I'm not big on absolutes, so my brain hates trying to determine 'favourites'. So, no 'Cha's Game of the Year', just a bunch of interesting games that were part of my year (including some older stuff). In alphabetical order:
The hardest games to discuss are probably those that are good but not great. I recently finished Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and yeah, it was okay.
It's tempting to stop there, but 'meh' is a very inadequate reaction to a game with so much good in it. My lukewarm core reaction is honest but misleading.
There are definite high points to Enslaved, starting with the power dynamics between Trip and Monkey. Control swaps back and forth at various points, complicating the master-slave relationship. How happy they are in those roles also varies. Although Trip's vulnerability is over-emphasised at times, I still found it a relatively well-handled, deliciously ill-defined relationship.
The Border House recently posted a piece about the insults players of Facebook games are subjected to. I don't play games on Facebook myself (well, I clicked my cow a couple of times before forgetting about it, if that counts), but I appreciated the sentiment. I don't like it when people are judgemental about the recreational choices of others. Or, when all Facebook gamers are lumped in with the ones who neglected to feed their children (clearly a bit more going on there than just FarmVille).
After people who play Facebook games, the most maligned gamers are probably World of Warcraft players. Although "Go and play a real instrument!" must be up there somewhere, too.
I stopped playing World of Warcraft years ago, and always feel a bit strange when I hear about it now. On a more emotional day I end up shaking my head in disbelief. What do you mean they are killing off my chieftain? And they are trying to make the game easier? Just how stupid do they want their player base to be, anyway?
And then I remember something important. So, story time then, in which I am partially an old tauren woman sitting by the campfire and talking about the past to anyone who will listen.
Back in my day I had to walk ten miles through the raid dungeon, and then run a damage simulation programme just to work out my gear upgrades. In some ways, I wish I were joking about running statistical simulations -- it honestly got to the point where it was the only way to work out if I wanted any particular loot drop.
Labeling a blog post 'Part 1' was really asking for trouble. My brain likes to rebel at anything resembling an obligation. I've also had a bit of time to reflect on writing, and I get frustrated at how much time it takes to get better. I want to write faster, more playfully and prettier. And while we're at it, I'll have a dancing pony, thanks.
In the end I settle down and just get on with things again.
So, in Part 1 of my unstructured play journey I wrote about bringing a little bit of unstructured play to many things I do, including highly structured computer games. It's taken me a while to work out how important that is, and to stop fighting myself about it.
There is a second journey to explore, as I search for how games explore and facilitate unstructured play in a more deliberate way.