Friday, April 11, 2014

11/4

§TEXTS
We’ve bought into the idea that storytelling is about a journey to an endpoint, an authored destination. The real destination is the creation of meaning, whether that be the reader’s interpretation or reconstructing the author’s intent.
/.../
Hypertext tales are often sold as games of choices, of agency, of your version of the narrative – when it would be better to embrace what they are good at, which is telling a different kind of fiction: one which is host to multiple narratives, narrative superposition for want of a better term, from which meaning can be derived.
http://www.electrondance.com/stop-crying-about-choice/

§

"I HATE how people who aren't straight white cisgender men are treated in the game industry. I HATE that so many women can't come to a professional event without getting hit on by some creepy dude… and I HATE that it never, ever happens to me. I mean, who even thinks this? Shouldn't I feel happy that I'm not getting hit on?! No, I feel like SHIT. I start to wonder, what's wrong with me? I clearly don't look manly or bearded or stubbly enough, so I don't get to be treated like a real human, but I'm also not hot enough for any of their creepy attention. I'm like invisible or something."
/.../
"I didn't last in the industry very long, as you can probably imagine," Deirdra Kiai continues after a long pause. "I was pushed over to the margins, where I quietly worked alone on my own projects, desperately struggling to find my voice."
"They could exclude me all they wanted, but they couldn't stop me from making games."
/.../
"I've been able to do these things, but only IN SPITE of the industry's social pressure not to. Imagine what I could have done if I'd been encouraged instead of IGNORED. Imagine how many other brilliant, talented people could be making weird, wonderful games along WITH ME."
http://tmi.kotaku.com/making-games-is-easy-belonging-is-hard-1551649858

§

...if the factors that lead to replay do not exist solely “in the games themselves” that does not mean they aren’t worth talking about – indeed, as Fernández-Vara’s insights show, the middle-ground between game and player is fundamental to a “game-type experience” as such.  This paper admits both to the elusive and idiosyncratic nature of replay value, while attempting a tentative outline for a mode in which replay value may be described and analyzed.
http://www.firstpersonscholar.com/the-games-people-replay/





§VIDEOS
Top 5 Reasons Game Reviews Don't Matter | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzkVlQ3nlVM

§

Game Theory: Are Gamers Killing Video Games?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cxhs-GLE29Q

§

Is VR the future of Gaming? A look at nearly every VR device shown at GDC.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2myY_pQEMk

§

Net Neutrality - What a Closed Internet Means for Games - Extra Credits
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQtiIazfoQM






§DATA
A new study out of Ohio State University is suggesting that playing aggressive, Black characters in video games might make people who already have a tendency towards racism more racist.
http://www.samanthablackmon.net/notyourmamasgamer/?p=4882

§

Some data available from games with moral decision systems show that gamers are generally unwilling to play as evil characters. In a study, over 1000 gamers were surveyed to see how the average player interacts with a game system that allows the player to choose a "good" or "evil" path through a game story. The finding was that the average gamer prefers to be good or heroic in such games. Gamers are most interested in exploring a character whose moral choices closely match to their own. However, those players that experience a game for the second time are then more likely to choose evil. The article includes an exploration of which actions gamers felt particularly evil, and what kind of choices turn out to be more difficult for them.
http://gamescriticism.org/articles/lange-1-1/





Thursday, March 27, 2014

27/3

§VR
"How would you feel to swap your body with another?" Philipe Bertrand asked me. "Would you better understand the other if you see through their eyes?"
http://www.polygon.com/2014/3/4/5423330/oculus-rift-vr-gender-swap-girl-mirror-look

§

It’s not about swapping gender, it’s about tricking your brain into thinking you’re a different sex – for a few minutes, in a safe environment where you can quickly step out if things aren’t going how you please. Sure you can put your eyeballs in the head of another for a few minutes (and yes, this is really interesting stuff!) but you’re not in that head yourself. You don’t know what it’s like to have had to live with that body.
http://www.sophiehoulden.com/a-machine-to-be-another/

§

Why You're Going to Suck At Oculus Rift and Virtual Reality | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGmy1V1u_ko

§

Using Virtual Reality to Treat PTSD
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIj26r4VPaA

§

If the avatar is simply an extension of the player, violence by the avatar reflects a violent attitude held, even if hidden, by the player. This, I think most gamers would agree, is nonsense. But the lack of understanding of the role of the avatar leads many people, even as intelligent a person as Slavoj Žižek, to equate violence by the avatar with the player’s supposed internal desire for violence.
http://theanimistblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/my-second-self-understanding-the-relationship-between-players-and-avatars/




§DESIGN
Is Dark Souls the Future of Videogame Storytelling? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-YvxPvqOmE

§

For this month’s Queer Mechanic, we’re going to take a look at ways of toying with, subverting, destabilising and queering the concept of the straight male gaze.
http://gaygamer.net/2014/03/queer-mechanic-5-queering-the-male-gaze/

§

Extra Credits: Quest Design (Part 2)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ur6GQp5mCYs

§

Designing for Youth - Making Games for Players Under 14 - Extra Credits
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdFw8kvHAY8

§

In narratology, vraisemblance, or “versimilitude,” – the semblance of something to truth, or reality, or to agreed-upon rules – was first used in this meaning by Gérard Genette, and Tzvetan Todorov, in the same special no. of Communications in 1968 (and later adapted for her own purposes as doxa by Tel Aviv School member Ruth Amossy). For Genette, vraisemblance meant the aspects of a story that answered to “[...] a body of maxims accepted as true by the public to which the narrative is addressed; but these maxims, due to the very fact that they are accepted, most often remain implicit”12 – in other words, the parts of the story that need no explanation, in good and bad.
/.../
Barthes’ core thought, applied to Gone Home, is as follows: The insignificant signifiers, such as the bags of chips in the game, seem to refer directly to their referent. A bag of chips is, well, a bag of chips. In other words, these inconsequential details seem, at first, simply denote reality directly. But since the significance of the signifier is insignificant, it actually doesn’t!Instead, according to Barthes, the signified escapes, with a generic sense of “reality” replacing it. The bag of chips doesn’t actually mean what it means, it simply speaks to us of a kind of “reality”.
http://www.slowdown.vg/2014/03/13/gone-home-and-the-reality-effect/





§MISC
Science fiction in games (and, let’s be fair, science fiction outside of them as well) tends to treat Dick’s devices as just cool things to riff off of—they make a great excuse to set up an action scene—while ignoring the metaphysics that he’s really interested in. As a result cyberpunk, as a subgenre, is more easily recognized by its mask than by its face, so to speak.
http://big-tall-words.com/2014/03/14/ascentury-philip-k-dick-and-videogames/

§

A Defense of Cheating in Videogames | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er-E1vxEnic

§

...the very fact that the drive toward canonization ends up revealing certain latent ideologies or power structures makes the act itself, rather than whatever product results from it, appear eminently useful.
http://gamingvulture.com/2014/03/11/shots-fired/

§

Ugly Truth in Advertising
http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/itrits/the-final-bosman-ugly-truth-in-advertising

§

Basically here's what happened: after the launch of Stanley Parable, I became a bit depressed.
http://www.galactic-cafe.com/2014/02/game-of-the-year/

Friday, March 7, 2014

7/3

§DESIGN
In short,  the concise approach’s predictability, intuitiveness, and designer control are both strengths and weaknesses. Predictability of response reduces frustration, but means the player is seldom surprised. Intuitiveness makes the game easier to learn, but keeps the player from attempting unorthodox solutions. Control means that the designer can keep the game progressing in a manner consistent with the design vision, but means as well that the game can never exceed what the designer imagined, have its systems truly come to life.
http://problemmachine.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/verbosity-and-concision/

§

13 Cutscene Tropes Holding Back Interactive Storytelling
http://playersdelight.blogspot.se/2014/02/13-cutscene-tropes-holding-back.html

§

Dumb fun is for everyone, even if you've never picked up a controller. It brings the seasoned pro down shoulder-to-shoulder with the bumbling newbie, and there's something really satisfying about that.
http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2014/02/octodad-cluminess-in-gaming.html

§

Errant Signal - Thief (1998)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIhEtXPGzgs



§COMMUNITY
Are Angry Fanboys Bad for Games? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ9YozVtUag




§VR
Swap Genders with Oculus Rift, Get Empathy
http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/swap-gender-with-oculus-rift-get-empathy?utm_source=gravityUS

§

Zelda VR: The Legend Of Zelda remade for Oculus Rift
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEXrNuw_J0Y

§

Who Are the 10 Best NPCs of All Time? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rAQ_SJ1wls






§QUEER

When we pushed him on why this made any real difference to him at all he relented with:

    “Look, if I am going to get into anything in my games then either I want to be the person or I want to feel validated in my desire to fuck them. How am I supposed to get my jollies thinking about Ellen Page in EPS 2014 if she was with a girl? Err… actually, now that I think about it-”

www.arcadianrhythms.com/2014/02/breaking-news-ellen-page-simulator-2014-cancelled/

§

As the game is called Broken Age, it’s not surprising that many of the themes in the game revolve around a broken, dystopian society. The Hunger Game-esque Maiden’s Feast involves sacrificing the town’s maidens in order to both save the town and save the maidens’ families from certain embarrassment. But, Vella is having none of it.
http://www.samanthablackmon.net/notyourmamasgamer/?p=4660

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

11/2

TOPIC OF THE WEEK: #CRITIQUE

an alternative a “cyborgian” approach to game criticism that accounts for the whole socio-technical, embodied assemblage of digital gameplay rather than cherry-picking one or two essentialized aspects to stand in for the whole.
/.../
What I have called “expansive gameplay,” the imposition of optional rules and limitations to enhance or re-frame one’s experience of a game, might also be an example of a critical “reading” strategy (ha ha) that enables the kind of “bottom-up, descriptive analysis” Keogh is after - some examples might include Ben Abraham’s experiments with “permadeath” in Far Cry 2 and Mattie Brice’s "Pokemon Unchained," which turns Pokemon into a disturbing slavery allegory. As philosopher Manuel de Landa argues, the introduction of new capacities into an assemblage at any scale (such as using a new tool or learning a new skill) can precipitate a break in the habitual, destabilizing and reconfiguring the entangled elements that constitute the assemblage. If the goal of game criticism is, as Keogh contends, to describe and critique “the player’s actual [embodied] engagement with formal and material properties,” I’m curious to see what other critical tools, skills, and strategies might be mobilized to this end.
http://reading-strategy.tumblr.com/post/74181657281/reading-strategies-for-game-criticism

§

Despite being the focus of academic studies for close to two decades and a significant part of popular culture for much longer, the humanities generally and cultural studies in particular lacks a coherent vocabulary to perform strong, analytical criticism of individual videogame works. The solution is not another prescriptive, top-down model that attempts to understand all videogame play the same way, but a descriptive, bottom-up conceptual toolkit that understands particular videogames in the moment of play when videogame and player come together. This article highlights the values inherited by game studies that have resisted the creation of such a toolkit and suggests one path forward grounded in the phenomenological pleasures of videogame play across worlds and bodies. After exploring game studies’ historical hostility to critical and textual readings, it conceptualises the ‘videogame text’—the critic’s object of study—as the coming together of the player and the videogame in a cybernetic circuit of embodied pleasures. This circuit flows across both the actual and virtual worlds of play in a convergence of form and content. Ultimately, this article lays a groundwork for academic roads into videogame criticism that is primarily concerned with understanding videogames as videogames to complement those ad-hoc methods already being developed by a nascent scene of online critics and bloggers.
/.../
The first of these sections observes how the concept of ‘immersion’ obscures critical analysis of videogames as cultural forms that actually exist, as it leads to the same separation of form and content that Susan Sontag (1964) so completely dismantled half a century ago.
/.../
the dichotomy of action and representation is perhaps the most contested in the formalist wars to assert what a videogame is. Eskelinen (2001), along with many of the ludologists, privileges videogames’ “remediation of [nondigital] games” over what he sees as the insignificant window dressing of audiovisual representation.
/.../
A videogame’s mechanics and audiovisuals are symbiotic, a singular and irreducible component of videogame play. Claims, such as Newman’s and Aarseth’s above, that Lara Croft’s depiction in Tomb Raider as a human female matters less than what her body allows the player to do ignores the very fact that the player only considers ‘walk’, or ‘run’, or ‘jump’ as viable options because Lara Croft is represented as a human being capable of such actions.
/.../
Immersion, effectively, splits the game’s content from the game’s form, reintroducing the Cartesian split that “takes the sensory experience of the work of art for granted, and proceeds from there” (1964, p.13) that critic Susan Sontag so convincingly dismantled half a century ago in her essays “Against Interpretation” (1964) and “On Style” (1965). Immersion, deployed uncritically, privileges a desire for immediate experience of the ‘content’ of the videogame while ignoring the fact that this content “is, as it were, the pretext, the goal, the lure which engages consciousness in essentially formal processes of transformation” (Sontag, 1965, p. 25). As a theatre critic accounts for the performances of actors or an art critic accounts for the brushstrokes that contribute to a portrait, the videogame critic cannot hope to understand the virtual world of the videogame text without accounting for the player’s active involvement with formal, material elements and construction of an imagined fourth-wall
/.../
A postphenomenological approach to videogame play accounts for the overlapping worlds active during videogame play. It allows the critic to account for what Psycho Mantis makes explicit in Metal Gear Solid when he collapses Solid Snake and I into a single addressee of his speech, and what Mother 2 makes implicit inside the two-walled house: that the ‘content’ of videogames—their virtual worlds and the player’s presence inside of them—is a product of the player’s actual engagement with formal and material properties.
/.../
While the purity complex of game studies with its values of ‘action’ and ‘autonomy’ can be traced through hacker identities and notions of a liberal human subject, the hybridity of the videogame text demands a cyborg identity that understands the player as posthuman, as a subject distributed and emergent (Hayles, 1999, p. 290).  To recognise the fluidity of bodies and identities is to understand that virtual worlds, like human capability, are not imperiled by the splice, but depends on it (Hayles, 1999, p.290). When Psycho Mantis uses the second-person address to say “you haven’t saved the game often” he is not talking to either me the player or Solid Snake the character, he is talking to the cyborgian, gestalt identity that is the two of us combined across bodies and worlds (5).
/.../
With the videogame text located in the circuit, the challenge for the videogame critic is to focus on the flow back and forth across the actual and virtual worlds—form and content flattened into the videogame text as played as a flattening of form and content. By starting with the experience of play across worlds and bodies in particular videogames, an academic videogame criticism can begin to understand what a videogame is without being distracted by what it should be.
http://gamescriticism.org/articles/keogh-1-1

§

rather than trying to portray a realistic world, metafictional texts try to portray the process of creating that world by “plac[ing] fictionality, structure, or language at their content’s core” (29). This form of mimesis leads to “the unmasking of dead conventions by a mirroring of them” (10). The goal is to change the medium by showing the ways in which it is relying on the same old, tired methods, meaning that metafiction can be an agent for artistic innovation and renewal.
/.../
As with any good piece of metafiction, however, The Stanley Parable isn’t just interested in commenting on the way games are made, but also interrogates the role of the player in the game world.
/.../
As Campster says in his analysis of The Stanley Parable, “I tend to approach it [analyzing games] from two general directions – a narrative-focused reading that looks at the plot structure, characters, dramatic arcs, that sort of thing, and a play-focused reading that looks at mechanical systems and how they interact with one another.  Then I try to reconcile the two into a cohesive whole.” This is a trend that permeates the way we analyse games as a community. Beyond the influence this paradigm has on game criticism, it also influences how games are received. If the elements of narrative and gameplay fail to intersect to a satisfactory extent, the game opens itself up to critiques of “ludonarrative dissonance,” while if the developers succeed in interweaving the two, we can praise the “ludonarrative harmony” of their game. It’s the Venn diagram of game criticism, looking for as much overlap between the two circles as possible, and serves in the minds of many as a litmus test for game quality.
/.../
to consider choice as only a part of the narrative is to understate the importance of its function: it is one of the principle ways “the player is able to interact with the game-world.” In The Stanley Parable, it is one of the only ways we interact with the game. By foregrounding the functioning of choice so clearly, Galactic Cafe complicates a simple or dichotomous understanding of choice, forcing us to examine the game in a more holistic manner.
/.../
Repetition isn’t something we generally conceive of as a distinct gameplay mechanic or as an aspect of the narrative.
/.../
But in The Stanley Parable, repetition, including repetition due to the death of the protagonist, isn’t a narrative disruption, but is rather a key element of the way the game functions.
/.../
Once again, a dichotomous reading of the way repetition functions in the game is impossible: it can’t be strictly confined to being part of gameplay or narrative exclusively.
/.../
If we truly want to understand how games affect the player, we’ll have to move a bit past the concept of “ludonarrative harmony,” and take a more holistic approach to game analysis. And maybe if we do so, we can at last exorcise the ghost of the old narratology/ludology debate. I think that the field of game studies would be better for it.
http://theanimistblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/that-wasnt-supposed-to-be-a-choice-metafiction-and-the-stanley-parable/

§

How I analyze a game
The first thing I do is set aside my experience. It is only mildly useful, a single data point, when everyone’s experience is subjective.

/.../
 Mechanics, inputs and processes, rules and tokens and actions. I strip away the surface until Gone Home is a game about flipping over cards on a desk to see what is underneath them. Papers, Please is a Spot-The-Difference game. The Stanley Parable is a choose-your-own-adventure where some of the options are written in invisible ink.
/.../
All of these things are elements on my tuning checklist for my own work. I look for them so I can look at the craft at this mechanical level.
/.../
And now comes the crux of it.

    I know the intent of the systems.
    I know what the systems actually teach.
    I know the intent of the experience.
    I know what the experience actually says.
http://www.raphkoster.com/2014/01/06/how-i-analyze-a-game/

§

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Mods

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIYx0zov8wM



§DESIGN
The violator/violated cycle of The Castle Doctrine self-perpetuates because, it seems, it’s enjoyable to violate. In reality, the relationship of a burglar and the mansion owner is a ton more complex than swapping a binary.
/.../
Rohrer’s distillation creates a gulf between the issue in reality and the issue as TCD discusses it. For the most part, people don’t suddenly materialise into criminals one day. There are causes that drive them there, making their roles in society much more tragic than Rohrer’s moustachioed caricature. As game designer, he adopts the teleology of the world within TCD, and with it responsibility for the system’s narrative dynamics falls upon his head. So, whereas in reality these criminals are created by the horrors of the world, in TCD they are selfish, greedy opportunists with nothing better to do.
/.../
But it’s fixable. Some tweaks and the introduction of a rudimentary economy would suffice to ground the message in relevance.
http://www.gameranx.com/features/id/20011/article/fixing-the-castle-doctrine-s-self-defense-parable/

§

In this sense, the “authentic” titles are not games that simulate WWI at all – in their mechanics, their play-style, even their attention to period detail, they render a war that is both recognisable and yet uncomfortably distant from the object that it seeks to reproduce. The team-based capture the flag and death match modes have a fluidity and activity that the “real” war rarely, if ever, had.
/.../
Moreover still, because the team death match style is so closely associated with other, more cinematic titles and contexts, the effort that has gone into the landscapes seems a let down, less important. Almost as if you’re playing against a backdrop, rather than in a landscape
/.../
To be representational, however inadequately, there is a need for games to reach beyond conventional and rule-bound mechanics and toward the jarringly unfamiliar, toward the red poppy “a little white with the dust”, toward Paul Nash’s rugged, imbalanced collage of shade and shape and fragment. Toward something just a little more like Super Trench Attack, and a lot less like Counter-Strike.
http://ontologicalgeek.com/scarce-heard-amid-the-guns-below/

§

A script can give me the most dramatic, apocalyptic, life-and-death scenario in the world to try to make me care; but knowing that I can help someone in the smallest way, and then giving up the chance, is much, much more painful.
http://www.polygon.com/2014/1/16/5311820/the-power-of-weakness-you-cant-save-everyone-nor-should-you

§

Determinism comforts, and nondeterminism unsettles. But there’s something frustrating and unsatisfying about living in a universe that’s entirely mapped. When a universe can’t be mapped at all, it frustrates in a different way. This tension lies at the center of much videogame story design.
/.../
Esther’s nondeterminism creates more possibilities, without needing a designer to define them in detail. At the same time, the information gaps it leaves are, on average, going to be filled with things of average quality. Stanley’s deterministic branching lets the player feel in control, but also makes that control feel pointless. Taken together, these sum up a lot of the current tradeoffs in interactive storytelling.
http://nightmaremode.thegamerstrust.com/2013/03/17/esther-and-stanley-and-fate/

§

This is the first section of a four-part essay on the history of videogame design.
http://thegamedesignforum.com/features/GDH_1.html

§

Extra Credits: The Magic Circle
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZ-EY9gTsgU

§

Difficulty is the point, not the problem. The play's the thing.
http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-01/17/difficulty-in-video-games






§COMMUNITY
What eSports could learn from an amazing four-person Super Metroid speedrun
http://www.polygon.com/2014/1/15/5311460/esports-super-metroid-speedrun
http://kotaku.com/four-person-super-metroid-speedrun-may-consume-next-hou-1502246487



§HISTORY
Does Legend of Zelda Exploit Nostalgia? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAP6Anq2j9Q

§

Down, down-forward, forward + punch: the controller input was designed by Nishiyama to mimic the onscreen animation of the move, as if grounding oneself with the downward stick motion, then lifting the hands upwards and towards your opponent. It is, alongside Mario’s ground pound and Sonic’s revving spin, one of the earliest and most enduring input sequences, one never forgotten once learned. The Hadoken may be science fiction, but in this way it has become part of us, something that can be summoned from the hands with concentration – just so long as they are resting on an arcade stick.
http://www.edge-online.com/features/hadoken-why-this-mashup-of-sci-fi-and-martial-arts-is-far-more-than-a-signature-move/



§MAGAZINES
The Arcade Review
http://arcadereview.net/main/



§OTHER
http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/uxo4qx/the-final-bosman-nintendo--what-are-you-doing--man-



Saturday, February 1, 2014

1/2 Crit Links

In 2012 I realized videogames were holding me back, artistically speaking. Or rather: my tunnel vision focus on videogames as "my" medium was holding me back.
/.../
Every medium is imbued with the exact same amount of possibility: it’s like the density of the Real Line. The density of the Real Line between 0 and 1 is infinite, as is the density between 0.2 and 0.4, which is the same as between 0 and 100, etc.

You can always drill down, and there will always be more to discover about a medium.
http://tinysubversions.com/fuckvideogames/#slide1



§DESIGN
Chess has problems.

Not for most of us, perhaps - not for the bluffers and the fudgers and the seat-of-the-pants players who prod a path through matchups in which each side's strategy is a winsome, wobbling comedy of errors. No, chess has problems at the grandmaster level. Those people who really love chess, that devoted few who have given their lives to it and for whom chess really should be a great game? They're not getting a great game - and they haven't been getting one for a while.

Chess, it turns out, has been in a bit of a rut for some time.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-11-03-chess-2-the-sequel-how-a-street-fightin-man-fixed-the-worlds-most-famous-game

§

Extra Credits: Affordances
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCSXEKHL6fc

§

DOET [Design of Everyday Things] judges the user’s needs most important, and her perspective most valuable. It is about the apotheosis of the user; it makes her into God, and with holy might it strikes the fear of Her into objects and those who make them.
/.../
DOET, alongside all the important research around it, culminated in something called User Centered Design, a philosophy in which “user error” does not exist and programmers are sad.
/.../
This school teaches that if it’s not fun (or at the very least quick and painless) to be taught about some feature, we shouldn’t include it; that clarity is better than complexity; that elegance is better than messiness; that one button is better than two. It teaches that the purpose of a game is to explain itself to you, and that somewhere in the act of explaining lies that game’s intrinsic value. We have thereby converted the scariest, most contentious question of all (what should this thing be?) from an artistic decision into a design decision.
/.../
Our belief in clarity and elegance, though it has yielded spectacular results, is not the very best way to make videogames; it may not even be a particularly good way. We suffer from the bar we’ve set for ourselves and the burdens we place upon designers. We are wrongly convinced, even in the critical community, that works like Problem Attic are unworthy of attention solely because they prioritize different features and challenge players in a way we deem to be unfashionable.
/.../
I plan on thinking much harder about how I evaluate potential game features. “Because then the user doesn’t have to think” or “but how do we teach that?” should not be trump cards in every single argument about whether to include stuff. It’s easy to turn everything into a neat little design decision, but making a few more artistic ones would be better in the long term for users and for my sanity
http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/BrendanVance/20140106/208092/The_Cult_of_the_Peacock.php?print=1

§

At its worst a backstory driven piece can seem soulless and lonely, as the player wanders desolate locations from which all the other humans have already fled.

But there’s also an argument to be made that the backstory mystery is one of the most natural possible shapes for interactive literature.
/.../
The problem I have with it in Gone Home is that this interaction style enforces the distance and lack of agency that is backstory’s chief defect, and it does so without offering much of value in exchange. The player’s task is purely ergodic, methodically working through every explorable space, even though this is a story about understanding and insight, not about effort and dedication.
/.../
Hypothetical reading is most interesting if the reader is likely at first to form incorrect hypotheses.

Gone Home misguides the player initially, but it does so in a way that is completely orthogonal to the actual substance of its story.
/.../
Nor does Gone Home let the reader take an active role in guessing and testing the guesses. One may form hypotheses about the relationships between the people in the house, why they are absent now, and where they have gone. But there is nothing the player can do that can either ask additional questions about these issues or hazard a guess at the answer. The exploration can’t be directed by the player in such a way that it elicits more information of the kind the player is most interested in; it can only be performed systematically and with a greater or lesser degree of thoroughness. Where in the house would you go to express, or investigate, the suspicion that the mother is having an affair?

The house, I felt, was a distraction, the 3D exploration a red herring.
http://emshort.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/reading-and-hypothesis/

§

Gone Home tells a great romance story, but it tells a particularly brilliant video game romance story because it finds a way around all these problems; you’re not part of the romance. By placing the player outside that relationship, Gone Home can develop a romance that feels realistically nuanced.
http://www.popmatters.com/post/177701-gone-home-is-the-best-romance-video-games-can-offer/

§

Half the men who got the number of the girl on the scary bridge tried to call her up. Only about 12 percent of the ones on the blase bridge in the control group made use of those same digits. Also, remember those stories the subjects were asked to make up about the ambiguous picture? Those who did so while swaying slightly back and forth over the Capilano River were much more likely to come up with narratives involving sex.
/.../
I think this explains why certain games get overrated.

Or at least certain aspects of games. Take the first season of The Walking Dead for example.

http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2013/12/fake-feels-and-free-passes/

§

The Importance of Quiet Time
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCxR__N0_is

§

Fast-paced choices and moral quandaries are the most prominent feature of The Walking Dead, but they seem to have no real consequences. Why did this game receive approximately all of the awards in 2012 if its main selling point is used so inconsequentially? I suggest that the most important aspect about this game is not the many difficult choices it offers the player – it’s the illusion of choice the game constructs
/.../
The decisions you make in The Walking Dead don’t change what happens, they change how it happens.


Your actions determine what kind of person Lee is, how he reacts to certain situations, and how the other characters see him. You could almost say The Walking Dead is an RPG: Is Lee a failed family-man who sees Clementine as his second chance? Is he short-tempered and violent? Or does he keep a clear head and talks his way out of hairy situations? Does he regret what he did? Is he a cynic or a wide-eyed idealist? Will the other characters be his friends, or just his companions? Is there even any coherence between what he does and what he says? Maybe he doesn’t talk at all, which is really stupid but really funny. It doesn’t change the overarching story, but all of this and much more is up to you.
/.../
The Walking Dead is not about choices, it’s about decisions. It’s about making the right decision in a world where everything goes wrong. It’s about doing what you think is right, even when faced with absolute despair, even though all hope seems lost, and even though this bleak world doesn’t give a single fuck about your decision. But you have to do it. For Clementine.
http://ontologicalgeek.com/clementine-will-remember-all-of-that/




§QUEER
Diary of a Western Videogame Protagonist:
Day 1 – I got a haircut today. It’s a lot shorter now but not working class short, not army short. Back at home, Sarah said that she liked it, that she could see herself playfully gripping tufts of my hair during sex. I said, “Why don’t we test that hypothesis?” and she obliged. God, I love her so much. If anything were to happen to her, I swear…

Day 2 - Sarah’s dead. And just one day after our scene of mildly erotic domestic bliss, too. To mark my loss, I refused to shave today. Shaving would somehow cheapen her passing. And besides, revenge is a dish best served scruffy.
http://borderhouseblog.com/?p=11663

§

One could read in Shadow a sexual politics in which the innate goodness of human-born-humans is counterpointed with the monstering of a man-made, non-human person. Without the involvement of sexual reproduction in their creation, gender becomes irrelevant precisely because the creature is unnatural. That this character became a villain is unfortunate, because it supports a conservative idea that morality relies on a heteronormative reproductive context. I prefer to see Homunculus as a queer anti-hero: a person who has very limited survival strategies, and opts to fight for their own existence at the expense of other people. Queer anti-heroes are unable to solve their problems using brute force or economic privilege, and must manipulate what advantages they do have with skill in order to get what they want. The hero must, in response, do the same.
Histories of gender & sexual diversity in games, Issue three June 2013, Gender in the shadows, Zoya Street

§

So, why do all but one of the females need to be warriors? The problem for me is, in the context of this whimsical game, I can’t really identify with a warrior-type character. The female characters in Rayman Legends simply aren’t as fun for me because they aren’t as whimsical and fun as their male counterparts are allowed to be. Not that there is anything wrong with playing a warrior in certain games or contexts (or, I guess, with playing a lovesick fool), but it just doesn’t work for me in this particular game. I would rather play a character like Rayman who is described as “always raring for a fresh adventure to save the world;” or Sir Gilbrax, “a very famous knight.” Out of the thirteen playable male characters only one, Raynesis, is described in a threatening manner similar to the warrior princesses: “A desperate case in need of serious anger management.” But, one threatening male character still leaves me twelve whimsical male characters to choose from.
http://www.samanthablackmon.net/notyourmamasgamer/?p=4447

§

In the first part of this study of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, I questioned whether the Bechdel Test was the best benchmark for judging whether or not a piece of media had something to offer in terms of good female characterization. Is the Bechdel Test enough, or does even this bare minimum set the bar too low?

In this second part, I’ll be looking at some of the games’ other character, particularly Clementine, in an effort to delve deeper into the presentation of women in a game praised for its characterization and narrative strength.
http://www.samanthablackmon.net/notyourmamasgamer/?p=4492

§

Long story short, I can see genre and contextual reasons that lead designers in some areas (like fighting games) to make broad-brush design choices that engage ethnic, gender, and sexual stereotypes. http://www.chaoticblue.com/blog/2014/01/shes-got-the-look/



§VIDEOS

Final Bosman
http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/ur6ce9/the-final-bosman-nobody-finishes-video-games

§

Do You Think eSports Should Allow A.I. Teammates? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hkMhng4q74

§

Nintendoomed? A look at Nintendo's financials.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_ho5Y-Yw8g

§

Final Bosman
http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/7j4yfw/the-final-bosman-xbox-friends-with-benefits

§

Composing The Banner Saga
http://www.gametrailers.com/full-episodes/ntly7e/backtrack-composing-the-banner-saga

§

Why Comcast's 300GB Data Cap is Bad for Gaming
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nD8eqTIzjZM

§

Are Virtual Worlds Real or Fake? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiEu5wMoEDs




§REVIEWS
Errant Signal - The Novelist
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VThsdoxwgc

§

Tim Schafer didn’t really give us what we said we wanted, which was an old school point-and-click adventure game. He gave us something better, a modern LucasArts game. He looked past our words to our intent and gave us a game that represents what we really wanted, not just what we thought we wanted.
www.popmatters.com/post/178507-the-beautiful-simplicity-of-broken-age/

§

Ice Pick Lodge seems to be reaching back into childhood to seek a resolution to very adult problems, the problems of memories that we don’t want to confront or that we think that we can simply hide out long enough from.
At some point, the game seems to argue, we need to be brave like children and make a run for it—even if that run might allow us to to be seen, to be found out for what we truly are.   
http://www.popmatters.com/post/178042-knock-knock-the-terrors-of-self-exposure/

§

Knock Knock is primarily an intellectual experience not an emotional one, which already makes it a poor horror game, but then it also fails to express anything intellectual because its central means of communication, the hide and seek puzzle mechanics, are awful. 

http://www.popmatters.com/post/178712-puzzles-arent-scary-in-knock-knock/




§COMMUNITY
Thoughts on Games Writing and Community Involvement
http://big-tall-words.com/2014/01/08/thoughts-on-games-writing/

§

Among the many elephants in the games criticism room, our relationship to academia is one that threatens to stomp on others the most often. It’s presence comes out in numerous ways, but most usually on methods of analyzing games and the craft of writing criticism. This month there seems to be a resurgence of it, so I want to spill some thoughts on how it effects me and some things I’d like to see develop.
http://www.mattiebrice.com/the-diy-of-games-criticism/

§

In the coming year, I want to see discussion and experiments on constructive, passionate uses of anger for social justice and change. I want people to express themselves honestly and without the degradation of others. We have our journals, our personal friends who understand us to be petty with. This doesn’t need to be an artificially happy place, but I’d like it to be somewhere no one is afraid to speak their mind and learn. I hope people who disagree with me contact me and let me know what they think, because I am ready for a change for the better, whatever it is we decide, as a community.
http://www.mattiebrice.com/on-anger/

§

What I want to dig into, and outline to respect, is the experience that Kim Delicious describes here in response to anti-toxicity articles. It’s a conflict between legit anger, anger that is cathartic and deserved, and understanding that it will wall off communication and education to another person. It shows where being an activist and simply existing as a minority identity blur.
http://www.mattiebrice.com/on-civility/



§MAGAZINES
The Arcade Review: Issue 1
http://arcadereview.net/main/?p=281




§PROFILE
I first encountered the unmistakable style of Stephen Murphy, aka thecatamites, back in 2009 with the hand-drawn adventure game Paul Moose in Space. Since then you may well have stumbled across any one of the otherworldly experience that he has provided on tap, like Space Funeral, Murder Dog IV: Trial of the Murder Dog, and The Pleasuredromes of Kubla Khan.
http://indiegames.com/2014/01/just_who_is_thecatamites_anywa.html

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

First CritComp 2014

Free Indie Games 2013
http://www.freeindiegam.es/category/best-of-2013/

§

how Shattered Memories uses its Silent Hill-ness in order to further its themes.
/.../
thematically, the game is about the process of therapy as a method of uncovering past trauma in order to finally deal with it properly.
/.../
Very little of the action in Shattered Memories actually happens.  What we are seeing is a literalization of resistance.  The Raw Shocks are the most obvious manifestation of this.  Any time a character is about to reveal a truth about the situation, any time Cheryl is about to have a breakthrough, the world freezes and a bunch of monsters chase.
/.../
The feeling that this Harry isn’t the real Harry, that that’s not who Dhalia is–that’s resistance.
/.../Most of the complaints had to do with the fact that it’s widely perceived that the game simply uses the franchise/characters in order to boost sales of an unrelated game; it would have had a better reception if it had used all new characters to tell its story.  But that’s clearly not the case.  The game is quite literally about the inability to see people you believe you know in a different light, from a different angle.  Our unwillingness to do so mimics the characters’ inability.  We need to have preconceptions of these characters; we quite simply need to have some baggage.  Giving this storyline to completely original characters would not have made it nearly as effective; the player would have been more of an observer than an active participant.
http://www.secondquest.vg/2010/02/03/why-harry-wears-glasses/

§

Michael Brough’s best works are not sprawling simulations that place a universe at your fingertips; nor are they more contained simulations that nonetheless remind you of your place in humanity; nor are they decorated narrative walkabouts. Brough’s best works are cerebral puzzles, untarnished by anything that might deserve to be called extra.
http://gamesthatexist.com/2013/02/13/the-works-of-michael-brough/


§

In Kafka’s Metamorphosis, what is revealed to be most absurd is not the thing that is most apparently ridiculous—that a man has turned into a bug—but how the characters choose to respond to the situation. David Lynch uses the mundane/absurd technique to expose the viewer to his best guess at what Pure Evil looks like. Thecatamites uses the technique to talk about the frustrating, the bureaucratic, the everyday, the things some people take fishing trips to get away from.
http://gamesthatexist.com/2013/08/24/lake-of-roaches-by-thecatamites/

§

BioShock Infinite uses racism for no other reason than to make itself seem clever. Worse, it uses racism and real events in an incredibly superficial way—BioShock Infinite seeks not to make any meaningful statement about history or racism or America, but instead seeks to use an aesthetics of ‘racism’ and ‘history’ as a barrier to point to and claim importance. BioShock Infinite presents a veneer of intelligence—with wholly unexplored and mystifying asides to complicated concepts like Manifest Destiny and the New Eden—without ever following through. Without any deeper exploration of these ideas, BioShock Infinite’s use of American history and the Columbian Exposition is illusory, and already puts the lie to the claim that by engaging with these themes, BioShock Infinite is the place to find substance in mainstream videogames.
http://www.abc.net.au/arts/stories/s3733057.htm


§

Is The Sims the Ultimate Reality TV Show?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PL5WsOj2qPk

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Annual Video Games

Here we go again, favorite video games according to the release year + bonus.


-1984



10 Solar Fox (Arkad)


9 Excite Bike


8 Millipede/Centipede


7 Boulder Dash


6 Galaxian

5 Pac Man

4 Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

3 Pooyan

2 Robotron 2084

1 Jetpac


1985

Close calls
Boulder Dash 2: Rockford's Revenge

10 Balance of Power

9 Bomberman

8 A Mind Forever Voyaging

7 Binary Land

6 Gradius

5 Space Harrier

4 Field Combat

3 Ice Climbers

2 Battle City

1 Super Mario Bros






1986

Close Calls
Alex Kidd in Miracle World

10 Solomon’s Key

9 Alter Ego (Peter J. Favaro)

8 Zanac

7 Adventure Island

6 Paper Boy

5 Bubble Bobble

4 Metroid

3 Balloon Fight

2 Super Mario Bros 2

1 Legend of Zelda


1987

Close Calls
Rainbow Islands

10 R-Type

9 Zelda 2: Adventure of Link

8 Bureaucracy

7 Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It

6 Metal Gear


5 Maniac Mansion


4 Castlevania

3 Mega Man

2 Tetris: The Soviet Challenge

1 Dungeon Master


1988

10 Snatcher

9 Hidden Agenda (Jim Gasperini)

8 Space Harrier 2

7 Ghouls n’ Ghosts

6 Arkanoid

5 Spy vs Spy

4 Ninja Gaiden

3 Mega Man 2

2 Contra

1 Super Mario Bros 3


1989

10 Dig Dug 2

9 Twin Bee 3

8 Blazing Lazers


7 Cobra Triangle


6 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

5 R-Type 2

4 Prince of Persia

3 Adventures of Lolo

2 Dungeon Master: Chaos Strikes Back

1 Final Fight


1990

Honorable Mentions
ActRaiser
Ducktales
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Lost Patrol
Eye of the Beholder
Smash TV

10 Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers

9 Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse

8 Super Contra

7 Ninja Gaiden 2

6 F-Zero

5 Mega Man 3

4 Loom

3 Lemmings

2 The Secret of Monkey Island

1 Super Mario World


1991

10 Mega Man 4

9 Another World


8 Sonic the Hedgehog

7 Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts

6 Ninja Gaiden 3: The Dark Ship of Doom

5 Monkey Island 2: Lechuck’s Revenge

4 Area 88/UN Squadron

3 Street Fighter 2: World Warrior

2 Super Castlevania IV
1 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past


1992

Honorable Mentions
Mega Man 5
Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade's Revenge
The Legend of Zelda: Third Quest

10 Street Fighter 2 Turbo

9 Puyo Puyo
8 Pocky and Rocky


7 Sonic the Hedgehog 2

6 Jezzball/Maxwell's Maniac (Marjacq Micro/Dima Pavlovsky)

5 Super Double Dragon

4 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time

3 The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse

2 Super Probotector: Alien Rebels/Contra 3: Alien Wars

1 Super Mario Kart


1993

Close Calls
Jurassic Park
Mega Man X
World Heroes

10 Sonic the Hedgehog 3

9 Shadowrun
8 Gunstar Heroes

7 Bart Simpson's Nightmare

6 Doom

5 E.V.O: Search for Eden

4 Castlevania: Rondo of Blood

3 Sam & Max Hit The Road

2 The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

1 Day of the Tentacle


1994

Honorable Mentions
Donkey Kong Country
Jazz Jackrabbit
Mega Man X2

Close Calls
Micro Machines
Streets of Rage 3

10 Cyberdogs

9 Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

8 Contra: Hard Corps

7 The Great Circus Mystery: Starring Mickey and Minnie

6 Puzzle Bobble

5 Beneath a Steel Sky

4 Uni Rally/Uniracers

3 Lode Runner: The Legend Returns

2 X-Com: UFO Defense/UFO: Enemy Unknown

1 Super Metroid


1995

Honorable Mentions
Diddy's Kong Quest/Donkey Kong Country 2
Twisted Metal
Warcraft 2
Zoop

Close Calls
Mega Man 7/Mega Man X3
Micro Machines 2: Special

10 Heroes of Might & Magic

9 Full Throttle

8 Jumping Flash

7 I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream


6 The Dark Eye

5 Alien Soldier

4 Gunbird

3 Worms

2 Strikers 1945

1 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island


1996

Honorable Mentions
Dixie Kong's Double Trouble/Donkey Kong Country 3
Donpachi
Pandemonium
Quake
Sengoku Ace Episode II/Sengoku Blaede/Tengai
Twisted Metal 2

Close Calls
C-Dogs (Cyberdogs 2)
Death Rally
Mega Man 8
Samurai Shodown 4: Yamakuzas Revenge

10 Resident Evil

9 Metal Slug

8 Leisure Suit Larry: Love For Sail

7 Three Dirty Dwarves


6 Tapestry (Daniel Ravipinto)


5 Nights: Into Dreams

4 Mario Kart 64

3 Diablo

2 Soul Blade

1 Super Mario 64


1997

Honorable Mentions
Blood
Duckman
House of the Dead
Mega Man X4
Nightmare Creatures
Shadow Warrior

Close Calls
Diddy Kong Racing
Dungeon Keeper
In the Changing Room (Jackie Craven)
Need for Speed II

10 Blade Runner

9 Worms 2

8 Fallout

7 Croc: The Legend of Gobbos

6 Diablo: Hellfire

5 Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

4 Strikers 1945: Part 2
3 Starcraft

2 Dodonpachi

1 Final Fantasy VII


1998

Honorable Mentions
Banjo Kazooie
F-Zero X
Gunbird 2
LSD: Dream Emulator
Medievil
Rockman & Forte
Sanitarium
Space Bomber

Close Calls
Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now
Micro Machines V3
NHL 1999
Photopia (Adam Cadre)

10 Liero (Joosa Riekkinen)

9 Fallout 2

8 Dink Smallwood

7 Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines

6 Hexplore

5 Starcraft: Broodwars

4 Grim Fandango

3 Baldur’s Gate

2 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

1 Metal Gear Solid


1999

Honorable Mentions
Aisle (Sam Barlow)
Darkstone
Grandia
Guwange
Heroes of Might and Magic 3
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Metal Slug X NHL 2000
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
Roller Coaster Tycoon
Soul Calibur
Vib Ribbon

Close Calls
Commandos: Beyond the Call of Duty
Fight of the Sumo Hoppers (Tuomas Korppi)
Super Smash Bros
Worms Armageddon

10 Silent Hill

9 Exhibition (Ian Finley)

8 Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast

7 Castlevania/Legacy of Darkness

6 Final Fantasy VIII

5 System Shock 2

4 Unreal Tournament

3 Street Fighter 3: Third Strike

2 The Longest Journey

1 Planescape Torment


2000

Honorable Mentions
Banjo Tooie
Diablo 2
DX-Ball 2
Dragon Blaze
Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes
Metal Gear: Ghost Babel
NHL 2001
Resident Evil Code: Veronica
Space Channel 5

Close Calls
Ricochet (Counter-Strike)

10 Shade (Andrew Plotkin)

9 Galatea (Emily Short)

8 Escape from Monkey Island

7 Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

6 Rameses (Stephen Bond)


5 Shrapnel/9:05 (Adam Cadre)

4 Deux Ex

3 Elasto Mania (Balázs Rózsa)

2 Baldur's Gate: Shadows of Amn

1 The Legend of Zelda: Majoras Mask


2001

Honorable Mention
Conkers Bad Fur Day
Cyberd
Deadline, or, Being Douglas Adams (Gunter Schmidl)
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
Final Fantasy X
Freak Out!/Stretch Panic
Gothic
IF Arcade
Kingdom Hearts
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
Pleurghburg: The Dark Age (Chrille Blomqvist)
Project Zero/Fatal Frame
Resident Evil Remake/Resident Evil Zero
Serious Sam
Super Monkey Ball
Zone of the Enders

Close Calls
Devil May Cry
Frequency
Jak & Daxter
Maximo: Ghosts to Glory
Ribbons (J.D Berry)

10 Super Smash Bros Melee

9 Rez

8 Luigis Mansion

7 Castlevania: Circle of the Moon

6 Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil

5 Max Payne

4 Shadow of Memories/Shadow of Destiny

3 Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal/Ascension

2 Silent Hill 2

1 Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty


2002

Honorable Mentions
Ketsui
Mad Maestro
Ratchet & Clank
Sly Raccoon
Super Monkey Ball 2
The Trials of Odysseus Kent (Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw)

Close Calls
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance
The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil (Zun/Team Shanghai Alice)
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

10 Hobo Soccer (Magic Whisper)

9 Psyvariar: Revision/Psyvariar: Medium Unit


8 Pop n’ Music 8

7 Guilty Gear XX

6 Super Mario Sunshine

5 Ikaruga

4 Noiz2sa (Kenta Cho)

3 Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3

2 Metroid Prime

1 Metroid Fusion


2003
Honorable Mentions
Espgaluda
Kya: Dark Lineage
Narcolepsy (Adam Cadre)
Soul Calibur 2
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time/Master Quest
Warioware Inc: Minigame Mania
Yume Nikki (KIKIYAMA)
Zone of the Enders: 2nd Runner

Close Calls
Amplitude
The Apprentice (Herculean Effort Productions)
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Dance Dance Revolution Extreme
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Samorost (Amanita Design)
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4

10 Seiklus (cly5m)

9 Perfect Cherry Blossom (Zun/Team Shanghai Alice)

8 5 Days a Stranger (Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw)

7 Beyond Good And Evil

6 dodonpachi DAI-OU-JOU

5 Silent Hill 3

4 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

3 The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

2 Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne

1 Parsec47/rRootage (Kenta Cho)

2004

Honorable Mentions
A Case of the Crabs (Pinhead Games)
Beatmania IIDX 8th Style
Glass Rose
Imperishable Night (Zun/Team Shanghai Alice)
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
Polarium
Thief: Deadly Shadows
Tuboflex (Molleindustria)
Tumiki Fighters (Kenta Cho)

Close Calls
Go go roppongi Stick!
Psyvariar 2: Ultimate Final
Tontie (Eyesmaze)

10 Levers (Patrick Smith)

9 Blue Chairs (Chris Klimas)

8 Cirque de Zale (Rebecca Clements)

7 Katamari Damacy

6 Mushihimesama


5 7 Days a Skeptic (Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw)


4 The Apprentice II: Knights Move (Herculean Effort Productions


3 Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines

2 Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

1 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords


2005

Honorable Mentions
Anna (Vince Twelve/xiigames)
Cave Story (Daisuke Amaya)
Cedric and the Revolution (Bernie)
Conker: Live and Reloaded
Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat
Electroplankton
Espgaluda 2
Facade
Guilty Gear XX Slash
Gunroar/Val & Rick (Kenta Cho)
Haunting Ground
Ossu! Tatakae! Ouendan!
Soul Calibur 3

Close Calls
The Apprentice Deluxe (Herculean Effort Productions)
Beatmania IIDX 9th Style/Beatmania IIDX 10th Style
Blue Wish (x.x)
Pop n' Music 11
Resident Evil 4

10 We Love Katamari


9 Killer 7


8 Soviet Unterzögersdorf (Monochrom)

7 Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved

6 Psychonauts

5 Experimental Gaming: Tower of Goo, On a Rainy Day, The Crowd, Gravity Head, Square Off, Attack of the Killer Swarm, Riff, Attack of the Killer Swarm, Darwin Hill (Kyle Gabler)

4 Jade Empire

3 Whom the Telling Changed (Aaron A Reed)

2 Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence

1 Pathologic


2006

Honorable Mentions
Automaton (Mr Colossal)
Hallway of Adventures (Mordalles)
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
Mushihime-sama Futari
New Super Mario Bros
Torus Trooper/Titanion (Kenta Cho)

Close Calls
Beatmania IIDX 11: IIDX RED
Blue Wish Resurrection/Eden's Edge (x.x)
La La Land 5/La La Land 4/La La Land 3/La La Land 2/La La Land (TheAnemic)
Merry Gear Solid (Arthur Mr. Podunkian Lee)
Museum of Broken Dreams (Jonas Kyratzes)
The Shivah/Blackwell Legacy (Dave Gilbert)

10 Within A Deep Forest (Nifflas)


9 Pop n' Music 12

8 Dreamfall: The Longest Journey


7 WarioWare: Smooth Moves


6 Sam & Max Episode 1: Culture Shock


5 De Baron (Victor Gijsbers)


4 Guilty Gear XX Accent Core


3 Spooks (Lively Ivy/Erin Robinson)

2 The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

1 Trilby's Notes (Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw)


2007

Honorable Mentions
Beatmania IIDX 13: DistorteD
Blackwell Unbound (Dave Gilbert)
Chalk (Joakim Sandberg)
Contra 4
Feed the Head (Patrick Smith)
Frozzd (Jesse Venbrux)
Hyperbound (Michael Iantorno)
La Croix Pan (TheJBurger)
Mountain of Faith (Zun/Team Shanghai Alice)
Pacman Championship Edition
Sumotori Dreams (Péter Soltész)
Rorschach (Collecting Smiles)
Samorost 2 (Amanita Design)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
Trilby: The Art Of Theft (Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw)

Close Calls
Game, game, game and again game (Jason Nelson)
Garden of Coloured Lights/Excellent Bifurcation (Linley Henzell)
Knytt Stories/Knytt (Nifflas)
Murder In A Wheel (Renzo “Eshaktaar” Thönen)
Nelly Cootalot (Alasdair Beckett)
Super Stardust HD

10 Immortal Defense (Radical Poesis Games)

9 Sam & Max Season 1: Cont’

8 Mass Effect

7 Mondo Agency/Mondo Medicals/Clean Asia (Cactusquid)

6 Super Mario Galaxy

5 The Witcher

4 Bioshock

3 Portal

2 Passage (Jason Rohrer)

1 6 Days A Sacrifice (Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw)


2008

Honorable Mentions
Achievement Unlocked
Des Rêves Élastiques Avec Mille Insectes Nommés Georges (Deirdra Kiai)
Do-Don-Pachi Dai-Fukkatsu
Fallout 3
Geometry Wars Evolved 2
How Many…
Tension/The Void
Virtual Silence/Seven Minutes (Tuukka Virtanen)

Close Calls
Blue Wish Resurrection Plus (x.x)
Free Culture Game/Queer Power/Oiligarchy (Molleindustria)
Little Girl In Underland (Lively Ivy/Erin Robinson?)
Psychosomnium/Seizuredome (Cactusquid)
Rescue: The Beagles (Nenad Jalsovec)
Self-destruct/Xoldiers (Terry Cavanagh)
The Witcher: Enhanced Edition

10 A Second Face (Jospin Le Woltaire)

9 Gateway II (Anders Gustafsson)

8 Nanobots (Lively Ivy/Erin Robinson)

7 Aether (Edmund McMillen)

6 Karoshi 2.0/Execution/Pazzon/Torque/Karoshi/Karoshi Factory/Karoshi: Suicide Salaryman (Jesse Venbrux)

5 Gravitation/Police Brutality/Between/Perfectionism (Jason Rohrer)

4 Dear Esther (thechineseroom/Dan Pinchbeck)

3 World Of Goo (2d Boy)

2 Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriot

1 Braid (Jonathan Blow)


2009


Honorable Mentions
!, Robot/Shifters Box (Ben304)
4 Minutes and 33 Seconds of Uniqueness (Petri/Kloonigames)
Alabaster (Emily Short)
And Yet It Moves (Broken Rules)
Backup/Bars Of Black And White (Gregory Weir)
Blue Lacuna (Aaron A Reed)
Chaser (Connor Carpenter/shadestorm)
Devils Tuning Fork (DePaul Game Elites)
Play: Free Will - The Game (raitendo)
Gray (aeiowu/fucrate)
Korsakovia (thechineseroom/Dan Pinchbeck)
Harpooned (Conor O’Kane)
Nestlings (Lewis Denby)
The Path (Tale of Tales)
Small Worlds (David Shute)
Takishawa Is Dead! (Andrew Brophy)
The Endling Archive (Kazuki Mishima)
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
Ulitsa Dimitrova (Lea Schönfelder & Gerard Delmás
Walker & Silhouette (C.E.J. Pacian)

Close Calls
Au Sable/All Our Friends Are Dead (Amon26)
Eden’s Aegis (x.x)
Evidence of Everything Exploding (Jason Nelson)
Flower (thatgamecompany)
Garou: Mark of the Wolves
Gravity Bone (Brendon Chung/Blendo Games)
lose/lose (Zach Gage)
Mental Repair Inc (Renzo “Eshaktaar” Thönen)
Merry Gear Solid 2: Ghosts of Christmas Past (Arthur Mr. Podunkian Lee)
New Super Mario Bros Wii
Repent (Aaron Oldenburg)
Spectre (Vaguely Spectacular)
Super Karoshi/Focus (Jesse Venbrux)
Tales of Monkey Island
Today I Die (Daniel Benmergui)
We the Giants (Peter Groeneweg)
White Butterfly (Linley Henzell)
Windosill (Patrick Smith)

10 The Company of Myself (Eli Pülonen)

9 Time Fcuk (Edmund McMillen, William Good & Justin Karpel)

8 The Marionette (Team Effigy/Auriond)

7 Batman: Arkham Asylum

6 Judith/Don’t Look Back/Pathways (Terry Cavanagh)

5 Radiator 1-2: Handle With Care/Radiator 1-1: Polaris (Robert Yang)

4 Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

3 Dragon Age: Origins

2 Everyday The Same Dream (Molleindustria)

1 Opera Omnia/Home/Therapy Game/Mirror Stage/The Black Yeti/Signifier (Stephen Lavelle/increpare)


2010

Missed Out On
Metro

Honorable Mentions
Alan Wake
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Beautiful Escape: Dungeoneer (Nicolau/calunio)
Being There (Jordan Magnuson)
Blades of Passion (Drew Wellman)
Crimzon Clover (Yotsubane)
Conquer the Shadow World/Lackadaisium (Ultimate Walrus)
Cow Clicker (Ian Bogost)
Depict1 (Retro Affect)
Digital: A Love Story (Christine Love)
Dual Transform (Andrew Plotkin)
Eternally Us (Ben304)
Fallout: New Vegas
Feign (Ian Snyder)
Flaws (Jon Ingold)
Frenzy Defense (Jan Willem Nijman)
Hero Core (Daniel Remar)
ir/rational (Tom Jubert)
Limbo (Playdead)
My First Quantum Translocator
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX
P0nd (Peanut Gallery)
Puji (Alexander Jhin, Matt McKnett, and Pat Kemp)
Puzzlebots (Lively Ivy/Erin Robinson)
QWOP (Bennett Fodd)
Sand-dancer (Aaron A Reed & Alexei Othenin-Girard)
Super Crate Box (Vlambeer)
Super Street Fighter IV
Symon (Singapore MIT Gambi Game Lab)
Technobabylon – Part II/Technobabylon – Part 1 (James Dearden)
Tedium (EddieC)
The Dream Machine Chaper 1 & 2 (Erik Zaring & Anders Gustafsson)
Tower of Heaven (askiisoft)
Which (Mike Inel)


Close Calls
...But That Was [Yesterday]/Together (Michael Molinari)
A House in California/Hummingbird Mind (Jake Elliott & friends)
The Arm/Refus Q. Jibberjabber's Day Out/Flin McGraw's Last Day (tipp)
Covetous/Good Fortune (Austin Breed)
Dragon Age: Awakening
Howard Glitch Game (Robert Allmand)
Loneliness (Jordan Magnuson)
Loved (Alexander Ocias)
Norrland/Gamma4 (Cactusquid)
Octodad (DGE2)
One Chance (AwkwardSilenceGames)
Super Meat Boy (Team Meat)
suteF (Ted Lauterbach)


10 After (Aaron Oldenburg)


9 Memory Reloaded/Leaky Worlds: A Playable Theory (Molleindustria)


8 The Journey Down: Over The Edge (Theodor Waern)


7 VVVVV/Phobiaphobiaphobia (Terry Cavanagh)

6 Super Mario Galaxy 2
5 Mass Effect 2/Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadowbroker


4 Life Flashes By (Deirdra Kia)


3 Snakes of Avalon (Igor Hardy/Ascovel & Alex Van Wijst/Baron)


2 Looming/The Day/Narthex (Gregory Weir)


1 Treatise/Hush/Modernauts/Primitive Pattern/Starfeld/100 Names/Queue/The Terrible Whiteness of Appalachian Nights/The Rose Garden/Catalan/Cascode (Stephen Lavelle/increpare)




2011

Missed Out On, Want To Play
Alice: Madness Returns
Outland
Super Mario 3D Land

Honorable Mentions
A Mother's Inferno (Dadiu/David Adler)
Animal Puncher/A Mother in Festerwood (Austin Breed)
American Dream (Stephen Lavelle, Terry Cavanagh, Jasper Byrne and Tom Morgan-Jones)
Apollo 2 (Robert Yang)
At A Distance (Terry Cavanagh)
Batman: Arkham City
Cat and the Coup (Peter Brinson/Kurosh ValaNejad)
Chainworld (Jason Rohrer)
Crime Zone (thecatamites)
Encyclopedia Fuckme and the Case of the Vanishing Entree (Anna Anthopy)
Fotonica
Freedom Bridge
Glitchhiker (vlambeer)
Gyossait (Amon26)
Hot Throttle (Cacusquid)
NightSky (Nicalis/Nifflas)
No Longer Subject to Judicial Review (NiallM)
Not Tetris 2 (Maurice Guégan)
Raccord Sniper (Nicolai Troshinsky)
Soul Brother (Jasper Byrne)
Spent (McKinney)
Suction Co-op (Gustav Dahl)
Technobabylon Part III (James Dearden)
The Dream Machine: Chapter 3 (Erik Zaring & Anders Gustafsson)
The Play (Deirdra Kiai)
To the Moon (Kan Gao)
Trine 2
Wither (Rastek)
Wunderputt (dampgnat)
You Shall Know The Truth/The Book of Living Magic (Jonas Kyratzes)

Close Calls
Labyrinths (György Dudas)
Rebirth (Daniel-D. "Guert" Guertin)
The Stanley Parable (Cakebread)
The End of Us (Chelsea Howe & Michael Molinari)
These Robotic Hearts of Mine (Alan Hazelden/Draknet)

10 Trauma (Krystian Majewski)

9 Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony (Final Form)

8 Negative Spacecraft (Chris Cornell)

7 A History of Democratic Process in Eire/English Country Tune/Salome/ Pirouette/Oíche Mhaith (Stephen Lavelle/increpare)

6 Rayman Origins

5 Balloon-Diaspora/Ruins (Jake Elliott)

4 Bla Bla (Vincent Morisset)

3 Maybe Make Some Change (Aaron A Reed)

2 Bastion

1 Portal 2


2012

Missed Out On, Want To Play
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Honorable Mentions
.heartbeats (Sebastian Trelles)
As Slow As Possible (György Dudas)
Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition
Drawception
Home (Benjamin Rivers)
Howling Dogs (porpentine)
Intake/Ten/Fall/Closet (Maddox Pratt)
ir/rational Redux (Tom Jubert)
It's all Fun and Games Until Someone Blows Their Brains Out (Mikael Vesavuori)
Kairo (Perrin)
Knytt Underground (Nifflas)
Lim/Brace/A Synchronous Ritual/Terf War (Meritt Kopas)
Lone Survivor (Jasper Byrne)
The Love Letter (axcho and knivel)
Mari0/Not Pacman (Maurice Guégan)
Middens (John Clowder)
Mirrormoon (Team Focaccia)
Nuign Specter (Jake Clover)
Or, What Is It Like To Be A Thing? (Cameron Kunzelman)
Otherworld: Spring of Shadows
Resonance (Vincent XII)
Slender: The Eight Pages (Mark J. Hadley)
Spec Ops: The Line
Super Hexagon (Terry Cavanagh)
Tales of the Minus Lab (Alex Beachum)
Timebomb (Kenta Cho)
The Republia Times/6 Degrees of Sabotage (Lucas Pope)
To What End (Chelsea Howe, Michael Molinari)

Close Calls
Anestesia (Pedro Paiva)
dys4ia (Anna Anthropy)
First Draft of the Revolution/Bee (Emily Short)
Hotline Miami
I Remember the Rain (Jordan Browne)
Journey Down: Over the Edge HD (Theodor Waern)
Katawa Shoujo
Laza Knitez! (Team Buttfighters)
Perspective (nfyre)
Remembered/Syncope/The Question Unquestioned (Chris Klimas)
Slave of God/Promises/Sickness/The Good Sister/RAPIDFIE (increpare/Stephen Lavelle)
The Colder Light/Intercept (Jon Ingold)
The Dark Room (ThatsMrRobinson)
Thomas Was Alone (Mike Bithell)
Vidiot Game

10 Unfinished Swan

9 Almost Goodbye/Prom Week (Aaron A Reed)

8 March/Connections/Get Closer/The Path Taken/Exhaust (mindful xp)


7 Journey (thatgamecompany)

6 Unmanned (molleindustria)

5 Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD

4 Mass Effect 3/Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut

3 Thirty Flights of Loving (Brendon Chung)

2 The Walking Dead

1 Dear Esther


2013

Missed Out On, Want To Play
A Slow Year
DEVICE 6
Dishonored
Doki-Doki Universe
Dust: An Elysian Tail
F J O R D S
Guacamelee!
Kentucky Route Zero
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
Mass Effect 3: Citadel
Metro: Last Light
New Super Mario Bros. U
Puppeteer
Richard & Alice
Resogun
Risk of Rain
Saints Row IV
Sonic Lost World
Starseed Pilgrim
Super Mario 3D World
Tearaway
Teleglitch: Die More Edition
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
The Novelist
Tomb Raider
X-com: Enemy Within
Year Walk
ZiGGURAT


Honorable Mentions
7 Days (RevoLab)
Anodyne (Analgesic Productions LLC)
Antichamber
At the Bonfire (finny)
Auti-sim
Autumn's Daughter (Ali Sajid Imami & Shumaila Hashmi)
Bioshock Infinite
Black Crown
Coloratura (Lynnea Glasser)
Contrast
Divekick
Dominique Pamplemousse (Deirdra Kiai)
Drop A Beat, Giuseppe! (Major Bueno)
Dysphoria City (Spanglypants)
Even Cowgirls Bleed (Christine Love)
Experiment 12 (Various)
Fragments of Him (Matazone & Sassybot: Mata Haggis, Tino van der Kraan, Elwin Verploegen, Henriette Sande)
Home Again (Chris Klimas)
I'm Frontline (Kenta Cho)
Inner Vision (Sunil Rao)
Jostle Bastard (Pippin Barr)
Kim's Story (Kim Moss)
Mass Effect 3: Leviathan
Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine
Naya's Quest (Terry Cavanagh)
Negative Space (Maddox Pratt)
Papers, Please (Lucas Pope)
Perspective (Pohung)
Problem Attic (Liz Ryerson)
Proteus (Ed Key & David Kanaga)
Save the Date (Paper Dino Software)
Slavoj Žižek Makes A Twine Game (Cameron Kunzelman)
Slender: The Arrival
Sluggish Morss/Sluggish Morss: A Delicate Time in Space (Jake Clover & Jack King-Spooner)
The Bridge (Case Western)
The Impostor (Deirdra Kiai)
The Last Door (Chapter 1 & 2)
The Last of Us
The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief
The Whispering Thing (Gregory Avery-Weir)
Zero (Arturs Grebstelis)

Close Calls
Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs
Castles in the Sky (The Tall Trees)
Catachresis (Cameron Kunzelman)
Choice of the Deathless (Max Gladstone)
Depression Quest (Zoe Quinn, Patrick Lindsey & Isaac Schankler)
No-one Has To Die (StuStutheBloo)
one-two (-)
Rayman Legends
Reset (Autumn Nicole Bradley)
The Swapper
To My First Born Son/Sleeping Scared/Ollam House (increpare)





10 The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 – Faith

9 Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

8 Knock Knock (Ice-Pick Lodge)

7 Ossuary (Future Proof Games/Gregory Weir)

6 The Walking Dead: 400 Days/The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 1 – All That Remains

5 Outer Wilds (Alex Beachum)

4 The Stanley Parable HD Remix/The Stanley Parable Demo (Galactic Café/Davey Wreden)

3 18 Cadence (Aaron A. Reed)

2 Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance

1 Gone Home

My inner childs favorite games










My inner (dualistically oriented) grown-ups favorite games

These are my favorite games as deemed so by the intellectual within me, by the person within who does not wish to play games only for the sake of playing them or having fun or getting better at it or appreciating the aesthetics, and so on. These games are games that transcend the time which I spend with them and contribute to the dialogue I have with myself and others concerning matters of what a good life is, what justice can be, if love is possible, and other questions of prime importance. There are a number of games that fit neither here or in ”the list of my inner child”, which are those games that gameplay-wise are very good, yet I discovered them as an adolescent (or later), and the games which have adult themes and are very well-executed, yet do not seem to have themes which I necessarily think I can incorporate into my daily living, themes that do not make me remember the game in other contexts than that of nostalgia or video game criticism.



First stage
Baldur's Gate: Shadows of Amn
Bioshock
Deus Ex
Jade Empire
Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
Portal
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
System Shock 2



Second stage
Grim Fandango
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriot
Opera Omnia
Portal 2
Silent Hill 3
Shadows of Memories
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
The Longest Journey
World Of Goo (2d Boy)



Third (and final?) stage
Braid (Jonathan Blow)
Dear Esther (thechineseroom/Dan Pinchbeck)
Final Fantasy VII
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Pathologic
Planescape Torment
Silent Hill 2
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords
The Legend of Zelda: Majoras Mask









Sequelitis

A videogame sequel begins with most vital questions already answered. Who am I? Where can I go? What can I do? How does the world work? What are the limits? Instead, I only ask: What's different this time? Is it better than the last one? Can I dual- wield? Videogame sequels traffic in features and upgrades, keeping pace with the times, meeting fan expectations. Their logic is that of the genre novel, of repetition with variation. Their pleasures are those of the tweak, the nuance. They reward the discerning palate with shades of difference. It is the death of mystery by a thousand refinements.1



In a business where sequels abound and the question of ”why” seems to get it's most clear answer in fiscal numbers or notions of ”improvement” (of game mechanics and graphics, mainly), I have great respect and derive chunky joy from sequels which make their point of departure meaningful, and also have producers who are gutsy enough to support that willing departure from established sequel-conventions of ”bigger and higher”. And sometimes, that damn sequel with improved interface and graphics, or with more nuanced game mechanics, makes me question why I was skeptical to the ”now made perfect” sequel in the first place.

We identify a series – videogame or otherwise – according to how well it obeys the formal rules established by its predecessors, much as we identify the next number in a numeric set according to whether it was derived from the set's algorithm. The act of obeying those self-made rules (along with our awareness of such obedience) becomes a trope in itself, a behavioral habit that identifies us as consumers of a product. By demanding the continuation of a series, an audience can become as typecast in its desires as the product that it demands.

The cycle of iteration creates an illusion of progress without granting true progress – freedom from the cycle, from zero, from the set. Think of escaping the cycle as a return to a state of Taoist p'uthe uncarved block that represents receptivity, passivity, and the simplicity of beginnings. Sense cycles, repetitions of personal behaviors, can never be permanently discarded. However, they can be modified toward a better identity once a person, with self-awareness, leaves that state of p'u and tries to do – and become – something new. 2




Third place, first outing
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night/Super Castlevania IV
Dodonpachi
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved
Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2
Mario Kart 64
Mass Effect 2/Mass Effect 3
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
System Shock 2
Super Probotector: Alien Rebels/Contra 3: Alien Wars '
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2/3/4

Second best, nigh the top stop
Fallout 2
Guilty Gear XX/Accent Core
Ikaruga
Lode Runner: The Legend Returns
Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
Metroid Prime/Super Metroid/Metroid Fusion
Portal 2
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords
Super Mario World/Yoshi's Island/Super Mario 64/Super Mario Galaxy

First place, second row
Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty/Guns of the Patriot/Snake Eater
Silent Hill 2/Shattered Memories/Silent Hill 3
Street Fighter 2: World Warrior/Third Strike
The Legend of Zelda: Majoras Mask/A Link to the Past/Ocarina of Time/Wind Waker
Trilby's Notes/6 Days A Sacrifice (Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw)

RPG's

1 RPG's
Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast
Dragon Age: Awakening
Fallout
Fallout 2
Final Fantasy VIII
Mass Effect
Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines



2 RPG's
Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal/Ascension
Dragon Age: Origins
Jade Empire
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 3
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
The Witcher



3 RPG's
Baldur’s Gate
Baldur's Gate: Shadows of Amn
Final Fantasy VII
Planescape Torment
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords




Mods

Since mods often are community efforts, endlessly bettered and updated as a living ofganism, attributing them dates or specific authors can be hard. Sometimes it's possible, but for the sake of laziness I'll skip that part completely and just go ahead and tell you about the game modifications which have greatly contributed to my enjoyment of these (RPG) games.

Baldur’s Gate


Baldur's Gate: Shadows of Amn


Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal
Planescape Torment
The Bigg's Widescreen mod/Ghostdog's incredible UI mod
Qwinn's Planescape: Torment Tweaks
Planescape: Torment Ultimate WeiDU Fixpack
Planescape Torment: Unfinished Business

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords
TSL Restored Content Mod


Shmups

Boy did I used to love these. For the last five years or so, instead I've dropped out of sight, seeing how what is produced these days is very inspired by the Japanese arcade tradition. All right, so I used to love that tradition – these days I do not, but my taste for procedurally generated content and the opposite of punishing gameplay is still strong, even if it doesn't take much to put me off.

Insert Credit
Blue Wish Resurrection (x.x)
Cyberd (?)
Dragon Blaze
Eden's Aegis (x.x)
Eden's Edge (x.x)
The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil (Zun/Team Shanghai Alice)
ESPgaluda
Garden of Coloured Lights (Linley Henzell)
Gunbird 2
Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony (Final Form)
Negative Spacecraft (Chris Cornell)
Imperishable Night (Zun/Team Shanghai Alice)
Psyvariar
Psyvariar 2
Tumiki Fighters
Ultimate Stage (?)
White Butterfly (Linley Henzell)

1CC
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved
Gunbird
Ikaruga
Mushihimesama
Noiz2sa (Kenta Cho)
Perfect Cherry Blossom (Zun/Team Shanghai Alice)

Self-destruct (Terry Cavanagh)
Strikers 1945

1LC
Area 88/UN Squadron
dodonpachi DAI-OU-JOU
Dodonpachi
Parsec47 (Kenta Cho)
rRootage (Kenta Cho)
Strikers 1945: Part II


Independent Point & Clicks

High nostalgia factor for me, almost from the get-go, for some reason, even though I didn't exactly ”grow up” with SCUMM and LucasArts. I've clicked a lot in my life, and in games made in Adventure Game Studios especially, but I'm out of the loop also in this area. The genre needs less weird puzzles and, brace yourself, ”meaningful choices”. Or non-choices. But things that evoke some sense of purpose and has life-affirming qualities beyond the isolation of a puzzle.


2 Clicks Away From Total Awesomeness
Anna (Vince Twelve/xiigames)
Blackwell Legacy (Dave Gilbert)
Blackwell Unbound (Dave Gilbert)
Little Girl In Underland (Lively Ivy/Erin Robinson)
Mental Repair Inc (Renzo “Eshaktaar” Thönen)
Nelly Cootalot (Alasdair Beckett)
Rorschach (Collecting Smiles)
Technobabylon Part 1, 2, 3 (James Dearden)
The Dream Machine (Erik Zaring & Anders Gustafsson)
The Shivah (Dave Gilbert)
The Trials of Odysseus Kent (Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw)

1 Click Away From Total Awesomeness
5 Days A Stranger (Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw)
7 Days a Skeptic (Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw)
A House in California (Jake Elliott & friends)
A Second Face (Jospin Le Woltaire)
Cirque de Zale (Rebecca Clements)
Gateway II (Anders Gustafsson)
Murder In A Wheel (Renzo “Eshaktaar” Thönen)
The Apprentice Deluxe (Herculean Effort Productions)

The Clique
6 Days A Sacrifice (Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw)
Snakes of Avalon (Igor Hardy/Ascovel & Baron/Alex Van Wijst)
Spooks (Lively Ivy/Erin Robinson)
Soviet Unterzögersdorf (Monochrom)
The Apprentice II: Knights Move (Herculean Effort Productions)
The Journey Down: Over The Edge (Theodor Waern)
The Marionette (Team Effigy/Auriond)
Trilby's Notes (Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw)




Interactive Fiction

A genre wish I have held the highest hopes for, for many years now. Mostly I get frustrated over the interface problems and prefer ”less interaction” and more meaningful choices, which reflects what game I've put on this list too. And although also this is a genre I am utterly tired of right now, I have high hopes for what the future will bring.

Close Calls
Deadline, or, Being Douglas Adams (Gunther Schmidl)
Intake (Maddox Pratt)
The Play (Deirdra Kiai)
Sickness (increpare)

X
9:05 (Adam Cadre)
Aisle (Sam Barlow)
Alabaster (Emily Short)
Being There (Jordan Magnuson)
Choice of the Deathless (Max Gladstone)
Dual Transform (Andrew Plotkin)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams/Steve Meretzky)
In the Changing Room (Jackie Craven)
Narcolepsy (Adam Cadre)
The Colder Light (Jon Ingold)


Xyz
Blue Chairs (Chris Klimas)
Blue Lacuna (Aaron A Reed)
De Baron (Victor Gijsbers)
Depression Quest (Zoe Quinn, Patrick Lindsey & Isaac Schankler)
First Draft of the Revolution (Emily Short)
Galatea (Emily Short)
Remembered (Chris Klimas)
Ribbons (J.D Berry)
Shade (Andrew Plotkin)
Tapestry (Daniel Ravipinto)

Xyzzy
18 Cadence (Aaron A. Reed)
Almost Goodbye (Aaron A Reed)
Exhibition (Ian Finley)
maybe make some change (Aaron A Reed)
Photopia (Adam Cadre)
Rameses (Stephen Bond)
Shrapnel (Adam Cadre)
Whom the Telling Changed (Aaron A Reed)


Multiplayer (3+) Games

Games to play with cherished friends, or games through which one makes new friends (and enemies). Get your ass over into the couch/in front of the keyboard and let's boot this shit and a couple of beers up!



Multi Tap
Bomberman (different versions)
Drawception
Glitchhiker
New Super Mario Bros Wii
Rayman Legends/Rayman Origins
We the Giants (Peter Groeneweg)


Mega Tap
Laza Knitez! (Team Buttfighters)
Micro Machines V3
Ricochet (Counter-Strike)
Super Monkey Ball/Super Monkey Ball 2
WarioWare: Smooth Moves


Ultra Tap
Mario Kart 64
Super Smash Bros/Super Smash Bros Melee
Unreal Tournament
Worms 2/Worms Armageddon/Worms



Co-op Games



We VS the World
Balloon Fight
Cyberdogs/C-Dogs (Cyberdogs 2)
Diablo 2/Diablo
House of the Dead
Ice Climbers
Journey
Metal Slug/Metal Slug X
New Super Mario Bros Wii
Smash TV
Streets of Rage 3

We VS We
Battle City
Elasto Mania (Balázs Rózsa)
Pocky and Rocky
Portal 2
Super Double Dragon

We Are One
Lode Runner: The Legend Returns
Rayman Legends/Rayman Origins
Super Probotector: Alien Rebels/Contra 3: Alien Wars/Contra/Contra: Hard Corps
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time
Three Dirty Dwarves

VS Games

Puji (Alexander Jhin, Matt McKnett, and Pat Kemp)
Super Mario Kart/Mario Kart 64
F-Zero
Street Fighter 2: World Warrior/Street Fighter 3: Third Strike/Super Street Fighter IV
Soul Blade/Soul Calibur
Diddy Kong Racing
Micro Machines V3/Micro Machines
Liero (Joosa Riekkinen)
Hobo Soccer (Magic Whisper)
Puzzle Bobble
Worms 2/Worms Armageddon/Worms
Spy vs Spy
Fight of the Sumo Hoppers (Tuomas Korppi)
Ricochet (Counter-Strike)
Elasto Mania (Balázs Rózsa)
Super Monkey Ball/Super Monkey Ball 2
Super Smash Bros/Super Smash Bros Melee
Guilty Gear XX Accent Core /Guilty Gear XX
Unreal Tournament