No ‘games of the year’ list from SCG

Here’s why Shortcut Gamer won’t be ranking the best games of 2015

2015 was a great year for many things, especially games. That’s not to say that previous years or future years weren’t or are not going to be just as great. So, why do we waste so much time worrying about everyone’s picks for the best games of the year?

I mean, when you think about it, people are going to play what they like, when they like, regardless of other people’s opinions.

For instance, I put in over 50 hours scavenging the Wasteland in Mad Max. I thought the game was great (despite some framerate issues and too much side stuff with not enough story) and it’s on my list of games I’d like to review if I find the time to do so.

The majority of gamers and game critics, however, didn’t seem to have the same opinion. On Metacritic, the game currently has a 69 from critics and a 7.8 from gamers. As you know, we here at SCG don’t like to give numbered scores to games, but for the sake of argument, I’d give the game a solid 9/10, meaning it certainly would show up on a list of the top games of 2015 if I were to write one.

To me, games like Fallout 4 or Yakuza 5 just aren’t on my radar. Does that mean I shouldn’t include them in a ‘games of the year’ list? Some would argue ‘yes’ and others would argue ‘no.’ It all comes down to whether the list is my own opinion or a more general list based on sales, technical specs, replayability and the review scores of other gamers and critics. And that’s where the issue comes in for this journalist.

As many of our readers know, I’m a huge fan of the WWE games and WWE 2K16 was a great entry in the series. Including this on a ‘games of the year’ list though is hard for me as I know the WWE games aren’t really a good representation of overall gamers.

Then there are games like Just Cause 3, which I’m dying to get my hands on, but as a broke college student with very little time (and considering it released on December 1), I haven’t had a chance — or the money — to pick up yet. So should something like this be included or excluded from a list of ‘top games of 2015’?

This is where my dilemma has left me. As an independent gaming journalist who hasn’t figured out a way to make money doing this yet, and who only has so much time, it’s tough to play enough games to really get a feel for the best of any given year.

I aim to be as unbiased and honest as possible — as any journalist should — but it’s hard to decide whether to do a completely one-sided and biased list based on the few 2015 games I’ve played or to come up with something based on information I’ve read elsewhere (such as including games like Fallout 4 and Yakuza 5), just for the sake of having a list like everyone else.

The bigger gaming sites get review copies for free and discuss their lists with all the journalists who played those games to come up with a consensus list of the best games. I don’t have that luxury.

That said, I also question why it’s so important to so many gamers to read these types of lists. I mean, there is, of course, the entertainment value, but beyond that, they don’t seem to serve much purpose. Perhaps there’s a bit of discovery, in that some gamers may come across games they haven’t yet heard about while reading these lists.

Still, I think most gamers would agree that we all eventually settle on the games we want to play as individuals and go with those. So, in the end, do these lists really end up helping anyone?

Stuff like the Game Awards is different because that gives recognition to the developers and publishers of the games we love playing. But sharing the opinions of gaming sites and gamers in the form of a list so other people can read about what total strangers enjoyed throughout the year? I just don’t see the value.

Shortcut Gamer has done this in the past, but this year, due to the factors listed here, we decided to just leave gamers with a message of encouragement for 2016.

We here at Shortcut Gamer thank the developers and publishers for all the amazing games in 2015 and hope our readers and gamers everywhere have had lots of hours of enjoyment and entertainment throughout the year. We also hope 2016 continues to bring amazing experiences.

That’s what it’s really all about: Play the games you love, ignore the ones you don’t and don’t let other people’s opinions dictate how you enjoy your hobby. Too often do we let the opinions of others control our own thoughts and views to the point where we lose sight of what’s truly important. Play games, have fun and keep supporting the gaming industry!

Thanks for following Shortcut Gamer throughout 2015! We hope to see you all in 2016 as well.

Want more from Shortcut Gamer? Visit us on Twitter and Facebook!

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