From my perspective, it's simply because Bayonetta is everything fabulous in a delightful digital package - librarian glasses! butterflies! slinky catsuits! handgun stilettos! - but according to an article written by Jamie Madigan over at Gamasutra there's a whole lot of psychology in play when these debates come up. For one, there's the recency/primacy effect which is...hey, hey, HEY! Don't walk away when I'm trying to benefit your brain over here! Click through the jump and open Wootini's Wii Fit pics in another tab for later.
Are we focused now? Excellent. As I was saying...one of the psychological factors in play is the recency/primacy effect. In a nutshell, the more recently you played something, or when you played something that bookended the year such as something in February and something in December, you're more likely to remember it and put it up for consideration when presenting your case for why it's a much better game than Red Dead Redemption. That poor, wonderful title that debuted in August, however, is more likely to be glossed over and fall by the wayside because it released in the middle of the year, unless you're on the Roman or Byzantine calendar in which case you need to update because it's the 21st century and we use Gregorian.
Another factor is the confirmation bias. The confirmation bias is when you pull out evidence for your argument that confirms your preconceived notion while ignoring evidence that counters it. For example, you make the argument that Taco Bell, a fine dining establishment you already enjoy, is a great fast food restaurant because it has cheap prices and tasty gorditas, but ignore the fact they - allegedly! - use "Grade D, But Edible" beef. In other words, you don't try to fairly debate something's merits and flaws, you try to prove you're right.
There are several other psychological factors that rear their heads during these discussions, but I won't reproduce them here because then I'd be plagiarizing Mr. Madigan's work and my momma raised me better than that. Click over to his article and give it a read and see how many of the factors he lists you can identify in the game of the year debates you partake in.
This would be the part where I ask for reader participation by asking you to post your top five or bottom five games of the past year in the comments, but I wanna change it up a little bit. What were your versatile five games of the year? What games did you play that could have gone either way, that had virtues and flaws that balanced each other out to keep them out of the top and bottom and instead are sandwiched between the two?