Gaming's Glorious Summer

Dali's Olivier as Richard III

I've just come off a wonderful week of vacation with my lovely spouse. It was great, but I learned something about myself. I learned that something as a corollary to another lesson, and that primary lesson was that, if you turn a smart phone on while on a ship floating in the Pacific Ocean, you will get a text message telling you that using that phone will result in a charge of $30 per megabyte.

In the days running up to vacation, I put in a lot of work. I didn't want to fall behind at the office too much, I had volunteer duties at GWJ and elsewhere that I needed to work ahead on and find substitutes for. (Incidentally, Mister Magnus did a fantastic job keeping the Front Page running here, and you should all buy him candies or flowers or beer or something.)

One of the last things I spent any time thinking about before setting myself adrift in a data desert was Elysium's piece on discontent with 2012's games.

You might not know this about me, but I am an internet person. If I weren't such a loudmouth about how great Chicago is, you would be justified in assuming that I'm not just figuratively a "digital native," but that I was actually birthed by some database in the early '80s. I loved my time on vacation, but there was a voice in the back of me whispering, "If you were going through this via a game, there would be a progress bar, and perhaps an achievement for this — not one of those 5-point achievements, either. We're talking 50, maybe 150 points."

Of course I cheated when we were in port. I have a lot of links saved in my iOS Safari Reading List from RSS feeds I follow. A snuck a couple Tweets out. A couple games of Go against an iOS AI.

I had a great time, but I missed the internet. I missed games.

I've been slowly going through all the Front Page stories and comments I missed, and I had occasion to revisit Elysium's lament and the discussion it sparked. I fully concede that expectations were not met for some key games. I understand that expectations can be dangerous things, though I honestly wasn't very excited for Diablo 3, and I'm behind on my Mass Effect storyline to such an extent that I'll likely not be buying ME3 for a couple more months. Still, I have loved this year.

This is the year I took amazing masters classes, really dove into Skyrim, watched some amazing Kickstarter projects get funded, read insightful and fascinating writing about games — especially here on GWJ — and then, just before Elysium wrote his article, I finally grabbed Crusader Kings 2 via Steam sale.

What's more, gaming is proliferating outward into the rest of our worlds. I'm not just talking about the Wii U (which I'm excited to see get into the hands of hackers), but in Chicago alone, 2012 has seen the opening of a new arcade bar and the funding of an arcade brewery as well. Gamers learned that Anita Sarkeesian was attacked, and we exploded in generosity toward her Kickstarter page in a way that almost forces warm fuzzies into my heart.

With all this swirling around us, disappointment almost seems like a choice.

I know we all love looking back at years like 1998 for gaming history, but we should not let nostalgia or grognardian dispositions blind us to the golden age of gaming — of gamers — in which we are living. We just need the perspective, and the time, to appreciate it.

Comments

2012 has been one of the most exhilirating gaming years I can remember. This year I've played Fez, #sworcery, Grimrock, Trials Evolution, Dust Force, Endless Space, Amnesia and Lone Survivor. There are some A++ games in that list. Add to that unfinished things like Proteus and Gnomoria and experimental stuff like Dear Esther, plus the fact that I still haven't touched Crusader Kings II. I've barely been able to keep up. Great, great year. One of my favorites.

And I've barely scratched the surface of Secret of the Magic Crystal. I hear that bucket's got some treats in it.

Grognardian!? Hey! I resemble that remark.

(I'm never going to let you live that one down, either. )

I actually toted my Xbox with me on my Summer vacation so I would not be without Dark Souls and Skyrim for even one week. It's a sickness.

So, one game from 2011, one game from 2012, a centuries old great strategy board game iOS port, and your local arcades?

Sounds like you're telling us to go outside. After looking out the window to the grey skies here, I think that's kind of pleasant, given the recent weather.

It definitely is a good time to be a gamer, there is such a variety of options laid before us. Exotic little gems, rough indie diamonds and nearly the whole history of gaming for us to pick and choose from.

But it doesn't change that 2012 has been a pretty bleak year for the AAA tentpole gaming scene.

Sean's article and this are not even two sides of the same coin, one is the national motto and one is the minting date on the same side. Never before has a gamer been so much to be satisfied with, and so much to be dissatisfied with.

Hopefully Guild Wars 2 is a AAA bright spot, but even if it isn't I have Crusader Kings 2 waiting to be downloaded, and I must get around to getting Gnomoria.

I want to make it clear that there's certainly plenty to be disappointed with, especially when it comes to the sort of thing that I'd rather leave in the Politics & Controversy forum.

momgamer wrote:

Grognardian!? Hey! I resemble that remark.

(I'm never going to let you live that one down, either. )

It's a word! I've heard professors use it!

Scratched wrote:

So, one game from 2011, one game from 2012, a centuries old great strategy board game iOS port, and your local arcades?

MrDeVil909 wrote:

But it doesn't change that 2012 has been a pretty bleak year for the AAA tentpole gaming scene.

I think we've only seen 2-3 truly huge AAA games this year, but that scene hasn't really interested me in years.

From where I sit, 2012 is the year of Fez, Journey, Botanicula, Crusader Kings 2, and The Walking Dead.

More on the rebirth of arcades, via Ars.

Yeah, I actually think the industry is getting more interesting with the stagnation and controversy in the AAA space. It's allowing mind share for stuff that's been relatively marginal and grognardian. (great word)

Arcade...brewery?

I know where I'm vacationing this year.

Minarchist wrote:

Arcade...brewery?

I know where I'm vacationing this year.

bam. Although I find that by lowering my blinds, spraying an inordinate amount of cologne in the air, stocking the fridge with mightyfine brews, and firing up XBLA makes for a pretty slick 90's-style arcade(+bar) experience. All quarters go toward my laundry fund.

Glad to read that you had a great trip, Wordy. Congrats'n'buttpats on surviving and returning to the land of teh Why-Fies.

*****
I've been happy with this Summer/year o' Games. My piles (both physical and mental) are so grand that it was nice not to be tempted by too many New Shinies and instead to try and make the "tough calls" on games I'd previously passed on such as Dirt3 and Fallout: New Vegas. The latter really knocked my socks off. Oh, and Out of the Park Baseball 13 (that game is the bossest of all the sauces).

Hopefully things remain calm for me on the game-buying front through Autumn and I can find a satisfying, lasting time sink with Borderlands 2 -- running and gunning with Chicago West Coast member Sir Rockford.

This is the first year in forever where basically every inch of my year has been covered by must-have games I need to buy and play immediately.

Demyx wrote:

This is the first year in forever where basically every inch of my year has been covered by must-have games I need to buy and play immediately.

I'm with you there. I haven't been hurting for new games to play and in fact haven't been able to get to even half of what's caught my eye. It's been a good year from where I'm sitting, but I also remember thinking that in 2010 when everyone was complaining that it was an off year for gaming. Maybe I'm just on an off cycle.

Well, I'm not so much into tentpole AAAs as I am Nintendo, Square, indies and JRPGs, so that's probably why.

This year has had for me: Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb, Xenoblade Chronicles, Diablo III, Theatrhythm, Kingdom Hearts 3D, New SMB 2, Borderlands, both Epic Mickey games, Paper Mario Sticker Star. And if I decide to get a launch Wii U, probably Pikmin 3 and the Mario game and maybe WarioWare.

2012 has been an amazing year for PC gaming, heck, even for just space games. When I began my blog, I thought I'd write mostly on the classics while covering the occasional new release, whereas it's been just the opposite. We're really in some part of a new golden age of PC gaming, I think, and I loooove it.

watched some amazing Kickstarter projects get funded,

Kickstarter funded games are nice... but still waiting for some kickstarer funded, and then released game to really get excited about.

If there are any done, available to buy, and worth buying that I'm not aware of, let me know. I'm sure I could just have missed something.

Double butt-tap of thanks to Mister Magnus. Well done sir. You can edit my ish any time.

Bet you're really looking forward to that car ride to GenCon now, aren't 'cha?

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Yeah, I actually think the industry is getting more interesting with the stagnation and controversy in the AAA space. It's allowing mind share for stuff that's been relatively marginal and grognardian. (great word)

+1 to this. I think we're starting to see the industry change a bit with the rise of Kickstarter projects and the indie scene in general. While there are still AAA games/sequels out there and some of them are well done, it doesn't feel like they are the only show in town anymore.

TheWanderer wrote:

Bet you're really looking forward to that car ride to GenCon now, aren't 'cha?

The one where you're picking me up at 4am?

IMAGE(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y209/Magnusnews/too_old.jpg)

No Gods and Kings? I am disappoint!

Gods and Kings has been rightly touted by our very own Elysium Sands as to Civ V what BTS did for CIV, which is to bring it fully into its own. New tech tree, new unit relationships, reworked HP and damage mechanisms, new units, redone naval combat, and new and redone Civs almost make Gods and Kings feel like a whole new game rather than just an expansion.

To top it all off, it's got a Steampunk scenario with land ironclads in it. If you like strategy you have to give Gods and Kings a go. That alone puts 2012 in the black for me.