I read a lot of stuff about video games. My general impression is that games journalism is getting better but also kind of worse. Danny O'Dwyer articulates that idea better than I can. The problem boils down to the kind of headlines and articles outlets have to write to get the clicks they need to keep advertising dollars.
On the other hand the amount of fascinating, in-depth, thoughtful games media I've seen this past year has been huge. I want other people to see it too. I don't want them to have to wade through a bunch of ads or clickbait headlines or sponsored content. I'm hoping to highlight this kind of stuff every week, but I'll start with the best video game writing I read in 2016.
A Behind-The-Scenes Look at the Best Mission in ‘Titanfall 2’
Yes, this is a breakdown of that level in Titanfall 2. I'll repeat the article's warning: spoilers. Patrick Klepek interviews Respawn lead designer Jack Keaton and finds out the inspiration behind the level and exactly how it was made.
Making a Big Budget Video Game Is Riskier and Harder Than Ever. So Why Do It?
The Motherboard team gets "unprecedented access" to the Gears of War 4 development team. There is some really great insight into debugging a game with the biggest of budgets, including my favorite quote:
"If you play the game like an asshole there’s not much we can do."
Video Games Are Boring
This article got a lot of attention when it was first published. I admit I initially dismissed it as the title looked like the typical contrarian opinion for the sake of clicks. The piece itself offers a fresh perspective from a developer who sought to find out why her friends just don't like games.
It's Time to Talk About Labor in the Games Industry
I had multiple great pieces about labor in the games industry to choose from this year. Most of them can be summed up thusly: it sucks. I picked this one because of its call to action. Ian Williams has written and continues to write about how hard the industry is (but doesn't have to be) on the people who make the games we love.
Why Throwing in VR Sucks--and How to Make it Better
I have watched hours of people doing all the stupid, crazy, nauseating things virtual reality allowed in 2016. One thing I've learned is that the first thing you want to do in VR is chuck something nonchalantly across a room. Charlie Deck talks about how that could be better. There is some physics talk but don't worry, it's broken up by a lot of sweet GIFs.