The end of the year (or world according to the Mayans) is slowly approaching, and that can only mean one thing: end of the year awards. While we at New Gamer Nation will be presenting our own awards, I wanted to use this opportunity to talk about Spike TV‘s upcoming Video Game Awards show. Most notable are the nominees for 2012 Game Of The Year: Assassin’s Creed III, Mass Effect 3, Dishonored, The Walking Dead: The Game, and Journey. Rather than try and predict the winner of the award (that’s already happening on our forum), I wanted to talk about how this year’s selection greatly differs from that of the previous years.
For one thing, three of the nominees are original titles not belonging to an existing franchise. Since 2007, a total of four original games have been nominated for this award: Bioshock and Mass Effect in 2007, LittleBigPlanet in 2008, and Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009. Of those nominees, only Bioshock succeeded in walking away with the coveted award. For the first time since 2007, there’s a very good chance we’ll see an original title win Spike TV‘s main award.
Game of the Year nominees The Walking Dead and Journey also share the honor of both being the first downloadable titles to ever be put forward for this award. That signals a big leap forward in the social acceptance of independent games. Although a handful of indie games have been received to much fanfare and with similar critical acclaim, these are rarely (if ever) as celebrated in the same category as their Triple-A, disc-based counterparts.
I, too, am guilty of thinking this way. I’d usually consider a highly-regarded downloadable title as being a ‘smaller game’ than a disc-based title, simply it was made on a limited budget. Other times, it was because their in-game graphics couldn’t compete with the realism of higher-end titles. Maybe the ‘small’ feeling came from the simplicity of the gameplay, or maybe from how long these games take to beat, as at $10-$15 they rarely pack the same amount of content as their $60 counterparts. However, Indie games have the same or as a great a replay value as equivalent, full-budgeted titles, so that’s no reason to pass them up.
Independent game developers are putting out top quality products that engage the player and often tell a wonderful story. It just goes to show that if the concept’s good enough, gamers will buy into it. In this part of the console cycle, it’s refreshing to see that the financial and creative risks indie developers are taking are starting to pay off with high honors. Even if these original titles should fall short of winning the coveted Game of the Year award, it’s still a great step forward for independent gaming.