Wes Gardner's Top Games of 2013

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Let's get one thing out of the way, an elephant in the room, something that probably should go unsaid on a public website, but needs to be brought up in regards to this list: 2013 was the hardest year of my life. If you follow the site with any regularity (you should!), you probably noticed that I haven't been around as much. Power Hour faded away, I haven't been on Free To Play, my Twitter has been barren, and I've become some sort of ghost, the proverbial Phantom of the Nitrobeard Opera. It's a new year in 2014, a new beginning, and I'm looking to make a comeback, starting....now!

These lists are usually something to look forward to as a creator of content and owner of a website, something to think about during many sleepless nights, giddy to promote and discuss a hobby I love so dearly with people I admire and respect. We plan months in advance, sorting out videos, written content, and podcasts. But this year was different for me, as I've been extremely distant with the crew, and with you all. I'm just going to get it out in the open, so there's no confusion: After my 5 year relationship ended in divorce and I became a single parent, my focus was on everything BUT games, or Nitrobeard, or even myself. I fell into a deep depression, filled with anger, despair, pity, the whole shebang. I wasn't myself, and I had literally lost my way. Fast forward a few months: I knew Game of the Year was coming up, so I sat down to do this list, something I use as a highlight of my year, and I felt nothing. How could I? I felt as I lost part of myself, a true sense of grief and loss, knowing my life isn't going to be the rose-tinted fairytale I told myself it would be. 

Staring at the list of games I played this year (which wasn't as long as I would've liked), I came to a realization: The list, in its own unique way, worked as a sort of timeline: Where was my head at during the year? What did I rely on as support, whether emotionally, or as a source of pure escapism? Gaming has a knack of hitting both in unique ways, and I'm glad to say they were true to their purpose, when I felt up for a session. There were HUGE games I missed out on this year because of my situation, so I almost feel guilty making a list. I remember, though, that this is MY list of Top Games, and no matter how few or how many, if a game stuck with me in one way or another, especially THIS year of all years, it had to be something special.

Here's hoping 2014 will be a better year for my personal life than 2013, but I will say 2013 made me a more grounded person, someone who understands who they are, and what their core values in life are. The most important, I've found, is family: A group you can rely on for love and support, people you can genuinely be yourself around, without fear of judgement or ridicule, but people that can also call you out on your shit, lending a helping hand whenever needed. I've had the good fortune of having such people and family in my life, and truth be told, I think Nitrobeard's part of that family, as well.

After all, even after the brutal year, I felt like making this list for you all was the first step in the right direction. As I sifted through my experiences through the year, the list of games, the memories they created, and the memories they brought flooding back, I realized I had to process them. I had to sort them, and I had to find clear, concise thoughts. In a weird way, as I searched for the thoughts, it felt like I was finding......me.

You're the best, Bearders. Let's rock 2014 in the only way we know how: together.