Monday, December 28, 2009

2009's Best

Every year a multitude of publications post their Games Of The Year. In 2009, a lot of them are also reflecting back on the decade that was, reminding us what has come out within that time frame and demonstrating, even if unintentionally, just how far videogames as a medium have come. Ten years ago, the phenomenon that is Guitar Hero and Rock Band didn't exist; Nintendo's Wii and its dominance was unthinkable, as the company was the joke of the industry -- to some people at least -- thanks to the GameCube's clear and unfortunate last place in the console wars; Big name franchises such as Grand Theft Auto, Halo and Call Of Duty didn't exist, or were nowhere near as popular as they are today; and a little something called World Of Warcraft was nowhere to be seen.

Reading these nominations, reflections and opinions of a year and decade gone by has been amusing, while choosing my own games has been a struggle. Basically, I always thought the process was pointless -- the choices were always going to be subjective for one, and for two, no one's going to remember once the new year's games distract us with their flashy graphics, fancy mechanics and general splendor -- and beyond that, I could never choose anyway. Last year I thoroughly enjoyed the likes of Fallout 3, Burnout Paradise and Grand Theft Auto IV -- among others -- while in 2007 it was BioShock, Forza 2, Portal and The Darkness; How, just how, can one choose a favourite title amongst that lot? I always figured the answer was simple: one can't.

This year has been a relatively similar process, but then I started to think about it some more. I realised that my point of view has always been that of a gamer or consumer: someone who devours the games that pique the interest, enjoys them for what they are and then moves on, forgetting their relevance to the overall medium as soon as the next big thing becomes available. Meanwhile, the past two years, but particularly 2009, has seen my perspective evolve from just your average gamer to one who thinks about the medium: someone who contemplates the meanings of the games they play, who enjoys reading and discussing videogames in any manner you can think of and, obviously, someone who enjoys writing about them too. This blog wouldn't exist without this newer perspective of mine, but it does and now that I've established my little corner of the blogosphere, I thought it was time to change my previous way of doing things and offer my own games of the year. In doing so, I can reflect on the year that was, but more importantly, I can also offer a little insight for my readers by showing them the games I thought were relevant, important or interesting in 2009.

So, starting tomorrow, I will be posting the games that I believe were the year's best, and that I hope future games in development aspire to.


RocknRollJoel said...

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with! I've just recently found your blog, and am enjoying going through the archives. It's good to see a games blog that is not only thoughtful and intelligent, but also comes from an Aussie point of view! Keep up the good work.

Steven O'Dell said...

Joel -- Thanks for the kind comments mate, it's appreciated. If you're new to blogs like mine and would like more that provide intelligent, thought-provoking discussion about videogames, then I wholeheartedly recommend you visit any of the sites I've listed on the right. All of them are worth reading and come up with a variety of subjects that are very insightful, intriguing and just plain fun to read.

If you are familiar with the other blogs, then now you know where I got my inspiration from. ;)

RocknRollJoel said...

No worries! I've been reading these sorts of blogs for about 12 months or so, and have read quite a few on your list - I actually stumbled across your blog after reading some of your comments on Insult Swordfighting! - but yours is the first Australian one i've found. Most of the others i've read so far have been US-based. Not that it really matters much at all, but sometimes it's good to have an Aussie perspective on some issues. For instance, your posts on the whole classification debacle have been really interesting, and are something i haven't really found on other blogs. So, keep up the good work!

Steven O'Dell said...

Joel -- Thanks again for the generous comments.

There was a time there where I wasn't going to post about the classification issue, as I felt it was covered at all the other Australian outlets you can think of and would be largely unnecessary, but then the continuous stupidity of the situation frustrated me and, well, you saw the result. I wasn't going to do it unless I could try and approach the issue maturely, explaining the situation without merely offering an opinion on it -- whether I was successful in that or not is up to you.

As for Australian bloggers, there are some out there I can point you towards if you want?

Michelle said...

Enjoying reading your thoughts on your favourite games of the year so far, but as I haven't actually played on them I can't really contribute anything meaningful!

The fact that this is the case really does show the wealth of great games that came out this year. Opinion really seems to vary on what the bests ones are this time around it's genuinely hard to pick or agree.

Your posts are always an extremely enjoyable read, looking forward to the rest to see if my played status changes :D.