What Makes A Game Of The Year?

editorials by Sean Halliday

With the end of the year drawing ever closer, people begin to create their ‘Game of the Year’ lists. The majority of the time there is always at least a group of people who will question anyone’s choices.

This is all fair and good, but everyone has their reasons for selecting a game, or games, as the best of that year. But what makes a game of the year? Is it based purely on merit of quality and technical finesse? Is it how successful the game is commercially and critically? Or is it something more personal?

Thoughtful Selection

The core ideology behind the concept of ‘Game of the Year’ is that the said game is well made and well rounded. It should be of a high standard in each area. The game must be a quality experience. Examples of games that cover this (that are often considered game of the years in their respective years) are Halo 3, Red Dead Redemption and Uncharted 2.


All of these games hold the qualities previously mentioned and have thus been awarded for them. However, can we judge games on personal merit through memories and attachments we have to them?

Technically Solid

If a game is not made particularity well, at least compared to others, does that mean it should be discounted as a Game of the Year contender? One of the miracles of any creation is we can forge connections through various means. Even if the creation is ‘bad’ by either technical means or by general consensus. This is especially true with video games, you can make what you want to out of them, to a degree anyway.


A personal example of this was 2012′s Zombi U, a clunky, ugly, fiddly survival horror on the Wii U. On a technical level its controls weren’t great, its textures were kinda shoddy, yet this didn’t matter to me because of the experience.

Personal Experiences

Zombi U was the only recent title I can recall that truly made me panic when playing the game. The clunky controls and rough movement enhanced the experience, it made it feel more real, more intense.


Playing the game in the dark, unaware of the what to expect, it made the game more engaging. Zombi U did not do too well commercially or critically, yet I put it high up my game of the year list and championed the game. Technical ability perhaps doesn’t play as big as factor as many may think.

Not Wrong, Nor Right

There’s nothing wrong with selecting games based on their technical accomplishments, or popularity to a degree. It’s an opinion at the end of the day. The whole notion of Game of the Year is utterly arbitrary after all, but they do allow us to champion our favourite games, and that’s brilliant.




The concept of Game of the Year is often a great way to see how ranged people’s tastes are, how much the video game industry has on offer in terms of creativity . Everyone judges on their own criteria, their own experiences, let’s sit back and discuss people’s selections, not belittle them.

About the Author

Sean Halliday

Bargain bin version of Henry Rollins. Ex-Byker Grove cast member, former member of Ant & Dec

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