My Gaming Year

Inspired by this tweet from Edge magazine, I’m putting down my thoughts on video gaming in the last year.

The last year has been a bit underwhelming. I’ve come to terms with not having enough time between work and social commitments to sink 30 hours into epic open world games. Even so, no game really grabbed me and said “you need to play this!”

My job in the industry as an indie game developer, I’m probably more than a touch jaded at this point, but it was still disappointing to watch the various E3 presentations and think “none of this stuff is really aimed at me”. In contrast to last year, whereupon Mirror’s Edge elicited a “Yes!” and Splatoon, a “Hell Yes!”

The latter I dutifully bought on launch day and thoroughly enjoyed. As someone who had never owned a Nintendo system before Wii U, Splatoon was the first game where I didn’t feel disenfranchised at not having not played and grown up with the sequels. This year I actually bought and played my first ever Legend of Zelda game – A Link to the Past – on Virtual Console. It was quite fun! But also elicited the odd feeling of having played it before vicariously through the many games it inspired down the years. And being subconsciously aware of that as I played took the edge off it.

Though having said all that, Splatoon reminded me a lot of playing endless hours of counterstrike back when I was a teenager, which probably helped my enjoyment of it. I can’t really pretend I’m not immune to the nostalgia, just that it’s nostalgia for different games.

The other big wins for me were Endless Legends and Big Pharma, both of which I did find the opportunity to sink inordinate amounts of time into, on the occasions where I had a whole weekend free to binge game.

More widely, I played a lot of VR demos and games this year. I’m increasingly convinced VR has huge commercial and industrial applications, but that for gaming, it’ll initially only sell to a few million “core” gamers. Various VR games I’ve tried have all attempted some trick or another to get around or sidestep the problem of being unable to move without getting sick. I’ve yet to play a VR game that really works within the constraints of the device in that sense, which has hardened my skepticism towards the tech.

My other disappointment was Cities: Skylines. You have to be in the right mood for those sorts of games, and maybe when I bought it on Steam sale, it just wasn’t quite the right time. But it played almost identical to many of the other city builders I’ve tried over the years. After all the hype, I was expecting something a little different.

I also made an attempt to get into mobile gaming this year, but the games I played felt kind of missing something. On the one hand, Monument Valley was excellent, but I powered through it in under a day as I wasn’t expecting it to be so short. Conversely, I played Disco Zoo and Neko Atsume, both of which made for great little time killer games. But if my bus ride was more than 5 minutes, or I came back to the game more than a couple of times in the same day, I just ran out of things to do in the game.

The year isn’t entirely over yet. Last Christmas, I got a Wii U eShop card and bought a bunch of games on sale, a couple of which I had great fun with (in particular, Child of Light I completed before the holidays were over!) So here’s hoping to a future filled with more pleasant gaming surprises!

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