Keyboard Geniuses is our weekly glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the Gameological discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity. You can follow the links to see the full threads.
As the year comes to an end, Gameological looked back to the events that shaped our 2012, by letting you play those moments. In Play The Year, we tapped a handful of talented indie developers to present four original video games based on events of the year. One team, Peter Malamud Smith and John Lynch, gave us Super Debate 20XX, which reimagined the American presidential debates as a fierce battle of Rock, Paper, Scissors between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. The comments turned toward “lava”—the Rock, Paper, Scissors move of dubious legality that supposedly trumps all three. Merve thought back to his grammar school days:
At my elementary school, we didn’t use Lava as the trump. We used Big Bird, Black Hole, or Dynamite. Eventually, we just started playing the trumps against each other, at which point we realized that Big Bird, Black Hole, Dynamite was isomorphic to Rock, Paper, Scissors. We went back to regular Rock, Paper, Scissors after that. (Then we discovered Rock, Paper, Scissors, JINX!, and we realized that robbing each other of the right to speak was far more fun than actually playing Rock, Paper, Scissors.)
Toal Lang Syne
The Oscars. The Grammys. The Daytime Regional Emmys. The Golden Globes. And now, The ‘Gestys. In honor of the annual year-end award show rush, we threw our inaugural hat into ring with this week’s very special edition of The Digest. Both Drew Toal and Steve Heisler joined John Teti to anoint the winners in the Very Serious categories of iPhone Game Most Likely To Make You Miss Your Subway Stop and Games We’ll Still Be Playing This Time Next Year. John’s nomination of The Binding Of Isaac: Wrath Of The Lamb took home the top prize in the latter category. Drew was shocked. Gameological contributor Derrick Sanskrit made a GIF:
Itch To Glitch
A little more than a year since its release, the online game Glitch closed down for good. Todd VanDerWerff chronicled its unfortunate ending and described how the game’s community came to be one of the few friendly niches found online. With firsthand experience, Girard commented on the “diaspora” effect when online communities wind down:
I’ve been a member of a number of really rewarding online and real-life communities that eventually dissolved, and that’s always a little sad. Online diaspora is a little more melancholic than real-life to me, as I can still keep in touch with my real-life college friends wherever they are, and visit them from time to time, but assorted pseudonymous internet folks who I had years of positive interactions with are now either totally out of touch because we never exchanged real names/contacts, or because lines of communication have atrophied without the convenient substrate of a shared forum or comment board. It’s weird.
I’ve since become comfortable with the ephemerality of such things, and developed a kind of Tralfamadorian awareness that those lost periods still exist in the landscape of time and my life, they just don’t happen to exist now, and that’s okay.
Further down, Effigy Power kicked in her own thoughts on the sanguine feeling of trying to regroup a community that lost its outpost:
I imagine that when online communities such as this end, the people left behind are basically fugitives, from a cultural standpoint. The desperate search for a new home, the heightened nostalgia for the place left behind, the breakup of friendships, and the loss of cultural identity. All those things appear to resound in what Todd is writing here.
Most of us know the end of a connection with such a community due to ourselves moving away from it, usually on our own terms. I have stopped playing quite a few online games with communities, a few of which afforded me to get to know some decent people. But in the end, there were always other ways to communicate without the staleness of a game that didn’t satisfy anymore. I already had the email addresses and online handles of the people I liked, so the community had done its deed.
The breakup of a community such as described here, however, throws all of that around, especially if you don’t know people beyond the game. Glitch appears to have made secondary lines of communication redundant, so the loss of it almost assuredly equals the loss of contact altogether. Sure, maybe you will find each other on a lifeboat or refugee-camp such as a forum or chat, but many will be lost along the way.
With online communities creating groups of tightly knit individuals, who share common goals and interact through play and discussions, the loss of a meeting hub can be socially devastating. If The Gameological Society just went and left tomorrow, for example, my social group here would be limited to the few people who frequent the Steam Group. Merve, Hobbes, Mooy, DJSub… to name a few. These are people to which I have a secondary line of communication, so they represent a family rather than friends. I would however lose contact with everyone else, perhaps never to talk to Stew Bum or Girard ever again.
Perish the thought! We plan on sticking around for a while.
Day Two of The ’Gestys kicked Steve Heisler to the curb, and picked up one Anthony John Agnello (plus one rather…interesting brown jacket) for Anthony’s first ever appearance on The Digest. The writers presented awards for the categories of Sawbuck Game We’d Like To See In A “Super” Version, Best Ending, and, in the words of John Teti, “also some other stupid awards at the end.” While the whole affair was a silly process, Jackbert322 nonetheless came up with a few worthy nominees overlooked by the devious ’Gestys Academy—here’s a sample:
Best Ending Of A Game I Played This Year—Nominees: Infamous 2 and Persona 3 Portable
Infamous 2: In the first Infamous, endings weren’t that different. Whether you were good or evil, the only thing that changed in Empire City was the sky color. Infamous 2 is completely on the other end of the spectrum. Evil? EVERYBODY DIES! Good? YOU DIE! Is it a bit extreme? Sure! But it’s not the end result; it’s the things you do during the ending. For example, in the evil ending, you have to kill your best friend, and it’s done well. It’s not trite. It’s even a bit moving. And, really, even the end results are done well if you think deeper than probably was intended, about the distillation of slave morality. So yeah, great ending.
Persona 3 Portable: The ending is very good. No spoilers here. Finish it, Caspiancomic!
And the winner is…Mass Effect 3! Nah, it’s Infamous 2. Great ending to a great game.
Comments For Cats
In further ’Gestys-related news, there was a third and final day of it! Wow! In an extreme upset, all four official nominees for Game Of The Year were shunned in favor of an underdog so extreme it was not even formally nominated: Game For Cats for the iPad took home the most prestigious award in Gameological’s history. Votes were tabulated by the bow tie-clad all-cat firm of Soupy T. Cat Accounting. Soupy declined to comment when contacted for this feature. In the holiday spirit of spreading joy and thanks, Fluka left us one the year’s cutest and most cat-tastic comments:
Aw, man. I have been up all night struggling with my job’s godawful code framework, doing crap science, and writing a terrible powerpoint presentation. This video was just the right combination of Rambling and Cat that I needed right now.
In gratitude for a great video and a *fantastic* first Gameological year, here is my namesake all dressed up for the occasion as well.
So cute! Elsewhere, the idea of an iPad game for a non-human audience sparked a comment from Chum Joely on the place of video games geared towards tots instead of teens and adults:
I saw something amazing at the toy store the other day: a Fisher-Price iPad holder, basically to make it look like a nursery toy with shiny stuff around the edges, etc., but also to protect it when your toddler throws it on the floor. I have two young kids, and I don’t think kids should have iPads. They should draw and read in real life. (Some TV and/or video games, okay; but not the concentrated electronic crack that is an iPad.)
And Spacemonkey Mafia responded with his own perspective:
My kid watches videos and plays games on the iPad, and it doesn’t take up any more of her play time than other, more tactile pursuits. I guess I don’t really see the ethical gradation between TV-based media and tablet based media.
For the first time the other day, I had her sit on my lap and draw in MS Paint with the Wacom tablet, and that was really satisfying. She still prefers crayons and markers for all the obvious reasons, but it was satisfying to see her excited by being able to use almost every imaginable color.
Wars Of Wisdom
Back to yesterday’s Play The Year. Ben Johnson and Joe Kuwalski dug into Disney’s controversial purchase of George Lucas’ Lucasfilm with Star Wars: Sequel Debacle Simulator, riffing off the now-imminent Star Wars sequels to come. Presented with a high-tech interface (complete with wood paneling!), players are in control of exactly what kind of movie the next Star Wars will be. Without fail, commenters came up with a bunch of hilarious visions of the future. Here are a few, coming from Unexpected Dave, Feisto, and Raging Bear, respectfully:
Lucas writes, directs AND stars in the 93% Romance Master Of The Deathless. Not one person came to see this movie.
You would think the P. T. Anderson-scripted, Michael Bay-directed Fistful Of Wookies starring Jeff Goldblum would be an epic disaster, but nope, it gets an A- from The A.V. Club AND makes a $224 million profit. Hollywood producers suddenly realize they understand even less than they did before.
I want to personally thank everyone responsible for letting me imagine a movie with the subtitle “Queen Of The Princesses.”
Hey all, it’s been an amazing year, and we can’t thank all you commenters enough for making this site what it is—because Gameological would be very different, and not nearly as much fun, if it weren’t for the community that has formed here. (Seriously. We’re frankly tired of hearing Teti gush about you all.) We’ve got just one more little surprise for you before we sign off for 2012, so happy holidays, and we’ll see you all in the new year!