Game Of The Year 2012: developers' choice

31st Dec 2012 | 14:00

We've already had our say on the best this industry produced in 2012 - if you still need to catch up then head over to our awards page - but what do developers think was the best game of the year? We asked 15 people from across the industry for theirs, and while Journey is the clear favourite there's some well-deserved love for The Walking Dead, praise for Borderlands 2 and, in a couple of cases, welcome disregard for release dates.

Game Of The Year 2012: developers' choice

We've already had our say on the best this industry produced in 2012 - if you still need to catch up then head over to our awards page - but what do developers think was the best game of the year? We asked 15 people from across the industry for theirs, and while Journey is the clear favourite there's some well-deserved love for The Walking Dead, praise for Borderlands 2 and, in a couple of cases, welcome disregard for release dates.

The Walking Dead

Brian Fargo, CEO, InXile Entertainment
The Walking DeadMy favorite game of the year is The Walking Dead adventure game series which I give high praise for its simple story telling techniques. It is quite an achievement to take a fairly stale genre and make it resonate with so many people. They did an excellent job of capturing the subtly of conversation in making you question your answers and then try to read the character's reactions. Action games are full of tension but in this game I found myself with similar feelings when an NPC in the game was grilling me for uncomfortable answers. I also appreciated it for its subtle emotional cues which tied the player deeper to the characters. Thanks to this game I expect a resurgence of quality adventure games.

League Of Legends

Frank Lantz, co-creator, Drop7
League Of Legends

I’m sitting here trying to think of reasons not to say League Of Legends. It wasn’t released this year. It may not even be the best version of the underlying game that defines it. It’s a ridiculous pastiche of tacky fantasy clichés – elves, monsters, dragons. It’s bizarrely complicated, presenting novices with a tangle of systems and mechanics that are willfully, almost impenetrably, obscure. It is riddled with vulgar commercial hooks. It has a lower skill ceiling and a higher barrier of entry than many other e-Sports. It is, in a word, a mess.

But, as of this year, League is, arguably, the most popular video game in the world, and it’s one of the hardest, deepest, most complex and challenging games in the world, and the combination of these two facts makes it a fascinating and important game. It’s a game about precision, coordination, resource management, chaos and emergence, medieval territories and postmodern flows. It’s a game about mastering systems, but the most important systems in the game are infinitely un-masterable - the minds of your opponents, the minds of your teammates, and the unruly, undisciplined, ego-addled mess of your own mind as it slowly climbs from bewilderment and confusion, drawn by raw animal pleasure, driven by raw animal pain, gradually ascending the long slope of understanding, picking signals out of the noise, assembling patterns from the signals, becoming less animal, more something else, our minds laid out before us in all of their power and weakness, in all of their terrifying beauty.

While some of us continue to look for the Citizen Kane of video games, League shows us something else – this is what the next Baseball looks like. It is not a masterpiece, it has no author, it is the work of many hands, a modern folk miracle, the work of the world, a communal process, the flourishing results of a decade of tinkering, trial and error, and deep, continuous, play. League Of Legends is my game of the year.

Journey

Shuhei Yoshida, president, Sony Worldwide Studios
Journey

I do not recall a game which takes two hours to beat but while doing so you think about your life behind and ahead of you. I almost came to my tears playing the game when I remembered my late grandmother. A game that moves and shakes you emotionally is my game of the year.

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Borderlands 2

Gary Rizzer, producer, Visceral Games
Borderlands 2

I  have to go with Borderlands 2. I was a fanatical Borderlands  player. I don't like to play competitive multiplayer games, because I don't like the negative vibe those game put out. So Borderlands, playing with a couple of buddies in the campaign mode - even though some people say it's just Borderlands 1, I was blown away by how much content there was

Journey

David Polfeldt, managing director, Ubisoft Massive

Journey

I guess I am not allowed to vote for my own studio but Far Cry 3 is the game of the year for me! Looking beyond my personal sphere, I have to pay my deepest respect to Journey. Such a beautiful little gem of poetry! It stretches the boundaries of what games are, shows what they can be, and it managed to touch me on a level that only Ico has done before. Well done! I am looking forward to future, longer games from Thatgamecompany. I hope they dare to dive into deeper and darker themes as well. I think they have the ability to do it.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Rasmus Hoejengaard, director Of creative development, Crytek

Skyrim

I know it doesn't really count, but I'd have to say that the game I've played the most is probably Skyrim - it's almost this year, right, with the DLC? For a variety of reasons, I like progressive RPG games that feel like they will never end. Also, I like to mod it - I think the whole modding part is awesome. Also, as I keep getting faster hardware I keep restarting it and starting new characters. I think, "I need to see what that first part looks like again" with new settings and mods on. I really try to make sure I have time to play games, you need to make sure you get a feel for what other people are doing.

Diablo III

Ron Gilbert, Double Fine

Diablo III

You know, I had a lot of fun with Diablo III, I've played that for a lot of time. i don't know if there's a really a game of the year for me though.

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Crusader Kings II

Giordano Bruno Contestabile, executive producer, Bejeweled franchise, PopCap

Crusader Kings II

Based on number of hours played alone, my game of the year should be Football Manager. My game of every year since 1994, that is. Besides that, I’ll give this year’s accolade to Crusader Kings II: surely not the most accessible of games, but the deepest, most original and addictive I’ve played in the last 12 months. The medieval Europe setting and focus on dynastic politics rather than battles are a potent draw for any history geek, and I’ve found myself unable to detach myself from the screen for hours on end.

Borderlands 2

Christofer Sundberg, founder, Avalanche Studios

Borderlands 2

My game of the year is Borderlands 2. I love it because it is exactly how a game should be – humourous, lots of opportunities, huge world and it doesn’t need all my time to be enjoyable and still keep me hooked. Gearbox have done a fantastic job!

Dishonored (sort of)

Dino Patti, CEO, Playdead

Dishonored

I haven't played anything this year which really impressed me. Journey was a really great experience, but it didn't have as much gameplay as i'd liked to see. Dishonored deserves an honorable mention, because bringing new IPs to the table is becoming a rarity these days.

Beat The Beat: Rhythm Paradise

Gary Penn, internal development manager, Denki

Beat The Beat: Rhythm Paradise

Beat The Beat on the Wii is hard to beat. Aha. It’s ever-inventive funny fun that has you doing shit you wouldn’t – couldn’t – dream of doing and to a beat; shit you couldn’t do without a beat. It represents our medium’s undernourished underbelly and one music video future. More of this madness, please.

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Journey

Ryan Payton, founder, Camouflaj

Journey

Journey was the game my cynical heart needed – a soulful reminder that clear vision, unified art direction, and quality-over-quantity can trump “AAA” console titles with literally 100 times its budget. As long as our industry continues to support indie teams like Thatgamecompany, I think we’ll all be OK.

To The Moon

Adrian Chimelarz, co-founder, The Astronauts

To The Moon

Choosing between To the Moon and The Walking Dead is like forcing a child to pick which parent he loves more. But fine, it’s To The Moon. It’s entertaining, it’s deep, and it’s magical. Don’t let the lofi manga staffage stop you from enjoying the best story ever told through a game. A friend joked that The Walking Dead flushed years of improvements in gameplay mechanics and game design down the pipes – it turned out that all we actually needed were stories that are not crap.

The Walking Dead

Andrew Smith, CEO, Spilt Milk Studios

The Walking Dead

Journey was an enlightened and enlightening experience, Waking Mars made me think, and New Super Mario Bros U manages to stick a grin on my face every time I play it. But Telltale’s The Walking Dead is the first game in a long time to do all of those things with ease, and then tear out my heart too. I was crying by the end of its emotionally draining story, and that’s never happened in a game before. Sublimely, cruelly immersive.

Journey

Jenova Chen, co-founder, Thatgamecompany

Journey

Can I vote for our own game, Journey? It's the only game made my eyes wet when I played through. Though we made the game, it gets me still.

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