Here are some of the other reader write-ups for Game Of The Decade that may not have had strength in numbers, but make a case for particular, striking games released in the last decade:
Anonymous: "Dragon Age: Origins - Unparalleled storytelling of a cinematic quality seen in but very few games, coupled with solid, deep, varied and greatly enjoyable gameplay. The characters are rich and detailed, as are the locations the player visits. The graphics are very good (perhaps not compared to the latest games, but certainly when seen across the entire decade), the music is absolutely stunning and the voice talent is top-notch."
"And unlike most games this decade it is also exceedingly big, giving many, many hours of enjoyment, not boring for a moment. Besides, it's one of the very, very few games that managed to make me cry, showing the strength of its storytelling for those willing to get emotionally invested in the characters. For me undoubtedly the game of the century, let alone the decade."
Travis Jones: "Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal for PS2 - It was the first game in a long time - probably since the 16-bit console era - that made me feel like a kid playing a new game on Christmas morning. Insomniac was clearly not afraid to stick with a genre [action-platforming] that most developers had long abandoned. The game itself has a good amount of breadth to it, with several different game types, side-quests and mini-games. Yet, it was polished enough that no part of the game felt incomplete. Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal is a great example of good, consistent design, beautiful art, and solid engineering."
Danny Pampel: "Gears of War was truly the first time that video games and movies seemed to blur for me. I've loved some of the cinematic storytelling that I've seen in other games but GoW nailed it. The scene where [SPOILER!]is amazing, more so because Epic kept you in the game engine so you didn't feel like it took you out of the experience."
Vince Dickinson, EA-Tiburon - "Phantasy Star Online (Dreamcast, Gamecube). Random level generation made it infinitely replayable. Unlike the myriad Diablo clones that just let you click on things, PSO had actual gameplay featuring an engaging button timing-based combo system that kept combat fun from the first hour to the 500th. Perfect (and free!) online, while being able to use the same character online and offline, made it unbelievably addicting."
"PSO brought console gaming online in a big way - and did it perfectly over 56k dial-up which was quite an achievement. Gorgeous art and sound direction round out what is among my favorite games of all time, let alone the last decade. It may not be the biggest-selling game or have the biggest name, but it was the best all-around package."
Thomas Arnold, THQ: "Silent Hill 3. I missed Silent Hill 2, which might have been my pick, but I played SH3 first. This was the first game to use what I felt was a level allegory and metaphor usually reserved for literature. The sound design and visuals were first rate. This game basically inspired me to switch carriers from film to video games, which is what I did. Game of the Decade."
Dehron Hite-Benson: "Braid -- I have to say, my immediate urge was to say something like Bioshock or Prototype or Halo 3, but after stepping back and thinking about what game in the past decade actually rattled my assumptions about game-making, it has to be Braid. When you're playing the game and reading the story it seems like a fairly typical side-scrolling experience; a very sophisticated and fun experience, but still pretty typical. Then you play that last level! By the end of it I was shocked at what Jon Blow accomplished -- he made the first game that I truly can call art. Then, I played it again and realized all the little intricacies that he had inserted in the story; all the symbolism. This game is an inspiration for me."
Yannick Boucher, Ubisoft: "To me it has to be Shenmue (1&2, as a unit). The setting was so different from everything else: no elfs and orcs, no cyborgs and bombs or swords, just a regular teenager, living a regular life (more or less) in the '80s in Japan. It was also one of the most ambitious games ever (still ranks up there if you ask me), and it had something for everyone: fighting, adventure, mini-games...). I loved the open-endedness and realism too: all the mundane things of daily life were somehow fun: even driving a forklift at work (I found!). It had an awesome story, and even more awesome music, whether orchestral or all the other different styles...
I know there are naysayers out there, and it's been debated to death. I'm not saying it's perfect, but to me, it's the closest thing we've come to. Many have come very close (even perhaps surpassed to some extent), but Shenmue was the first game that, to me, managed to tell a truly engrossing, and emotional story, and made me feel for the characters. That's what made it stand apart, in the end. Its beautiful story-telling and the beautiful technology and art that conveyed it."
Quinton Klabon: "Final Fantasy IX (2000): I think Final Fantasy IX best embodies the franchise's artistic daring. A supposed side project-turned-inflection point for the series, the creators (unwittingly?) formed a moving meditation on the player's and the franchise's existences. Archetypal party members and their experiences, the spectacular final boss, the profoundly meaningful bookends - each slice uses the series' symbols, 19th century Russian novel-style, to examine the ways in which we define the self. Even the characters' instruction manual quotations ask, "How does one contextualize one's life?" The series, torn between 2 traditions, turned its questioning back on itself: "Does Final Fantasy's future sever it from its past?""
"Bangai-O Spirits (2008): It puts all biases to rest. Sometimes, Treasure ascends from ramshackle brilliance to dazzling perfection. Sometimes, the jack-of-all-trades is the master of all. Sometimes, user creation tools become a masterclass, not a diversion. Sometimes, a game mocks art because of its self-assured flawlessness, not because of its regressiveness. Bangai-O Spirits is Treasure's reward for years of diligent invention. Their reward, I should add, and ours."
Chris Valdez: "Cave Story. Developed independently over the course of 5 years by one developer, "Pixel," the game introduced a new generation of games to classic 2D platforming on Windows-based computers, and later ported to other OSes and platforms... all for free! (WiiWare version isn't out as of this nominattion.) Multiple endings, a wonderful soundtrack and endearing characters, Cave Story stands out as one of the best games I've played this decade."