In December of 2020 Electronic Arts published a spinoff of their long-running first-person shooter videogame series “Medal of Honor,” a VR FPS for PC and Oculus Rift developed by Respawn Entertainment. “Medal of Honor” got by with mediocre reviews upon release, but managed to top game sales on Steam during its first month. It seems ludicrous to think that a videogame would ever become material for winning an Oscar. And yet during the 93rd Academy Awards this past Sunday, April 25, “Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond” technically brought home a golden statuette. The reason: a mini-documentary included in the game was nominated and won.

That is no joke, as The Verge tells it. EA and Respawn Entertainment’s “Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond” included a 24-minute short documentary feature in its Gallery, entitled “Collette.” Directed by Anthony Giacchino and produced by Alice Doyard, this mini-doc is about Collette Marin-Catherine, a real-life fighter in the French Resistance during World War II, the primary setting of the “Medal of Honor” games. The now-aged Collette is convinced by a history student to make a journey to Germany’s Mittelbau-Dora, site of the WWII-era concentration camp where her brother was taken to and died.

While a nifty and emotional extra to an FPS game, “Collette” suddenly generated hype when it won the Big Sky Festival’s Best Short category, which made it eligible for Academy Award nomination. When it was nominated for the 93rd Oscars, Oculus Studios director of production Mike Doran noted that it was already a big honor. The short’s victory at the Best Documentary Short Subject category became a landmark moment. Doran attributes the Academy Award honor to the integrity and strength in the story shared by Collette. “As we see in the film, resistance takes courage, but facing one’s past may take even more,” notes Doran.

The triumph of “Collette,” and “Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond,” makes it three of the four major media awards that the videogame industry has made a mark by winning. The other victory is in the 53rd Grammy Awards (2011), where composer Christopher Tin won Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist/s for “Baba Yetu,” his composition of The Lord’s Prayer translated into Swahili, which was the theme song for the 2005 videogame “Sid Meier’s Civilization IV.”

Image courtesy of Variety