No, this has nothing to do with why I think the two of them are noobs because of the games they picked to be honored as Game of the Year. Though I think Mr. Periera has been misguided from time to time in the way he likes to call out industry colleagues on their opinions, I think both he and Mr. Sessler are learned professionals, with individual opinions about their area of expertise.
That’s why I was a little disappointed to see them shouting quips at each other through their television programs about how the other’s choice is totally wrong, or question their pick for Game of the Year.
A little background: On December 9th, X-Play (hosted by Sessler) announced that they had picked Fable 2 for Game of the Year. The next day, on the airing of Attack of the Show, host Kevin Periera called out Sessler for this pick. Periera said that the decision represented a “horrible mistake” and listed several other games that should have been picked over it. A day after that Sessler told Periera, “it’s on like f***** Donkey Kong. I’ll see you on your set. It’ll be easy to find me…I’ll be the guy who’s right."
I’m all for a little spirited debate,and I don’t think that any of the games listed in the debate (LittleBigPlanet, Fallout 3, Fable 2, and Left 4 Dead) should be left out of discussion. However, the fact that either one of them has insisted that the other is wrong or that they are correct represents a horrible breakdown in the way we should be discussing games.
Gaming doesn’t have an Academy-styled union of professionals that votes on Game of the Year, and so every GotY pick is essentially just the selection of a small staff or editor-in-chief. It’s an opinion. By calling out another learned professional’s opinion and insisting that there is in fact a “right” answer to this debate, we are robbing gaming of its potential to be discussed as a new sector of art.
If there is a correct answer to this debate, then gaming is not art. There is no such thing as an indisputible "best work of art." There is a true answer to what is the best operating system (depending on your needs) or the best internet browser, in terms of features and capabilities. If we’re going to talk about a true answer to which is the best game then we are boiling video games down to basic pieces of software.
However, if there is no universal truth in discussing the best game of the year, and we are all allowed to choose for ourselves, then games can still be (and, yes, they are) forms of art.
When talking about the best game, we shouldn’t be measuring frame rates, counting polygons, or clocking load times. If we did that, then yes, there would be a final verdict, but we don’t. Instead we’re usually talking about which games had the strongest emotional impact, and that is certainly not something that can be measured. It’s different for everybody, and that’s what makes gaming so fantastic.
To try to rob someone else of their right to have a different opinion about what was the best game of the year is to try to rob gaming of its ability to affect us all as individuals.