So, I said back in February that I was going to try to do a monthly best-of link roundup to my work from Kotaku. That promise very clearly fell by the wayside, and hard. Sorry about that. I just ran out of steam, most weeks. But better late than never, right?
Anyway, a roundup is easier when you know where it ends. It has been a privilege and a pleasure working with the team at Kotaku. It certainly made 2012 interesting in a number of unexpected ways. That particular adventure, though, has drawn to a conclusion; the site and I officially part ways on December 1. It's time for a new adventure.
Meanwhile, I've got a veritable mountain of links after the jump. It's not everything I posted at the site (most weekdays, I ran between 3 and 8 stories); just the ones I can remember as a best-of. Criticism, impressions, and general essays are arranged by month, with all the full game reviews (all of 'em) afterward in alphabetical order. Because I am nothing if not compulsively organized.
- Acclimating to Kotaku left me with a slow start, but I did try to defend and trace the evolution of the much-maligned "adventure game."
- Completing Mass Effect 3 for review before its release date, I could tell the ending would be controversial. I was surprised just how controversial. I felt compelled to deliver a rather impassioned defense of its structure and purpose.**
- An interview with Ken Levine reveals just how much of an influence Teddy Roosevelt has on BioShock Infinite. Also, jazz.
- The Florida Family Association, an anti-gay hate group, takes issue with BioWare's promise to include same-sex romance options in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I take issue right back at their entire purpose and scare-mongering message.
- In which I publicly hope that Dragon Age III is a lot like Dragon Age 2, and take a look at what the latter (as well as Origins) actually did very well. Cue angry mob.
- Mass Effect 3 becomes the first online multiplayer game that I actually play voluntarily, surprising no one more than me. Truth is, I love the experience.
- Video games seek to model and re-create all kinds of human relationships. So how do they do with marriage? (Spoiler: badly.)
- Despite the social cues of fan-gear, and the dominant, pervasive stereotypes about gamers, we're a more diverse lot than anyone generally gives us credit for being. Including ourselves.
- There's a reason I get my mom, who would never describe herself as a gamer, new DS games every year on Mother's Day. (I told a shorter version of the story a year earlier right here.)
- As Curt Schilling's 38 Studios had a very public, very sordid meltdown, I rounded up and explained how the entire sad saga came to be.
- There's a reason that non-gamers have a perception of games as being entirely about off-the-wall violence. We should listen to that argument before we dismiss it out of hand.
- At E3, I noticed rather a lot of T&A on display. All the individuals I interacted with were professionals, but the convention overall sure as hell did it's best to try to convince me that 13-year-old boys rule the world.
- After E3, I began to realize just what the next slate have in common: overwhelming paranoia. Our era is deeply afraid, and it's showing in our games.
- I don't mind the Mass Effect 3 extended cut ending, but I find that some of the changes really cheapen the original, unedited final message.
- I find that Telltale's The Walking Dead is the most compassionate, empathetic game I've played in a very long time. It expertly uses the spectre of death to highlight the true value of life.
- In which I feel strange over how very easily an enormous company like Disney can simply rewrite history and with it, our sense of nostalgia and longing. Marketing, man. Wow.
- IGN's Colin Moriarty explains that if we all just stopped saying mean things about games (including the calling-out of problematic material and attitudes), then true creativity could flourish. I take strong, voluble exception to this point of view.
- Journey's thoughtful spirituality and minimalist multiplayer create an extraordinary experience for a fifteen-year-old, generally non-gaming cousin.
- Microsoft is really not doing the future of PC gaming any favors with either Windows 8 or its attitude toward the PC and its users. (And I really hate Windows 8.)
- The guys making XCOM explain to me that it was really important to them not just to re-tint all their white guy characters to fake diversity, but actually to design facial models and female characters to look plausible.
- I finally manage to track down my first computer, from 1985. It was an awkward and kind of unpopular machine. Sounds just about right.
- A pair of pieces. In the first, I look at why most games made of movies aren't so good, while hoping that Star Trek will buck the trend. In the second, I turn it around and look at why most movies made of games are also not so good, with tentative and cautious hopes for a Metal Gear Solid adaptation.
- I posit that the $15 monthly MMORPG subscription fee model has well and truly kicked the bucket, World of Warcraft notwithstanding. The audience of 2012 just isn't willing to play along, anymore.
- The lawsuit that Stardock filed against its former employee, Alexandra Miseta, seemed to have more going on behind it--and it did. There's an ugly, unpleasant sexual harassment suit in the works against Stardock head Brad Wardell, and the full exchange of legal threats looks, well, rather sordid. Reporting the story was one thing, but the saga didn't get actively weird until after it went live.**
- State Department employee and dedicated EVE Online player Sean "Vile Rat" Smith was killed in Benghazi. The outpouring of grief and public mourning from his online communities, not generally noted for their kindness and empathy, was remarkable.
- Mobile and social apps are developing this creepy fad behavior. The useful ones will surely survive, but do we really need cheap knockoffs everywhere?
- Motion sickness doesn't make one an inherently inferior gamer, no matter what jerks like to say. It does, however, prevent some people (namely me) from enjoying many of the better modern games.
- I got to make the world's worst headline pun ever. *mad cackling* When I am a supervillain, my power will be puns.
- BioShock Infinite releases a new trailer that looks spiffy, but it's the ugly images echoing the worst of America's vile, racist history that make me the most interested in the game.
- Wreck-It Ralph isn't just an adorable Disney movie. It's a landmark moment in the merger of gaming culture and the mainstream.
- PC gaming doesn't have to be the expensive, elitist hobby it's often perceived as being. It can, in fact, be the most affordable and inclusive way to get people gaming.
- As a native Bostonian, playing Assassin's Creed III triggers a bout of homesickness, and a sense of weird virtual tourism that I remember from Fallout 3.
- Asura's Wrath
- Darksiders II
- Guild Wars 2
- Mass Effect 3
- Mass Effect 3: Omega
- Natural Selection 2
- Ninja Gaiden 3
- The Secret World
- World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
**And just for the record, these are my personal favorites.