I noticed this year a lot of whining amongst critics regarding the traditional end of year GOTY articles. Some people didn’t do one, others pussyfooted around and refused to call anything the “best” but would admit to having a “favourite”, heck even the people who actually named something GOTY were vaguely apologetic about the whole deal. Apparently it’s now passé to rate things as better or worse than each other, which strikes me as odd because that’s kind of the purpose of a critic isn’t it? Once you’ve given up on that then what is it that you do exactly?
I mean you don’t see the people involved in awarding the Man Booker Prize getting all worried about whether or not it’s possible to pick the year’s “best” novel do you?
Quickly a clarification for people who may have gone slightly insane recently. When you say that something is your “favourite” what you mean is that it’s the “best”. Favourite just means the thing you think is the best. Seriously that’s all it means.
But I mean that in my personal subjective opinion it’s the best but I realise that other people don’t like it as much. Something else is really the best because everyone liked that.
Then you are a coward. A coward far too likely to bend to peer pressure. Please do try and entertain the thought that everyone else is occasionally wrong. It will make you a more interesting person.
But the game that’s my favourite has obvious flaws that anyone could spot, how can I call it the best?
Look there’s a reason you love this game despite it’s flaws. Isn’t it possible that what is great about a game is so incredible that it makes the flaws irrelevant. Greatness is not about things being flawless it’s about them being great. Although flawlessness doesn’t hurt, a flawless but mediocre shooter is still just a mediocre shooter.
Anyway with that out of the way let’s cut to the chase. People appear to believe that it’s impossible to name something the best game of the year because “It’s just an opinion man”.
I hate that phrase. Of course it’s an opinion, that it was spoken or written by a human being makes it an opinion. You know what else? Just because something is an opinion doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Whenever you say that something is only an opinion this is what you mean “I think you’re wrong but I am incapable of explaining why that is the case”. To say to someone “Well that’s just your opinion” is to essentially admit to their face that you are incapable of debating them. Or you’re just too lazy to bother in which case why the hell are you taking part in the conversation in the first place?
But there’s no such thing as the best!
Look can a game be good? Then it can also be bad, otherwise there’d be no way to tell if something was good. Can a game be better than another game? Well if a game can be good and another can be bad then yes games can be better than each other. From there is it really such a huge leap of logic to assume that there are gradients between good and bad? Finally if a game can be better than others and there’s a wide gradient of different levels of goodness then it stands to reason that one game is the best.
But there’s no such thing as the truth!
If there’s no such thing as the truth then your statement must not be true, if it isn’t true then the truth must exist. Therefore the only possible option is that a.) the truth exists and b.) you are wrong. Hell even the ancient Greeks figured that one out.
Of course it’s almost certain that nobody knows what the truth is but the truth does not need to be known by man to be true. So yes my opinion may not be the truth but it might be and we’re never going to find out if, instead of challenging me on my assumptions, you sneer and say it’s just an opinion.
You know why people love this “it’s only an opinion” rubbish? Because they’re terrified of being wrong. By saying that everything is an opinion it means you never have to accept the possibility that the person you disagree with is right and if your opponent is right that probably means you are wrong. For a lot of people it feels far better to wrap themselves in this opinion blanket and pretend that they’re so enlightened because they know what the word subjective means. To accept that objective truth is possible is to except that you can be wrong, to refuse to do so is the most unbelievably arrogant and wilfully stupid thing I think of.
So to recap: Yes you can say that something is the best game of year, opinion can be true and saying favourite instead of best doesn’t make you clever. So next year when it comes time to pick a game of the year grow some stones and put your money where your mouth is. And for the love of god don’t pick a game you don’t personally love because you think it’s important, it shipped a lot of units, got a great metacritic score or because that’s what everyone expects. All that matters is that you love it and think it’s better than everything else.
And it’s in that spirit that I name Canabalt my GOTY. I’ll explain why next post.