In fact, we weren’t saying this calendar is worse than those that came before it, certain picks will surely prove divisive no matter what voting system is used behind the scenes.
My angle is “is this a game that really qualifies as one of the best 24 made this year”; there were certainly games that failed to pass that litmus taste, for me.
I played Bernband, even though it was obscure enough that it vanished from the Internet for some time, and basically couldn’t be downloaded anywhere. That, per se, isn’t a problem: obscurity does not automatically translate to bad. However, nothing usually vanishes from the Internet unless there isn’t much interest for it, but we’ll go back to this later.
If Bernband attained some special, significant role among critics, I don’t know. I couldn’t readily spot any reason why it was deemed worthy of the undivided attention of the readership as one of the highest achievements of the game making scene.
Film and book clubs are a thing; they select material that may not be absolutely the greatest ever, but that is notable in some way and can lead to very enriching conversations. It’s great that these films, books or games exist, IMO they’re fine picks for dedicated lists of notable games, or personal lists.
Personal lists are very fine, too, because nobody can ever dream to tell you that your favorite games of 2018 were not those; if you somehow clicked with a game that left the entire world absolutely cold, it doesn’t matter. It was your experience, and I might even like to read why it played that particular role in your life.
But I personally think it’s a good thing to keep clear the distinction between “special for me” or “special for my group of friends” and “pinnacle of game making for 2018”. I suspect this is an unpopular opinion: the personal effect a piece of art can have on you may be hard to separate from its potential for speaking to many others as well. Gamers are known to go on tirades on why everybody else is constitutionally mandated to love the same ugly ducklings as them (note to self: find better expression; no duckling is ugly).
I still think separating the two is something we should strive towards, hard as it may be.