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Published on December 17th, 2013 | by Tony Odett

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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.

Zelda

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.



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