Gameological Q&A

Ni No Kuni

What Are You Playing This Year?

Gameological contributors make their New Year’s gaming resolutions.

By The Gameological Society Staff • January 4, 2013

In lieu of the typical What Are You Playing This Weekend? column, we decided to kick off 2013 by asking the Gameological contributors what they planned on playing this year. Think of it as us laying out our New Year’s gaming resolutions. Hopefully we can stick to them better than the millions of people who will be canceling their gym memberships come February. As always with these Q&A affairs, add you answer to the question du jourWhat are you playing this year?—in the comments.

John Teti
Jamestown

Jamestown

This year I want to play more old games. When I play a game that has just been released, I’m usually doing so with my job in mind. No complaints—I enjoy the stimulation of being a critic. But over the holidays, I went back and played a few smaller games that I’d missed out on, like Jamestown and VVVVVV. It gave me a new appreciation for the pleasure of letting a game soak in without the need to turn around and analyze it. I think this phenomenon holds even if your job doesn’t revolve around games. There’s an unavoidable sense of the “New, new, new! Now, now, now!” around a fresh release that colors the experience. Whereas when you play something that’s not so au courant, you can approach it on your own terms. Also, to get slightly nerdy, I plan to play more games on my PC, because it’s cheaper and they look nicer, and Steam’s new “Big Picture” thing is more pleasurable to use than the present-day interfaces of the major consoles.

Steve Heisler

For many years, I had the benefit of hindsight as I plowed through all the best console games, attempting to catch up on what I missed being a Super Nintendo snob for most of my life. (Chrono Trigger forever!) Once I was relatively up to speed, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted the critical weight of a game to drive me to it, rather than interest or curiosity. I waited to play a few newer games until my friends had weighed in, or simply skipped a bunch all together that didn’t get such hot reception. No more. This is the year I vow to play games along with everyone else, for better or worse. I’m catching up now on Assassin’s Creed III, and while I don’t love it, there are parts I do enjoy, and I’m regretful I didn’t give it a shot when it came out and everyone wanted to talk about it with me. I want to be willing to give things a chance when they are an unknown quantity, because the thrill of discovery will be all the sweeter. Or, an even bigger letdown. I’ll take it all!

Drew Toal
Dark Souls

Dark Souls

Work stuff aside, this year I’m doing what I’ve just now termed a “360 Reverse Heisler McTwist.” That is, I’m going back and replaying console classics (like Steve’s beloved Chrono Trigger), and also plan to, for real this time, get into Dark Souls—a game I’ve started and put aside several times. The other things I’d like to accomplish, in no particular order, are finish building my beautiful lakeside house in Skyrim, revisit the cratered wastelands of Total Annihilation (in preparation for Planetary Annihilation), experiment with my forthcoming LA Game Space indie games bundle, and fire up this battered Super Dodge Ball cartridge my brother gave me for Christmas. Unfortunately, there are just way too many things to play, with a fraction of enough time to play them. The real challenge, I think, will be getting QT with my Xbox while convincing the fiancée that I’m putting an appropriate amount of effort into planning our wedding. She has the eyes of a hawk. Wish me luck.

Anthony John Agnello

Over the past year, I’ve tried to push myself to play games well outside my comfort zone. I hadn’t played a sports game besides Madden NFL since the Genesis, but I dove into FIFA 13 and MLB 2K12 headfirst and was pleasantly surprised when I did. I’m gunning to push even further into no man’s land in 2013. I’m about to give a tabletop roleplaying game a serious try for the first time. After an aborted attempt to play Dungeons & Dragons, I never gave role-playing games much thought. They’re just so time consuming! I’ve read good things about beginners RPGs, though, so I’m going that route with Star Wars: Edge Of The Empire, a game built around learning steadily as you play. I only hope the rules accommodate speaking like a regular human being rather than in the stilted nonsense dialogue you typically find in things bearing the name Star Wars. I include Knights Of The Old Republic in that category by the way.

Samantha Nelson
Wii U with GamePad

Wii U

I recently got my husband back into World Of Warcraft and it reminded me how much I enjoy playing video games with someone in the same room. I typically like to play games on my own terms, but there is something refreshing about the shared experience. Provided I can pull myself away from my own renewed addiction, I’d like to do that more by, for example, revisiting Dungeon Siege III or actually showing up to the networking parties one of my friends regularly throws instead of just lending him my copy of Gears Of War 3. I also have yet to try the Xbox Kinect or Wii U, and I’d like to find out what they have to offer. Plus, I want to try fighting all the villains in Sentinels Of The Multiverse because I’ve largely loved all the games of it I’ve played so far.

Matt Kodner

Beyond a halfhearted “I guess we should lose some weight this year,” New Year’s Resolutions have never been popular in the Kodner household. But for this Kodner, 2013 is going to be different. I am hellbent on trying out as many variations of Settlers Of Catan as I possibly can. After years of threatening to try an expansion of the tabletop game, I got a sweet taste of the Cities & Knights edition on Christmas Eve. Fundamentally, the game is still the same: you build settlements, harvest resources, and screw over friends with bogus trades. Cities, however, adds a ton of new elements, like the impending threat of attacking barbarians, a new set of fancy resources, and a skill tree that changed the game completely. Now I want more, and as far as I can tell, there are a million different versions to try. Some introduce pirates, others oil rigs, and there’s even one set entirely in space. The 14-year-old inside me is stoked.

Joe Keiser
Deadly Premonition

Deadly Premonition

I’ve been visiting Nairobi for the past few months—that’s kind of its own story—but when I decided to take that plunge, I knew the slower pace of life would give me a chance to spend time with some games that I’ve wanted to play for quite a while. So, I made a list. It’s a pretty random, ramshackle thing—a decade’s worth of strange, sometimes bad games that for whatever reason weren’t worth playing at the time. But sticking to it has been enriching, and I never would have discovered the awkward, heartfelt beauty of Nier without it. I won’t be in Nairobi for all of this year, but I expect the list to endure. Next up are the bizarre Deadly Premonition and Tron: Evolution, because my love for Tron is apparently unconditional. I’m as bothered by this revelation as you are.

Derrick Sanskrit

My gaming tastes tend to favor instant gratification. The two games that really resonated with me last year, though, were Virtue’s Last Reward and The Walking Dead, both of which were darker than things I typically play and have intense focus on character development and storytelling. These games involved an emotional investment on my part, and were hugely rewarding in the end, so I think I’d like to search out more story-driven experiences like those. The only one on my calendar right now is Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch, but who knows? Maybe this is the year I finally play through something with Final Fantasy in its title (not likely, but you never know). If Nintendo releases another Kirby this year, though, you’d better believe I am all over it.

Emily Gordon
BioShock Infinite

BioShock Infinite

This year I will definitely be playing big releases like Grand Theft Auto V, Gears Of War: Judgment, and BioShock Infinite, but outside of the usual colon-filled sequels and flashy new titles, I still need a some heart. The little indie-rock rebel kid must still be alive and kicking inside me, because these days I can usually be found scanning Xbox Live Arcade and Steam for the newest releases. You can enjoy gorgeous graphics once, but a randomly generated dungeon crawler or a complicated puzzle game with a witty story are gifts that keep on giving. I’m specifically looking forward to BattleBlock Theater (from the guys that brought you Castle Crashers). I want imaginative new uses for old physics, I want weird storylines that wouldn’t fly in a big-budget game, and I want games I can play on my Mac when I’m traveling.

Matt Gerardi

I don’t see my gaming habits changing much in 2013. I’ll keep telling myself that I really should play some older PC stuff like Planescape: Torment and I’ll keep staring at its page on GOG.com. In the end, I won’t buy it, because I know I’ll never play it. As many of the others have alluded to, there’s always something shiny and new to distract me. The first few months of 2013 are jam packed with stuff I’ve been looking forward to for ages. How could I force myself to play Baldur’s Gate 2 when Ni No Kuni, a game with art by Studio Ghibli, has finally made its way to these shores? Why would I struggle with the clunkiness of Deus Ex when there’s BioShock Infinite, a game with a setting, goals, and themes that feel tailor-made for me? Maybe it’s because those games were before “my time.” I know there are impressive and important pieces of game-craftsmanship in there, but they’re buried under mounds of antiquated design that my almost-23-year-old sensibilities just can’t deal with.

Ryan Smith

The blessing and the curse of the tentpole nature of the Call Of Duty series is that it’s the one multiplayer game I can count on to play with a group of old real-life friends of mine who are extremely casual gamers. I’d love to cajole them into playing a cooperative adventure like Borderlands 2 or an online dynasty league in NBA 2K13, but as our annual tradition demands, we all got Black Ops II and have been dutifully slaying angsty teens who seem to love swastikas made out of penises. Beyond work-related stuff, I’d love to eventually dive back into Sleeping Dogs, Mass Effect 3, and Skyrim—great games saddled with the problem of being longer than the time I can usually devote to a single-player game (about 10-15 hours). I’ll also be the lame guy at my local YMCA attempting to play mobile games on my iPhone or Android tablet while working out on a stationary bike or treadmill (and avoiding eye contact with women).

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  • Moonside_Malcontent

    The game I’m anticipating most eagerly is Bioshock Infinite.  Sure, there are the swirling rumors of dismissed team members and aborted multiplayer modes, but I can simply ignore them with the same glassy-eyed anticipation of a bunker-bound survivalist predicting the apocalypse for the 9th time in 12 years.  Other than that, I may finally fill one of the big gaps in my strategy gaming credentials and play freakin’ Starcraft 2.  I never even played the original Starcraft all that much, and I tend to enjoy more slow paced RTS’s like Age of Empires or Victoria, but I still feel like a bit of an apostate having neglected it.

  • stakkalee

    Looks like I’m not alone in intending to finally play the Mass Effect trilogy this year – I better get cracking so I don’t fall behind you guys!  Also, I’ll probably wring Skyrim dry, because that’s what I do with Bethesda games.  Beyond that, no real concrete gaming plans – I’ll just take the year as it comes to me, same as last.

  • http://twitter.com/tapirman Kyle O’Reilly

    I have a backlog so long I had to create a Google Doc just to manage it.

    I finally finished Saints Row III which is as hilariously over-the-top as you’ve heard, and my goal for this year is to not purchase any new games until I’ve taken a significant chunk out of my backlog [which I won't do seeing as I almost bought Little Inferno on impulse just this morning].  The only new game I’m intersted in is Bioshock Infinite but my spidey senses are sending me bad vibes about it so I’ll wait on that.  Until then it’s.

    Blood: Whole Unit (Classic FPS!)
    Far Cry 3 (Racist Hunting Simulator)
    Snapshot (Damn that game is fun)
    and
    Spec Ops the Line (If you’ve played this without reading the companion book “Killing is Harmless” please rectify this http://stolenprojects.com/ )

  • doyourealize

    I spent most of my vacation week playing Dragon’s Dogma, a game that at first annoyed me then roped me in in a huge way. I can’t get away from it! I also just got Catherine and Lollipop Chainsaw, so I’ll be spending time with them. I’ve played mostly on my PC for a while now, so it’s nice getting back to console. I’m also loving the Android game Final Fantasy Dimensions. A return to old school with new twists that make the game much quicker to get through (fast time auto-battle, moving quickly through the world map).

    I never got to play Dishonored, and would love to try Far Cry 3, but I need to find the time first.

    I also got Rivals of Catan, Dominion:Prosperity, and 7 Wonders for Christmas, which are all a lot of fun. I need to find people to play 7 Wonders with me, but I’m looking forward this year to spending more time with board games.

  • ToddG

    I took advantage of a recent XBLM sale and am going to start off 2013 finally playing this Red Dead Redemption game everyone was talking about dozens of months ago.

  • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

    A lot of people complained that FFXIII took a while to get going. My biggest complaint was that it hardly ever slows down.

  • Fluka

    Oh hey, that’s very similar to my in-progress third ME run!  Lady, Engineer, paragon, completionist.  In my case, I’ll be attempting to stay loyal to Kaidan.  Poor handsome, boring Kaidan.  Not done even ME1 yet with that character, though…  

    I just finished my cold-blooded renegade ME2 Sentinel last year.  **LOTS OF ME2 AND ME3 SPOILERS.**  No one died except Samara (yay Morinth!) and Mordin (because I don’t want to shoot him in ME3).  People are gonna start dying in the third game, though.  Currently ignoring Kaidan in the hospital so I can shoot him during the Citadel invasion. Poor dead, boring Kaidan.  Will finish that game once I’ve worked on my backlog and more DLC is out.

  • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

    My reply was first in the email thread, and the discussion just took on a certain tone of focusing on the extracurricular “new year’s resolutions.” We all know we’re going to be playing the big releases regardless, so that just didn’t feel as remarkable to me. I certainly could have nudged the discussion back into the “which new releases are you most looking forward to?” realm, but that felt predictable, and this ended up being more interesting and laid-back to me.

    You seem upset that the result defied your expectations, but we don’t worry much about reconfirming what people already expect, so please don’t let it upset you. If you’re really interested in hearing about what we’re looking forward to on the release slate this year (rather than simply berating us for straying from your imagined template), asking works better than scolding.

  • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

    Wow, congratulations!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/EUPDMNIW75KUMC4KJOJUG5WZAU Wade

    Gaming can be a good downtime activity with a newborn’s sometimes weird sleep schedules. Mostly, you’ll feel tired and wrecked, but then the child will go down peacefully and you’ll be wired at 1 am. Easy enough to crank out the console. We bought the PS2 a week after my 1st youngun was hatched, and it was a good respite.

    That thing still works as a matter of fact. That child and the next one still play Over the Hedge on it… and if we didn’t have the PS3 version, they’d be Sly Coopering it.

    Congrats, too. For the baby and the Minecraft run. It took me the longest time to realize people could live that long on that game.

  • HobbesMkii

    My worst writing moment ever was spending an hour discussing with a friend my idea for a comic book about a guy whose best friend dresses in a dog costume and pretends to in fact be his friend’s dog (complete with walks and eating out of a bowl). Later that day we went to see Daybreakers. Before the movie played, it showed an ad for a television show, just about to premiere on FX, called Wilfred

    On the money front, most of my creative writing professors (I have a degree in it, hooray!) were quick to abuse us students of the notion that we would make a living at it. One professor, who put “Poet” down as his profession and claimed his writing career as a business noted in our “Your Writing Life After College” course that he had, after many years of having poetry be his business, just managed to turn a profit on it (just about all of $300). Now, to be fair, they all had Ph.D.s in writing, so they’d clearly pursued the academic track of it as their main source of bacon. 
    Lastly, I don’t know if you already have a network in place from the class, but I find it’s easier to write if you have people willing to read your stuff and give you feedback before you submit for publication (and to push you to submit), and would be happy to do some sort of digital writing workshop group if there are others interested.