If you have any of the same Twitter friends and RSS subscriptions that I do, by now you've probably heard dozens of times about the latest Brainy Gamer podcast. Just in case: Have you heard about the latest Brainy Gamer podcast? Michael Abbott has assembled a super-confab for an epic three-part discussion of the best games of 2008. I shared microphone space with Dan Bruno, Corvus Elrod, and Spencer Greenwood, who must always be referred to by his full name.
All three had unexpected picks for their favorites of the year, a trend which extended across every discussion. Michael says he asked 20 different writers for their picks, and got 20 unique responses. That's unbelievable, and maybe unprecedented. We had a bit of a discussion about what the lack of a consensus pick means, if anything, and I'm not sure I said what I really meant about it.
Essentially, when everyone you know picks BioShock or Portal for their game of the year, I don't think that's indicative of a hive mentality or a lack of imagination among gamers -- I think it means that those games were seriously awesome. This year's best games still all seemed to suffer from one massive annoyance or another, and it's a matter of each person's individual breaking point how they responded to that. That may be what accounts for the divergent responses.
If, instead of asking everyone for their top pick, Michael had instead asked for our top 10 lists, and then compiled the results into one master list, you'd probably get something altogether more predictable. Fallout 3 or Grand Theft Auto IV would probably be the number 1 pick, and most of us would think, well, it's not my favorite, but it makes sense to be up there. But that's much less interesting than the way he actually did it! There were games of all types represented here, independent and big-budget, story-driven and wholly competitive, new IPs and sequels. It's fascinating stuff.
Here's that link again.