Long read: Who is qualified to make a world?

In search of the magic of maps.

If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Eurogamer's Game of the Year 2010

Do you ever miss those talks we had on the elevators?

It's just over 11 years since we flipped the switch on Eurogamer and started pumping our thoughts about games out into the world, and this will be the seventh game of the year we've named in that time. Despite a few leftfield choices along the way though (Psychonauts in 2005 is still my favourite), we've never crowned an RPG - until today.

It's tempting to say that RPGs have simply emerged from their spotty adolescence, and that the widespread success of Mass Effect 2 and the clamour for information about its upcoming sequel are merely just rewards for a style of game that has become increasingly innovative and self-aware - to the extent that no other genre can now claim to be divorced from its influence.

But Mass Effect 2 also emerged into ideal conditions. It arrived in a world where some of the highest-grossing movies of the year would be about people hacking each other's dreams and the guy who invented Facebook, and where your girlfriend moans about X Factor spoilers on Twitter before devouring Lost with as much intensity as we used to mine Star Trek. Mass Effect 2 has done a lot to make RPGs work for the masses, but its arrival also coincided with a broader coming-of-age for geek culture in an interconnected world.

It wasn't to everyone's taste - and along with a few happy tributes from Eurogamer writers over the next couple of pages, we've included a couple of denouncements to set you on your way - but in the end it won our staff vote by a distance, leaving the likes of Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Red Dead Redemption for stardust. So congratulations to BioWare and Electronic Arts. Mass Effect 2 is Eurogamer's Game of the Year 2010.

(Oh, and in case you haven't played Mass Effect 2 yet, please note that spoilers lie ahead. And please note that you should play Mass Effect 2.)

"You are ignorant. We are knowing."

Christian Donlan has contributed to Eurogamer for nearly three years. In 2010 he reviewed God of War III and was one of the first people in the world to play with the Xbox 360 Slim. Meanwhile, his dad appeared on Bargain Hunt.

"I'm not much use here on Planet Earth, but it turns out I'm even more of a liability when I head into space," Christian writes. "On my first playthrough of Mass Effect 2, everybody died, and Joker was left to battle an alien invasion of mile-high matte black Witch Space hermit crabs, with nothing but a dozen Samsonite coffins to keep him company. At least he'd have something to take cover behind.

"Personal failings notwithstanding - and putting aside the fact that I'm still unable to emerge from a BioWare character creator with anything but a knitting catalogue model or reception supply teacher to show for all my hours spent screwing around with sliders - Mass Effect 2 was a wonderful way to pass a few frosty evenings back in January. Not only had President Bartlett come along for the ride while some of the annoyances of the first game's combat system had stayed at home, BioWare's sequel really delivered in terms of scope and incident when it came to bringing life to all that galactic real-estate.

"Whether it's raiding a futuristic skyscraper, picking through the rare shadowed spaces of a deadly sun-baked landing site, or exploring a spooky laboratory while thunder and lightning split the air outside, Mass Effect 2 offered genuinely interesting places to go, and entertaining things to do once there. It was everything I wanted from a sequel, more or less, and for the final instalment I'd be pretty happy to plod through more of the same - but with shorter loading times, if possible."

"You do not yet comprehend your place in things."

Robert Purchese is Eurogamer's senior staff writer. This month he spoke to everyone he could think of about how to stop World of Warcraft.

"Mass Effect 2? Oh yes, the one with the gratuitous ass shots and no same-sex relationships. Also, what happened to the mystery and the intrigue? Remember Knights of the Old Republic and the sense of surprise when you picked up a companion? You didn't start with Bastila Shan, Juhani or HK-47. Even in Mass Effect 1, you didn't know you were going to recruit Liara T'Soni while exploring that science facility, and Ashley Williams didn't begin the adventure as your companion.

"Mass Effect 2, in contrast, fits you with a blank cheque and then systematically orders you to corners of the universe to pick up specific people for your mission. Where's the surprise in that? I know I'm going to pick up Project Zero, chat with them, do a loyalty mission and maybe sleep with them. I didn't realise I'd end up smooching Bastila Shan, but in Mass Effect 2 everyone's a possible sex target. It's too transparent.

"And what of your companions' powers? Project Zero is billed as the Death Star personified, but instead becomes restricted by the same character template as everyone else. Why can't there be inaccessible, unique powers? Even more so than Mordin, even more so than Grunt.

"And yet Mass Effect 2 is my game of the year, because none of that really mattered. It didn't bother me that I knew what lay ahead when I recruited people, because I knew I'd have fun doing it. The universe is incredible, and I'm considering going back when the PS3 conversion materialises. Would I have enjoyed it more if the things I've just moaned about were done differently? Perhaps. Did I enjoy Mass Effect 2 regardless? More than enough."