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What makes a game a “Game of the Year”? Is it the story, the gameplay, the environments, or is it the game that best represents the year of gaming? Perhaps it’s a combination of everything just coming together in just the right way. One thing it doesn’t take is having that game declared in the middle of the year. In this edition of the Sanchez Soapbox, I think we should take a look at why we are so eager to crown a game as a “Game of the Year” before the year is even out.

I had a little discussion about this on Twitter. Someone mentioned his timeline was full of people crowning the “Game of the Year”, in serious discussion. The problem with this is the fact that the year is just a bit past halfway over, and we haven’t hit the fall season, which has a lot of games scheduled to be released. Grand Theft Auto V is building up the anticipation it always seems to build up. Sleeping Dogs had people surprised people at its reveal last year and is building up even more steam as its launch nears. Who knows? Maybe a game as over-the-top as Saint’s Row 4 or the legacy of Assassin’s Creed 4 could make those games dark horses that take that title away from the early contenders.

Still, I’m just as guilty of doing this as much as anyone. I’ll play a spectacular game and label it as “Game of the Year”* (*-so far). Last year, I held Journey up to the standard of such a title that other games just didn’t measure up to in one way or another. This year, I’m seeing a lot of the same things being said for a couple games in particular: Bioshock: Infinite and The Last of Us.

As it stands, I think both of those games have enough to hold up throughout the year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see both of these games as contenders for the year’s end awards. So far, they’ve had some good competition in Tomb Raider, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and DMC: Devil May Cry. All of those have been mentioned at one point or another. So why are we so quick to dub a game THE “Game of the Year” (so far)?

Maybe it’s because everybody that partipates in this conversation does so because they want to have something that sets the bar for the year. Such a game has impressed people enough to say that this is where the bar is for the rest of the titles that either have been or will be released throughout the year. That game might not always hold up. There are rare occasions where it does retain that crown of being the top game, but that isn’t to say anything negative about the other games.

Once one game reaches that standard of “Game of the Year”, it then becomes a waiting game to see which games then follow into that category for the nominees. From there, some people will break down each game from story to graphics to controls. From there, it becomes a point of argument of which game did what better. I think we get caught up in awarding something so big too early that it almost weakens the rest of the titles that have come out that year.

So right now, we have two games vying for that top spot, and no doubt they will have some company throughout the rest of the year. Rather than just trying to figure out which game is worthy of the big award, lets have some fun with everything else and recommend them to everyone we know. Why not? They’re video games, they’re intended to be fun…at least most of them.

So what do you think Nation? Is the middle of the year too early to declare or debate a game of the year contender? Or is it just a matter of getting the debate set for when contenders arise? Let us know what you think in the comment section below, and stay tuned to New Gamer Nation for all the gaming news, reviews, and features you care about.