A Year of Disruption

We haven’t been very cavalier about publishing stuff this year at Silicon Sasquatch, but there’s one tradition we’d never pass up: the annual Game of the Year feature. Spanning multiple meetings and hours of discussion, it’s a lengthy and often draining process – but it’s also a very gratifying one. I never thought much about why I enjoyed it so much until recently. The answer probably seemed too obvious to consider: we like games, it’s fun to talk about the stuff you like, Q.E.D. But after going through the process for a few years, I think there’s an even more specific appeal – the opportunity to define a milestone in gaming.

We’re not particularly gifted at defining trends any more than the next group of geeks[1], but I think there’s a value in getting a group of like-minded people together to try to dissect what it is about this stuff that appeals to us. If a game stands out to us in the context of everything else that came out this year, why is that? What are its distinct qualities? And why didn’t other games like it resonate as well with us?

I think the reason these questions are stuck in my head lately is that I’m looking at a really non-traditional shortlist of nominees to contribute to the discussion. We’ll see how the discussion shakes out once everyone’s voices have been heard, but I don’t think it’s presumptive to say we might see two games in the top ten that were built in GameMaker, an inexpensive and accessible game development tool.

The games industry is in a strange place right now. Consoles have been showing their age for years, Steam is reinventing itself year-over-year and iOS and Android developers have continued to cultivate distinctive and engrossing experiences. The traditional games ecosystem that existed almost without change for twenty-plus years has indisputably been disrupted.

I don’t know if anyone else on this blog agrees with me, but I suspect I’m not the only one who’s noticed a sea change in how I play games – and more specifically, in the origins and distribution channels behind the games I like the most. I expect that’ll be a major theme in how we look back on 2012 in the greater context of gaming history.

  1. Wait, no. I’m pretty sure a plurality of geeks is a “gaggle.”  ↩