Some of my favorite times of the year are when games finally slow down. There used to be a time when games industry had a lengthy period of silence after the holiday rush, but video games eventually figured out what Hollywood has already been doing for a long time, and discovered ways to make money all year round. Games will soon pick up again, but for a few weeks, we have relative tranquility.
Such breaks serve a few different functions.
For one, it gives me a chance to properly reflect on the games I played in the year before, and evaluate whether it was time well spent. I often (yearly) wonder whether spending hours and hours making sure I've played everything "important" serves a purpose, and possibly just detracts from my ability to digest, enjoy, and truly understand what I play. In fact, that has to be a factor, but with our game of the year discussions, it always a necessary part of the job.
Secondly, there's an opportunity to play stuff I just wouldn't have time for otherwise. Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden came out five years ago, and there is no serious reason to be playing it now, except to exercise my guilt over not having played the canonical sequel to Space Jam. I mean, I've sent a request to interview those guys because the sequel's actively in development, but still, it's mostly an indulgence. It feels like we're kindred spirits.
And finally, I enjoy taking a break from video games. Read books, watch movies, catch up on TV shows. Spending some time with other media is a good practice, and helps provide perspective on your medium of choice. For you, me, and anyone else on this website, that's video games, but the rest of entertainment has much to teach us.
Hey, You Should Play This
I don't have a good reason for having written off Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden years ago. I feel bad about it. I feel dirty about it. Having grown up in Chicago during the Michael Jordan era, knowing the biggest players in 90s-era basketball wasn't something you knew because you were interested in basketball, it was sheer cultural osmosis. You could not avoid Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, Vince Carter, and others. Naturally, when Space Jam came out, it was a huge fucking deal, and I'm not ashamed to say I actually really love that movie. It's so stupid, and that Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden treats its events as canon in our reality is too much and exactly enough.
Just trust me on this one. Gorogoa is one of 2012's IndieCade winners, and for good reason.
And You Should Read This, Too
More than anything, I've been continually impressed by how Polygon has managed its lengthy feature output. If I had access to a giant pile of money to throw at reporters who know how to find interesting stories, this is exactly what I would do with it. Discovering the not-that-interesting-but-totally-interesting history behind Total Carnage's final screen fills in a meaningful historical gap. Besides being a watchdog for consumers, this is what gaming reporters should be doing more of, and it's what I want to do more of, too. I tip my hat to you, Matt Leone, Russ Pitts, and Polygon.
"That's the real story that would piss people off," Turmell says. "Because a lot of people would collect those keys, and then still fail, and go back and play it again, and go back and play it again. The standard [Williams] response was that you were too good at the game, and that you were beating the levels that had keys too quickly, and you didn't give a chance to the computer to loot drop enough keys for you to collect. So then people were trying to milk different levels. It was a bit of a mess."
It's been interesting to watch the rise of personalities from YouTube and other non-traditional sources. There's still a way to climb the ladder the traditional way, but going forward, if you aren't good on camera, you're going to have something really special to offer the world with your written words. As these personalities grow in importance and relevance, it's increasingly become possible to make money as one, too. Such roads are full of exploitation and danger, and if you're thinking about heading down it, this examination of Machinima's practices is worthwhile.
But a recent string of high-profile disputes is prompting comparisons between YouTube networks and the exploitative Hollywood studios of the 1930s and '40s: Both convinced young and naive talent with little leverage to sign contracts that leave them at a disadvantage. For networks, that means contracts that bind creators to them indefinitely, demand rights to their content in perpetuity and take large ownership stakes in any resulting businesses.
Internet and intellectual-property lawyers say that a rash of public disputes between networks and their talent suggests a serious problem in the emerging industry. Although two of the largest networks, Machinima and Maker Studios — both based in L.A., both darlings of venture capitalists — have been accused of some of the worst practices, investors remain undeterred.
If You Click It, It Will Play
Kickstarter Has Promise, And Hopefully Developers Don't Screw It Up
- The minds behind Burnout, LittleBigPlanet, and others are making a really cool looking strategy game, Death Inc.
- All of these Android devices keep making money on Kickstarter, but I have zero faith in any of them.
- Coming Out On Top, a gay dating sim, seems like a perfect project for a place like Kickstarter.
Yeah, Greenlight Still Has Issues, But Some Games Look Pretty Cool
- Dunno if Chasm will be any good, but god damn does the animation in this game look great.
- Constant C has a gravity-manipulating gimmick that might not be more than just a gimmick.
- I Get This Call Every Day is certainly...unconventional.
Not Everyone's a Fan of VP Joe Biden Meeting With Industry Leaders
- Gamasutra's Kris Graft kicked off this debate by strongly disagreeing with the idea of meeting with Biden.
- Academic Ian Bogost argues the government coming to the industry for a conversation is already bad framing.
- IGN's Casey Lynch pushed back against Graft's opinion, arguing this was an opportunity.
- Naturally, The Daily Show eventually weighed in.
- Here's what Stanley Kubrick and Quentin Tarantino have said when faced with similar questions.
Patrick's Watching TED Talks As Part of a New Years Resolution, So Here You Go
Oh, And This Other Stuff
- Learn about the storytelling magic behind the writer of 999 and Virtue's Last Reward.
- A group is adding Oculus Rift support to a bunch of existing video games. I'm most excited about Mirror's Edge.
- This just might be the most tragic, interesting story you read all week.
- One of the writers from Saints Row: The Third is working on BioShock: Infinite. 1UP talked to him.
- Tim Rogers is a polarizing writer, but this is one hell of an interesting list of PlayStation 2 games.
- Gameological, home of the weirdest and coolest features, examines a video game episode of Star Trek.
- The Planescape: Torment sequel may be in name only, but does that even matter?
- Obviously, Bizarre Creations was working on stuff before the company was canned.
- What the hell, Winnie the Pooh?