As part of my readership, I’m sure you’re familiar with what I feel is the greatest of the year. If you’re not, it was Papo & Yo and Journey — just go buy that jazz right now. I’m sure everyone is tired of every reviewer and gamer’s “Best of” listings of the year, I won’t be doing that. I will, however, tell you what you may want to play catch up on if you went through the year with your eyes closed.
More than any other year in gaming history, 2012 defined this year as the year to prove games as another form of art. Journey not only toppled walls, but tore them down like the Berlin Wall. We, as gamers, were left mouths agape after playing just the first 20-minutes.
Papo & Yo released in August to mixed reviews, but only the positive reviews touched on the beauty of the game’s auto-biographical origin story (I won’t lecture your ear off on the back-story for a millionth time, instead click this blue highlighted area.). The Unfinished Swan made us, literally, paint the game’s picture. The Walking Dead challenged us to rethink point-and-click as well as human relationships. Minecraft (for 360) forced us to use the imaginations we had left behind in our childhoods and create our own world.
It was the year of the indie game — the year the indie game defined itself and took ‘Game of the Year’ titles out of the hands of the biggest franchise’s and company’s. A tiny company by the name of ‘That Game Company’ unintentionally grabbed gamers by the shoulders and shook their very understanding of what a game could be while other games expected to win ‘GOTY’ awards received an almost blanket of snubbing from reviewers. ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Journey’, both originally released for the the PSN and/or XBL, collectively took ‘GOTY’ from the biggest in reviewing (IGN, GameSpot, Game Informer, VGAs) names, as well as the reader’s polls.
More buzz worthy chatter surrounded the likes of Fez, Skull Girls, Minecraft for 360, Papo & Yo, Journey, The Walking Dead, Spelunky, The Unfinished Swan, Sound Shapes, Faster than Light, and Orcs Must Die 2 than Halo, Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty or Mass Effect.
It was unexpected…and wonderful! This was the year that the gaming landscape changed. Congratulations! You were part of a memorable point in gaming history and you didn’t even know it was happening until I told you, just now.
So congrats, indie game developers everywhere! You did what few people thought you could and without them even knowing it happened. Thank you for making some of the most beautifully moving games ever. Thank you for believing in your idea enough to stick with it on a rough budget and boatloads of naysayers. Thank you for understanding gamers better than they understood themselves. Thank you for making us cry like babies, feeling feelings we didn’t think we could over a collection of pixels.
Thank you for changing so many people’s minds about gaming, especially this one’s.