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.

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