We will soon have our own top 10 list of the best games of 2011 but until then I thought I would share some great lists and reads on the year that was 2011.
End of the Year Lists Worthy of Your Attention:
Kill Screen Magazine has a very solid list of the best of 2011 which contains contributions by some excellent game writers.
Wired Magazine’s 20 Best Games of 2011.
Destructoid talked to some leading game developers and asked them to share their favorite games of 2011.
Michael Rose of Gamasutra and IndieGames.com has listed his top 10 Indie Games of 2011.
For a look at what most gamers are buying, here is a list of the top grossing games for Xbox 360.
Here are three lists I contributed to:
Paste Magazine’s “The 20 Best Videogames of 2011″
Christ and Pop Culture’s “Our 10 Favorite Games of 2011″
Think Christian’s “Top 10: Videogames”
The Year in Hardware:
This year saw the release of some promising new hardware, the Nintendo 3DS. Personally, I am still holding out on the 3DS but Michael Abbot’s recent article on the system certainly tempted me.
The Year in Games Journalism:
One of my very favorite things to read at the end of each year is Slate’s Game Club–this year features some of my favorite game critics: Tom Bissel, Michael Abbot, Chris Suellentrop, and Charles Yu. Every entry is worthy of your time but I particularly enjoyed the entries on El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, Dark Souls, and on how Chris Suellentrop wrongly hoped that Portal 2 would turn his wife into a gamer.
Each year, Critical Distance lists their favorite articles from the year in video game blogging or TYIVGB. Their 2011 list is up and there are some excellent reads on the list. In hopes of narrowing it down for you, here are some of my favorite articles from the list:
I have yet to play Dark Souls, mostly because I am typically not a big fan of games that require lots of grinding. Brendan Keogh, however, has written an interesting article on how Dark Souls manages to infuse grinding with meaning such that it rarely feels burdensome.
I recently shared why L.A. Noire was my most disappointing game of 2011–here is the review by Kirk Hamilton that articulates my frustration better than I ever could. I know lots of people loved L.A. Noire, so for the sake of charity, here is much more positive spin on the game from Tom Bissel–he says LAN isn’t exactly a game in the traditional sense of the word but he loves it nonetheless.
Simon Ferrari and Tom Bissel wrote a series of back-and-forth letters on game criticism for Paste Magazine. They approach game criticism very differently and much can be gained from both of them.
Rich Clark wrote something of a response to Jane McGonigal’s popular book Reality is Broken in which he highlights how games can helpfully reveal our dark side.
Some More Personal Picks of Great Games Writing:
Gus Mastrapa on perhaps the most common mistake made in game reviews.
I chose to pass on Modern Warfare 3 for various reasons but Brendan Keogh wrote an excellent article about the game that illustrates why our criticisms against games often reveal we are playing them the wrong way.
The Final Fantasy VII Letters: Kirk Hamilton plays the game for the first time alongside long-time fan Leigh Alexander and the result is some excellent commentary on one of the greatest games ever made.
The Intersection of Faith and Games
This year perhaps more than any other, I have noticed more articles on the intersection of faith and videogames, here are some of my favorites:
“The Gods of Goo” by Rich Clark at Gamasutra.
“Gaming for God” by Tristan Donovan at Eurogamer.
“Having Faith in Your Games” by Stanley Lin at Game Spot.
“Christian Game Developers Want to Leave Bad Games Behind” by Owen Good at Kotaku.
“Turn the Other Cheek“, Britton Peele, writing for The Escapist explains how he squares being a Christian with playing violent games like Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto.
Finally, on a personal note, 2011 was something of a prolific year for me in terms of games writing, here are a handful of articles that I wrote for various outlets:
“Videogames and the Nature of God“, my take on El Shaddia: Ascension of the Metatron.
“When Games Tell the Truth” my take on Sony’s Long Live Play ad campaign.
“Skyrim and the Danger of Self-Serving Stories” this is a look at how “Christian” distaste for things like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim shows how evangelicals often misunderstand the concept of story and how that concept often unravels in the medium of videogames.
“Videogames, Bibles, and Beer” I interview our very own founder, Mikee Bridges about Game Church.