This year, I have seen and heard people complain about the “official” receiver of the title of Game of the Year. While God of War was declared the winner, there were those who declared that it did not deserve it and when ANG held our own version of “Game of the Year,” RDR2 won. I wanted to take this time to offer some thoughts and insights into this event.
I think the main reason why so many people are upset about God of War winning is due to the combined aspect of it being an exclusive and it winning very few individual awards while Red Dead was like the Lord of the Rings, winning basically every category it was in. So why did God of War win? There are, I believe, three possibilities. The first, I believe, has to do with pacing. When Breath of the Wild won game of the year, it overshadowed Horizen Zero Dawn. Horizen was praised for having an amazing story, problem was, it takes a very long time to get to that amazing story. I tried playing it, and I got over 50% done with the game (I was getting collectibles as well) and still have not seen the amazing story I was promised, which discouraged me. Breath of the Wild, while the story might not have been better, it had better pacing. I had a similar experience between God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2. The pacing was better in God of War, while Red Dead has a slower paced story and takes a while to bring you in.
The second reason might deal with emotion. When God of War was reviewed, nearly every journalist referred to being able to feel the passion of Cory Barlog (the director for God of War) and the love he has for his son. With many calling it a love letter. Humans are rarely operated by pure logic, emotion is also a compelling force. God of War was a more emotionally compelling game.
The final reason, I believe, is that Red Dead was “too good.” Some time ago, I watched a YouTube video by Douge Walker, aka the Nostalgia Critic, where he contemplated the question, “If a movie can be so bad that it’s good, is it possible for a movie to be so good that it’s bad?” He puts forth that many of the movies we love and hold as masterpieces all have some flaws. Take Citzen Cain, largely considered as the greatest movie ever created. Just one problem, nobody heard the final words, “rosebud,” so how could everyone know what they were? The whole movie is based on people knowing the last words, but nobody should know them. He then puts forth a movie he feels is perfect, one that gets every category for making a good movie and knocks it out of the park. The Truman Show with Jim Carey. He watched it, loved it, acknowledges that it’s a perfect movie, yet when asked for his list of best movies, it’s never on his mind. I believe something similar happened with Red Dead Redemption 2. It knocked every criteria for a good video game out of the park, but it might have been stuck in the “uncanny valley.” Humans are imperfect beings, we find beauty and perfection IN the imperfections. While Red Dead was, in the mind of many, perfect, it might have harmed it ultimately.
This is all my own opinion, of course. I personally believe that God of War deserved it over Red Dead, but that’s what makes this industry so amazing. Different games touch different people differently, due to people being different. If you love Red Dead, awesome, more power to you. It not getting the “official” title of game of the year does not make it any less of a game. Enjoy the game because it is enjoyable, not because others said you should enjoy it or hate it. That’s what makes gaming amazing.