2012 Calvin Awards: Best Videogame
By David Mumpower
February 13, 2012
Perhaps no category in the history of The Calvins has fluctuated less than Best Videogame. As has been mentioned in previous iterations of this award, the videogame industry operates in a manner such that sequels to established franchises are the lifeblood of the business. There is limited risk in adding a roman numeral at the end of a known quantity in order to entice consumers.
The most recent year of major releases is proof positive of this. Over 80% of the best-selling titles for the year are new additions to existing franchises. To the credit of the videogame companies, many of these games are quite good. After all, they are unlikely to sell so well otherwise. And name recognition matters every year at The Calvins, with this year being an extreme example. Only one out of our ten selections is an entirely new property, making this year’s vote a celebration of more of the same. There is something to be said for comfort when it comes to playing videogames. Still, our top five titles include some electrifying gameplay that led to a hotly contested battle for first place.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is our selection for Videogame of the Year. How did we reach this conclusion? Well, if you spend more time playing a videogame than you do working, sleeping and bathing, that is a strong sign that you love it. Skyrim’s developers proclaim that there is no end to the game. Quests can be auto-generated from now until the end of time. Whether they are factoring in the Mayan calendar’s ending remains to be seen but BOP’s staff has invested a composite of roughly a thousand hours into the game with no end in sight.
At the moment, people are still bragging about who has the highest Archery and Enchanting skills. There is also some uncomfortable discussion about soul stealing that feels vaguely blasphemous. Our staff argues over the best way to slay a dragon, snipe a giant from vast distances and seduce the worthiest companion. It is fair to say that more attention is being given to the fictional binary spouses in the game than our actual significant others. Skyrim has proven itself to be an obsession that isn’t going away any time soon, a masterpiece of player immersion. It is a compelling exploration of a fully realized game universe. We celebrate its labyrinthine depth and its complexity, proclaiming Skyrim the clear choice as Videogame of the year.
Batman: Arkham City was the prohibitive favorite to win this category at the start of the year. After all, Arkham Asylum was the winner in 2010 and Arkham City is 100 times as much of that game. The latest Batman game is a massive enterprise that expands the scope of the original in terms of combat and (particularly) exploration. A similar time investment that would attain a 100% player score in Arkham Asylum may not garner even 25% in its sequel. The scope of the game is that much larger.