For the past few days, the video game industry has waged a beard war in our inbox, grown men doing battle not with fists or firearms, but with braids, themes and names. Names for their beards.
What began as an innocent request for challengers last week has become an expedition into the darkest recesses of beardhood, with many developers proving that they're perhaps in the wrong line of work, and that instead of making video games for a living, they should be riding bikes around in tight leather pants.
That or jumping in longboats and pillaging the coastlines of Europe.
It was tough coming up with winners, but I am paid to make the tough decisions, so make them I have. Below then are the winners of our inaugural "Kotaku 2010 Might Of Beardface" awards. There are no trophies or prizes, simply the right to boast at their next arm-wrestling tournament or mead-swilling competition that their beard is one of the game industry's mightiest. Or most beautiful. Or both!
To see the winners (and everyone else), check out the gallery to the left there. And to everyone who sent in a beard, thanks!
Darin Beaver, Senior VFX Artist, High Voltage Software (The Conduit, Harvey Birdman)
Darin's beard is mighty. And furious. And long. But also beautiful, in that it has an amazing two-tone colour scheme going on, and rather than looking mangy or unkempt, seems to have the texture of a pony's mane. A beard to be proud of, no matter the century.
Sage Merrill, Lead Sandbox Designer, Bungie (Halo series)
Merrill's beard is not a beard. It is a weapon, bounds at several points to create a thick, seemingly deadly face-truncheon, which with one whip of his head could surely render a man unconscious.
Patrice Désilets, Formerly Ubisoft (Assassin's Creed series, current whereabouts unknown)
The man who kicked this whole thing off simply by making me think of his face whenever I see a beard, Patrice's mane is not that of a biker, or a Viking, or a lighthouse keeper. That's not his path. His is instead a luxury beard. An expensive Persian rug. A velour suit. The soft skin on a puppy's back. A doormat made of unicorn hair...
THE WHITE WHALE
Matt MacLean, Lead Systems Designer, Obsidian (Fallout: New Vegas, Alpha Protocol)
This beard may not be the longest, or the angriest, or the prettiest, but for a complete package, it's hard to go past the whole Moby Dick theme. The beard itself is great, but the duffel coat and pipe to go with it are greater.
BEST TEAM EFFORT
Red Storm Entertainment (Ghost Recon series)
Bethesda's 2008 beard-off to celebrate Fallout 3's launch is an admirable one, but I can't go past Red Storm's quartet of beard belonging to men that should video games ever lose their appeal, could easily make a living robbing stagecoaches. They also score points for giving their beards names, like "Irish Castro" and the "Cap'n".
Lee Taylor, VFX Artist, Sumo Digital
Dane Olds, Artist, Bethesda
Bethesda Beard-Off, 2008
Justin Leeper, Mode Director, Yuke's
Randy Greenback, Creative Director, Red Storm Entertainment
Chris Port, AI Engineer, Red Storm Entertainment
Kevin Sizer, Level Designer, Red Storm Entertainment
Michael Climer, Senior Vehicles & Weapons Artist, Red Storm Entertainment
Brent LaDue, Artist, Vicarious Visions
Darin Beaver, Senior VFX Artist, High Voltage Software
Sage Merrill, Lead Sandbox Designer, Bungie
Matt MacLean, Lead Systems Designer, Obsidian
Patrice Désilets, Formerly Of Ubisoft