Looking over the landscape of the video game industry, there are always certain games that will standout upon their release. Every year you can pinpoint certain “game of the year contenders” right from their launch. This year we’ve had BioShock Infinite and most recently The Last of Us. Both are stellar story- and character-driven pieces that will go down as benchmark examples for their production quality, but when you mention their gameplay aspects, they’re usually talked about as “just okay.” “Just okay” is a rather unsuitable descriptor for something that’s an interactive medium. Games are played and immersive, and while games like BioShock and The Last of Us definitely pull you into their worlds, it’s often not their gameplay that’s motivating you to continue playing. So how are we, as an industry, able to call them the “Citizen Kane’s of gaming” when oftentimes the gaming portion is their weakest attribute?
Are we saying games like BioShock Infinite and The Last of Us are the end-all, be-all greatest things ever? No, absolutely not. Are we saying they’re bad games? No, they’re not “bad” games. Believe me, we’ve played too many bad games to count! What we’re saying is that people seem to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of games like this and dismiss glaring issues and help the developers tout a game that’s not as deserving. These are not movies, they’re not music; they’re interactive media. We’re intended to literally push the developer-planned development forward, and when the gameplay implemented is on the “meh” side, why bother? Even more so, why forgive the developers and slap a “game of the year” moniker on it when December rolls around?
Four months ago, reviewers and gamers were clamoring DmC and Tomb Raider were game of the year contenders. Now they’re all but forgotten and will likely be remembered as “oh right, those games came out.” Hell, Ni no Kuni is the best JRPG I’ve played this generation, but come end of the year, it’ll likely be passed over or simply relegated to the “RPG” category. I don’t want to sound like sour grapes, and I’m clearly not saying The Last of Us and BioShock aren’t worthy of their praise and awards, I just think we might be too hasty and quick to say “GAME OF THE YEAR!” I think replay value factors in, letting the weight of the experience weigh in on you. BioShock left me wondering and wanting answers, and TLOU had me questioning my very actions by end game. Is it the mystery and intrigue that drives us to commend them? I mean, we all want to be in on the zeitgeist and the culture, so it’s best to go with the flow! I’ve been called a contrarian by many friends and co-workers for my viewpoints, but it’s never from a view of “well someone must be different, so I’ll do it.” I just tend to try and view both sides on an argument and I will defend the side I support strongest. Just like anyone would. I would just prefer people relax on claiming a game’s “game of the year” mere moments upon its release.
Now we at Gamers Association are rather split on the subject matter, so we’ll all list below our justifications and reasoning as to why, and some may surprise you…
Yeah, I think people can be hasty, but I think they usually live up to their expectations. Although your point about games creeping up is true, because I can’t remember properly but I don’t think Dishonored was overly hyped up as a GOTY, but that earned its awards, I think.
Gamers want gaming to be respected. That is a big part of why things like The Last of Us and BioShock Infinite get a lot of GOTY talk even if the gameplay itself is average. I could potentially find someone who doesn’t play video games and sit them down to watch me play The Last of Us from start to finish and they could walk away thinking, “I didn’t know games could be like that.” And who knows, maybe they’ll look at games differently. Where as if someone who wasn’t a gamer watched me play a game that was just really fun, nothing in it would appeal to them There isn’t any reason for it too…
(Peter’s, Nick’sand Luke’s thoughts on page 2)
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