Is there Such a Thing as Game of the Year?
December is a time for top ten lists, retrospectives and summaries. You’ll find them on most blogs, fansites, podcasts and You Tube channels. I’m sure I’ll be producing some content of this nature myself over the next fortnight. Christmas puts a lot of demands upon our time so posts of this kind are a necessity more often than not. Naturally one of the most common subjects of debate is the so called “Game of the Year”, which at first glance seems a somewhat innocuous subject. However it’s a far more contentious matter when you stop and consider by what criteria do you judge a game to award it such a title? Plus there’s the perennial issue of gamers not being the most level headed group when it comes to controversies and dissent.
So what exactly makes a game a candidate for Game of the Year? A large number of positive reviews from the gaming press? Or a high numbers of sales? May be it comes down to popular consensus from the gaming community? May be its all three? The thing is there isn’t a definitive formula or specific methodology. For a lot of bloggers, streamers and podcasters it simple comes down to an arbitrary decision of what game they enjoyed the most. I for example have played a lot of Witcher 3 this year and had immense fun with. I could label that my Game of the Year but as I have not played a great deal of other games and many of the AAA titles that have been released, am I really making an objective statement?
I’ve read more about games this year, than I’ve played them. As I’ve stated in recent posts I have less time for games and my overall relationship with this pastime has changed. As a result I see the underlying concept of Game of the Year as being merely a marketing term; a sound bite or a tag line to place on advertising or packaging. Some of the lists that my blogging colleagues produce can be entertaining. At this level I say that’s the purpose of the title, Game of the Year. It’s a talking point. Yet sooner or later such debates are derailed by trolls who fail to grasp the concept of differing opinions. Plus it’s also worth considering did we really get any truly ground breaking, innovative and radically different games this year, worthy of such a title? Or did we merely get more of the same with some games managing just a little more polish than others?