I'm Dreading Choosing A Game Of The Year For 2015

Every year at Kotaku Australia we have game of the year awards. We have a reader voted Game of the Year and we have an Editor's choice. Meaning: I usually make a very public Game of the Year choice.

This year? I'm absolutely dreading it.

It's tough. It's always tough. But this year might be the toughest yet.

I still remember the year I had to choose between Journey and Trials Evolution (I went with Trials Evolution). I remember choosing Luigi's Mansion 2 one year instead of a steller 3DS Zelda game or Mario Kart 8.

In general it's strange. Choosing a 'Game of the Year' means distilling 12 months of incredible experiences and saying this one -- this is the one was the best. It means comparing weird disjointed experiences with traditional ones. It means weighing up completely disparate criteria and making some sort of decision about which was more important or which was more valuable. It can mean going with your gut. It can be about weighing up personal experiences with a more objective approach. It means juggling all this shit and then raising one video game over the others like Simba in The Lion King and saying...


Until this year, the choice I struggled with most was Trials Evolution over Journey.

In a lot of ways that choice, for me personally, perfectly embodied the absurdity of the 'game of the year' debate. In the red corner: Journey. Perhaps one of the most perfectly crafted video game experiences ever made. A unique experience. One you might point to if asked to justify gaming as a medium. "SEE! SEE VIDEO GAMES CAN SAY MEANINGFUL THINGS ABOUT STUFF!" If they gave Oscars to video games Journey would probably get a dozen.

In the blue corner: Trials Evolution. A game about fucking Motorbikes doing wacked out shit for no good reason. A game that I personally adored, a perfectly balanced example of brilliant level design. By all definitions of the word a very 'video gamey' video game.


On that occasion I went with my gut. I enjoyed Trials Evolution the most. It brought me the most 'pleasure'. On some level it taught me more about myself and my ability to endure than Journey did despite the fact its thematic content amounts to nothing more than "motorbikes are fucking awesome, right guys?"

Laboured point being: what is the criteria for this stuff? Should there even be criteria? How are we defining these defining experiences? What is even the point of it all?

It's a question that's front of mind for me as Game of the Year season approaches.

I'll level with you, here are some of the games that are in the 'Game of the Year' discussion for me:

-- Bloodborne -- Her Story -- Rocket League -- Metal Gear Solid V -- Mario Maker -- Okay, let's also say for argument's sake that Fallout 4 makes this list because it probably will.

Seriously. Look at that list. We have a video game about cars playing soccer competing with a video game about making Super Mario Bros. levels. They're both competing with a video game in Her Story where you literally type in search terms and watch videos. That's it!

How does one go about defining the terms for that comparison?

Just go with the old gut instinct? Probably. That's what I've been doing for the past three or four years and it's worked for me. It's allowed me to highlight some of the stranger games that I've enjoyed, and that's a nice byproduct, but I'm really just trying to be honest with myself and with you. I chose Skyrim when it was the consensus choice among critics and I've chosen Luigi's Mansion 2 when no-one else was even close to picking it. I chose both games with a real sincerity: those the games I enjoyed most on those particular years.

But 2015? I feel as though this is going to be the most difficult choice yet. Metal Gear Solid V was sprawling, ambitious, yet flawed. Rocket League was surprising, ingenious and incredibly fun moment-to-moment. Her Story was dazzlingly original. Bloodborne was a brilliantly distilled experience and a feat of universe building. What do we value most? What do I value most? That's a metric that is constantly shifting. It's impossible to retain any sort of consistency there.

Bugger it. I'll probably just choose Rocket League.



    ARK: SURVIVAL EVOLVED. Seriously. Content, gameplay, speed of production and value. The sheer scope of the game plus its vision. Easily game of the year. It may still be in alpha and need a bit of polish but it's amazingly, highly playable in the current state its in and runs damn well now.

    Oh and the fact it's not a sequel and you can ride goddamn dinosaurs with automated turrets on their backs! :D

    Last edited 14/10/15 12:06 pm

      Unfortunately it's a persistent open world multiplayer with a griefing problem. I want to play it so badly, but I really don't want to deal with the "other people" factor. Same thing that prevented me jumping into DayZ.

        I don't find the griefing an issue personally, that's part of the game. Find a server, not one of the public ones, one of the private ones that encourages community. PVE servers are great to play on, and some set down rules such as 'fighting is fine, but no base destroying and no passive dino killing' for instance. DayZ and Ark aren't truly comparable, DayZ while I love it, has *nothing* to do but scavenge. Ark has caving, taming, questing very soon, construction, tribal systems, levelling, a whole plethora in comparison.

        Griefing was a problem on release but now there's a stone tier which is relatively easy to tech to and get started with and it's a bitch for people to pull down. Basically if people want to use explosives to get into your base, it will cost them a fortune in mats, and probably wont be worth it. Once you get metal going (which is REALLY easy now compared to release in which metal rocks looked like normal rocks and were rare as all heck) people will only grief you if they're super super super rich. Coming from someone who was in a huge tribe of 60 that loved to grief, it got to the point where the reward never matched the cost so we had to stop. Looking forward to final release when all the servers are reset back to zero and coming back to pwn :D

          I couldn't put ARK on the list considering it's not finished, although I know not everyone in the industry holds the same view.

            I totally agree with Alex - if it's good enough to be "game of the year" then why hasn't it been released?

              That's a little unfair: the developers never promised to release it in 2015 and they can't control fans who really enjoy their product. Similarly it's a bit unfair to dismiss someone if a game in Early Access is genuinely the thing they've enjoyed most this year (and that's kind of why rules on GOTY stuff isn't uniform because, well, it's arbitrary to begin with).

              To be up-front, it's entirely more practical from where I sit to restrict it to things that have only seen a 1.0 release. But as a gamer I think it makes more sense anyway just because of the ways games can radically change from when they're made available to the public to when they're "released". But again, that's just my view.

      Is it even in contention if it isn't released?

        Depends, define released? It's available for purchase, it's able to be played... I mean one can argue that a game with a season pass isn't technically 'complete' until the season pass content is out either by rights.

          True. I guess I would define released by how its sold. If they haven't brought it out of early access I guess the devs/pubs don't call it "released".

            Yeah and to be honest, I don't consider them to be fully released either, not even DayZ which I love but is still so goddamn raw and unfinished (and to be honest, since Rocket left, looks like Bohemia has more or less abandoned it). But something about ARK is so damn polished and nice... lol

              I'd figure "released" as version 1.0 of a game being publicly available for purchase. Then again, some never make it that far haha

                Yeah I was gonna say "1.0", but that hasn't really applied for long time.

                  True that. Also, most games 1.0 release isn't even ready half the time anyway *cough arkham knight PC cough*

    Maybe it would make it easier to determine game of the year if you started doing game of the quarter, that way, the game of the quarter would be nominated for game of the year at the end so it would leave you with 4 choices, making it a little easier!

      Except most game of the year choices are released in the first or fourth quarter, so you would likely end up with two fairly average games included and two better games excluded.

    Bloodborne, Witcher 3 and MGSV for me so far. Already among those 3 it's a tough choice.

    I really love Bloodborne heaps. But at the same time i think of Witchers living world and epic storyline and i start feeling fond for that game. Yet when i think of simple run gun and be stealthy, MGSV hits my heart.

    Last edited 14/10/15 12:07 pm

    It'd be pretty easy for me if Fallout 4 lives up to the hype. I've enjoyed a lot new releases this year, but nothing has made me say "This is my game of the year right here".

    My favourite at the moment (probably because I only finished it the other day) is Ori and the Blind Forest.

    That game. It's gorgeous, it plays ludicrously well, it has a nice story, and it's fun.

    But there are so many choices. I have loved so many games this year.

    Personally I find it odd that people are driven by the urge to rate and rank games against each other for the purpose of some hypothetical victory. It's redundant. I mean, Mario kart vs bloodborne? ?? Completely different games. It's not a competition.

      I agree it really isn't a competition, Bloodborne is miles better than Mario Kart.

    For me it's The Witcher 3, easily.

      I don't know, I think The Order 1886 gives it a run for its money!

      Not really, Until Dawn should get it.

        Free-hanging cocks> story> gameplay > graphics.

        The Order wins hands down.

    Life is Strange for sure.

      Oh yes!

      Can't wait for Episode 5 on the 20th... or rather, I can, but I don't wanna wait.

    What, no Witcher 3 on that list? Arguably the best action RPG I've ever played (well certainly arguably the longest!). I just finished it. Loved it.

      I like Witcher 3. It was a fantastic game, but for me it lacked that 'wow' factor.

      Double yes

    Surprised the list didn't include Witcher 3 - that was seriously a very very good game, and I still pine for playing a hand of Gwent every now and then.

      It's good to see someone else enjoyed gwent. I only ever read people complaining about the gwent missions, while I based my Witcher experience around gwent. I played for 200 hours, enjoyed it but don't think I go back again (which is the worst complaint ever). Would happily download a gwent game for my phone though

    I'm going out on a limb and going to say Just Cause 3 is to be game of the year.

    Remember guys, game of the year to one person may not be the same to someone else's game of the year. It's all about personal opinion and preference.

      Of course it is. It's all about my personal opinion and my preference that everyone share it. ^_-

        So long as that opinion aligns with my own, I agree with you!

        Otherwise I believe we need to shout down your opinion in favour of mine, which is inherently superior because... well. It is mine.

    Bloodborne, still no contest. Got the Platinum, still playing. Doing Chalice Dungeons co-op is ridiculously fun; there is nothing this year that has come close to the feeling I get after toppling a boss with another player.

    Witcher 3 cannot be beat in my books. Fallout 4 will have to absobloodymazing to topple it from number 1 and I don't see it happening (for me) as I prefer the Witcher universe to the Fallout universe.

      I'm sitting in your camp at the moment too, though W3 is also facing competition from MGS5 for me for its sheer gameplay brilliance. Fallout 4 is going to be tough, though I'm sure Bethesda will be gunning for that GOTY title. They'll bring their top guns.

    You're all nucking futs. Shower with your Dad Simulator 2015 trumps almost anything on any of these lists.

    Face it, if Serrels can get his hands on a vehicle in Fallout 4 and knock basketballs around the wasteland, that'll be his GOTY.

    Any choice that wasn't Bloodborne would just feel so wrong. It had the most unique setting, fantastic soundtrack, level design, game mechanics, art direction, sound design... the list goes on. No other game comes at the top of the list in as many areas. This game might not be 'fun' but boy, oh boy, is it satisfying.

    It's obviously gotta be Splatoon.

      Yaaaay! Someone also thinks splatoon!

        There is a disturbing lack of Splatoon in this article and comments section.

    Just Cause 3 will be out this year too, got a good feeling about that one.

    Pick a game on your list and imagine it never even existed... the one that gives you the most chills is your game.

    for me it comes down to Witcher 3, Dying Light, Ark and MSGV. Im not going to put Fallout 4 or Just cause in to this because they wont of been out long enough to be fairy judged and i hate it when a game comes out late in the year and wins game of the year just because of hype

    When in doubt, just choose Dark Souls....I mean, Rocket League.

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