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Worth Reading: 01/04/13

What's up, 2013? Bring in the new year's slew of unnecessary life changes with a batch of very necessary games, articles, links, and even top 10 lists that aren't awful.

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So, 2012, it’s over. Blah. You’re gone. I can’t say I’m too upset about having 2012 in the rearview mirror, even if there was plenty to celebrate about those 12 months. I’m just happy to be moving forward, and can begin enacting change for the better, based on my time spent thinking about the recent past.

Sure, most of that’s going to happen in my personal life, but given how intertwined my personal life is with my professional life, that also means change for Giant Bomb--and my approach to news. When I first got here, I was hired as a news and features guy, and that was my role for the first few months. There weren’t enough podcast microphones to have me on the Bombcast regularly, but the office bought another one, and that changed. I’d drop into Quick Looks every so often just to fill in, but as it became clear there were games I was interested in looking at that no one else was, that changed, too. It all started to add up, and while I’m still regularly writing features for the site, it doesn’t happen enough, and I certainly do not have the time to spend doing background reporting on truly big stories.

That’s gonna change in 2013 in ways that will become evident in the next few months, I hope, and doesn’t really have much to do with shifting my day-to-day interaction with the site and you guys. It’s mostly making adjustments to operate more efficiently (ie: using a service to transcribe my interviews to get the writing part started sooner), and maybe bringing in outside writers to report on material that I have no interest in or time to tackle.

We’ll see. I’m only sharing some of these ideas with you to let you know it’s a new year, and while everyone talks about it being a time for change, I’d actually like some of it to happen. And, yes, that includes getting that PC. I already have the CPU and GPU, just need to get the rest. Soon, I think. Spookin' With Scoops will return, then, too.

Hey, You Should Play This

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I may or may not have gone slightly overboard with the horror coverage on Giant Bomb in 2012, so I had every intention of opening Worth Reading in 2013 without a single reference to a horror game. Then, of course, I landed upon this terrific point-and-click adventure game about escaping the confines of serial killer, and absolutely had to share it with you. Killer Escape has an awful name, but Psionic Games has done a masterful job of establishing a sense of dread in a game with largely simple, static visuals. The damn game even managed to pull off a terrific jump scare out of nowhere, and I suspect you won’t see it coming, either. The whole experience doesn’t last more than 20 minutes or so (if you’re stuck: spiderwebs), but a timer ticks and tocks in the corner of your inventory, instilling a constant sense of “oh, shit, will the killer actually come back?” as you desperately click your way out.

And You Should Read These, Too

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What brings pleasure to some will bring pain to others, as evidenced by this stunning essay about the negative role video games have played in his life. Granted, were games not around, it’s entirely possible Duahmel would have substituted them for a different form of fantasy and escapism, but today, the medium of choice for many is video games. We do not spend much time thinking about the consequences of the games we make and the games we play, and I’m troubled by the industry’s obsession with the word “addictive” and making games “addictive.” It’s not to suggest video games are “bad,” only that maybe there may, in fact, be “bad” things about games. The worlds we create and the mechanics we design that are beloved by most may bring out the worst in others. Should it matter?

The difference between my own experience, and that of a typical hyper-successful ivy-league-bound student is that my sense of self was built around fabricated success. Video games present a fictitious sense of trial that produce a baseless sense of accomplishment. Saving the world feels like it’s worthy of note but it is simply the outcome for every person who plays the game and doesn’t turn off the console.

I chose to define myself by my gaming successes as a way of displacing the definition given to me by my circumstances. This has brought with it all the consequences Deresiewicz describes, but without any of the benefits gained from the hard work real-world success requires. I still craved the type of success that Ivy League schools looked for, but the ease with which I could turn on a video game and feel successful without any of the work was (and still is) incredibly difficult to pass up.
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Gavin Purcell likely speaks for many of us when he talks his guilt from playing with the popular iOS word game Letterpress in 2012. I went through a similar psychological arc years ago when Words With Friends, and it surfaced some of my worst tendencies. It’s awfully easy to start a game with someone, but I’d usually never make it past the second turn. Then, you’re trying to avoid the messages from people asking you to keep playing, and you resent the game, the concept of push notifications, and, ultimately, your friends. Terrible! I don’t blame people for giving up.

I take so long to play? Well, guess what, dude, I’m busy. I put in long days at work. I have to buy things from time to time. I eat. I have a family. And I was just told by my own children to put the iPhone down. So, yes, I take my time.

The interchange gnawed at me. This was an entirely new development. Guilt. Anger. Betrayal. All because I wouldn’t play this dumb little iPhone game. Looking back, my friend probably did care about what was happening in my life at the time but he was blinded himself. He just wanted to play his turn.

If You Click It, It Will Play

I Don’t Know About This Kickstarter Thing, But These Projects Seem Pretty Cool

  • The campaign to raise funds for a sequel to The Ship went nowhere, and the developers share lessons.
  • Full Bore started as a simple action game, but it's growing bigger. Looks like this has potential.
  • I'm so glad Dreadline didn't disappear into the ether. This ghostly game looks fantastic.

Maybe Every Top 10 List Doesn't Have to be the Absolute Worst

Valve Just Launched Greenlight, So Here’s Some Games That Don’t Look Terrible

  • KRUNCH looks just like the kind of assholishly hard nostalgia I haven't experienced in a while.
  • I don't know what to make of people saying They Breathe is genuinely horrifying, but I gotta find out why.
  • In 2013, I will play more couch co-op games, and maybe Super Motherload can help in that quest.

Patrick's Watching TED Talks As Part of a New Years Resolution, So Here You Go

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+