The social networks of shrink and accelerate the world, and the threats that we face seem to grow more and more, the relevance of entertainment (and, whisper, art) seems to diminish. Undoubtedly, the king's bailout needed to finance a highly successful film would be more useful and perhaps cost-effectively applied to combat climate change, or Boris Johnson's blunders. What is an oil portrait commissioned, if not the most extravagant of all the selfies, taken in a world to whose indignities and injustices no one can pretend to be blind? In this context, video games may seem the most empty of all. They cost increasing sums to build, require an increasing number of talented minds and distract more and more humans from the practical problems of reality.
And yet, in video games we often perceive some of the basic mathematical components of existence, often follow the logical chains of cause and effect that follow our actions and reactions, and from time to time capture ghostly and fluttering shadows of how life works and maybe even what it means.
David O & # 39; Reilly Everything released earlier this year, fosters empathy with other living creatures in the simplest way imaginable: offering him the opportunity to incarnate an elk, a rabbit , a badroach, a raspberry, a pebble, a tuba, a star, through the spectral act of possession. One emerges, hours later, feeling a little closer, not only of his neighbor, but also of his neighbor.
At the other end of the scale, Playerunknown & # 39; s Battlegrounds (abbreviated as the absurd and unpronounceable PUBG) shows the cruelty and duplicity of our species, by throwing 100 people to an island abandoned and let them fight with all the weapons they find there, until only one person remains. Yes, in fact: video games reflect the appetite of humanity for both competition and cooperation.
What a year, meanwhile, for Nintendo, a company that traces belligerently the opposite path to its competitors, to results that can be as harmful as profitable. This year the bet was worth it, chosen by two of the best escapism works that have been designed: The legend of Zelda: Breath of the wild and Super Mario Odyssey . Neither game says much about the current world (although, extraordinarily, the latter escapes to the city of New York) but each offers a refuge from which even the most tormented soul will surely emerge freshly prepared to fight.
Five Best Games
What's left of Edith Finch
A young woman returns to the abandoned house of her youth on the island where she lives vivid memories that describe the various eccentric destinies of her family. This elegiac and memorable story of family secrets could only be possible in the middle of the videogame, and shows how careful design can produce stories as shocking as any in the higher arts.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
] After almost a decade of misfortune, the stock price collapsed, the failure of the Wii U and, in the death of Satoru Iwata Breath of the Wild came as a sweet wind of change. It refines many of the prevailing fashions in contemporary game design with the ingenuity and untouchable style of Nintendo and, along with the Switch hardware for which it was designed, is the most important achievement in the company's spectacular year.
Battleunks Playerunknown  With the current concerns about home ownership and climate change, it seems appropriate that the most popular video game of 2017 show people fighting for resources and territory on an island threatened by a tide that approximates. The independent record game, which is based on the premise of the movie Battle Royale has now sold more than 20 million copies, but its spell on the players is getting stronger.
All  A game in which you can inhabit, one by one, each animal, plant and mineral in the known universe. You start as an elk, changing to a monkey, an apple or a frog, and finally to a planet or a sun, exploring the world at a speed and perspective appropriate for your size. While it sounds dreamed, listen to fragments of a lecture given by the British philosopher Alan Watts about the nature of existence. The rarity is intoxicating and, at times, poignant.
This hyperactive action title of idiosyncrasy Yoko Taro, the closest thing Japan has to Tim Burton, examines a time when humanity has been driven from Earth by the robots that we have designed. A timely game for current anxiety, then, and Taro's intrepid design for the fourth wall plays with the theme in fascinating and varied ways.
The life of the black tiger
Such is the variety of the game-making tools and distribution methods that even the most amateur video games can appear on a global stage. The same happens with The life of the black tiger a game of deficiency so complete (the vibrant animations, the insane camera, the oppressive uselessness of everything) that its flaws seem almost charming.