The Year In Review

The Year In Review
The Year of the Turtle

Dave Thomas | 27 Dec 2005 07:04
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Dear Videogame Industry:
Don't look at me. It's not my problem. I wasn't the one who spewed out product all year and bragged about how great the future would be. It wasn't me who promised immersion and delight and mind blowing experiences that would put whatever Brad and Angelina do in a hotel room to shame. And it's sure not my job to try and pull it all together now - make some sense out of the chaos, say what it means and make it fit into a shiny tale of how games will walk the earth like gods among men.

What? It's not your fault, either? You were too busy dealing with production budgets blowing through the roof and work weeks that make speed freak Gulf War fighter jet pilots gulp with sympathy? You had to keep your eye on the bouncing ball, as your fans bleated about innovation and then flocked to the latest sequels? They complained about licenses and exclusivity and then knocked each other over to buy Madden?

And, I'll admit, those politicians certainly haven't helped. They want to ban games they've never played and waste time passing laws that judges laugh out of legal existence, even while the newspapers try to capture the story by suggesting to the world your little development team is really peddling some sort of interactive smut. Sure, you've had a hell of a year. But what am I supposed to do about it?

I mean, it's not like I can just say, "Videogames in 2005 were like a year of school lunches - lots of variety, some surprises and way too many corn dogs." Sure, the Xbox 360 launched. But it's not like Will Wright shipped Spore.

But I guess that's why you're asking me to bring it all together.

Alright already. If you'll stop crying, I'll do it. But this is the last time. Next year, you better get your act together. Next year, you guys make the year make sense, yourselves. This is the last time.

The Year of Living Extraneously
According to the Chinese calendar, we are finishing up the year of the rooster and heading into the year of the dog. This may mean something to someone, somewhere, although what that might be certainly escapes me. Still, I like the idea enough to suggest that for games, 2005 was the year of the vole, or maybe the box turtle.

Now, I am of the opinion that we should take Chinese things seriously because a) They have 10,000 year-old culture; and b) I'm pretty sure they made all of my clothes and most of the parts in my computer. To me, this translates into some form of cultural wisdom I'd like to tap into. Also, there's this other thing I've noticed: They have their own calendar and their own New Year. This is something I think the videogame industry should seriously consider, because as far as I can tell, we only pretend to follow the old January 1st to December 31st routine in the first place.

Sort of like Jewish families setting up Christmas trees just because everyone else does, gaming journalists trot out end of the year roundups and best-of's and sagely nodding retrospectives while they know good and well that gaming's New Year's happens in May. The Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles is what marks the birth/death cycle of the gaming year, and its New Year's bash is always the Sony Party.

Like those booze-soaked New Year's most people celebrate at their local Quality Inn, the gaming world celebrates the new gaming year by loading up on drinks and making big promises about the upcoming year. Game people just do it in some parking lot in L.A., while a midget band dressed like KISS rocks out a few tunes.

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