Oct-Nov Roundup – ‘Game Changers’

Every few years, an event hits the gameosphere, forever changing the landscape. In November, we had one such event. That’s right folks: a new Mario game! Oh, and a couple of new boxes as well.

Generations come and go, but the distinctions aren’t as clear as the companies selling consoles like to make out. I got a message from my brother yesterday that he’s just bought a PS3. Think of all the great games he has left to play from the ‘last’ generation! If you missed out on an Xbox 360, PS3 or Wii, now’s the perfect time to get one and check out what you missed. Still, the industry will move on whether we like it or not.

Our latest Blogs of the Round Table topic was “Game Changers”:

Some games are great because they are technically excellent; others because they change the way we play games; others because they change the world around us.

You have been commissioned to choose a videogame for an upcoming museum exhibit. You can choose any game released from November 2005 until the present day, on any hardware. Choose the most important game, or just pick your favourite. What’s your Game Changer?

Figure Arcade totally cheated and picked multiple games, but at least they threw some curve balls like Lugaru and Far Cry 2 among more obvious choices. A particularly interesting choice is Shadow of the Colossus, the PS2’s first-party swansong, which doesn’t seem to have changed the world as much as we thought it would.

Corey Milne chooses Dark Souls, and I doubt he’s the only one: it tends to inspire devotion amongst those who have played it. For the rest of us, it’s just lurking in the Pile of Shame. Corey’s submission also has the most disturbing Crash Bandicoot gif I’ve ever seen.

Erik Bigras at Higher Level Gamer picks Starflight, a game from… 1986? Oh come on folks, that’s as old as me! Still, this is an interesting look at a game which has influence even in present-day titles like Mass Effect, but doesn’t have the ‘safety’ of invincible NPCs and unavoidable story. To some extent, this generation was the era of the sandbox game, but games like Starflight managed free-form play within a massive universe long before that.

Also at Higher Level Gamer (I like these folks – add them to your RSS feed!), Gaines Hubbell doesn’t think this generation produced a game changer, but Mass Effect 3 comes close. Personally, I’d choose Mass Effect 2 over the final instalment – the fight between ME2 and Bayonetta in my heart will never end – but the third game is definitely 90% awesome. The line “it’s not the future of games, but you can see it from there” is an interesting one: who can say where the past ends and the future begins, after all?

Nick Hanford talks about the mythical Citizen Kane of Videogames, and as always when this conversation crops up, I’ve got three words for you: Super Mario Bros. Nick’s argument is that the discourse around the CKoVG actually eclipses the impact of any games themselves. I think we’re having an adolescent identity crisis: mainstream games are sulking in the bathroom, getting introspective, unsure of what they want to be when they grow up.

As for me? I chose Rapture.

Craig Lager’s perception of every other game has been changed by Dark Souls. I think that’s where the Dark Souls obsession stems from: not just the excellence of the game, but because of its impact on games you used to love. That’s practically the definition of a game changer, isn’t it?

Last but not least, Pete Haas chose to kill off Kaiden Alenko Who didn’t? He was rubbish. Mass Effect’s triumph was that your actions had consequences in subsequent games: in a medium where decisions can be erased by random data loss, they have to migrate beyond the game they originate in to have that kind of an effect. Of course, Mass Effect 3’s ultimate failure was to remove the player’s volition, to fail to live up to our lofty expectations.

Alright, so it’s time to choose a winner. As it received the most nods, the ‘official’ Game Changer is Dark Souls, with an honourable mention to the Mass Effect trilogy. Solid choices all round folks. I’m so proud of you for not picking Farmville. Unless all the other eligible voters were too busy playing Farmville to write a blog.

Thanks for a great year of writing, everyone! It has been a pleasure to read. Remember that we value your feedback: if you’ve got an idea for BoRT that would make it even better, drop us an email.

Blogs of the Round Table will return in January 2014.