Curtailing the year to just ten top games is our annual act of brutality. If it seems unfair, hostile and without victory, it's because we spent much of 2011 sweating and squirming in the crushing grip of Dark Souls. Sooner or later you become addicted to no-win scenarios.
While our ten favorite games could easily be joined by yet another ten, we're wary of extinguishing potency so soon after "infinity" became a major selling point. Bloated in-game clocks, labyrinthine dungeons and quests without end dominated our attempts to underline a year of quality. Nobody ever has time to play everything, and in 2011 you might not have had time to play a quarter of Skyrim.
We're leaping into a year's glut of excellent games, then, fully cognizant of the blind spots that can't be avoided when the staff is human and bound to predictable chronology. That's why, until we've hired a set of hard-working, temporally immune androids, you'll see each writer's personal picks too. Rather than changing the format of our end-of-year summary, we'll continue adjusting the mindset with which you read it. Starting now and continuing over the next few days, you'll see a snapshot of what Joystiq -- both the website and the people behind it -- played, loved and nearly espoused in 2011.
And that, we think, is a pretty nice way of preparing you for the inevitable, outrageous omission of your favorite game.