Respawn Entertainment, the Electronic Arts-owned video game studio best known today for its battle royale hit Apex Legends, can claim a world's first for the video game industry: winning an Oscar.
The studio, in partnership with Facebook's Oculus VR, won the Oscar for Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the 93rd Academy Awards on Sunday for the 25-minute film "Colette," produced as part of Respawn's development of the virtual reality title Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond. Respawn is the first video game studio to win an Academy Award.
"Colette" details the life of French Resistance fighter Colette Marin-Catherine. It focuses on her return to Germany for the first time in 74 years to visit the concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora, where her brother was killed during World War II. The film was produced as part of Respawn's work on its VR game, initially an exclusive for the Oculus Rift platform (that later released for Steam VR, too), but "Colette" was created as a standalone 2D film distributed by The Guardian and viewable on multiple platforms. It is currently available for free on The Guardian's YouTube channel.
"The real hero here is Colette herself, who has shared her story with integrity and strength," Mike Doran, the director of Oculus Studios, said in a statement. "As we see in the film, resistance takes courage, but facing one's past may take even more. Allowing us to preserve this pilgrimage for future generations was a true act of bravery and trust. We hope this award and the film's reach means, as Colette says, that Jean-Pierre's memory, as well as all of those who resisted, are no longer lost in the 'Night and Fog' of Dora."
Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at email@example.com.