Favorite games of 2012

This year I got to cast a ballot to help put together Kill Screen’s Top Ten Games of 2012. My individual ballot was as follows:

  1. Journey
  2. The Unfinished Swan
  3. Mass Effect 3
  4. Papo & yo
  5. The Walking Dead
  6. Unmanned
  7. Fez
  8. Thirty Flights of Loving
  9. Sound Shapes
  10. LEGO Batman 2

A few admissions are in order: The vote for Fez is based on reputation alone. Not having an XBox, I haven’t been able to play it. The order of the list shouldn’t be taken overly seriously — it is intended to be a rough ranking, but only a rough one. I could be talked into moving any but the top two or three up or down a couple of spaces. Finally, LEGO Batman 2 feels a bit tacked on, even to me. It’s a fun game, and I needed a tenth.

This year has been a really transitional year, where I’ve been shifting from playing and writing about mostly older games to mostly newer games. Part of this has been because of the rise of XBox Live Arcade/Playstation Network downloadable games like Fez, Journey, The Unfinished Swan, Papo & yo, and The Walking Dead. These games are usually $15-30 instead of $60, 2-10 hours long instead of 40+, and often visually, structurally, or narratively inventive. They’re fun, accessible, and demand a sort of engagement that I’ve found fascinating.

We’re coming to the end of the current console generations, and there’s a lot of uncertainty about what will come next. Will big-budget AAA console games survive? My final admission is that in light of the new crop of indie, downloadable, and PC/browser games, I couldn’t care less.

I’ve written about a couple of games on the list, and I have projects in the works on two or three more. It’s been a great year for games (well, for players at least — folks on the business side may not totally agree), and I’m looking forward to the year to come. I hope you’ll share it with me.

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