Coming on the heels of what many considered an industry-wide downturn, the games of 2010 proved the naysayers had no idea what they were talking about. Just the 12 games that made the cut for consideration for our coveted Game of the Year prize alone presented a staggering array of accomplishment across all platforms. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Civ V, Fallout: New Vegas, Halo: Reach, Heavy Rain, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Mass Effect 2, Rock Band 3, Starcraft 2, Super Mario Galaxy 2, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and of course, Red Dead Redemption.
A year in which just those 12 games had been released can be considered a banner year in game design excellence, but those were only a portion of the list of games we reviewed at The Escapist and considered potentially "games of the year." Choosing just one, to represent the year 2010 as its best videogame offering, therefore, was a monumental undertaking, one we took seriously and over which we debated for weeks.
What makes a game "Game of the Year?" We decided that, in contrast to our reviews process, during which we consider each game in a vacuum, judging it on its own merits, by how well it embodies the elements we consider important in game design, a Game of the Year must be considered linearly, in contrast to its fellows and all that has come before. The Game of the Year must be the very best game that has been made as of right now in this current year. A Game of the Year is the state of the art of design and play as we understand it, informed by the thoughts, exhilaration, styles of play, necessities of design and cultural considerations of today. The Game of the Year will be remembered in later years as the best the industry had to offer in its time. It is a snapshot of what matters most right now, and as such, must be considered as part of the field, and not as a standalone experience.
There were a lot of games released in 2010 that we consider worthy of remembrance, but did not - for one reason or another - make it to the table for consideration for Game of the Year. This is partly due to our practice of being selective as to which games we play and review. We did not believe it would be appropriate to nominate games for which we had not awarded a review score. There were also games which, although possessed of brilliance in some areas, fell short in others, and although could be considered worthy nominees for Game of the Year, were not well-enough reviewed by our editors to stand up to rigorous debate. For this purpose, our deliberations began with the games of 2010 which we had awarded four or five stars, and our team of editors whittled - through vigorous debate - the list from there.
In considering our list of 12 nominees, then, the debate pivoted around consideration for which games more than one of us could say we honestly believed should be Game of the Year, based on the criteria set forth above and on our own experiences playing each game and reviewing them. The result of these deliberations, I feel, was the truest, most pure debate on the merits of a single game I have ever witnessed, and I am incredibly proud to present the winner, The Escapist's 2010 Game of the Year: Red Dead Redemption.