Chris Burke is... The Ed­i­tor

Chris pon­ders what ex­actly it means to choose a ‘best’ game

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - INSIDER - Fol­low us on Twit­ter: @oxm.

I just got back from the Golden Joy­sticks awards, which are kind of the Os­cars for videogames, if the Os­cars down­graded to a draughty tent in rainy Lon­don and they made Ge­orge Clooney travel there by dirty bus. This is where the great and the good of videogam­ing busi­ness gather to drink co­pi­ous amounts of com­pli­men­tary Fake­ti­nis and con­sole each other that The Crunch was worth it for a heavy, gold-ish, Joy­stick­shaped pa­per­weight.

Only jok­ing, of course. The Joy­sticks are a valu­able and im­por­tant recog­ni­tion of ex­cel­lence. I was there to present one. Not re­ceive one – a scan­dalous ex­am­ple of over­sight as there is no award for Best Games Mag­a­zine Fo­cused Solely On Xbox, for which I like to think we’d be a shoe-in. Still, I was priv­i­leged to be able to hand one of those afore­men­tioned gold­ish tro­phies to the lovely chaps from Play­ground Games, de­servedly pick­ing up an award af­ter Forza Hori­zon 4 was voted Top Xbox Game by you, the reader. Great stuff, con­grats again Play­ground.

But it did get me think­ing, as I basked in the glory of my 20 sec­onds up on stage: what is a ‘Best’ game any­way? At the Joy­sticks, it would de­pend on who you asked. Over­all, the Best Game award went to Fort­nite, as voted by the pub­lic. Us games journos, who de­cided on the Crit­ics Choice Award, went for Red Dead

Re­demp­tion II. And it’s pretty ob­vi­ous why, right? No one would re­ally ar­gue with ei­ther as sound choices for a Game Of The Year. Fort­nite’s en­joyed the kind of pop­u­lar­ity that used to be re­served for breath­ing; Red Dead II’s a tech­ni­cal mar­vel with su­pe­rior sto­ry­telling and horse pile-ups. But is ei­ther go­ing to be ‘best’ for every­one, nec­es­sar­ily? At that point I stopped wor­ry­ing about it as an­other bot­tle of fizzy pop was handed to me by the lovely guys from Rare, and things mostly stopped be­ing wor­ry­ing for the rest of the night.

Back at OXM Tow­ers, it’s that time of year when Old Fa­ther Time rocks up with his curved stabby stick and ush­ers in a new, mis­er­ably cold month, and we mag­a­zine journos like to look back on the year we have had and raise our Fake­ti­nis to all the stuff we al­ready wrote about.

So you’ll find, in this very is­sue, our Games Of The Year, which is ba­si­cally us say­ing, there you go, you played it, we played it, we said it was good, you agreed, let’s close the door on this be­fore some­thing gets out.

But se­lect­ing those games was ac­tu­ally hard work. Some of the games in our fi­nal reck­on­ing were only orig­i­nally given an 8 out of 10 by OXM re­view­ers. Now 8 is of course a very good score, but time it­self has lent some ex­tra credit to some of those ti­tles, par­tic­u­larly in these days of games-as-ser­vice. Now we’ve taken the time to re­ally get into the game, they’ve some­how stayed in our Xbox’s disc tray and now feel like a well-worn, favourite pair of jeans.

Defin­ing terms

What crazy science goes into de­cid­ing on ‘best’ games? Is a game good just be­cause it’s pop­u­lar? If so, Fort­nite must be amaz­ing. Is a game good be­cause it’s lu­di­crously chal­leng­ing, and there­fore is only for the ‘real’ gamers?

Dark Souls would win ev­ery time. Do we go on tech­ni­cal things like frame-rates and ter­aflops and, um, framey-wamey floppy-flops – the kind of tech-push­ing per­for­mance that daz­zles and amazes? Do we look for great sto­ry­telling and su­pe­rior nar­ra­tive beats? Well, it’s all of the above, but fil­tered through a fine gauze of what­ever-floats-your-boat and dis­tilled into a beaker of suit-your­self.

All of which is to say that this Best Game thing’s all just a bit of fun. So when the trolls and gob­lins are tak­ing to so­cial me­dia to rubbish our choices for Game Of The Year, don’t come cry­ing to me. Yes, there’s no de­fin­i­tive right or wrong, it’s all sub­jec­tive. Let’s all just have a gamer love-in here and agree there are no good games and there are no bad games. Oh wait. Ex­cept those games we voted as ‘Worst’. They were def­i­nitely aw­ful. n

“Is a game good be­cause it’s lu­di­crously chal­leng­ing?”

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