.