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Friday, December 4, 2020

DDNet Awards 2020! Best "non-game" game


Awards by DDNet Team

It's that time of year again, where we roll out the red carpet and celebrate the best that 2020 has offered us. In a year that has otherwise been so terrible, the fact that we've had a steady stream of such excellent games to play has been nothing but a relief.

It really has been a great year for games, from the big blockbusters right down to the most humble of projects. We've had surprises that have come out of nowhere, and long-anticipated games that have managed to meet and exceed our expectations when we've finally got our hands on them.

This year, for the DDNet awards, we have 16 different categories to recognise, and as we always do. Today's award celebrates the games that are the most different of all. As everyone who reads DDNet knows, we love games that challenge and subvert our expectations - games that get us thinking about the very nature of games and how they work. They're often derided for being "non-games" and not conventionally entertaining, but this category cuts to the very nature of games as an art form; not everything needs to be conventional to be worthwhile.


BRONZE: Five Dates (Read our review here)


Thanks to the horror year that we've all had, dating has become a digitally-driven experience, with video conferences replacing traditional intimacy, and that additional layer of technology only adding to thee awkwardness of those initial dating encounters. Five Dates was made at a breakneck speed (what else are people doing to do than make games anyway?) to chronicle this new shared experience that we're all having, and it does so with wit and poignancy. When people look back at what 2020 did to people, hopefully they discover and play Five Dates, because in so many ways this is the ultimate chronicle of the times.




BRONZE: Microsoft Flight Simulator


We have two Bronze awards for this category as a result of the scoring system, and the second goes to the phenomenal Microsoft Flight Simulator. It is by no means a conventional "game", being an attempt to bring an authentic flying experience to people, but in a year where no one can travel, this "game" has taken off in a way that has been amazing to watch. People are exploring the world through Flight Sim, discovering the most remote parts of the planet, and sharing their journeys online. It has been nothing short of amazing to watch people chart out "around the world" trips, and then stream them to captive audiences. Truly, Flight Sim landed at the right time for anyone with an intrepid spirit.

 


SILVER: Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Read our review here)


As the joke goes, Nintendo unleashed COVID-19 at just the right time for Animal Crossing. It's a dark joke now, given what COVID-19 has claimed in human costs, but at the time the impact wasn't so severe, people were struggling with lockdowns, and Animal Crossing was very much an escape from it all. As far as it being a "game" goes, it's truly aimless, but it is a joy to simply fill your island full of stuff, and then chill with a spot of fishing. It's endlessly charming, difficult to put down, pure escapism.




GOLD: Moon


Moon is one of those "this game is true art" deals. In the way that it subverts and satirises every expectation that you might have of the RPG genre. Its game-within-a-game structure allows it to be a running commentary on video game tropes, and as you play, it's hard to shake the feeling that Moon is so much more interested in that that conversation than giving players something to actually play. That's a good thing. These kinds of self-aware experiences are critical to the development of any art form, and the deep surrealism and way that Moon plays with absurdist and existentialist themes make it an "anti-RPG" that you're meant to think over for many days, weeks and months after putting it to rest... and you better believe we're still thinking about it to this day. It is truly wonderful that after so many years sitting unlocalised, one of the most beloved cult classics is finally available in English.

Of course, we very much welcome your own picks for each category, so be sure to let us know your thoughts, and we'll see you tomorrow for the next category!



DDNet Awards 2020! Best "non-game" game
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