2014 was an odd year for video games. Besides the gaming controversies (sigh) there was still much room for discussion. I’d like to say it was a great year for gaming as a medium due to the amount of discussion that came from the ups and the downs—despite the downs.
As it is the end of the year, as per tradition for many people, I want to present my personal games of the year list. But the following list doesn’t come easy, or without some apprehension. I completely stand by all of the games, but what good comes from lists like these in the first place? There is no doubt that games are fun, and all the people who put in hard work deserve recognition, but what does a simple “Best of” list accomplish? Without clear recommendations or reasoning, it’s hard to navigate how any one game can stand out. We found out these last couple years that “objective quality” of games isn’t as important to many as it used to be. The EA sports games and Grand Theft Autos are typically technical marvels—AAA titles (used to) signify a high level of polish, but that isn’t enough anymore. Conversely, games like Vlambeer’s entries, Crypt of the Necrodancer, Joylancer, and Twine games have shown that “interesting” games, well, interest people more than raw power or high fidelity graphics.
Additionally, the indie and AAA spaces seems to have completely different goals with their games. We can assume that they share, at least to some degree, the goal of making some money. But besides that, indie games seem to be shooting for creative, personal, narrative, or inventive concepts. AAA, on the other hand, seems to be staying comfortable with sequels or experiences that appeal to broad audiences or attaining a sort of Hollywood-of-Gaming. Neither of these goal sets are necessarily bad, but how can you compare those in a “Best Of” scope? With the broad range of genres in both spaces, I honestly don’t think you can. Even further, there are simply too many games coming out for one person to play them all fully, let alone the year they actually come out.
The answer to this, at least in my eyes, is to simply list a certain number of games that interest you in some particular scope. This list has to be completely subjective, just by the nature of the reasons listed above. With this mindset, a Games of the Year list is basically a list of recommendations/games that deserve honor based on one’s own preference set. Essentially, it’s just for fun. So, without any further philosophizing, here are five games that stood out to me for one reason or another, in no particular order. The only rule is that I had to play the game for the first time in 2014. I’ll list a “category” for why I chose the game, and a short description and justification.