Cleaning My Room, Half-Baked Cooking Metaphors and Eventually, Video Games (2017 Edition)

Hi, Giant Bomb! I just finished cleaning my room, which is not a video game but is something I like doing a lot. It's a lot of hard work, but it gives me an excuse to re-arrange things and by the end of it all, everything is cute, clean and cosy. It can be fun, but the part I like the most about cleaning is that I have something to show for all my hard work.

Another thing I like is that for a little bit, it gives me control over things. Dust will make cough and sneeze and junk, but I can just... brush the dust away with a cloth and it's all gone. I can choose what books I want to show off on my desk, and in which order I want them in... or, you know, I can just get rid of them entirely. My room is whatever I want it to be.

A big part of why I like video games so much is because for the most part, I have a lot of control and understanding over things. Video games have rules, and they're usually pretty simple to grasp so I don't get too anxious. If not, tough games are generally compelling enough for me to want to spend the time to understand them. It kind of works out in the end regardless, y'know?

This might sound like a pretty trivial thing, but these are the very few times that I actually feel at peace, because the real world doesn't really have any rules. That's both liberating and totally terrifying because if there's no rules, I get to do whatever I want... but likewise, the world gets to do whatever it wants to me and it regularly exercises that right.

For the longest time, I've never had the strength to fight back because I've always felt like I didn't exist. In video games, in movies, in cartoons and everywhere around me, I never saw myself. If I ever saw somebody that even vaguely resembled me, they certainly didn't act like me; just a shallow representation of stereotypes I was forced to fit everywhere else. It is very hard to have the strength to fight when it feels like you're not supposed to be here.

And... look, this year was a real kick in the dick to everybody, but I felt for people like me- young, colored, queer people that were tired of feeling non-existent. I felt empathy for the women who weren't going to let awful men silence them (and with the timing that probably saved my life).

I have felt a lot of pain this year because of these things, both because of them happening to me and to them happening to people like me. I've never felt like I was supposed to exist because the world around me was adamant on convincing me that I'm not like everybody else... that maybe awful feelings and mistreatment were supposed to happen because of that.

This year has helped, thanks to all the strong, smart, genuinely funny, inspiring black and brown voices that helped me feel like I could exist in this space. All the queer kids who have the most strength in the entire world because they choose to live as who they are in the face of everything telling them that they shouldn't. All the women who continue to push through things like abuse, and harassment and can still run laps around the people that try to put them down. They're all people that gave me the strength to accept my identity and be here.

It's weird, too because I've never felt more thoroughly, utterly broken as a human being than I do at this very moment. This year has taken more than enough from me, and all of it hurts. At the same time though, I've never felt so... I don't know, inspired to contribute, and help, and just... create things that can't be taken from me anymore.

I think that's one of the most upsetting parts about all of this; 2017 beat me up and I have virtually nothing to show for it. I have a lot less than when I started, but I don't know. Maybe it's like trying to bake cupcakes or something but the oven blows up in your face. It sucks really bad, and you have nothing but bruises and burns to show for it but if you're lucky, you can try again.

And lemme tell you, we're going to make some good-ass cupcakes.

Sorry... video games

I guess the point that I was trying to make was that video games helped me a lot. They kept me grounded when everything else was trying to sweep me away, and I'm deeply appreciative of how they helped me connect with others and understand things when those were two very hard things to do.

So... thanks, video games, even if you need some new and different voices.

I'm going to list some games that meant a lot to me this year, okay? They're in no particular order but I love them all very, very much and I hope you do, too.

Some not-2017 game things:

  • I played Silent Hill 2 this year and I think it's one of the most beautiful video games that I've ever played.
  • Nier is, also a very beautiful game, and is probably one of my favorite games ever.
  • I learned that I don't like Max Payne 3 and really like Kane & Lynch 2.
  • Resident Evil: Code Veronica X is one of the worst games of the past 17 years and you will not convince me otherwise.

Thanks for reading. ❤

Ajay

List items

  • Yakuza 0 was at the height of my escapism this year. It thoroughly sated both my deeply rooted nightlife curiosities and untethered desire to annihilate asshole idiots with deadly everyday objects. It's also just an endlessly compelling, melodramatic crime tale that takes its sweet, sweet time building exceptionally likable (and seethingly unlikable) characters to ends that exceeded already exceedingly high standards.

    Like, seriously. After the bloated mess that was Yakuza 5, Yakuza 0's considerably more focused approach slapped me in the face with ten tons of what made me love this series so much to begin with. Its story of infinitely interwoven threads are expertly crafted, even if it does end up being cliche on occasion. I cried so much playing Yakuza 0 and I love that it made me feel for its characters in the way that I did.

    It also just creates such a cool, intricately detailed open world with so much fun stuff to do. It speaks for itself that for how much I adored the main story, I spent so much more time avoiding the main story to chase silly substories, or go dancing or just... y'know, get drunk and drive RC cars with some kids.

    I love Yakuza 0 with my entire heart, and I don't know how I can properly tell you that. I wish I could scream into this text box to let you know, but, um... this'll have to do.

  • Detention is a deeply distressing horror game not because of its unique approach to horror, but because of the harrowing story it tells about a girl during Taiwan martial law. It's probably the furthest thing from a happy tale that I've played this year, but in a way that emphasizes its very few bright moments to create something very beautiful.

    It's a game that also made me want to learn a lot about its subject. I knew very little about the game's political setting prior to it, and the fresh perspective opened me up to an entire new world.

    I don't have too much to say about this game, considering it's pretty short and it should be seen for yourself but Detention is a game that I liked more and more as I spent time away from it. I love learning from video games, and I value different perspectives and takes on well-established genres. It's one of my favorite stories from this year in any medium, and I think that you should play it.

  • Glory to mankind.

  • School Girl/Zombie Hunter is mindless, barely tuned, top-tier garbage and it was exactly the sort of game I wanted to play this year. It achieves the grand feat of somehow being more shallow than the Onechanbara games, but also a bunch more likable thanks to a light tone and cookie-cutter, but frequently entertaining character dynamics.

    It's also just, void of any tact or depth which made it the perfect podcast game or just something to play when I really, really didn't want to think about things. Make no mistake: this is a bad video game, but it's a bad video game that I liked a whole lot even when it tried its hardest to make me hate it. Tough luck.

  • I know that "environmental storytelling" is kind of a running joke, but Tacoma does it with such craft that I'm actually really jealous. The AR junk is a nice touch on the well-worn walking simulator formula, and it builds upon Gone Home in some pretty smart ways even if it's not as groundbreaking.

    I also really appreciated the treatment of this game's diverse cast, both racially and sexually and the excellent voice cast. This is a game that brought more life and personality to literal faceless characters than most multi-million dollar blockbusters could ever dream of.

    I think the most flattering thing I can say about Tacoma is that it's inspiring. It was the first video game in a long time that made me want to make video games again. It's a feeling that I could get used to.

  • Wolfenstein II on the easiest difficulty was pure catharsis. Though it has some really crummy level design and standard weapon variety, there is some very, very fun and violent nazi blasting times to be had here.

    Wolf II also has one of the most boundless, adventurous narratives that I have seen from a shooter in a very long time. It's filled with fun writing, stellar performances and literal jaw dropping moments. The unsettling likeliness of its Nazi America depiction aside, this was the most straight-up fun I've had with a single player FPS since Modern Warfare 2 and that game had space nukes, man.

    (Though I guess Wolfenstein II wasn't far off from that, actually?)

  • Project Diva Future Tone has an OVERWHELMING amount of Vocaloid content, none of which is organized all that well but all of which is cute, catchy and tremendously fun to play. I'll never forgive the developers for excluding the original World's End Dancehall music video, but in its absence there are just so many weird, little songs and shoddily made music videos that fondly take me back to the days of watching MMD dance videos in the school library.

    They're not *great* games, and Vocaloid music certainly isn't for everybody... or, most people but I kind of hope they keep making these games forever.

  • Battlegrounds is consistently tense in the way that only SOCOM II has made me feel. It's also super ridiculous and hilarious thanks to a wild (if shamelessly derivative) hook and some truly magnificent jank. Its steep difficulty makes it seriously rewarding-- I've died a billion times and most of those times have been laughing because I can't even get get mad. Though I'm iffy on the business side of this game, I can't deny that the hype is real for this one.

  • While I haven't played as much Puyo Puyo Tetris as I'd like, this is probably the best straight-up Tetris game since Tetris DS. It's simple, but that's kind of the point, I guess? It doesn't have a crappy frame rate, or feel totally soulless or have a weird gimmick like all other Tetris games seem to have. It's cute, colorful and does its thing right.

    I also had a 3 hour Puyo Puyo match so... that part's real good too.

  • Playing League of Legends with any degree of regularity is akin to peeling off all of your skin on a consistent basis. Still though, I continue to like the way Riot regularly streamlines and updates this game even if I'm grumpy about their champion diversity. Supporting is something I can do just about any time, and it helps to play something on the regular in between games to keep myself occupied.

    I'm probably going to play this game until it kills me.