So we’ve hit that part of the year, people are going to be listing their favorite games this year, news outlets are going to be giving out their favorite games, we’re all going to be able to vote in who knows how many polls where we all make sure out favorite game is represented. It’s all bullshit. Nobody cares, nobody cares what you think or even why.
You, person reading this (or robot from the future) played a certain number of games this year. Let’s say you played 10 games for the example. You played 10 games on, and again for example, the Xbox One and PS4. So you have no clue what games were good on the Vita, the 3DS, the Wii U, or PC and mobile.
You don’t know anything. You can’t compare one game played to another you haven’t, you don’t have all the information basically.
So we need an appeal to authority, one of these learned and wise institutions, like Gamespot who have just a horrible online site, or some other place that also expects us to believe they know about games though their page layout design and ads are so obtrusive we can barely get any actual information out of their sites. Anyways we go to the press, who we assume have played all the games, and ask them what they liked the most. I mean they might have terrible taste in page layouts and horribley unfunctional search utilities on their own sites, but these are people who live and breathe games, the opinion makers.
Only they’re all bullshit too. These people don’t play all the games either, they play games for a job. Do you think they see games the way they did when they weren’t writing about them? The games press industry now is full of people working on videos all day or writing and researching stuff all day, and then they get those wonderful opportunities to spend 40+ hours playing Fallout 4 to write a review, only they have to do that in like a week (which if you break out your calculater means they spend about 5 hours a day playing the game for a week, that’s in addition to other actual work). They aren’t going to spend all their free time playing all the good games.
And you constantly disagree with these people on good media all the time. These are the people who you have to laugh at cause they like the wrong TV show or dislike that movie you saw and knew was way better than their review. Why would we place any value in what an entire outlet of these people think is any good? (No offense)
Democracy is bullshit too.
Voting is insanely over rated. It turns everything into a numbers game, how we can get the most people interested in something. The games that sell the best basically end up winning these game of the year awards. I mean a game that sold less than another might win, but the games that don’t hit that massive multi platform audience with a multi-million dollar marketing budget won’t ever win. One might argue that politics works the same way. I am not going to argue that here, I’m just saying that voting, in general, is fairly easy to game and we don’t always get the best results.
But getting rid of all of this stuff, all of these issues with how a great game might be selected we need to focus on on “why”.
Saying any art is great near it’s time of release is total bullshit.
If you create anything, whether it be working in science or art or techie stuff, you exist as a part of a chain of ideas that go back millenia. We base what we know and how we do things on what other people taught us, what we saw for ourselves, and what we accept as reality comes from this change.
At one point people thought it was OK to get drinking water from the same water they emptied their sewage into. After that people didn’t have any concept of what germs were for years even though people continually kept coming up with this idea. Then we have the arts where there are loads of artists that we value so much now who could barely pay the rent during their lifetimes while other artists we barely recall were considered fantastic.
Influence actually determines what matters. Yeah there were other people who were super popular during Shakespeare’s time, but we don’t use their work to explain writing to our kids. Or 2001 a Space Odyssey which lost the best picture Oscar to Oliver. Kubrick lost the best director Oscar to Oliver as well.
But when people want to talk about the game of the year when are most of the games released? Autumn. Seriously an absurd amount of games that are great and release in summer or the early part of the year often seem to get trumped by the titles that release in the months preceeding the game of the year process.
Hollywood does a similar thing, where in December we get all the movies that really want to get the awards attention, and then you have January where the stinkers drop to hopefully not be remembered and to give theaters material to show even though people are all staying indoors at this point of the year.
Games that I would argue deserve serious thought from this year include games from the first half of the year, but their time in the spotlight has ended. DLC might get people talking about these games again, a little bit, but they no longer dominate the media landscape like they did when they were new.
But they will have a strong effect in the long run. As much as we love Red Dead Redemption now there is always a period of time when a game is covered enough and nobody wants to see anything else that has to do with RDR. It’s already happened to me this year with all the games I liked. These are some of my favorite games ever, but I wouldn’t click on another Witcher 3 or Bloodborne video if my life depended on it. How is Rocket League supposed to compete with Fallout 4 when everyone still wants to hear about Fallout 4 right now?
The reality is videogames are an incredibly personal experience. The really great games are, like great art, games that influence what comes after it and expand what we think of as a good game. I love Bloodborne but shouldn’t the award for Game of the Year, if I love Bloodborne, go to Demon’s Souls for paving the way? If I love Fallout 4 shouldn’t the award really go to Morrowind or Oblivion or even Fallout 3? With games we have this industry where everyone stands on the shoulders of giants.
Persona 5 is coming out next year, shouldn’t we really give that one to SMT: Nocturne for opening the series up in the west? Or FF 15, that all happened because VII took off in the west, or maybe just go back and say the original game would win because we wouldn’t possibly have 15 without the original. Or maybe just say screw it and give it to Wizardry or Dragon Quest since that’s where the lineage all flows back to.
So I’m making my own Game of the Year list. For 2015 the contestants are:
In lieu of Bloodborne I want to nominate Dark Souls. That game literally changed my life. Bloodborne might not of had the multiplayer I always hope a Souls game will have, but I just have to accept at this point that Dk S was a bit of a fluke in having such a fun multiplayer community for so long. To everyone I ganked I love you but you should of rolled when that Crystal Soul Spear came by. You know this.
In lieu of Withcher 3 I’m going to nominate Dungeons and Dragons Edition 3.5. Yeah it’s not as hardcore as 2 but it allows for a lot of freedom in telling a story and I felt like Witcher 3 was much more like playing a tabletop game. You didn’t have to kill everything, you didn’t have to do any one way.
In lieu of Metal Gear Solid V I’m nominating Metal Gear Solid. That game just blew my fragile eggshell mind as a youngster. It kind of did everything it tried horribly, but at the time it shook what I thought a game could be.
In lieu of Falluot 4 we’re giving this one to Skyrim, a game that also had a dumb story but would let you sort of drift off when you played. I had 40 minutes to play Fallout 4 the other day and I realized I had spent the first 20 minutes just doing random stuff, basically just walking off from wherever I had left my character at the end of the last session. No worrying about getting a quest done or maxing a relationship, though this stuff would pop back in my head eventually.
And like everyone else I’ll vote for games I haven’t even played yet.
In lieu of Super Meat Boy HD(or whatever they called it), which I got stuck on a level and uninstalled, I’m nominating Spelunky. Spelunky is possibly the best game ever. I am not kidding at all. It is challenging, but when you really get into it the effort is worth it. I imagine Super Meat Boy is like that. Like I said I stink at that game. Also I think it stinks too.
And for a shooter let’s say the original Black Ops. I liked the zombie mode a lot. I know people like to crap on Call of Duty fans, and some of that might be warranted, but I feel like the people I met and worked on zombies easer eggs with were actual decent people who were fun to talk to. Multiplayer doesn’t work that way any more, nobody really plays with a headset plugged in any more. Who wants to hear some highschool kid shout epithets? But Black Ops reminds me of a better time when we were a bit more forgiving and could accept that most of the people who talked were idiots as a cost of doing business.
That’s probably a terrible list. How, just seriously, how do you compare Skyrim and Dark Souls and Metal Gear and Spelunky? They’re all good games and they all favor different types of gamers. Black Ops and D&D 3.5? These games are all well crafted, they’ll all continue to influence games for years. And I have these personal memories with all of them, they all at one point were a major game for me.
I could pick. I could pick a favorite and it would be done. But it’s bullshit. It doesn’t really say anything about me, namely because I’m an adult and don’t really have a favorite anything any more, but in a larger sense it’s a decision made without all the information. I loved Dark Souls but didn’t play it the year it came out. I love all sorts of games from the 90s and 80s that I didn’t play when they were new. If I had to vote for a favorite game back then it would be totally different than a choice now.
The choice only exists to try and define myself. To do the same thing a band T-shirt does and signify that I have a certain taste and am part of a certain group. Picking is much more about me than it would be what game was actually the best. So when you see a poll at the end of the year to choose your favorite game remember it doesn’t really express anything close to a fact when the choices are published. It’s not showing the best, it can’t even be expected that people voted for the game that they really had the most fun with throughout the year.
If you really enjoy a game it doesn’t have any effect on those experiences if it gets called the game of the year. If it taught you something it’s not like you forget it when nobody remembers it in the middle of December. What you like matters to you, it affects you.
Nobody else really cares. You’re not going to make me all of the sudden decide a random sports title was my favorite this year because so many people said it was the best. Or to be more specific even if people all say Fallout 4 is the best RPG this year that doesn’t actually mean the Witcher 3 wasn’t a superb game. And vice versa as well.
Right now people are probably wringing their hands at the gaming outlets trying to come together with a list of games for this year. Nobody cares. Seriously, nobody cares what you think. We all have our own opinions. (and if you look at the list of stuff I’ve written you’ll find my list from last year, and I’m going to write a list this year because I’m the worst) But seriously in the end we just have some opinions. It doesn’t mean anything. You can try to pick just one, to say one game really did it for you this year, but honestly for most people that doesn’t jive with their actual experiences. Most of us had several games this year that gave us strong experiences.
Even as a consumer indication it’s so empty. Like if I was going to give a recommendation for Fallout 4 it would be “it’s a fun game but the story isn’t great and you don’t feel connected to your character due to the terrible dialogue options” but if a person just saw a GOTY award next to a game it misses so much about what to actually expect from that game.
My favorite reviewers at Kotaku are the ones who keep their reviews short. But a GOTY award is just useless to really determine what a game is like. And a vote for a game to get something like that is also empty. You can’t say it’s for the multiplayer not the single player. You can’t say it’s for the last half and not the first. Even when you talk about your experience with a game it’s hard to get it across. I’ve written about Dark Souls numerous times, I’m never going to be able to get across how much it means to me and how it changed how I approach challenges.
That’s just me though. For others it’s a game with dumb, indestructible skeletons next to where you start out at. Or it’s the one with all those invasions by characters who cheated in all the items on their low level characters. But huddling all of us together and doing a show of hands doesn’t get at what that game means to anyone.
I’m not saying we’re all alone, that conversation is pointless and that we can’t subjectively agree on anything. Just that what art actually matters is a long term accomplishment and making a tiny list then voting on art within the first year it’s out is an absurd practice that has the worst intentions possible at it’s heart. It’s a marketing exercise. It’s a conversation that limits what you can say. It makes us less than we are intellectually and pits us against each other when gaming really is about something more than console wars. And vote in this stuff if you want, just don’t put any faith in it. Put faith in your own experiences and those of your friends, have a broader conversation about games or anime or art. You might learn something that might actually make your opinion more valuable. Still won’t really matter but it’s not a bad thing.