PC Gamer recently began their slow, click-bait, once-a-day award reveal, and to the surprise to no one with even a cursory knowledge of #GamerGate, they chose to highlight games which promote social justice. Their Game of the Year, Alien: Isolation, exclusively featured a female protagonist. It also had excellent graphics and textures underneath desks and in vents, which is where I spent most of the game (I like life) and toward the end of the game seemed a bit of a slog. (Anyone else feel by the time you’re outside moving the satelites that the game had worn out its welcome a few hours ago?)
Their Best Singleplayer Game, Dragon Age: Inquisition, is inclusive even for BioWare, with so many forms of sexuality that I’d need a flow chart to explain it. Suffice it to say, if you can team up with it, you can fuck it or be fucked by it, even if you’re not exactly getting the better end of the bargain:
BioWare’s proclivity for alternative sexualities aside, while DA:I was universally praised by the critics, actual users with no stake in sales or ads running on their site felt very differently; in fact, the current Metacritic user score sits at 5.8. Lest you think that might be due to some rotten apples spoiling the bunch, that 5.8 average is from over 2,000 user reviews. The people have spoken—DA: I is not the game being sold by the gaming press.
Add to this Leigh Alexander’s list of best five games, which include Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and a golf game where you are perpetually stuck in a sand trap, and its pretty clear that mainstream end of year game awards have become another pulpit from which the SJW’s intend to push their agenda.
GOTY awards from people who think games shouldn’t be fun
Despite the assertions from self-important windbags, the amount of enjoyment you get from a game is inherently important to a medium which is a form of entertainment. Enjoyment can be different things, of course—take television for example. I get a different kind of interaction from Breaking Bad than I do from Parks and Rec, but both are entertaining in their own way. One is dramatic and, at time, pulse pounding—the other, comedic and light-hearted. What they share is that both are enjoyable to watch (something Parks and Rec wouldn’t be able to push their liberal lean without), and have been successful as a result.
Spec Ops: The Line is a great example of how a game can be both entertaining and a learning experience without getting too preachy in the result. Yes, war is hell. We get it, but we’re never beat over the head with it to the point that it ruins the gameplay or dramatic pacing. I don’t mind games that have a message as long as they don’t violate the number one rule of a game: first and foremost, a game must be fun.
It can be a challenge, or easy to play. It can look photo-realistic or cartoony. It can be a puzzle game, a racing simulator, or a game in which you murder civilians just because. But you have to enjoy the experience—everything else is just window-dressing. And anyone who thinks that games don’t need to be fun should probably look up game in the dictionary. From Merriam-Webster’s (emphasis added):
…a physical or mental activity or contest that has rules and that people do for pleasure
There is a separate word for an activity in which you attempt to teach me something—it’s called a class.
Giving awards to games because they are “important”
It’s shit like this which makes walking simulators like Gone Home Game of the Year in Polygon (happened last year, that did). Despite the fact that you encounter no one and are literally wandering an empty house looking for notes from your younger sister, Polygon picked Gone Home because it featured a female protagonist and involved a storyline in which you discover your sister is a runaway teenage lesbian. Well, hurray for that, but at the end of the day I’m still wandering in a empty house doing fuck-all! Not fun, no gameplay to speak of, no other characters even, but it addresses a social issue? GAME OF THE YEAR.
I actually think if I made a “game” in which you start the opening cinematic as a woman, go to a party, get raped by frat boys and then “Press F” to confide to a newspaper (and not police, mind you) before rolling credits, Polygon, Kotaku, Gamasutra and Eurogamer would be tripping over one another in their attempt to hand me accolade after accolade. And no gameplay—that one key press would be it, to symbolize the helplessness of college women. After which the game would uninstall itself, to prevent you the trauma of reliving the experience.
That would be Game of the Century by their standards. This is why the publications which still have the balls to have a fan-voted GOTY invariably get a different result than their staff voted GOTY. Someone needs to fix this disconnect. If a game doesn’t even meet the dictionary’s definition of a “game,” how can it be Game of the Year?
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