As election day fast approaches, a mystifying number of Utahans actually seem excited to get out there and cast a vote that, let’s face it, won’t count. If you’re an idealist, you no doubt read the previous sentence with a quietly dignified feeling of moral superiority and a smug smirk that sarcastically screams, “Oh, a cynic. How refreshing.”

Well, you’re partially right, but, then again, you’re also partially wrong. I mean, we could talk circles around the certainty of McCain’s impending age-related incapacitation or the chorus of crickets accompanying any query concerning Obama’s qualifications, but I find the very idea of such a conversation unimaginably dull. McCain? McSame. Obama? Oboring. To quote the tagline of the film Alien Vs. Predator, “Whoever wins, we lose.”

So instead of rehashing the same tired political sound bites, let’s talk about an election that actually matters: GOTY. That’s right, Game of the Year. And there’s no better time to discuss this prestigious award than that magical time of the year that gamers the world over know as fourth quarter.

At the beginning of this election year, many were convinced that there was no way that 2008 could compare to 2007, which was rife with quality fare like Call of Duty 4, Halo 3, Super Mario Galaxy and Bioshock. However, 2008 answered back with a bevy of hard-hitting superstars. So, just whom will your vote go to? First, let’s have a recap of the potential candidates.

Grand Theft Auto 4 – Darker, grittier, more realistic, GTA 4 showed us a Liberty City that some of us still have a hard time getting away from. Whether you’re following the story of antihero Niko Bellic and his rise to the top or jumping online for some frantic madcap multiplayer, GTA 4 has something for everybody.

Braid – While not quite a blockbuster, Braid is everything a piece of art should be; it’s just a bonus that it’s also a game. Thought-provoking and whimsical, poignant and innovative, Braid made you examine your soul and feel like a more complete person for playing it. 2D platforming never felt so good.

Gears of War 2 – Marcus Fenix and Co. continue the fight they started in the original Gears of War. Boasting the most beautifully realistic graphics on a home console to date, Gears 2 also features some wicked new online modes, epic battles and crazy awesome physics. Oh, and chainsaw duels.

Fable 2 – Sequel to the cult hit, Fable 2 is an adventure gamers’ dream come true. Open world? Check. Choices made in the game affect the world in the game? Check. Trusty computer-controlled dog companion? Check and mate.

Dead Space – This gorgeously gory and intense third-person shooter is like the love child of Resident Evil 4 and the film Event Horizon. Great story, tight controls, fun weapons and truly frightening enemies provide one of the freakiest game experiences in years.

Little Big Planet – Sony’s outrageously cute 2D platformer/level creator is sure to rock socks when it comes out later this year. More on this at a future date.

Fall Out 3 – Developed by the studio that brought us the nigh-incomparable Oblivion, Fall Out 3 features a ridiculously open world set in a post-apocalyptic United States. The best part? Not only can you pickpocket people, you can put things in their pockets. Like live grenades. Yeah.

So there you have it. Remember, voting with your wallet is important, and in this election you can vote for more than one candidate if one just isn’t fitting all your needs. If nothing else, GOTY 2008 will give you something that the general election can’t: a choice you can believe in.