2015 in games
2015 was a big year for pop culture. We got progressive new entries into the Star Wars and Mad Max franchises, excellent television from Marvel, Netflix, Cartoon Network and HBO, plus one of the best years for video games in recent history. Games like The Witcher 3, Pillars of Eternity, and Fallout 4 breathed new life into the triple-A RPG world. Undertale, Life is Strange, SOMA, and others stepped up the narrative game greatly, providing stories terrifying, fascinating, and relatable in ways that were previously unexplored or under appreciated within the medium. A few bold design standouts for me personally were Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, Caves of Qud, and BADBLOOD (as previously written about). In addition to this, the improvements in VR technology as well and increasing support and demand for independent developers point towards a future that is more diverse, inclusive, and creative than ever before.
Although there is very clearly plenty of work to do, video games finally seem to be coming into their own as a less exclusive and more open form of expression. Women in games seem to slowly be treated more and more as breathing characters rather than gimmicks or sexual selling points, and are receiving less auxiliary roles in games. Rise of the Tomb Raider reboot and Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate are both series that offered strong female leads this year, one of which is legendary for the ridiculous physical proportions of its lead in the past. In addition to this, there have been more games acknowledging and addressing LGBTQ issues than ever before. Even in big budget games like Fallout 4, the option to romance characters of the same sex exists and many games have showcased queer and transgender stories that would have likely never made it to audiences a few years ago. Of course, there’s not quite cause for a giant celebration yet. There is still a long way to go and a lot of changes to be made before the gaming community as a whole comes comes around to how the medium is growing. Hopefully this trend of progression continues as we move forward into the games of 2016. Games like Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire, Night in the Woods, and Oxenfree.
As far as personal picks go, I’ll keep it short. Bloodborne drew me into a horrifying and twisted world and I couldn’t help but delve deeper and deeper into it’s madness. Destiny: The Taken King showed me the power of a narrative that runs tangent to a game’s lifespan, and took me on one of the most exhilarating and engrossing raids of my life. Like most, Undertale made me cry and laugh simultaneously, but more importantly, it made me think profoundly about myself and the things I was doing in the real world. Dota 2 will always make me cry, but for different reasons. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt took me to another world, and sang countless stories of monsters, heroes, and everything in between. Titan’s Souls brought me solace in the space between loneliness, terror, and quick thinking. And even though it didn’t come out anywhere near this year, I ended up finally completing Myst this year. A relic of my childhood, revisited and restored. So that’s about it for my perception of 2015 in terms of games. Sorry I wasn’t around for too much of it, but rest assured I wasn’t idle during that time. Best wishes to you all in the new year. I hope to see you all around and, as always, good gaming!