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Published on December 17th, 2013 | by Tony Odett


Question of the Week: Does Game of the Year Matter?

Welcome to Critically Sane’s Question of the Week, where we do our best to answer an inquiry posed to us by the community. Have your own question? Tweet it to us @criticallysane or put it in the comments below!

Does Game of the Year Matter?

It is now December, and Critically Sane, like every other gaming website on the interwebs, is deep in the throes of its game of the year discussions. Later this week, we record our podcast where we fight it out on the air in order to determine what truly was the best game of 2013. It’s a fun process ( I really like taking the opportunity to tell Jeff he’s a horrible person for not playing X-COM last year, for example), but what is the point? Does Game of the Year matter?

We, as gamers, like keeping score. We like our kill/death ratios, our win/loss records, scoring hundreds of points in Madden and trying to break our high score record in Super Mario Bros. It’s how we judge ourselves. And, frankly, we tend to hold our opinions up to those same sorts of rubrics as well. We like to be validated, to be right. And every site that picks our favorite game as game of the year moves us one step closer to ultimate validation.


That need for external validation, to have someone look at us and tell us, “yes, you are correct” is one of the prime contributors to the vitriol that exists in the gaming community. I’m not shy- I have no problem telling you what I liked or didn’t and why that is so. But many people, confronted with someone else’s opinion (even when they back it with facts), will take disagreement as a personal assault. How dare I not care for The Last of Us?! Clearly, since it was your favorite game this year, I must be some sort of moron.

I think Game of the Year largely highlights the emotional immaturity so many people display on the internet. I love spirited debate, and a discussion that highlights what people love about games, what’s truly important to them, is valuable, both for the consumer making purchasing decisions in the future and for developers to know what their customers what. But too often you’ll see comment section descend into arbitrary vitriol and random diatribes that consist not of reasoned argument but of ad hominem attack.

The Last of Us

There is core value to Game of the Year. Our discussions always remind me of what I think is important in games, and the preparatory gameplay sessions seem to broaden my gameplay experiences with things I wouldn’t normally dive into (though I still think Bioshock Infinite is torn down by its combat and The Walking Dead is the most overrated title ever made). Being forced to confront your own values in discussion and debate is an experience that makes you a better person.

So remember, as you think back to your game of the year, you have your own set of values and experiences. Not everyone has that same viewpoint, and the fact that they don’t agree with you doesn’t make them stupid or flawed. And maybe the reasons they think the way they do can make you a better gamer and a better person. Personal improvement, brought to you this year by game of the year.

Super Mario 3D World

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About the Author

A longtime blogger/games writer with a distinct love of strategy, he brings the smarts and the sarcasm to the Perfectly Sane Show and to Critically Sane. Always going on about games with vast strategic minutia, Tony also writes as the Critically Sane Strategist.

  • Don Parsons

    Gran Turismo 5 and Battlefield 4. Done. You’re opinion is moo. 😉

    But really, I agree. It’s fun to discuss this kind of topic in an intelligent manner, but far too often it degrades to plain immaturity.

    • Chris Scott

      His opinion is that of a cow?

      FYI, you are going to have a hard time convincing anyone that a three year old racing game and a mess of a AAA release deserve to be GotY. 🙂

      • Don Parsons

        That was a Friends reference. ;D

        Actually, both of those are in my top 5, but neither are my number one. 🙂

  • Alan Collahuazo

    I value other people opinions about their game of year. It’s great if we agree in the same but at the end, I care how I feel about the game I like most and entertain me better. There were so many games good games this year. Amongst my choices are tomb raider, super Mario 3D world and any game that is not an exclusive playstation game.

  • Wolf

    We didn’t even touch on ‘Game of the Year’ versions of games. 🙂

    • Wolf

      What game this year do you most want a GotY version of?

  • Wolf

    Game of the year is something that can only be discussed by people who have played all candidates, otherwise we are talking about ‘favorite’ of the year, which is just your opinion. Having not played many of the AAA games this year, I can’t really contribute to the discussion.

    • Wolf

      The other side is a popularity contest, which game have the most people played. That mentality is what I see in the academy awards, which is why I refuse to listen to the academy.

      • Wolf

        Throwing in my two cents, GTAV, is an amazing game, but not my favorite
        of the year. I imagine many people will say it is GotY, in part because it is about as popular as breathing apparently, but that doesn’t equal game victory. A consideration yes, but not sole determining factor.

        • Chris Scott

          It didn’t end up as our Game of the Year. 🙂

          • Wolf

            I see that. 😀 It wound up on the top 10, which is probably appropriate.

    • Chris Scott

      I guess it depends on how/what you view as all the candidates to be, which in the end is just an opinion. These lists/awards are always just going to be opinion based. I mean, we’re going to try to come up with 10 games that represent the site as a staff, so many of our favorites are going to get knocked out but we’ll have our own lists to represent us and it’s mostly just done for fun and as a discussion topic for the site.

      • Wolf

        Which in itself is great and admirable. Most of us that follow the site probably do because we are entertained by your discussion and find your opinions read-worthy 😉

  • Chris Scott

    For publishers and devs end of the year awards and top 10 lists are a nice little anecdote to cap off their work for the year and for fans its a nice discussion topic. Our game of the year is mostly inconsequential to anybody outside of us but if we spark any sort of debate or we entice people to share their best experiences of the year with us and others, then I feel they have meaning and therefore matter.

    • Wolf

      So what was your favorite experience / gaming-moment of the year?
      AC4, broad siding the hell out of a Man o’War for me.

  • Wolf

    Hah, new game to play for the year! ( all 7 days?) Marval Superheros!
    I may contribute yet!

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