The more you hate Game Of The Year lists, the stronger they become


Old man 2015 is stumbling to a close, and you can almost taste the broken New Year's Resolutions already. But the end of a year doesn't just mean Christmas, frantic shopping and miserable weather - it's also Game Of The Year time, the most magical time of all, when everyone gathers around a keyboard to share in the hatred and vitriolic responses to a bunch of people talking about things they like. It's wonderful.

But I'm not here to ramble on about why getting angry at lists is stupid - I've already done that. So I'll ramble instead about why lists are great instead.

An entire website has been founded on the list feature, and it's hardly surprising that people still visit Buzzfeed like it's some kind of daily pilgrimage to find out Which Harry Potter Character's Bum Is Most Like Yours and Are You A Horse?

We like quizzes and lists. They organise everything into a neat, easily digested little packet of word-nuggets. We like making them, too, because, yes, it's sometimes less work as it means you don't have to stitch all the little disparate paragraphs together, and it's also pretty fun to rank things you like.


When it comes to making Game Of The Year lists, though, the fun and novelty soon turn to angst and aggression. Imagine, if you will, 15 prestigious and smart people (because all games journalists are, obviously - that's why we were all chosen at birth by the Great God of Games Criticism) in a room, each with their own biases and prejudices.

Some people grew up clutching the N64 controller and falling in love with Super Mario games; others grew up on Lara and her pointy chesticles. Some love Sonic, while others think he's a smug, prickly arse who should have been run over a long time ago.

And so these biases and prejudices carry over into talking about games. We are humans and (though we are nearly perfect because of the aforementioned grace of the Great God of Games Criticism) we like to defend things we like and get angry that other people like the wrong things. Every GOTY list you see has been painstakingly constructed over the course of several beer-filled hours, often at the cost of friendships, tranquility and sanity.


But why bother? If everyone's just going to tear the list to shreds in the comments, what's the point?

It's like I said before: everyone loves lists. Not only do we get a little tingle of endorphins when everything slots nicely into place in a final top 20, like a jigsaw made of emotions and opinions, we also get a lot of traffic from all the people who want to yell at us that a list made by many different people differs from their list, made by one person.

It is very unlikely that a GOTY list represents the actual list of any one person who helped make it.

Is that clickbait? Probably. But the whole concept of clickbait is silly. Of course websites want clicks, you numpty. And we're not going to tell you our top 20 in the title, because then you won't click. And then we don't get paid, and then we have to leave our jobs to work somewhere else, and let me tell you, a PPI call centre frowns on you making a Top 20 Worst Phone Calls Of The Year List.


Let us have our indulgent list features. Let us tell you which games we liked best. If you like, you can ignore the numbers. It doesn't matter, after all. Just like Buzzfeed can't actually decide your romantic future or political leaning, no GOTY list can change how you feel about anything.

We're not even saying the Witcher 3, or Fallout 4, or MGS V, or any of the other contenders are The Best Game, full stop. We just like them, and we like lists. And that is:

1. Good

2. Completely fine

3. Horse