Gamers are a fickle bunch. We’re constantly categorizing the ins-and-outs of various games and genres, and numerically ranking this series versus that series. Most Halo fans, for example, can tell you their favorite entry in the series as well as their least favorite, and likely anything between. This has expanded beyond games into all forms of geekdom, including film, comics, and books. Perhaps, one might say, it’s human nature to rank the things they love and hate.
As such, every year, many gamers, regardless of whether they’re in the media or not, enthusiastically discuss their “Game of the Year” (GOTY). It’s one of the few times of the year when fans feel like they can openly discuss and quantify their overall experience that year and debate which game is undeniably “the best.” Of course, it’s entirely subjective, but news outlets far and wide declare one game representative of their feelings as a whole as opposed to the feelings of a specific writer.
And here we are. It’s mid-December with but only a few small releases remaining. That isn’t to discount the proposed quality of said games – they could certainly be of high-caliber – but publishers and developers know that the time of the year to release GOTY contenders has come and gone and there are a handful of approximately a dozen or so games that are all within the general gaming populations discussion when reflecting upon the previous year.
The biggest issue we face year-in and year-out is the dilemma that comes in two parts. There simply isn’t enough time in the year – between work, school, family, and friends – to play every game, or even every game that will undoubtedly be considered “great” come the end of the year. The second half of the problem is a financial one; we only have so much (or little) money to afford to be able to play everything.
Most games writers in the world face both of these dilemmas. Readers expect that we’re more knowledgeable of the gaming environment than your average consumer, and I know I take this very seriously (as I’m sure most people in my position do, too). I make an effort to play every game to a point where I feel that I have a grasp of how I feel about the game and if I find that my opinion varies wildly from the general public’s, I make an effort to put more time and more effort in to make sure that my opinion of the game is accurate. Sometimes in order to do so means I give up time that I’d otherwise be giving to a different game. I find myself wondering “should I play this game less and that game less? Or this game more, and that game none?”
This, of course, creates a difficult situation to deal with in regards to the GOTY discussion. Is my negative experience of a game wrong and thus not something that should be taken into account when putting together a list? The easy answer is no, of course not. The GOTY discussion is completely based upon the subjectivity of it all. And what of the opposite? If I loved Assassin’s Creed: Unity to the point where I think it’s the strongest entry in the series since the second game, am I wrong now? You might think no right now, but if Gamespot named it their GOTY, how do you think the community would respond?
On top of that, what if I didn’t even play one of the GOTY contenders? I don’t own a Wii U or a Nintendo 3DS at this point, and I’m confident that there are several contenders on those consoles that I can’t experience on my PS4, Xbox One, or PC. This means I can’t confidently include the likes of Super Smash Brothers Wii U/3DS, Bayonetta 2, or Mario Kart 8 on my list, despite the fact that I’m sure those would make the cut had I played them. You can be sure that one of those games will likely be many outlets’ GOTY, and here I am, someone who is expected to have an educated opinion on all things gaming, never having so much as played the game at a Best Buy demo station.
The GOTY discussion is a weird one, and it’s something that, frankly, makes me a bit uncomfortable to publish. But I also understand that I’m in a position where that’s not much of an option. Do games that came out earlier in the year get less of a crack at the top 5 or 10 of the year because they’re less fresh in our minds? And what if next week I decide that my number 3 game is actually my number 1, and my number 2 game is more like a number 5? The publication of such feelings sort of immortalizes them. It means that my choice for GOTY has to be ironclad. I have to be positive that I feel this way about this game, even though that is likely to change six months down the line.
And with that, I’m proud to announce that GIZORAMA will be allowing our contributing writers to come up with individual Game of the Year lists beginning with my own tomorrow.