When it's time to hand out awards, one sign of a moribund industry is broad consensus about which book, movie, play, album, etc. deserves to be chosen as best. Last year's Tony Awards are a good example.
Tom Stoppard's play The Coast of Utopia won seven Tonys, the most ever by a non-musical. Taking nothing away from Stoppard's fine work, a big reason it won so many awards is because it faced so little competition. The other nominees all had rather short runs and were seen by relatively few people. Seven Tonys for one play says more about the sad state of non-musicals on Broadway, unfortunately, than about the quality of Stoppard's 9-hour opus.
Happily, the game industry faces no such problem. While we can argue about the current state of video games--economic, social, cultural, artistic, etc.--the obvious lack of consensus about which game deserves recognition as "best" suggests a vigorous and healthy condition.
To prove the point, here's a roundup of magazine, website, and blog choices for best overall game of 2007. This list is by no means comprehensive, of course, but it does convey a sense of the variety of opinions among reviewers.
- Gamespot: Super Mario Galaxy
- Gamespy: Call of Duty 4
- Joystiq: Portal
- Kotaku: Super Mario Galaxy (near-tie with Uncharted: Drake's Fortune)
- Destructoid: Bioshock
- Games Radar: The Orange Box
- X-Play: Bioshock
- Time Magazine: Halo 3
- Associated Press: Bioshock
- MTV Online: Desktop Tower Defense
- SFGate.com: Bioshock
- Maxim: Call of Duty 4
- Yahoo Games: Super Mario Galaxy
- The Telegraph UK: Bioshock
- Edge Magazine: Super Mario Galaxy
- Eurogamer: Portal
- GamerTrailers: Super Mario Galaxy
- WorthPlaying: Bioshock
- Gamasutra: Portal
- Game Developer Magazine: Portal
- UGO: Call of Duty 4
A quick tally from the above sources:
Bioshock - 6
Super Mario Galaxy - 5
Portal / The Orange Box - 5
Call of Duty 4 - 3
Other games like Halo 3, Drake's Fortune, Puzzle Quest, and Guitar Hero 3 received top nods from sites not listed.
2007 was clearly a year with many good and several outstanding games. Let's hope 2008 is similarly confounding for consensus seekers.