"Playing Aloy made me a stronger woman" - Ashly Burch thanks Horizon: Zero Dawn devs in speech

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Ashly Burch - who you may recognize as Aloy in Horizon: Zero Dawn, Chloe in Life is Strange, or Tiny Tina in Borderlands 2 - received major kudos at the 35th annual Golden Joystick Awards presented with OMEN by HP this year. The actress and writer took home the award for Best Gaming Performance as well as the Breakthrough award. Although Burch wasn't physically in attendance, she had some kind words to share with those watching.

First up was the Best Gaming Performance award. This is just what it sounds like: a way to highlight the year's best performance by a voice or motion-capture actor, and Burch was up against stiff competition. In the end though, the public voted for her to win the award over even the most seasoned of industry veterans, including Claudia Black as Chloe Frazer in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and Nathan Fillion for his work on Destiny 2.

Burch thanked developer Guerrilla Games for the opportunity to play Aloy, saying she holds the part near and dear to her heart. "This game means the world to me. Aloy means the world to me," she said. "Playing her made me a braver and stronger woman and I hope for any of the women that have played the game that you feel the same."

The Breakthrough award is a little more unconventional. It's meant to recognize individuals or groups who came to the forefront of gaming culture over the past year, even if they were previously active in the industry, and the 2017 nominees included the likes of Giant Sparrow (the studio behind What Remains of Edith Finch) and Game Grumps (originally a duo of streamers that grew into a robust YouTube channel and this year released its first video game, Dream Daddy). The gaming public chose Burch again.

Burch thanked Gearbox for providing Tiny Tina as her first major role in a video game, Dontnod and Square Enix for hiring her to play Chloe, and once more thanked the crew at Guerrilla Games. She also thanked fans of Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin' (HAWP), a gaming-themed comedy web series she started in 2008 with her brother, Anthony Burch.

It's been quite a road for Burch, and the Golden Joystick Awards showed that the public has taken notice. Congrats!