The beauty of games is that they can give each player an experience that's unique to them. 2012 was packed full of these moments, and our editorial team - Matthew Reynolds, Liam Martin, Scott Nichols, Mark Langshaw, Andrew Laughlin and Ben Lee - recounted some of their favourites from 12 different games released this year.
It's the start of Digital Spy's annual Game of the Year coverage, which will continue tomorrow (Monday, December 17) with the start of our top 20 countdown, covering entries 20-16, with the final five and the coveted top spot being announced later this week.
In the meantime, you can vote for your favourite games of the year in our site-wide poll and tell us your favourite moments in the comments below.
Journey: Friends Reunited
"While playing Journey for the first time, I encountered another player and went nearly the entire game with them. We waited for each other while the other explored, distracted giant snake monsters so the other could pass, and kept each other warm by staying close and singing while hiking up the mountain.
"Near the end of the journey we lost each other in the thick snow of a blizzard, and I was devastated to lose my partner. However, when the final area started we found each other again and spent a good minute or two just circling each other in the air singing for joy at being reunited." - Scott Nichols
The Walking Dead: No Time Left
"No game ever has hit me on an emotional level more than The Walking Dead. It's a gut-wrenching experience throughout, but the final episode 'No Time Left' absolutely nailed it.
"When I first met Clementine, she was a scared young girl who relied on me. But in season one's final moments, she grew into someone who was as ready as anyone could be for this bleak world. My decisions may not have impacted the events of the game too much, but the journey I had with Clem was personalised and made my last scene so unbelievably hard-hitting.
"Parallels can be drawn between her and Carl Grimes from the comics and TV series, but the difference here is that it really felt like I influenced the person she became." - Ben Lee
Far Cry 3: Open-world hijinks
"I love Far Cry 3 because its dangerous inhabitants work against each other to make a world that is spontaneous, unpredictable and at times very, very silly.
"Some of my own highlights include: an enemy that burnt down its own outpost with a misplaced Molotov cocktail and killed a bunch of his friends; setting fire to a bear with a flamethrower, causing it to panic (like burning bears do) and scurry into a road and run into a jeep, causing them both to explode. I also mounted a beach with a jetski and ran over a goat in the process.
"It's the non-story objectives that make Far Cry 3 special. In most open-world games anything outside the critical path is filler for its expansive world, but I feel that these side-quests are the game, where seemingly every liberated outpost or hunting objective gives the enemies to cause some amusing hijinks." - Matthew Reynolds
Hitman Absolution: Player choice
"Hitman: Absolution has divided opinions, but I love it. As a rather clumsy gamer, I have an uneasy relationship with 'stealth' action, but Absolution just lets me do my thing. I remember entering a gun shop where Agent 47's Silverballers were being held.
"The owner told me to take on his daughter at a shooting contest, but not liking the prospect, I just killed everyone in the shop and took them. I thought to myself, 'Are they going to let me do this?' And thankfully, they did." - Andrew Laughlin
XCOM: Enemy Unknown: Not so lucky
"While invading an enemy base I took heavy casualties so that I was only down to two soldiers by the end - a high-level sniper and a rookie that had miraculously survived. At the end of the level I came across my first Sectoid Commander, who immediately used mind control on the sniper.
"Through careful movement, and more than a little dumb luck, the rookie single-handedly killed the Sectoid Commander to win the mission and rescue my sniper. Back at the base I renamed the soldier 'Lucky'… and he proceeded to die almost immediately during the next mission." - Scott Nichols
Dead or Alive 5: Online rivalry
"The mark of a good fighting game, in my opinion, is when I am motivated to get better. And although Tekken Tag 2 is a technically excellent title, I kept coming back to Dead or Alive 5.
"I've never been a huge fan of the series, but Dead or Alive 5's slicker and more satisfying fighting system completely won me over.
"I've pumped hours upon hours online, though none more memorable than an afternoon I spent sparring with one equally-matched random player. I lost count how many battles we had - it must have been close to 40 - but not only was it immensely fun, I also felt by the end that I had significantly improved my game. And that was truly rewarding." - Ben Lee
Nintendo Land: Chasing Mario
"When played as a five-piece, there are very few games that can match the sheer delight of a Nintendo Land multiplayer session. During a particularly boisterous game playing Mario Chase, for example, my group was chastised for making too much noise.
"What made this moment so special is that we weren't arguing with each other, swearing at the screen in frustration, throwing our controllers at the wall or having it out with anonymous online trolls, we were giggling like children and shouting at the top of our lungs everytime Mario entered a nearby zone. It was right about then that I fell in love with the Wii U." - Liam Martin
Need for Speed: Most Wanted: High-speed getaways
"In many ways, I am also an anarchic gamer. I will just try to smash whatever is in my way. Need for Speed: Most Wanted is not perfect, but the racing game enables me to drive fast and destroy stuff to my heart's content.
"One of my favourite police chases involved a sprawling dash across Fairhaven; building a wanted level of six, welcoming the spike strips and SUVs, and then disappearing from their clutches. This is why I play games." - Andrew Laughlin
Borderlands 2: Four player co-op
"Many of the best video gaming experiences I've had in 2012 came during Borderlands 2 co-op sessions. Barbecuing midgets, looting to your heart's content and chaotic vehicular escapades are ten times as gratifying with three other Vault Hunters by your side, and my friends and I have logged hundreds of hours between us.
"Borderlands 2 wasn't an attempt to revolutionise the first-person shooter, nor was it a bid to reinvent multiplayer gaming, but it's a superlative example of its genre with some of the most fun and memorable co-op campaigns I've taken part in all year." - Mark Langshaw
Football Manager 2013: The new Classic Mode
"As a life-long Football Manager addict, nothing pleased me more than when I found out Sports Interactive had included a back-to-basics Classic Mode in this season's instalment of their legendary sports management simulation.
"Football Manager had become a life-devouring past time, and with a full-time job to hold down along with a host of other responsibilities, giving it the attention it demanded became painstakingly difficult. Classic Mode has changed all of that, giving fans the spiritual successor to Championship Manager 01/02 they have long craved.
"Needless to say, the game is still consuming my life, but at least I can now get through several seasons in a week instead of just the one." - Mark Langshaw
Fez: Mind-blowing revelations
"Why I find Fez fascinating is because there are two or three significant revelations the player must go through to help decode the world around them. Once they do, they then have the means to access new areas and solve puzzles that would have frustrated them for hours.
"To say what exactly these moments are would be telling - I'd advise avoiding any kind of walkthrough because they're unfortunately easy to spoil - but what makes them particularly clever is that they aren't items or equipment, but merely ways of reading or navigating the world, meaning with the right knowledge any player could have proceeded onward straight away.
"Very rarely do games hold information back and reveal it in such a way, which is why Fez's revelations are particularly mind-blowing." - Matthew Reynolds
"Initial doubts about Rocksmith's ability to teach a novice how to play guitar were almost instantly quashed with one successful delivery of Rolling Stones classic 'Satisfaction'. Still far from the finished article, playing that opening lick was, if you'll excuse the pun, one of the most satisfying moments I've had playing a video game this year.
"Making a believer out of a sceptic, learning to play guitar suddenly seemed like a very real possibility thanks to one of the most famous riffs in history. For a moment it even made me forget about that plastic guitar gathering dust in the wardrobe." - Liam Martin
What are your favourite moments of 2012? Join us for the next part of our Games of 2012 countdown with entries 15-11 tomorrow (December 17).