Sifu’s Fighting Game Nod Highlights a Category Issue


Indie gaming returns this year with the Game Awards Sifu was recently nominated for Best Fighting Game, which confused many fans. While Sifu deserves credit, its title as a fighting game doesn’t quite match the beat ’em up action game it is. The Game Awards themselves even seem to acknowledge this by nominating as well Sifu for the best action game. These decisions reveal a flaw in the show – it tries to categorize games with multiple mechanics into easily definable boxes.


SifuThe quality of isn’t up for debate, as it received rave reviews when it launched earlier this year. Developed and published by SloClap, the indie game follows a martial arts instructor on his quest for revenge against his father’s killer. Sifu was praised for its narrative, polished combat and use of death as a game mechanic. Sifu is a fantastic game, but it’s not a fighting game.

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Sifu really doesn’t fit into the fighting game genre

Sifu training in dojo skylines

in the SifuPlayers control a martial artist protagonist to finish off enemies with combinations of different punches, very similar to fighting games. Fighting games differ in that they mainly involve two or more players competing against each other. The Game Awards recognizes a similar definition, describing this category as “For the best game designed primarily for head-to-head combat”. Where they differ is that The Game Awards seems to think multiplayer isn’t a requirement for being a fighting game.

The problem with this definition is that most games feature “head-to-head” combat. Game of the Year Leader elden ring is known for its challenging battles where even common enemies can send players to the “Game Over” screen. Similar to competitive fighting games, elden ringThe many bosses in require players to read their opponents closely to avoid attacks and rely on frame-perfect counters to deal damage and achieve victory. Despite these similarities, few, including The Game Awards, would classify elden ring as a fighting game.

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Sifu shows why genre awards should be discarded

Malenia, Blade of Miquella, fights Starscourge Radahn in the Elden Ring

To make things even more confusing, Sifu was also nominated for Best Action Game. This category is more accurate but still begs the question of how the same game could be nominated for two different genres. The Game Awards describe this category as “the best game in the action category that focuses primarily on combat”. The only difference between this and the best fighting game description is the “head to head” part that most games contain.

Following the same logic elden ring could have been nominated for almost any genre category as well as various other categories such as Best Art Direction. elden ring is such an immensely popular and well-received game that if it were nominated for these categories, it could win the majority of the show’s awards. Seeing the same winner for several hours would take the excitement out of the show and damage The Game Awards’ status as video games’ premier celebration.

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To avoid this, The Game Awards should focus on individual aspects of games. The Game of the Year award could stay along with the Best Indie Game award to honor a lesser-known title, but individual genre awards should be scrapped. Awards such as Best Boss Fight or Best Moment could be used alongside the current Best Score and Best Performance awards to highlight aspects of games rather than their genre. Not only would this allow for clear definitions, but it would also allow flawed games with great ideas to be recognized.

Many gaming publications and sites give out individual awards, but the Game Awards carry the most weight. SifuThe nomination for Best Fighting Game demonstrates the difficulty of applying conventional genres to games that contain many influences. The Game Awards should focus more on specialized categories that remind viewers why the medium needs to be celebrated and get them excited about what they’ll be playing next year.