Game of the year lists are the worst. It's impossible to categorize games using mystical, unquantifiable metrics to say that the narrative of Gone Home is in some way inferior to the open-world mayhem of Grand Theft Auto V. Or maybe hard numbers matter and The Stanley Parable is ranked higher than some other games on my list because of the sheer number of different endings.
But this is the duty we, as gamers, have every year: to rate and rank the best of the best and argue with strangers about why our list makes more sense than their top 10 wrong decisions.
I had astronomical expectations for ALBW, and somehow the game managed to exceed them.
I put A Link Between Worlds at the top because, as a huge Zelda fan who's been more than a little disappointed by the last few entries in the series, I didn't think Nintendo could live up to not just the incredible experience of A Link to the Past, but to my nostalgia-addled memory of that experience. I had astronomical expectations for ALBW, and somehow the game managed to exceed them.
Zelda is number one, but I could find a reason that every game on my list could take that spot. The sheer number of hours I have played (and continue to play) Animal Crossing: New Leaf. The emotional connection I felt to The Last of Us. The dialogue in The Stanley Parable that had me laughing out loud over and over again.
In a year like 2013, choosing just 10 "best" games seems far too few, especially when the games that would fall under numbers 11-20 are good enough to be GOTY contenders themselves. They're not listed below, but I loved the beautiful paper world of Tearaway; I finally got to continue my lawyering adventures with Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies; Tomb Raider and DmC were both reboots that revitalized franchises I'd left for dead; Device 6 is the best game on a mobile device this year; Pikmin 3 makes amazing use of the Wii U tablet; and when I spend more time with them, I'm sure next year Hearthstone and Dota 2 will eat up all of my free time.
For me, the list below is less a definitive "10 Best of 2013" and more 10 really good games in a year full of amazing games.
That said, my actual game of the year is Earthbound. As a rerelease, it wasn't in contention for GameSpot's full awards, but the SNES classic finally got a digital version this year on the Wii U. Not to be hyperbolic, but it still holds up as the greatest game of all time. If you play only one game this year (or ever again), it should be Earthbound. Please revise your own top 10 list accordingly.