GOTY 2012

Game of the year lists are something I only very rarely do anymore outside my satirical ones that I've done the past few years on the site. It's hard for me to quantify liking one game over another, especially when my personal playing history has indicated that I can have favorites in pretty much every genre conceivable. Yet I find myself doing one this year because the basic circumstances under which I play a lot of my games changed somewhat dramatically and I thought it would be an interesting thought exercise to see just how I look back on this year's batch of games in retrospect. Having spent the first half of this year living in Japan, a lot of the games I played were naturally in Japanese and although some equilibrium has been achieved again in terms of access to English games, it's a habit that's only gotten stronger as I try to maintain my connection with the language while I'm away from what I now consider my second home. As such, the number of games I was able to play that came out this year were relatively few and if there are some choices that seriously look like they come from out of left field, that's likely the reason why. There are also some notable omissions in here that sadly resulted from a lack of time and money, especially during the fall season. Had circumstances been better, I expect games like The Walking Dead and XCOM would have been very serious contenders for the list and are definitely on the to-do list in the coming year. But even then, my love for a lot of the more unconventional entries on this list is still so strong that I think a lot of them would remain on that list even if they came up against such juggernauts. A few games also arguably have dubious qualifications for appearing on the list in the first place, but I like to think I provided decent reasons for their inclusions, if only because I didn't think the alternative choices I had could otherwise replace them in good conscience.

In actuality, this list is out to make political statements about the state of the industry more than anything else. That doesn't mean I don't genuinely believe the games deserve the spots that they garnered. However, seeing how the industry has changed socially and economically in the past year and how my own outlook on games has positively changed as a result of the forced Japanese-language diet, the reasons I like a lot of these games have as much to do with what they ultimately represent as products as much as their actual quality. Having finally completed the list over the course of several days, it was actually the ordering that proved to be even more troublesome than the final roster itself, as, again, the games cover such a wide spectrum of genres and experiences that it was pleasantly difficult to decide the ultimate worth of one game's offerings over another in many instances. As such, I'll be genuinely surprised if anybody else picks the same games as I do for number 1 and 2, in particular, both of which I didn't expect to take their respective spots when I started writing this list. But as somebody who gave their personal 2009 GOTY to Devil Survivor, I am, shall we say, no particular stranger to controversy. I hope, if nothing else, this is an entertaining read that gives insight into the mind of someone forced to scavenge for what few games were feasibly playable when other personal circumstances (mostly good ones, it should be noted) held my attention for much of the year.

List items

7 Comments
Posted by PatPandaHat

In a weird way, I feel somewhat pathetic in that I listed Analogue as my #1 game of the year as well, but couldn't be bothered to enunciate what made it so good as well as you have. I mean, I agree with everything you said, I just couldn't verbalize it.

Edited by Pepsiman

@PatPandaHat: I think it's really difficult to succinctly justify why a game like Analogue deserves such a flattering spot in general considering both its relative obscurity and the overall struggle for games to balance narrative with actual mechanics. Even I'm still not entirely satisfied with the wording I provided, but since I also wrote a review on it here after it came out, I'm ultimately okay enough with it since it distills in a nutshell what makes that game so worthwhile to me. I'm happy to hear I'm not alone in giving it the top spot, though!

Posted by Video_Game_King

Kinda wishing you did your usual satirical one, since that would've guaranteed that I'd have played one of the games on the list through sheer bulk alone. (I'm not counting CLOP, for whatever reason.)

Posted by aurahack

I am so thrilled to see the Analogue love. I can't wait to talk about it myself when I post my list.

Posted by PistolPackinPoet

I was wondering if you play Persona 4 Golden. I'm kinda surprised its not on your list. Even though its a port, its a fabulous port

Edited by Pepsiman

@PistolPackinPoet: I have a copy sitting all of two feet away from me right now, but no Vita to play it on because I've been too poor to easily afford one since getting back from Japan. Lord knows I would have certainly been all over that by now if circumstances were financially better for me.

@aurahack: I honestly almost forgot it was a game that came out this year since it came out so early in 2012, so when I was coming up short on games that actually qualified for this list that didn't need wonky reasoning like Valkyria Chronicles 3, I was glad I still had Analogue tucked away in some corner of my brain so I could give it one last celebratory hurrah. While I'm certainly glad people are recognizing the worth of writing in games through stuff like The Walking Dead this year, I feel like Analogue has largely gone unnoticed by virtue of its genre and low profile in general. I can only hope that people like us who are bringing attention to it will slowly rectify that.

Posted by aurahack

@Pepsiman: I think it's a shame that it'll end up being pretty overlooked. Digital got a lot of love from enthusiast press and whatnot that I think Analogue missed on. Hopefully those who do give it props right now can help spread the word a bit. The subject of its narrative and how players discover it is something I think is really worth seeing.