2012 was a year of extremes. We had some of the biggest outcries and rage-fests in gaming history, both in terms of the games themselves and the culture around them. But for every terrible ending, misogynistic rant and farcical E3 presentation, we had wonderful, fresh and exciting titles coming out of nowhere like Journey, The Walking Dead and Dishonored and uplifting, positive acts from gamers such as the surge in Kickstarter funding and the most successful Desert Bus to date.
I’d also like to hand out a few little mini-Gav “awards” I feel deserve to be mentioned. Just my own take on a few of the year’s events, people and products. I hope you enjoy them and whether you agree or disagree, feel free to let me know in the comments!
Annoying/Misused Words People Said A Lot In 2012 That Need To Go Away Forever
“All The Feels”
“He couldn’t have gotten back to Gotham”
“OMG! Hashtag [Insert massive Walking Dead spoiler here]”
Let Down Of The Year – Resident Evil 6
Hammer the buttons and wiggle the sticks.
Album Of The Year – Koloss by Meshuggah
There’s metal and then there’s Meshuggah. Koloss is possibly the heaviest record I’ve ever heard in over 25 years of metal fandom. It makes me joyful.
Dumbest Descision By a Protagonist In a Cutscene 2012 – Agent 47
I’m in a vent, stealthily moving around. There’s a massive tank of a man with a neck the size of South Dakota. I could just shoot him in the back of the skull with my silenced pistol, but just for shits and giggles I think I’ll fuck up all the player’s stealthy play so far try and strangle him with my puny piano wire. What could possibly go wrong?
Industry Villain of the Year: Deadlines
Every time I hear BioShock Infinite is getting delayed, I think, “Good. They’re taking the time to get it right.” I saw so many games this year that, had they been given more time by impatient, greedy publishers, had the potential to be masterpieces, or at least half decent as opposed to crud.
This trend bothers me because it reminds me of the music industry, churning out a conveyor belt of rushed, half-assed material which inevitably will end up in a cultural, creative stagnation. Publishers, give your developers a little more time. Stop yearly sequels. We love good games and we want to spend our money on them. But the more broken, buggy, unfinished products you give us, the less we will want to buy from you in the future.
Industry Badass of the Year: Jessica Merizan (Community Manager, BioWare)
If there was one un-enviable position in the industry this year, one would imagine Community Manager at BioWare would be it. The amount of misplaced fury and aggression aimed at people in the company would make most of us want to say “Fuck this” and disconnect our internet for a few days.
But time and time again on Twitter, on Facebook, on the various forums and social media, there was a calm voice of reason – reassuring, listening to and supporting heartbroken fans, taking notes and hearing what they wanted, always keeping a cool head when faced with some less-than-polite words. That voice was Jessica Merizan, a lady with the patience of a saint.
I had the pleasure of meeting Jess and the BioWare crew again at Comic Con this year and it honestly felt like vindication to see them chatting and partying with smiling, happy, adoring fans. Those guys worked their butts off this year and whatever your thoughts on the Mass Effect 3 you-know-what (more on that later), it would be folly to even consider for a moment that these people don’t care about their fans. The internet has a loud voice but the love from the fans at Comic Con also spoke volumes. They have my massive respect.
Community Site of The Year: Skyrim Nexus
Modding is intimidating stuff. As a complete newbie to it this year, the Skyrim Nexus was an invaluable tool for me. From the Nexus Mod Manager, which helps you organize up to hundreds of mods to work together and completely change your game, to GopherGaming’s wonderful tutorials for both the total newbie and the advanced uber-modder, the Skyrim Nexus shows gamers at their most creative, helpful, ingenious and generous. It’s essential for anyone with even a remote interest in PC Skyrim.
Personal Highlight of the Year: Escapist Expo
What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Meeting you guys, the community, was a wonderful, eye-opening, fun experience. I think it’s safe to say that all the contributors had an absolute blast chatting with you, hearing your stories, doing panels for you and sometimes drinking heavily with some of you, hehe. Susan and the guys did an amazing job and I can’t wait for next year.
Personal Lowlight of the Year: Tinnitus
No surprises there. Fuck this horrible condition and my heart goes out to anyone who suffers from it full-time. I’ll be back making music for you guys soon though, I promise. Just gotta wait and see what the specialists say first.
Best Game Mechanic of the Year: Blinking (Dishonored)
Shooting around around Dishonored‘s environments using Blink was ridiculously fun but it also rewarded you. See a ledge that looks like you can Blink to it? Yep, you usually can and there’s usually something hidden there, too. Simple, elegant, pure fun.
Worst Game Mechanic of the Year: Lopsided Lag Compensation (Black Ops 2)
Treyarch are great at patching game imbalances this year. They’ve been working hard to make sure everything is statistically fair. Pity we don’t all play on LAN then isn’t it? Not one single shred of the gun stats matter a fuck when the basic, fundamental game mechanic is completely broken for so many players.
The lag issues in COD have gotten steadily worse every year since Black Ops 1 (I personally rarely ever had issues in Modern Warfare 2 or Call of Duty 4) but this year they make the game completely unplayable 50% of the time for, if YouTube and Twitter are to be believed, around 60-70% of gamers. Players with better internet connections are harshly penalized by the over-active lag compensation to the point where they can be up a half second behind, which is enough time to be killed twice over in this fast paced game.
I quit playing Black Ops 2 after about 2 weeks, a record for me. Enough of my personal property has been damaged in the name of that franchise. The sad part is, it would probably the best COD ever made if it weren’t for the constant frustration of shooting first and dying. When your official forum is dominated by threads telling people how to make their web connection worse to get a better game, you know something ain’t right.
So there you have it folks, my look back at 2012. Have a lovely Christmas, guys. See you as soon as I can with some new music. Big love.