GOTY 2017: Spencer's Honorable Mentions


While our list of the top ten games of the year is a collaborative effort, there are always some casualties. Our Honorable Mentions offer each staff member a chance to highlight some of their other personal favorite games of 2017 that simply didn't make the cut.

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The term “Honorable Mention” implies a game from this given year that we didn’t get around to in our deliberations—a title that one or more of us felt passionate about but, despite our best efforts, didn’t end up on the list.

With that in mind, I really don’t have any honorable mentions this year.

That’s mostly because I didn’t play a lot of new games this year. Divinity: Original Sin II and Prey are the only 2017-released games I spent any in-depth time on, and they both made the list. (Also a little XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, but as an expansion it wasn’t in the running).

Just in terms of raw hours, yeah, I spent plenty of time playing games this year. But, conservatively, 90% of that time was spent on games that I already had in rotation from 2017 or prior. And of those, most of them are multiplayer. Specifically, multiplayer Blizzard games: StarCraft II, Diablo III, Heroes of the Storm, World of Warcraft. And plenty of Overwatch, of course.

There’s a few reasons for this. I was finishing up my degree (earned in May), before moving back to Seattle, and since re-arriving here I've felt perpetually busy. Between work, relationships (romantic and platonic) and the general upkeep of being a human and remaining sane in 2017, learning a whole new set of game mechanics and rules is kind of a hard ask. Those few single-player options that I do spend time on these days—games like Audiosurf 2 and Devil Daggers—tend to be those where a typical round lasts no longer than four minutes.

Multiplayer games are where you hang out with your friends. Though, in fairness, I don't think I knew anybody in this particular game.

Multiplayer games are where you hang out with your friends. Though, in fairness, I don't think I knew anybody in this particular game.

Another factor is just how multiplayer-oriented my playtime tends to be. As I’ve written here before, I’m a deeply social player—if my friends are around, digitally or otherwise, it’s very unlikely that I’ll opt for single-player. And that's not to speak of my fondness for the still-archaic sacrament of the LAN party; a social play environment where one is likely to be teased for taking time alone, if not cajoled into joining the group.

But there’s something else happening, an odd shift of personality that I’ve only recently quantified: petulance.

These days, even the most minute setback in a solo setting is cause for a reloaded save, a new game, or even quitting outright. Lost a character in XCOM? Nope, won’t have it. Picked the wrong dialog option in Pillars of Eternity? Ah fuck that, I’m done for now. Lost a life in, of all things, Super Mario Run? Well that’s absolutely cause for restarting from the beginning.

It’s a confusing development. Once I savored the complexities and challenges of a well-crafted single player game every bit as much as the ups and downs of multiplayer, if not more. Now, those same challenges feel more like points of frustration—voluntary ones with an easy opt-out. I'll happily take my lumps if humans are the ones delivering them, sometimes for far longer than my teammates, but if those lumps come from machines it seems that I'd rather not bother.

Hopefully I’m able to crack this in the coming year, because my backlog is getting truly ridiculous, packed with dozens of games I've either barely dipped my toes into, or just ignored outright.

In the interim, Overwatch’s 27th hero is supposed to be just around the corner.