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Edited by DevourerOfTime

Game of the "Year"

Fuck Yeah! Video Games! Right?

So, Giant Bomb, the Giant Bomb community, and pretty much this whole industry has gone crazy over Game of the Year in the past week. And why not? The VGA's happened last week, displaying a surprising level of competence this year and choosing a winner in many of the categories I can't really argue with. So let's all get excited guys! It's time to record some podcasts, wrangle in some special guests, shoot some goofy video segments, and display our lists so we can all discuss, debate, and, ultimately, celebrate the best fucking games this medium has to offer! Video Games! Fuck Yeah, guys! Right?

To which I say, "bah humbug". Now, I'm not here to say that we shouldn't celebrate the awesome achievements in our industry, but just that we're kinda forgetting a few important things in all of this jubilation.

The obvious one is that it's still December. Games are still releasing that, by just the unfortunate time they release, will hit this weird point where no one is going to consider them. They could be the best game that year, but no one will notice it. Yes, yes what good has come out of December, you ask? When September, October, & November are done with their deluge, what dares show its face after Black Friday, let alone after the calendar flips? Well, quite a number of games over these past few years: Pushmo, Mighty Switch Force, The Old Republic, Far Cry 3, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, Mario Kart 7, Trine 2, Hawken, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks... Even the much beloved Persona 4 launched in NA during this holiday month. I know that, even if every game on that list is capable of being enjoyed enough to be celebrated, they were overlooked by far too many.

Persona 4 being left behind by the Game of the Year hype train circa 2008.

But it's not just what games are released in December, but what people get in December. Namely, gifts. 'Tis the season of giving and all that jazz, which is warm and heartfelt and all, but what it really means is that a LOT of games are going to be bought and wrapped up until the inevitable day of unwrapping. I understand that this isn't really the case for the enthusiast media, but for the 15 year old that only makes enough to buy a few games a year, for the college student worried more about food than games (at least for those who have their priorities straight), and for many of the knowledgeable folks on this site and, yes, even those within the industry itself, a few of those games that they will unwrap in the closing days of the year may be the best games they play.

(Yeah, I know the holidays are not the same for everyone and I can't speak for all faiths, but with the 100 metre tall godzilla that the holiday season has become, I hope you can forgive me for generalizing.)

A Time To Celebrate

How many have played all the games they want to?

So, why have it now, anyway? The aforementioned fall deluge is barely complete, it's bountiful harvest of AAA and indie games alike are still fresh. These months release more quality titles a week than most people could feasibly play in that timeframe. What possesses people to believe they can experience all that is offered to them, even if they have a narrow or refined taste in games? I find that, without the time for reflection and catching up on titles, the conversation quickly becomes less of "what I thought were the strongest titles this year" and more of "what I actually had time to play."

In films, there are still sites, bloggers, and critics awarding their Movie of the Year awards just like us, but the film industry has some clear advantages in this area of celebration. First, movies don't have a big rush of content in the closing months of the year. Instead, their big rush happens in the summer months so DVD's and the like can experience a nice boost in sales during the holiday bonanza. Also, it doesn't take 5-50 hours to watch a movie. You could watch the 20 biggest movies this year in the time it takes to play Persona 4 Golden or Xenoblade Chronicles.

But even with those advantages, the biggest celebration in movies, the Academy Awards, doesn't even announce their winners for another two and a half months. Heck, they don't even announce their nominations until the end of January. Even with most of their choices for the best films of the year already locked by the time snow starts falling, the movie industry still allows a large gap of reflection and judgement to actually make the right choices.

Game of the Year? Maybe if things weren't so rushed.

Hearing about the insane weekend the bomb squad had, just trying to fit all of the titles they've missed in the last year into a short 72 hour time frame, doesn't it seem that we're all rushing this a bit? Patrick is going to be finishing Virtue's Last Reward soon, Ryan seems like he'd want more time with FTL, and Brad missed everything just to make sense of that whole Mass Effect situation. How would the whole discussion on their end change if they delayed it, if only for a month of catching up and reflection, especially with a nice break coming up for the holidays? If anyone could go against the flow and do Game of the Year in January, it's Giant Bomb.

As for us humble forum posters and hobby bloggers, why do we need to make our lists to hit an arbitrary date? It's exciting to talk about all these amazing games from the past year, but what will we lose if we take that extra month or two or three? Will the games of the still-near past lack all of their appeal once the calendar rolls over? Will the relatively dry times (though its growing more fertile) of January & February distract us from looking back at what we've missed, something many of us will do anyway?

Finish Your Plate

You make your lists today, but I've got more games to play.

I'm not naïve. I'm not saying that any amount of time will allow one to experience every game in a year while still keeping up with the newest, hottest titles, but I'm just saying that with all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and with all of us growing our backlogs one game at a time, consider slowing your pace down a bit, sitting back with a nice drink, and just enjoying the games you have. And when the year is done and the games are played, then come forth with your list. I'm sure the discussion will be better for it.

So as for me, I'll be waiting until March to consider posting a Game of the Year list. Last year, those three months allowed me to play 6 or 7 titles that actually had a chance or ended up on my Top 10. Looking at the games I have yet to play this year, like Zero Escape, Last Story, X-com, and Torchlight II, I think I'll need a little extra time.

Posted by ImmortalSaiyan

I was thinking about this too. I enjoy december for games because the whole process of listening to game of the year stuff on giantbomb, other's lists and making my own is really enjoyable. It does suck that we cram it all in during december when nobody would be able to play all the games they would like, even those whose job is to play games.

Is has just been this way for years now because we don't have an oscars or anything to base it on. Websites always did it on December. It has become a tradition or sorts. Not that traditions should not be questioned. The game industry have to get past this the present and future focus it now has. Even the spike VGA are more about the big up and coming games opposed to what is already out. People complain about how the summer is dry for games. Prehaps that would be a better time for some huge award show for games.

I just accepted that if I have not played a game by late December then, well, It was not as important to me than some other games. Not sweating it and reflecting on what I did play.

Posted by PerfidiousSinn

It's gotta be pretty tough for sites to get all their Game of the Year content out before December's end. Especially Giant Bomb and their incredibly long deliberation podcasts. Not to mention that it seems like games are STILL coming out the same month where they've gotta determine which ones were the best (imagine trying to finish Far Cry 3 and GOTY productions around the same time!)

I don't think I've ever put much time into creating these lists because my backlog is such that I end up playing games from the previous year more than the current. And because spending full price on games is for chumps.

You also reminded me that I have Dustforce and Mutant Mudds sitting in my Steam list and I haven't gotten a chance to even touch them. Those were in 2012? Damn.

Posted by DevourerOfTime

Yeah, I never meant to say that I don't enjoy the whole bonanza surrounding Game of the Year season. I'm all for any excuse to talk about, debate, and celebrate the best games this medium has to offer.

It's just that, as you were saying, the medium seems so future centric. The push is so strong for that new game, that new system, that new experience that I feel that with the GOTY season, one of the only times where developers, the media, and video game fans all stop to reflect, we kind of cram it in during an awkward time of the year and then, once the new year hits, we're chasing that future once again.

I guess I'm just struggling against that future-focused outlook.

Yeah, waiting for games to drop in price is sometimes necessary. I've been there. And it kinda sucks. Not only are you avoiding most of the internet so story-centric games aren't spoiled, but the internet has moved on by the time you actually get around to the game.

Posted by BeachThunder

It's definitely a bit crazy to start talking about a year in past tense, even though there's still 1/12 of the year left. I'm a little bummed that I'm not going to play Far Cry 3 this year, but I guess that's just how it is.

@PerfidiousSinn said:

You also reminded me that I have Dustforce and Mutant Mudds sitting in my Steam list and I haven't gotten a chance to even touch them. Those were in 2012? Damn.

Dustforce was at the very start of the year. Also, the game's fantastic; he's some music to put you in the mood :D