Game of the Year Nominees – Indie Haven Game of the Year Awards 2013 Laura Kate December 30, 2013 Features The week between Christmas and New Year, it’s always a pretty slow time of the year when it comes to interesting news for gamers. With that in mind, we at Indie Haven thought that the last 6 days of the year would be the perfect time to share our nominations and winners for all of our end of the year award categories. Starting on December 26th we will reveal our nominees for each of our five award categories daily, with our winners being announced on December 31st for all the world to see. Today we continue the festivities by announcing our nominees for the Game of the Year of the Year category. These nominations all came from writers at Indie Haven and were then voted on in our huge voting extravaganza to come to a majority vote award winner. I’ve said enough, let’s get on with the show. Gone Home Gone Home. A game made by a team of Bioshock 2 DLC veterans living together in a single house, making a non combat first person exploration game set in a large sprawling abandoned home in the 90’s. Who could have predicted just how special this game would have been to so many people. At just a few hours long the game saw us meet a cast of characters whose lives all intertwined in beautiful, touching and often heartbreaking ways. I laughed, I smiled, I cried and I wept. Gone Home may have been short on traditional gaming elements, but the world it created, the story it told and what it gained in the immersion granted by gameplay interaction made it the piece of media this year that had the largest lasting impression on me. Gone Home had a profound impact on me as a player. It’s the only game released this year that left me so inspired that I had to go straight to my keyboard and write up an article about just how it affected me personally, something I saw repeated time and again all across the internet. Gone Home inspired people to talk about their childhood growing up in the 90’s, to talk about teen love and their own experiences learning who they are. It got people to open up about very personal aspects of their own lives, it got people to feel connected. It was a shared experience that affected a huge number of people, spilled out of our little Indie Bubble and even made enough of a splash in mainstream news outlets that my non gamer family were asking me questions about it. It’s without a doubt the most touching game I played this year on a personal level and it inspired some of my favourite games writing of the year. Oh yeah, here’s some links to things I and other people wrote after playing the game, just to give you an idea what it inspired in its players. Beware Spoilers. Indie Haven’s Gone Home Review Just Take Me Seriously – A Personal Slice of Gone Home Gone Home – A Game of Self Reflection The Indie Haven Podcast – Episode 9 – Gone Home Spoilercast (Special Guests Danielle Riendeau, Steve Gaynor and Leigh Alexander) Polygon – Finding someone like me in Gone Home I’m dying my hair because of a video game. The Stanley Parable The Stanley Parable is probably best summed up by sharing some quotes from my first time playing through the game. I was livestreaming the experience late at night with an audience and it’s safe to say what they witnessed was a game that caused my beautiful descent into madness. “What? What? What? What? What? What? What? What? Wuh wuh what? I don’t remember this. It must have happened but I don’t remember” “Can I beat myself to death with the cube because I don’t want to do this anymore?” “This lift goes on forever, doesn’t it?” “‘What’. That is my remaining word” “I can’t let the baby die!” “It’s like what happens if you live in prison for too long, I can’t live outside The Stanley Parable anymore” “I’m just going to fall asleep in the broom closet” “My brain has… what has my brain?” “I’m a bit like GLaDOS, I’ve lost my Sanity Sphere” “Does number three even exist?” “I would be happier if this all just stopped. Can’t this all just stop? Please” “Little did I know my evening would be an evening where my brain explodes” “This game has broken me” Yeah, it’s fair to say the game messed with my head, but I promise it did so in the most fascinating and interesting ways possible. I came out of the game feeling like a new person with an entirely new perspective on the world around me and the way I move through it. The Stanley Parable is a fascinating look at video games, gamers and the way we make choices in our lives. It is incredibly subtle and nuanced in the way it plays on player expectations, leaving clues to progression that completely flew over my head playthrough after playthrough. It is brilliantly written, it hides its content in plain sight and challenged me as a player to take notice of how much of a lamb lead to slaughter most video games treat me as and how often I don’t even notice it is being done. It’s a brilliant piece of criticism on the state of gaming and a wonderful experience I highly recommend to anyone interested in the weird and bizarre mind bending side of video games. Papers, Please Papers, Please is a game that starts off fairly mundane. You get a boring virtual job checking virtual passports at a virtual border point for a fictional country. Do they have the paperwork? Let them in and get paid by the government. Don’t have the paperwork? Send them away or risk a fine. You make some money, your family can afford food and heating, you work your regular length shift and you repeat this day in, day out. Then everything changes. After you accidentally let through a suicide bomber who happened to have the correct paperwork the government introduces heavier and heavier controls on who can enter the country. People who yesterday were legal today are not and may be stuck separated from their family. You take longer to thoroughly check each passport, meaning that it’s harder to make as much money as you need in a day. People will begin to lie and cheat their way past the barrier, you’ll deal with people who have legitimate needs to enter but that you have to turn away, the game piles the moral questions on you thick and fast. Where do you draw the line between helping good people and keeping your family financially stable? Where you you draw the line and just assume someone is legal to enter just to save time and make more money? Papers, Please piles these tough decisions on you and draws some very astute parallels to real life border controls in existent countries. It’s a beautiful game with a compelling message to tell. It’s heartbreaking at times, gave me real pause for thought and is well worth the time to play through. And there we have it, that’s our nominees. Head back here on December 31st when the full list of award winners will be announced for all 5 of our awards categories.