We’ve already had our say on the best this industry produced in 2012 – if you still need to catch up then head over to our awards page – but what do developers think was the best game of the year? We asked 15 people from across the industry for theirs, and while Journey is the clear favourite there’s some well-deserved love for The Walking Dead, praise for Borderlands 2 and, in a couple of cases, welcome disregard for release dates.
The Walking Dead
Brian Fargo, CEO, InXile Entertainment
My favorite game of the year is The Walking Dead adventure game series which I give high praise for its simple story telling techniques. It is quite an achievement to take a fairly stale genre and make it resonate with so many people. They did an excellent job of capturing the subtly of conversation in making you question your answers and then try to read the character’s reactions. Action games are full of tension but in this game I found myself with similar feelings when an NPC in the game was grilling me for uncomfortable answers. I also appreciated it for its subtle emotional cues which tied the player deeper to the characters. Thanks to this game I expect a resurgence of quality adventure games.
League Of Legends
I’m sitting here trying to think of reasons not to say League Of Legends. It wasn’t released this year. It may not even be the best version of the underlying game that defines it. It’s a ridiculous pastiche of tacky fantasy clichés – elves, monsters, dragons. It’s bizarrely complicated, presenting novices with a tangle of systems and mechanics that are willfully, almost impenetrably, obscure. It is riddled with vulgar commercial hooks. It has a lower skill ceiling and a higher barrier of entry than many other e-Sports. It is, in a word, a mess.
But, as of this year, League is, arguably, the most popular video game in the world, and it’s one of the hardest, deepest, most complex and challenging games in the world, and the combination of these two facts makes it a fascinating and important game. It’s a game about precision, coordination, resource management, chaos and emergence, medieval territories and postmodern flows. It’s a game about mastering systems, but the most important systems in the game are infinitely un-masterable – the minds of your opponents, the minds of your teammates, and the unruly, undisciplined, ego-addled mess of your own mind as it slowly climbs from bewilderment and confusion, drawn by raw animal pleasure, driven by raw animal pain, gradually ascending the long slope of understanding, picking signals out of the noise, assembling patterns from the signals, becoming less animal, more something else, our minds laid out before us in all of their power and weakness, in all of their terrifying beauty.
While some of us continue to look for the Citizen Kane of video games, League shows us something else – this is what the next Baseball looks like. It is not a masterpiece, it has no author, it is the work of many hands, a modern folk miracle, the work of the world, a communal process, the flourishing results of a decade of tinkering, trial and error, and deep, continuous, play. League Of Legends is my game of the year.
I do not recall a game which takes two hours to beat but while doing so you think about your life behind and ahead of you. I almost came to my tears playing the game when I remembered my late grandmother. A game that moves and shakes you emotionally is my game of the year.