Giant Bomb News

87 Comments

Worth Reading: 12/06/2013

As December rolls along, the end of the year isn't far off. Tough choices are ahead, my friends. Take shelter in here.

Game of the year is here. In the next few days, I’ll have to figure out what my favorites of the year were, and whittle it down from a list of dozens into a compact set of essentials from 2013.

As first world problem-y as it might be, it’s a daunting task to cut games that you really loved. 2013 was a fantastic year for video games, and though it might lack a holy shit! standout that unites us all, combing through the list of everything I spent time with in the last 11 months suggests games are in a really good place. Time is our most precious commodity, and it looks like I’ve spent it well from beginning to end.

(Can it really be that Fire Emblem: Awakening was released this year? Holy hell, things started off with a bang. It hasn’t really let up, either, has it?)

There was a moment on Thursday, while talking with Vinny over IM, that it suddenly dawned upon me how close everything was. I only have a precious few days to sneak in more time with games, especially the ones that might be contenders for our personal or group top 10 list, games that I haven’t found the time for otherwise. State of Decay is definitely one of those, and I’m near the end of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. That’ll be one I’m sad to see end…

Oh, and so long as I have you, this would be the time where I tell you to play The Swapper. PLAY IT.

Hey, You Should Play This

And You Should Read These, Too

Look, Nintendo’s not in a great place right now. Even though 3DS had found traction and given the company a lifeline for the future, Wii U is probably a lost cause. Nintendo had a whole year to find its place in the post-Wii boom, and the company managed to squander the whole time. Wired’s Chris Kohler consistently has some of the best takes on Nintendo, and I can’t argue with his logic here. The GamePad has transformed from Wii U’s defining feature to a device that’s strangling Nintendo’s ability to chart a new course with the platform. (For the record, I really like the GamePad!) Personally, Nintendo’s future is one device that functions as a console and handheld, but they can’t just go and flip the switch right now.

"Purely based on where Nintendo is going with its software lineup, GamePad is becoming an optional accessory. All that’s left is to make it an optional purchase. If selling GamePad separately might allow Nintendo to reduce the price of Wii U to just under $200 (with a game pre-installed on the console for extra value, of course) it would look much more appealing next to the $400 PS4 and $500 Xbox One.

If it seems unlikely that a game console would climb down so dramatically and remove the one thing that it pitched as its defining feature, think again. It’s already happened twice this year: Microsoft’s preemptive reversal of all of its Xbox One DRM policies (and making Kinect optional) and Nintendo’s release of the 2DS, which removes the 3-D screen that gave 3DS its name in an effort to knock the price down even further."

It’s one thing to acknowledge games are primarily targeted at males, but how did we arrive there? Polygon’s Tracey Lien has done the hard work, and her excellent feature charts gaming’s course from an inclusive medium just made games to make games to a medium that realized it could be far more successful by targeting specific demographics. Lien breaks down how marketing has played an enormous role in constructing the dialogue around this issue, and even has explanations for why traumatic world events like the Columbine shooting have played a reinforcement role in society’s view on games. She also makes some great points about how we, as players, have inherent prejudices that make games seem less wide-reaching than they already are. We don’t consider FarmVille a game when, in fact, it is. You might be surprised how many of your preconceived notions are challenged while reading this feature.

"In these early days of game development, video games were made by small teams, oftentimes only two or three people. At Atari, one developer often handled the game's writing, coding, design and art. Video game studios were predominantly male, largely a by-product of men far outnumbering women in the field of computer sciences.

Carol Shaw was the first female developer Atari hired. She is best known for designing and programming River Raid for the Atari 2600 at Activision. She says never got the sense that the games she made were for one gender or another, and there was never a mandate from higher-ups to target a certain audience. When she interviewed for the job, she didn't believe she was at any disadvantage because she was a woman, nor did she feel that video games were the realm of men. She knew not many women held bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science and engineering, but she held both. She was qualified to do the job, and that was that. 'We never really discussed who our target demographic was," she says. "We didn't discuss gender or age. We just did games we thought would be fun.'"

If You Click It, It Will Play

Like it or Not, Crowdfunding Isn't Going Away

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
101 Comments
  • 101 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Posted by Flappy

I don't usually trust people that like FFVIII, but I'll play along for now, Scoops. Nice article.

Edited by DevourerOfTime

Fire Emblem: Awakening. The first amazing game of the year. The most amazing game of the year. The true game of the year.

Search your feelings, Scoops. You know it to be true.

Posted by Trilogy

Jeff was right, all card/board games made for adults are based on lying.

Posted by Fobwashed

That 2013 video is pretty hot.

Posted by Bicycle_Repairman

So we can assume the makers of Ryse have never seen real boobs? Man that looked weird.

Edited by AlwaysBeClothing

I remember that Summer Steam Sale image, Chun-li and Lara have their Big Toe on the wrong sides. They corrected that image and gave the Prince of Persia character glowing tattoos.

On Topic, that Lien story was interesting and sad at the same time.

Posted by poheroe

Good job patrick!, this is plenty to kill the boring day at work.

Posted by Draxyle

The "No Girls Allowed" article was pretty fascinating; I suppose we can blame late 80's Nintendo (or more specifically, marketing, which is always evil) for turning videogaming into a boys club.

Wouldn't have pegged Patrick or anyone at GB for being a Fire Emblem Fan. I had some problems with Awakening, but I still loved the heck out of it. It was definitely the first title that made the 3DS a must have for me, and it's crazy how many fantastic games have been coming out for it this year.

Posted by Nekroskop

Enough with the Polygon articles. Makes me wonder if there's some secret journalist club where all they do is promote each other's articles. It certainly seems that way.

Posted by joshwent

I really liked the "No Girls Allowed" article. Lien seems to be making the point that I constantly try to get across only to fall on deaf ears. Which is that basically the recent focus on sexism in games journalism is actually furthering the false divide between male and female gamers that was established by marketing in the 90s. Millions of girls have, do, and always will love video games, and shaming devs for not focusing on them has the adverse effect of reinforcing the notion that games are for boys only and girls need to struggle to get their "pink aisle", disregarding the girls that play those exact same games that boys do.

Posted by TowerSixteen

I like those tweets. I'm not a big fan of Zelda world design, generally speaking, but the character art design is always really solid and I think they articulated some really solid reasons why.

Posted by Master_Funk

Dunno about tough choices, for me this was one of the easier years to select the best game (TLOU).

Posted by Sergio

I still think it's premature to call the Wii U a "lost cause". Yes, it's struggling, and may continue to do so in the foreseeable future. However, it's the only next-gen console that convinced me to buy it this fall based on its line-up compared to the launch games both PS4 and Xbox One have. I know I'm not alone in this based on what I've seen online. We'll know more after a year of the two newer next-gen (now current-gen) systems. I know I'll be picking up a PS4 next year.

Posted by csl316

This has been one of the best gaming years in quite a while. For me it's right up there with '98 and '07. Just so many quality games at every level.

Tomb Raider for me. That game was a hell of a thing.

Edited by heatDrive88

@joshwent said:

I really liked the "No Girls Allowed" article. Lien seems to be making the point that I constantly try to get across only to fall on deaf ears. Which is that basically the recent focus on sexism in games journalism is actually furthering the false divide between male and female gamers that was established by marketing in the 90s. Millions of girls have, do, and always will love video games, and shaming devs for not focusing on them has the adverse effect of reinforcing the notion that games are for boys only and girls need to struggle to get their "pink aisle", disregarding the girls that play those exact same games that boys do.

I sort of half-agree that it is furthering a false-divide, but there needs to be a more happy medium in the way the issue needs to be corrected without constantly slapping a label on articles that speak out as libel or "shaming", and that needs to be reinforced on both sides of the coin. There's a lot of facets that need to be considered (marketing, demographics, context, etc), and there isn't a blanket fix for everything obviously.

If anything, while I don't fully agree with every point someone like Anita Sarkeesian makes (as extreme as they can sometimes sound), people like her still shouldn't have to put up with bullshit like death threats or the other extreme lengths to which she has been cyber-bullied.

In other words, yeah, it's all a very complex problem. But at the very least for it to begin being solved, people need to be more civil - and given the current way of the internet, that solution looks to be farther and farther away every passing day. That's the true tragedy.

Posted by patrickklepek

Enough with the Polygon articles. Makes me wonder if there's some secret journalist club where all they do is promote each other's articles. It certainly seems that way.

Please feel free to send me links to other sources. I have a great many, and Polygon just happens to publish really good features.

Staff
Posted by Abendlaender

Enough with the Polygon articles. Makes me wonder if there's some secret journalist club where all they do is promote each other's articles. It certainly seems that way.

OH! COLLUSION!

Posted by Hailinel

@patrickklepek: It's cute when journalists backseat drive hardware manufacturers by suggesting so strongly what's wrong with them. The Gamepad is heavily integrated into the Wii U system UI and is required for a variety of functions, not to mention those games that do depend on and require it. Asking Nintendo to sell it separate of the console would just require more work on their part to remove every aspect of reliance from the system OS, not unlike Microsoft's mad rush to eliminate always-online and mandatory Kinect usage. It's a stupid suggestion and would do nothing to benefit Nintendo at any point due to the risks and demands involved.

Online
Edited by Video_Game_King

Please feel free to send me links to other sources.

You can usually find some good stuff over here.

Posted by Sergio
Edited by Nekroskop

@patrickklepek: I might just do that.

The NPR article was great though. Nice find.

Posted by TowerSixteen

@sergio said:

@patrickklepek: Somebody linked this article in another Wii U related thread.

As the dude who linked that article, I find http://www.gamesindustry.biz to be a solid site for articles with a slightly more business-y industryish bent, rather than a consumer-focused one, and it provides some interesting perspectives and info with very little sensationalism.

Posted by jiggajoe14

I want to lock everyone who hasn't played The Swapper in the room and hold a rack of bbq ribs to their head and force them to play it.

Posted by patrickklepek

@sergio said:

@patrickklepek: Somebody linked this article in another Wii U related thread.

As the dude who linked that article, I find http://www.gamesindustry.biz to be a solid site for articles with a slightly more business-y industryish bent, rather than a consumer-focused one, and it provides some interesting perspectives and info with very little sensationalism.

I agree 100% with that article. I never count Nintendo out, and they tend to surprise.

Staff
Posted by Asmo917

@patrickklepek Anything coming, short or long term, of your weekend looking at Free To Play games? I know Game of the Year stuff will take priority for a while, but I'd love to hear if you got to sample some of that stuff and what you thought.

Posted by umbaglo

If it seems unlikely that a game console would climb down so dramatically and remove the one thing that it pitched as its defining feature, think again. It’s already happened twice this year: Microsoft’s preemptive reversal of all of its Xbox One DRM policies (and making Kinect optional) and Nintendo’s release of the 2DS, which removes the 3-D screen that gave 3DS its name in an effort to knock the price down even further.

The thing that I constantly see people miss when it comes to the 2DS is that it removed the 3D for a very specific reason: Nintendo has been saying ever since the 3DS came out that children shouldn't use the 3D feature. Given the 2DS is clearly designed and marketed to a young audience, why would they include an extra feature that they have been very clearly saying for years that the target audience should not be using? That it also reduces the price to make it enticing to parents is a bonus.

There's no equivalence here between the situations of the 2DS and the Gamepad.

Edited by FoxMulder

I'm actually suprised that I'm going to be getting a Wii U this generation. I normally stick solely with Sony, but Wii U has a few games that look fantastic and I also get to play all the good Wii games I missed out on. Never thought I'd ever be buying one, but with the release of Mario 3D World and Wind Waker HD I'll hopefully be getting one for the holiday.

Edited by scarycrayons

There's a reason why 'The Pink Aisle' exists.

It's aimed at girls who have zero interest in shooters, zero interest in JRPGs, zero interest in mascot platformers, but love the idea of cutesy games involving everyone treating them like a princess while they make everyone happy with their love for fashion, dancing, and cooking.

I didn't fall into that category exclusively, but I still did like those kinds of games and seek out 'the pink aisle' when I was in that kind of mood. If you have any doubt over how many other girls love that kind of stuff, just look at the sales figures for franchises such as, say, Ubisoft's 'Imagine' series.

Something like 'Imagine: Happy Cooking' existing isn't sexist. It's exactly the kind of game that a lot of people seek out, and the majority of those people happen to be young girls who love that kind of game, because they don't have any interest in anything else that they perceive as unrealistic or violent.

Based purely on my own anecdotal evidence of all the girls I used to know from, say, 6-18 years old, 'unrealistic' was pretty much their biggest turnoff when it came to fiction or gaming. Sci-Fi was considered boring, fantasy was considered gross, it was all about romance novels and games about loving daily life.

Posted by emgeejay
  • Edge Online has a scathing takedown of Xbox One's interface. Can't say I really disagree.

Good ol' Patrick, really sticking his neck out with a strong opinion on tough issues.

Posted by Viking_Funeral

Getting women into video games is... well, beyond just being a complicated issue that's further complicated by many, many people who believe they know the only right method and decry any other stance as being bigoted in some way... difficult.

I've tried getting my wife into games many times, and she should be an easy sell. She used to play the crap out of AoE II when it was out, loves the Myst games, and got insanely addicted for a brief time when I tried introducing her to simpler games like Plants -vs- Zombies and Peggle. However, getting her to try new games past that was a struggle, and even when I do, she seems to shut down whenever there's a little bit of a learning curve. Our last attempt was the GoG version of Theme Hospital, and she got frustrated at the start. A woman who can kick ass as AoE II, no less.

The biggest issues I see are the cultural concerns that video games are not a good way to spend time, or at least that they contribute little to a person's well being, and the idea that it takes time to get good at these games.

The second issue seems minor compared to the first, because my wife 'tolerates' my gaming habits, but considers it a time waster and not much else. Even when I get her to play games, she laments her time spent with them as if they were wasted. She doesn't feel this way when we watch movies, hang out with friends, or many other activities that I would consider equivalent in the cultural sense of 'not adding to personal growth' such as playing music, learning new languages, or volunteering, all activities I also participate in.

I think this is a broader social issue, and one that must be tackled if we wish to get women into video games. Yes, some men fall prey to this mentality as well, and no, there is no need to coerce people into actually playing video games, but at least being tolerant of their inclusion in daily lives. Women are arguably more susceptible than men to social pressures, and removing this social stigma may ease their inclusion into our scene. (This is probably the idea people would most argue with me against, but it was a prevailing thought in feminist theory when I was in university. Again: arguable.)

The second issue, or the learning curve, is too broad of an issue to go into depth about without offending a whole lot of people, but succinctly put it is undeniable that women are less likely to go into STEM and other technical fields, and while perfectly capable of performing well and sometimes even surpassing men in these areas, there is little push by men or women in our culture (and many other cultures) for women to tackle technical subjects or their learning curves.

~

This is mostly anecdotal, however, and honestly I'm sick of the whole damn argument. Too many people, not including Patrick at the moment, seem more concerned with finding low-level people to blame rather than trying to deal with broader societal issues. I also can't stand that holier-than-thou mentality of "I'm so obviously right that I'm going to insult people that disagree with me rather than engage in debate, because seriously, look how right I am." Don't mimic the trolls, and don't act like they're the only ones who are trying to discuss the topic with you. Or maybe I should stop visiting Rock-Paper-Shotgun.

Edited by joshwent

@scarycrayons said:

Something like 'Imagine: Happy Cooking' existing isn't sexist. It's exactly the kind of game that a lot of people seek out, and the majority of those people happen to be young girls who love that kind of game, because they don't have any interest in anything else that they perceive as unrealistic or violent.

The trouble is that many feminists will argue that those girls don't really like those things, and are just conditioned to by the "patriarchy". There's no way to convince a person with that mindset that, yes, you did actually seek out and like those games. Which is kind of offensive to me.

I think the error, which is also made in the Lien article, is that the "pink aisle" is the sole domain for girls, and all of the rest of the toy/video game store is for boys. I'd say the pink aisle is simply a designation of what you'll find there. It's just shorthand that a kid can instantly understand. It's a signpost saying, "Hey, you like toys that are more about social interactions, playing dress up, and daily life stuff? Come over here!". Nothing inherently sexist at all.

She doesn't feel this way when we watch movies, hang out with friends, or many other activities that I would consider equivalent in the cultural sense of 'not adding to personal growth' such as playing music, learning new languages, or volunteering, all activities I also participate in.

I'm currently playing Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood in Italian with English subtitles, and actually picking up some of the very basic conversational language through that. So... tell your wife she's wrong. ;)

Posted by Sergio

As an uncle to two cute nieces, I've tried to stay away from the "pink aisle" as much as possible, but the fact remains that some girls love that sort of thing. Excluding games that are rated teen and higher, I would say that more games that young children would play are gender-neutral than for either "boys-only" or "girls-only." Outside of that, there is a bigger "pink aisle" of video games than a "blue aisle." Once you get into the teen or higher ratings, while some games appear to be marketed more towards guys, there are still plenty of girls who play those games, so I still wouldn't say they're in the "blue aisle."

Posted by TowerSixteen

@joshwent said:

@scarycrayons said:

Something like 'Imagine: Happy Cooking' existing isn't sexist. It's exactly the kind of game that a lot of people seek out, and the majority of those people happen to be young girls who love that kind of game, because they don't have any interest in anything else that they perceive as unrealistic or violent.

The trouble is that many feminists will argue that those girls don't really like those things, and are just conditioned to by the "patriarchy". There's no way to convince a person with that mindset that, yes, you did actually seek out and like those games. Which is kind of offensive to me.

I think the error, which is also made in the Lien article, is that the "pink aisle" is the sole domain for girls, and all of the rest of the toy/video game store is for boys. I'd say the pink aisle is simply a designation of what you'll find there. It's just shorthand that a kid can instantly understand. It's a signpost saying, "Hey, you like toys that are more about social interactions, playing dress up, and daily life stuff? Come over here!". Nothing inherently sexist at all.

As someone who actually interacted with parents in a daycare setting before, it is absolutely sexist in execution for a lot of them, to the extreme where we had to make sure some of the boys weren't playing dress-up when their fathers got there because it bothered them so much. Parents absolutely do see the "Pink Isle" as for girls exclusively.

Posted by Marokai

Oh my god those Ryse boob physics are straight-up unsettling. It's not even that they're bouncy; at least that totally happens under certain circumstances. They were just moving completely independent of the woman's body and even each other. Why is it that we live in an era where everyone is demanding hyper-realistic graphics, and the technology is pretty much there to provide it, and yet video game tits still always function like sentient jello?

Posted by joshwent

I might amend that to "most parents", but you're clearly (and tragickly) right. As generations advance, hopefully these social restrictions will fade.

The odd thing though is that despite the blatant signaling of the "pink aisle" gender designated toys have become more expanded for girls than boys. Having a daughter who was a "tomboy" 60 years ago was something to be ashamed of, but now a girl who likes to get dirty and play sports or whatever isn't that big of a deal. But if a little boy today wants to play with dolls or (gasp!) put on makeup or pretty clothes, it's a social oddity.

At least he could maybe sneak in some secret gaming sessions of Barbie Dream House Party.

Edited by NoelVeiga

Nintendo isn't in a bad place, the Wii U is in a bad place. The 3DS probably has the strongest lineup of any console this year. Fire Emblem, Pokemon, Zelda, Phoenix Wright... both third and first party support for it has been simply excellent.

The Wii U? Yeah, it's barely justifiable as a purchase, despite Pikmin and Mario 3D World being among the best games of the year. The third party support just sucks. But let's not assume that only home consoles are relevant, shall we?

Posted by TowerSixteen

@joshwent: Your not wrong on any point. I will note that, despite that being very true for the girls, the marketing for the "Boy's Isle" still pictures boys almost exclusively.

The real pity is that, by being funneled down different paths at such a young age, we always saw the kids split themselves into "boys" and "girls" more often than one would think with all the tomboys running around. And it was the boys who had the most trouble integrating girls into there games. A guy wanted to join in with the girls, whatever, they can deal- and if the guy wants to bring some traditionally guy stuff into there game, they're ready for it to a point, they're exposed to that stuff more.

But if the tomboy wants to play with the boys? If she has even a hint of traditional "girlishness" about her, the guys can't deal- they just literally don't know how to respond to it, often just ignoring and leaving the girl in the dust, I suspect due to no exposure.

Posted by Ravelle

I want to lock everyone who hasn't played The Swapper in the room and hold a rack of bbq ribs to their head and force them to play it.

Every time I mentioned The Swapper in a conversation people respond with " ..The what?"

Posted by Robaota

Patrick, you are my last hope for Fire Emblem: Awakening to make it onto the GOTY list. Please, I beg you: do what is right.

Edited by Sergio

Nintendo isn't in a bad place, the Wii U is in a bad place. The 3DS probably has the strongest lineup of any console this year. Fire Emblem, Pokemon, Zelda, Phoenix Wright... both third and first party support for it has been simply excellent.

The Wii U? Yeah, it's barely justifiable as a purchase, despite Pikmin and Mario 3D World being among the best games of the year. The third party support just sucks. But let's not assume that only home consoles are relevant, shall we?

I wonder if third-party support is really necessary for the Wii U to succeed. Now if you're only able to get one console, then yes, this would suck.

If you are able to buy more than one console, one of them will more than likely be the one where you get all of your third-party games, while the other will mainly be for its exclusives. For example, you might have played all of this past generation's multiplatform games on the Xbox 360, even though you also had a PS3 for its exclusives.

I could easily see someone picking up a PS4 for its exclusives and the third-party multiplatform games. Then it'd be a choice between the Wii U and the Xbox One for their exclusives. One might like to play Super Mario 3D World more than Ryse.

Posted by Milkman

I had no idea River Raid was made by a woman. That's rad.

Online
Posted by MarkWahlberg

I may not have played many games that were released this year, but damn if it didn't at least double my backlog.

My experience of Gone Home was marred a bit by it being somewhat laggy, and while I don't agree with Wohlwend he does make an excellent point in regards to the game leaving you alone. It does a good job of not really telling you what to do without making it frustrating, just by not having any specific goals or systems to keep in mind - Gone Home isn't the kind of game where someone sitting next to you can say 'No! you're going the wrong way, you're doing it wrong!'

Or well, they can, but if they have to then it's probably not going to do anything for you anyway.

Posted by me3639

Tired of is Nintendo dead, or struggling. They have millions of fans who dont ask for much and will fork out full price for basically the same game every year, or other year pick one. The Swapper is just a long list of games thta deserve a lot more attention but as usual its buried behind the big studios and fan boy journalist who cant move on from their childhood. I really hope sites start to move on from negative headlines and focus more on games. There are literally thousands of games that are released every year now and maybe some are not so good, but that's what i want to read about ...games. Half of my personal list this year will be games that have not even one review or forum post on this site. Are they great games, no but hell of lot more original and fun than a lot of what is discussed here on site. If i want to talk or read about buisness ill read the WSJ, Buinessweek or stay at the office. Also that video for 2013...pretty hot.

Edited by BigD145

Year in gaming: There were oodles of indies released but they were barely given lip service there.

Edited by ArbitraryWater

Patrick, do the right thing and force Fire Emblem onto the site-wide top 10.

Edited by StarFoxA

Digging that 2013 video. Games are cool.

Posted by John1912

Fire Emblem was shit. Story, chars were both bland as can be. Leveling system was pointless. Then to top it off every god damn weapon you buy breaks. I dont know how people can love that game.

Posted by vucub88

@scarycrayons: while I can appreciate that sometimes girls want to "girly" things, I always found the imagine series a little gross just based on the jobs they were based on. I saw a lot of them working at a game store and they all seemed to be jobs that females would stereotypical hold. The mama series seemed even worse, especially once science papa came out. Since I'm a guy, I wonder if those games ever bother women or the games are innocent enough to not be pushing any agenda?

Posted by jiggajoe14

@ravelle said:

@jiggajoe14 said:

I want to lock everyone who hasn't played The Swapper in the room and hold a rack of bbq ribs to their head and force them to play it.

Every time I mentioned The Swapper in a conversation people respond with " ..The what?"

It's such a lonely world for us Swapper fans :(

  • 101 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3