When I initially sat down to write this list, I was almost certain I hadn’t played 10 games this year. My personal gaming time had shifted significantly to be a social endeavor whenever possible, so it felt like I had barely played anything else in 2021. This wasn’t helped by the fact that on a good day, I have a fair amount of trouble keeping track of time. This has been true for most of my life, but this year exacerbated that particular trait to an extreme degree. The monotony of daily life during a pandemic made the days blend together into a particularly smooth slurry of hours at my desk, swapping between a work computer and my personal computer, living life mostly within the “cozy” square footage of my apartment.

As it turns out, a year is a long time, and I *had* played a lot of games. Many I enjoyed, and stuck with me as experiences, but had become unmoored in time. A few weeks ago, I would’ve sworn Valorant dropped in 2021. I was almost positive that Final Fantasy VII InterMission had been a 2020 release. I couldn’t believe I had lost so many (too many) hours to Bravely Default II this year, of all years.

I decided that this year’s list won’t be my top 10 games of the year, but rather a reflection of my miasmatic sense of time and experience of games in 2021. I’ve loosely organized the games that stuck out this year into categories based on how they stuck out, because if looking back at 2021 has taught me anything it’s that sequential time is fake (or at least my experience of it is.) In order to try and capture that feeling a bit more, I’ve arranged my article into a new twine game with the same programmatic randomness I used back in my 2018 GOTY list. Hope y’all enjoy!