Posts Tagged With: gaming

My Games from the Year Awards 2013


Last year I attempted to write a series of articles about the new game releases that held my attention in 2012 before eventually crowning an ultimate winner and three runners-up.  I ended up writing so much before reaching those runners-up that I burnt out and coursework came along (that’s my excuse anyway). For the record, since I never wrote about them, my GOTY was Mass Effect 3 and my three equally placed runners-up were Borderlands 2, Far Cry 3 and Dishonoured.  2012 was a fantastic year for games, both in the big and little scenes. 2013 was strange. I was ready to decry it as a comparative big disappointment until I played a number of little gems over the Christmas period. And now, to sum up in what will hopefully take much less time than last year’s effort, my Games from the Year awards.

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And the Tywinner is… A short Crusader Kings 2 Game of Thrones diary

In the Game of Thrones you Tywin or you die

In the Game of Thrones you Tywin or you die

Crusader Kings 2 is a game of maps, faces and family life, but don’t let that put you off. It may bombard you with a mass of unknown names such as ‘Count Emmo of Loon’ and wacky phrases like ‘de jure ducal claim’ but make no mistake, this is no mere history lesson (though it is helpful on that front). It’s basically the Sims if it were made by Paradox Interactive (don’t quote me on that). Crusader Kings 2 is all about political intrigue and family management (and a bit of war, if you’re unable to avoid it). You’ll spend most of your time sucking up to your superiors, arranging marriages for your children, excommunicating your spouse, deterring rebellions and deciding on memorable names for your children (I called one Pikachu, I immediately regretted it). It can all be a bit overwhelming; the game has many systems I still don’t understand or make use of and the tutorials don’t do a great job of explaining the technology and building systems. It can help to play in an environment you’re more familiar with.

It perhaps says something about the British secondary school education system that I’m probably more knowledgeable about the history of Westeros than I am about Europe in the Dark Ages. Like the majority of gamers, it seems, I’m a big fan of the Song of Ice and Fire books/the Game of Thrones TV show. As with most every modifiable game set before the 1700s or in a fantasy world CK2 has a Game of Thrones mod, and it’s a wonder. The game adds hundreds of familiar and not so familiar characters, tons of new mechanics and a big ol’ Westerosi map (with the other locations set to arrive later). This a short account of one of my attempts to play the Game of Thrones.

This should contain no spoilers for anything beyond the point at which the first series of the show/the first book ended, my own plot deviated pretty quickly from old George’s.

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Originally posted on 20.03.11

Gaming. The very mention of it conjures up images of violent youths stealing cars and shooting grannies, and of spotty, bespectacled 20-somethings hunched in dark corners spending hour upon hour in front of a computer screen with no contact with the outside world other than to order cheese puffs. As a gamer I feel that these negative stereotypes should be discouraged, since they are very rarely true. When I say I am a ‘gamer’ I mean that I regularly play video games on my personal computer as my main source of entertainment. I do not fit into either of those ridiculous stereotypes. After shooting some virtual army men I do not immediately feel the need to go outside and do the same thing to real people, likewise after crushing virtual Hitler’s fascist dictatorship in a strategy game I don’t feel the need to lead an army to attack parliament. While I play games from many different genres I have no trouble whatsoever in enjoying myself in other ways, like reading a book, talking to friends, visiting friends, answering questions on Formspring and writing a blog. I also don’t find it hard to do the things I need to do, like revising and doing coursework. So no, while gaming is significant in my life it doesn’t make me violent and it doesn’t ruin my ‘social life’, and there are few for whom it does. It is the media’s fault that this attitude to gaming has arisen. The media used to treat TV and cinema in the same way. They would claim that violent films and TV programs caused children and teenagers to assault people, vandalise things and generally be everything the media of the time despised, just like they did with Rock and Roll. If children and teenagers are already the angry, violent type then it is the parent’s responsibility to make sure they don’t watch things that might affect them. That’s why the films have age ratings. Of course it is only a very, very small minority that would be affected like that by films and TV. With games this small group of violent people are even less likely to be turned into psychopaths than with films because games are interactive, they can release their pent-up rage on the virtual grannies. Over the last few decades media outlets like the TV News, newspapers and magazines have had to change to accommodate the increase in social standing of the fun-loving, excitable and very sociable youth. Newsreaders can’t sound so formal and things are often dumbed down to the level that you would require if you wished to teach particle physics to a gnat. This means that in order for the media to convince the general public that gaming is a bad thing they have to label all gamers as people who avoid social contact at all costs in order to concentrate on ‘levelling their orc’ thus making them incredibly boring people who all other young people should be scared of becoming. As a PC Gamer I can tell you that few gamers are anti-social, the internet is full of gaming communities where people chat to each other, discuss issues, arrange games, make friends and in some cases, even form real world romantic relationships (Not that I think that is always a good idea). The people who are turned into these social outcasts are usually kids and young teenagers. Again this is the parent’s responsibility to recognise that their children are the kind who may become obsessive.
Fortunately though, the media is starting to shy away from attacking gamers because of video games’ rising popularity in the form of things like casual Facebook games and I-Phone apps, hopefully in the future we’ll have a society where even the elderly can enjoy a game of Halo with their grandchildren. Hmm… Now there’s an interesting scenario.
If you’re reading this, chances are you either found out about it from Facebook, or you are an acquaintance of mine, so you’ve probably played some kind of video game in the past, be it a casual game like Farmville made for anyone who can wield a keyboard and mouse or a far more complicated game like World of Warcraft. Actually thinking about it these are probably not very good examples when campaigning for a more positive opinion on gaming, seeing as Farmville is a dull, micromanaging, money-sucking powerhouse that makes Civilization cry(meaning the brilliant turn-based strategy game, not society in an advanced state of social development) and World of Warcraft is a game that requires frequent playing to make the monthly subscription worthwhile.
In conclusion, video games are a very good thing that give many people a great way to have fun and make friends without exerting themselves physically(though often mentally). In the future video games may overtake TV as the main source of entertainment due to their ability to involve the user, it’s also great for people with disabilities to enjoy themselves. On a side-note if many gamers continue to say things like ‘Gaming is not a hobby, it is a way of life’ then people will continue to view them as obsessive nerds.

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