So, here we are. At the end of another decade. We made it. Its been one hell of a ride hasn’t it? We saw the invention of the iPad, Two new Popes, Gay Marriage made legal, the #MeToo movement, a huge number of amazing celebrities died, some other…things…and Disney+ somehow make us all forget that for a little while. However, we also saw so much come from the gaming industry that when you think about all the ups and ups it’s been going through we had to marvel at its beauty.
All of us here at Gaming Access Weekly realize how much change the industry came across. Heck, even we changed names this decade. However, we know why you are here. To see what our staff picked as Game of the Decade. So let’s see what they had to say!
Chief Operating Officer/Let His Beard Grow Out A Little
I don’t even have to think about this one. Yes, Some incredible games came out this decade. I am still a huge fan of so many titles that came out this decade: DragonBall FighterZ, The Witcher III, Overwatch, Smite, The Last of Us, Horizon Zero Dawn, Red Dead 1 & 2, Breath of the Wild, Super Smash Bros. Wii U & Ultimate, and I could go on and on! However, when I think of my Runner-Up and my Winner, I smile with joy. Both games have given me hours on end of entertainment.
Runner-Up: Nier: Automata (2017)
Back in 2017, Nier: Automata would have been the number one choice for the Game of the Year. Unfortunately for N:A, it was also the year that gave us Breath of the Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn. However, it speaks volumes of Nier: Automata that it didn’t lose its shine. After spending over 100 hours in a game that should only be around 40, I found myself taken away to another place.
The music, the scenery, the multitude of weapons and their upgrades, the 26 endings! UGH! In love! I still want more! I mean, sure there is a DLC adventure, but I want more! It’s an incredibly fluid action game with an incredible story and even more amazing characters. The director Yoko Taro leaked that they were working on a new one and that he has a brand new IP that he wants to unveil soon, so here is hoping the next decade brings us something amazing. My point is you should play this video game if you haven’t already.
Winner: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
This might disappoint people as my choice but I have spent over 1000 hours in Skyrim and I still continue to play it to this day. The action role-playing game launched on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC and became an instant hit. When the new console generation came, Daddy Howard gave us all more Skyrim. Memes still come out for Skyrim, especially on how you can play on everything from your Xbox 360 to your fridge with wifi.
Jokes aside, this game has given me all I wanted in a game from one of the best level up systems to date, to Jeremy Soule’s immaculate score, to hearing the wind whip through your non-moving hair audio, to the dragons! Yes, the battle combat system can be jerky and not as smooth as later in our decade seems to have focused on, but no matter what new game I play, I always go back to Skyrim. Right now I’m playing with a Dark Elf warrior Mage and I love her! Thank you, Bethesda for granting me so many hours of gameplay.
Junior Staff Writer/Spent the 2010’s in a Hockey Rink
What a decade, eh? It’ll take me another decade just to recover from this one! I approached this topic as a very personal thing. The quality of games like The Last of Us, Breath of the Wild, Skyrim, Monster Hunter… It honestly makes me weepy. Even with all these amazing titles, I didn’t have to think long on this one. It was easier than a Game of the Year choice, because I can see the last 10 years and the games that affected me the most just jump to the front, and there’s very little doubt.
Runner-Up: Minecraft (2011)
Love it or hate it, played it or stayed a hundred miles away from it (good luck with that. You think Skyrim is on everything? Have a seat…), there is no denying the significance of Minecraft. It. Is. Everywhere. I came to the party late, but then I had kids who wanted me to play with them. Suddenly Minecraft became more than a cutesy building game. Starting my own world and inhabiting it for hours became something close to meditation for me. The understated beauty of the music, the breathtaking scope of the world, and the unlimited ways someone can play it are staggering. There is simply nothing like it. Other games come and go, but in the last 10 years, no game ate as many hours of my life as Minecraft did. It is not just a sandbox; it is the Sahara.
Winner: Destiny (2014) Destiny 2 (2017)
Did I just cheat and pick two? Darn right I did. Anyone who’s spent the kind of time I have with this franchise knows they’re one game with a lot of expansions. When Destiny was announced I was what they call a built-in fan, and they still wowed me. You can ask just about anyone with a decent FPS history and they’ll likely say the mechanics of Destiny are flawless. The lore, if you were able to wade through the slog of the first year, is so deep you can drown in it (if you know where to look). The community is still thriving and supportive. And now Bungie is off the Activision-tether it’s never looked brighter.
As I mentioned above though, this is personal. The game became an outlet for me to sit and play with my friends across the country just like I did when I was a kid and they lived down the street. Over the years we had our set playtimes, and dove into the perfectly crafted Strikes, Nightfalls, and Raids, but all while joking and laughing and just having fun in ways people forget about as you get older. When one of my Fireteam went through some serious personal issues, our check-ins on Destiny became a great way to talk, but also keep it light and help pick them up. Yes, there are flaws. Great games overcome them, as Destiny does. Strap on your Gjallerhorn. Eyes up, Guardian.
Senior Staff Writer/Future YouTube Star
Runner-Up: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)
CD Projekt RED holds a massively positive reputation among the gaming community and that’s largely due to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. A monumental dark fantasy game that has Geralt of Rivia traveling through 3 incredible large maps in search of his daughter Ciri. This extensive adventure has Geralt dealing with deadly monsters, dangerous humans, and huge political battles. This is not an easy game, in both gameplay and narrative. As it tests the player’s ability to prepare for fights, learning about monster weaknesses or face death.
The adventure has multiple paths that led to 1 of 3 endings. Both critical and minor decisions have consequences that could manifest within seconds or hours into the adventure. This coupled with exceptional writing, layered characters, and beautiful soundtrack means that you are constantly showered with quality experiences. And that’s not even touching on the game’s DLC. Both the Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine expansion easily add 10-20 hours worth of quality gameplay against new enemies and a brand new story to follow. In a world where publishers are constantly trying to nickel and dime players, CD Projekt RED is one of the rare companies in the gaming industry that excels at providing quality above everything else.
Winner: Horizon Zero Dawn (2017)
Establishing a new IP is hard enough, what’s harder is making a new IP outside of what your company is known for. Horizon Zero Dawn was Killzone developer Guerrilla Games’ first attempt at a third-person action-adventure title, and they knocked it out of the park. Protagonist Aloy is an intricate and layered character that players can develop into a hardened warrior or compassionate soul. The world itself is amazing, housing not only dangerous dogma driven radicals but dangerous machines of unknown origins.
The people who live in this world assume this is just the way the world is. The game starts simple, Aloy is an outcast trying to rejoin her tribe after a lifetime of isolation. However, during the Proving, a competition if won will allow her to rejoin, her father is killed and Aloy leaves her people’s land in search of the killers. What follows is an adventure that you will not see coming. With twists and dark realities that connect everything within this beautifully designed world. And one that will leave you shocked and disturbed.
Editorials/Reviews Manager/ Brooklyn 99 Enthusiast
Narrowing down the thousands of games that came out over the last decade into one winner is an insurmountable task. It’s weird to think of what games I played at which time during that decade. I loved playing God of War 3 with my cousin and friends when they came over for my birthday. L.A. Noire filled the summer before my senior year of high school with a ton a bunch of crime-solving fun. Not to mention seeing the original Gears trilogy conclude blew my mind. Two games however stood out for me even with the tidal wave of standout games over the last few years.
Runner Up: The Last of Us (2013)
I originally wanted this spot to be filled by Bioshock Infinite. It was a phenomenal game and the first in the series I actually enjoyed. The Last of Us, however, took horror to new heights and introduced us to characters as well as a world that arguably have yet to be matched. The Last of Us has a cinematic scene that is raw and emotional. The weight of death is felt in every failed attempt. The need to scavenge and craft just to get by keeps players on their toes and ready to fight. Not to mention the gore in death scenes and the absolte haunting noises of the clickers.
Winner: Spec Ops: The Line (2012)
I have never had a game, let alone a shooter, make me question my motifs and morals than Spec Ops: The Line did. As the game plays out the character controlled by the player is faced with tougher and tougher choices that lead to worse and worse outcomes. At face value, it felt like the game was just really great at tapping into how horrible war really is. I mean accidentally deploying white phosphorous onto friendlies and civilians is enough to get you in some serious trouble with your bosses. Even with the defense of thinking you were launching it at the enemies, it wouldn’t hold up at all. Then things get even more depressingly real when it is alluded to that the main character may be hallucinating half of what is happening in the game, and that his team isn’t actually bickering with each other about the mission, but about what they are watching unfold as he loses it. If you have not played this game I implore you to. It is a dark and often depressing game that will sit with you longer than most games will. It is absolutely in my top list of games and is a huge stand out in the past decade.
Senior Staff Writer/ Community Development/ Caffeine Addict
I played far too many games this decade so it was super hard to narrow it down just to a runner up and a winner for the past ten years, but here goes nothing.
Runner Up: Planet Zoo (2019)
While this game is still super new, it has already received a special place in my heart. Simulation games have always been one of my favorite types because they do not require a lot of focus and you can just have fun with them. The game has enough challenge to it so it is easy to keep interested and to continue improving your zoo. I really enjoy the aspect of creativity you can have with your zoo and the number of changes that you can make to have it be truly unique from other people’s zoos.
Winner: BioShock Infinite (2013)
It should be noted that I am horrible at FPS games and only play BioShock Infinite on the easiest mode, but it is a fantastic game. Any game that involves politics in any way shape or form is going to be super interesting to me, and this game had that and addressed political and religious issues well within the game. The story was constantly moving forward and there was never a dull moment while playing through, even after my fifth time. Compared to the previous two BioShock games, there is more of an environment in Infinite to lose yourself in. The combat challenges are harder and the added benefit of Elizabeth helping you with additional ammo, health and money is an incredibly helpful and new addition in the series.
Senior Editorial Writer / Having an existential crisis over the end of a decade
Is no one else freaking out about the decade ending? No? Fine, at least we have the time to reflect on all the incredible games that came out over the last ten years. We started this era with greats like Red Dead Redemption and wrapped it up with Control, but there is only one game that truly stood out from all of them. Actually, there are two: one’s a runner up and a very dear game to me and the other one pretty much helped shape me as a modern gamer and storyteller.
Runner Up: Mass Effect Trilogy (2 and 3)
Much like Marc with Destiny, I too am cheating and choosing two games for my runner up simply because the entire saga feels like one cohesive whole. While the first game in the Mass Effect series came out in 2006, Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 came out in 2010 and 2012 respectively. What makes the Mass Effect series so special? Its the characterization of its unbelievable ensemble cast. I can’t name many tv-shows, movies or other games that have made me feel as much as I did for characters like Garrus, Wrex, Liara, Legion, etc. What made the series unique was how you saw those relationships grow and blossom over the three-game arc since the game put an emphasis on your decisions carrying over to the next game. Controversy aside, Mass Effect 3 gave me so many gut-punch moments where I actually became emotional (miss you every day, Legion). While you may or may not like the ending of the trilogy, it was the journey of these amazing characters that made the entire ride one of the most memorable, innovated and inspirational series in the past decade. I owe my zeal for writing and storytelling to Mass Effect, and to that, I will always be thankful to Bioware.
Winner: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
What makes the 5th entry in the Elder Scrolls saga my game of the decade? What makes it my favorite game of all time? Even though I have had a love affair with this game for nearly a decade, I know it’s not because of its main quest or technical prowess. There are many RPG’s that I am sure to have told better stories, but no other open-world game has actually felt like I belonged in that space. Skyrim’s world is a master class of design, depth, environmental storytelling, lore building and so much more that adds to the fact that to me, Skyrim actually feels like a place rather than a video-game. There have been many open-world games since, and not one has come close to making me actually feel like I’m there physically and mentally.
Skyrim is also a very personal game to me because it helped me with my mental health by giving me a serene, beautiful and captivating space for me not to escape to, but to learn a bit about myself. This game helped me realize a lot about myself including my love for photography, travel and so much more. The game transcended merely a video-game and became a part of my being itself, which I know sounds bizarre to some. I think part of it is that sense of discovery and telling your own personal story in correlation to a pre-determined storyline. While the game was about the destiny of the Dragonborn, it also felt like the journey about myself as a person. Even now, in 2019, I still play time-to-time, I listen to the soundtrack when I’m commuting, I read the lore-books that I purchased and I plan on getting a tattoo inspired by the game. Skyrim is not my game of the decade or my favorite game of all time, it is far more than that to me. But for the sake of this article, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is my unrefutable game of the decade.
Now if you excuse, I’m going to freeze myself till The Elder Scrolls VI comes out.
Staff Writer / The RGB Grand Master
Runner-Up: Axiom Verge (2015)
As someone who is creeping into the middle echelon of age, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the influx of old-school styled games with the acquiescence of modern gameplay standards and mechanics. While many games attempted to pay homage to the past, none succeeded quite like Axiom Verge. Axiom Verge takes the Metroidvania approach and improves upon the formula with its fantastic assortment of weapons, gadgets, artwork, and soundtrack. Thomas Happ, the sole creator of Axiom Verge, spent several years perfecting his version of the genre and it has paid off superfluously. Axiom Verge and the game I feel defined a decade will also be remembered as games of a generation.
Winner: Mass Effect 2 (2010)
Mass Effect 2 is not only my choice for game of the decade, but it is also my favorite game of all time. Years after release I would still find the occasional planetary side mission that I somehow missed in my previous playthroughs. The myriad of choices and outcomes that are influenced by what companions are in the party and the paragon/renegade score had me enamored and I played through Mass Effect 2 a sacrilegious number of times. Mass Effect 2 also had the greatest squad-mate of all time, Garrus Vakarian. Garrus would almost always accompany me during missions, as his wit and sense of humor made fighting through the trenches that much more enjoyable. Bioware of the era was renowned for creating fun and believable characters that no other studio has matched to this day. Mass Effect 2, a game of the decade and of a lifetime, if you haven’t played it well, Garrus might have some words for you.
Junior Staff Writer / Wondering how many hours I spent playing NHL the last 10 years
Like with anything, the 2010s had their good, their bad, and their ugly. But this has arguably been the game industry’s strongest decade yet. Boundaries were pushed, genres were redefined, and creativity came from everywhere (be it hundred-person teams spread across the globe or just one guy who really likes EarthBound).
The past 10 years have produced so many memorable games, some of my favorites ever, in fact. But if I had to pick only two, it would be these…
Runner Up: Minecraft (2009)
At face value, Minecraft’s blocky, pixelated look probably wouldn’t lead anyone to believe that it’s one of the biggest, most recognizable games in the world. But the pure simplicity in its core concepts is why it struck a chord with millions of people.
Minecraft is the Lego set where you never run out of pieces, and the only limits to it are that of your imagination. You can build anything (the definition of it always being challenged), shape your own world, and build your own stories.
Its influence can be seen everywhere too. Just think about how many games have featured crafting systems in the time since Minecraft officially released in 2011, or even the full titles that tried their own takes on its sandbox-style (the likes of Lego Worlds, Dragon Quest Builders, and Terraria, all of which are quality games in their own right).
Minecraft’s impact also went well beyond game design, altering the approach to business models for video games and how they’re supported, and even YouTube and this ongoing era of content creators, all of which Kotaku’s Joshua Rivera sums up well here.
With the clock winding down on the 2010s, Minecraft easily stands as one of its most important games, and one that won’t be going away any time soon either.
Favorite: Persona 5 (2016)
As far as influence goes, Persona 5 proved that turn-based RPGs still very much have a place in today’s landscape, and its design was so well executed that it opened up the door for people who, in any other situation, wouldn’t give games of this type the time of day.
As far as personal feeling goes, I’ll be blunt: Persona 5 isn’t just my favorite game of the decade, it’s my favorite game ever.
Atlus created an RPG where the confidence in it from the dev team is clear from the moment you start the game. Everything about Persona 5’s look oozes style, from Shigenori Soejima’s distinctive character designs to the game’s punk-inspired art style. And it’s all matched up with an excellent soundtrack, gameplay that’s supported by maybe the best user interface I’ve ever seen (it was such a standout that people even cosplayed as it), and writing that, while not perfect, told a memorable story that left me with some of my favorite characters in video games.
So, there it is folks! Looks like…
Gaming Access Weekly’s pick for Game of the Decade is…
ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM
Like all of us said this has been an amazing decade for games! It really is so hard to choose just two. What were your picks for Game of the Decade? Tell us in the comment section below!
From all of us here at Gaming Access Weekly Have an amazing, safe, and great New Year! Make 2020 your best so far! Let’s make the next decade an amazing one! Here’s hoping for another amazing decade of video games!