“Dark Souls is the best game of all time”: because that phrase doesn’t make the slightest sense

"Dark Souls è il miglior gioco di tutti i tempi": perché non siamo d'accordo thumbnail

Well yes, Dark Souls was named “the best video game of all time”. Praise the Sun bore fruit and the father of an entire genus that takes its name (souls-like) takes home one of the most coveted awards in the gaming market. This announcement, however, split the opinion of industry critics and the gamer community, as expected. Because when the coveted title of “Best game of all time“, It is impossible to make everyone happy. But giving Dark Souls this coveted award is, to say the least, idiocy.

Before unleashing the fatal wrath of any of you, let’s start with order.

L’antefatto: I Golden Joysticks Awards 2021

The scenario of the crime was the stage of the Golden Joysticks Awards 2021, the annual awards ceremony dedicated to the video game industry organized by Games Radar. In addition to the classic nominations we have become accustomed to, such as ‘Game of the Year’, ‘Best Indie Game’ and so on, there have been two special categories this year. The occasion is the 50th anniversary of video games which coincides with the arrival of Computer Space, the first coin operated Arcade machine published in 1971. For the occasion, the Golden Joysticks Awards have been enriched, only for this year, by the categories: Best game of all time e Best hardware of all time (In English, Ultimate Game of All Time e Ultimate Hardware of All Time).

The Best Hardware of All Time, won by the PC, has brought together all the actors involved in this magical world. In fact, the enormous impact that the PC has had and continues to have on the world of video games from the beginning of their birth is indisputable. His accomplice versatility and the ability to adapt continuously to technological evolutions, the PC has managed to survive any console war but above all, the test of time.

The problems came with the category “Best game of all time”Won, as widely anticipated, by Dark Souls. The choice of a single title out of the more than 1.1 million games released from 1971 to today, is the result of a procedure which, taking into account the following characteristics:

  • Critical reception: how the game was reviewed at the time of release and / or subsequently re-evaluated by critics
  • Legacy and influence: what role did it play in influencing the industry. For example, launching a new genre, leading to the birth of a series of imitations or changing the way we think about games
  • Commercial success
  • Social impact: How has the title changed our view on video games? What was its cultural impact? How has it affected people in the real world?
  • Subjective interpretation: Various industry experts were asked for their unique and personal point of view on why some games deserve to be elevated above others

Obviously, not all the millions of games published to date have been judged to select the winner but they have been taken into consideration:

  • Previous winners of the Ultimate Game of the Year category of the Golden Joystick Awards
  • The list of the 100 best video games according to Edge
  • The list of the 100 best games of all time according to Retro Gamer

The other candidates

The result of the criteria applied to the lists that we have just seen, led to 20 games from which to select the overall winner. This further list includes:

  • Dark Souls
  • Doom (1993)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Half-Life 2
  • Minecraft
  • Street Fighter II
  • Tetris
  • The Last of Us
  • Super Mario 64
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Halo: Combat Evolved
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Portal
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
  • Pac Man
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Space Invaders
  • Sim City (1989)
  • Pokémon GO

The problem: “… of all times”

And the game that has ousted all the others from the podium of the best video game of all time is Dark Souls. But why doesn’t this sentence make the slightest sense?

The reason why Dark Souls received the award is not so much in the video game itself, but is to be found in the paradigm shift which triggered in terms of mechanics, challenge, game world building, game design and so on. Points that, all in all, we feel we can share. In fact, the problem has never concerned Dark Souls as such but is to be addressed to the very existence of a possible “Best game of all time”.

When you want to go back in time and find a single title with such a considerable amount of games and above all so varied, you are doomed to fail from the start. Leaving aside the personal tastes of each of us, it is virtually impossible to find a single video game that can dominate all the others. It is enough simply to consider the different types of video games, the years in which they came out, the technologies available in those years, the different consoles, the historical periods and a thousand other variables. You will agree with us that making a choice of this type is not only very complicated but above all useless for the purposes of a classification.

For example, if one of the criteria concerns the Commercial success, how to compare the sales success of a video game 30 years ago with that of a title released after the community of gamers (and therefore buyers) has tripled? How to evaluate the cultural impact of a game released 10 years ago from that of a saga that has been in vogue today for over half a century? (see, among many others, Super Mario).

The solution

A real answer, as well as a solution to the thorny question of the “best game of all time” probably does not exist. No video game, put in the first place, would have made the whole community happy because it is more than unthinkable to find, among the thousand and more facets that are able to donate video games, a single winner.

Of all the ways to celebrate 50 years of this wonderful gaming world, perhaps the one chosen by the Golden Joysticks Awards was certainly not the best. Fortunately, the hundreds of lists, rankings and verdicts will never scratch our passion for this media: always in first place!