I like Undertale. I like it a lot, and I don’t seem to be the only one. As of the time of writing this article, Undertale has just beaten out Pokemon Red/Blue and secured itself a spot in the quarter finals of gamefaq’s contest to determine the “Best. Game. Ever.”. This contest is a pretty big deal, with the last one being held in 2009 (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) and the one before that in 2004 (Final Fantasy VII). It attracts a lot of people to the website who all want their favorite to win. This is even mentioned in the description of the contest itself.
“It’s all a big popularity contest, and visitors who have never visited GameFAQs before will be sure to stop in and vote.”
“Will outside forces rally around an upstart, or will they not care enough to bother?”
Gamefaq has always encouraged people who don’t usually visit the site to come and vote for which game they think deserves to win, and why wouldn’t the site? This kind of contest can bring in a huge amount of traffic that otherwise wouldn’t visit. It doesn’t even require you to register an account. Anyone that stumbles onto the front page can vote for whatever contest is going on at that point in time. They could not be making it any easier for non-forum users to join in on the conversation.
Yet it seems that not everybody is pleased with how this year’s competition is going. You see, nobody was actually expecting Undertale to do particularly well. In the first round it was matched up against Mass Effect 3, a game that has had a mixed reaction by the general gaming public but is a title with far more name recognition behind it. As expected, Undertale quickly fell behind in the polls. Undertale didn’t lose however. Through the use of platforms such as twitter and tumblr, those who enjoyed the game encouraged each other to vote for it, and in the end Mass Effect 3 had to surrender its chance for the win to Undertale.
From this point onward Undertale had a steady fan base willing to vote for it during its rounds, to the….displeasure of some of the regular visitors of gamefaqs. Topics were created, rally cries were had, and slurs were thrown around with reckless abandon all in the name of stopping this tyrannical force that was corrupting the results of the holy contest. The main argument seemed to be that the people pushing for Undertale were an outside force that shouldn’t be counted, which is strange because, as shown earlier, outside forces rallying for votes are encouraged on the very page explaining the contest.
The reason Undertale winning the contest wasn’t acceptable wasn’t because it wasn’t being voted for primarily by forum regulars. The reason it shouldn’t win, was because it was one of those games. You know the ones I am talking about. One of those fancy pants artsy games about feelings that get made by girls with brightly colored hair in their basements when they aren’t colluding with the UN to destroy videogames. Ironically some of the hyperbole going around on the forums ended up being so hilarious that it started being passed around on social media, creating even more awareness for the game. My favorite one had to be a thread demanding that Undertale creator Toby Fox, who as far as I know has not involved himself in the contest or tried to rally support for his game in any way, go out and tell the fans of his game to stop voting for it. Because ethics.
But while the situation is absolutely hilarious, the reason Undertale’s continuing success is significant is not the massive amounts of salt being produced. The Undertale contest represents something important. It represents a situation in which people can vote anonymously and give voice to their opinions without having to worry about being charged out. There is no way to stop these supporters from casting their vote, no way to chase them out, no way to make clear to them that this is an environment that doesn’t appreciate these kind of opinions. It is a way for a very large group that often stays silent so as not to be harassed and yelled at to assert their presence in a way that is visible.
The reason for Undertale’s surprising domination of the polls is two-fold: Firstly it is an excellent game that was enjoyed by a large number of people, but that goes for most of the games participating in the competition. The second reason Undertale is doing so well is because it is represented by a group that often feels unwelcome in forums such as those on gamefaqs website. A group that is incredibly passionate about gaming and its continued evolution as a medium and art. By being able to vote in the competition without risk, these folk are allowed to show that they do indeed exist in great number. Apparently even greater number than those that believe Pokemon is the better game.
But I don’t want to end this article gloating. As I said at the start, I like Undertale, and that no doubt colours my opinion of the entire situation. I will be cheering for it to win, but if you feel another game is more deserving of the top spot, vote for it! If your friends feel the same way, ask them to vote for it too. Don’t get angry at people for liking a game you don’t think is all that great, but celebrate the games you love. After all, that’s what the people who are voting for Undertale are doing. Embrace the love you and them both share for gaming. A love that runs so deep you’re both willing to take time out of your day to go vote on a silly internet poll that, let’s be honest, doesn’t really matter anyway. The people that care enough to vote for Undertale have already proven they care about gaming by casting their vote. Instead of talking about what game shouldn’t win, let’s do what this contest is really supposed to be about and celebrate our own favorite games. Maybe enough people will agree with you that your favorite suddenly finds itself dominating the polls. There have been some strange upsets this year after all.