And the winner is…

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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24 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    This opens the door for Kinect games as well. The Gunstringer and the Dance Centrals foremost among them.Report

  2. Ian M. says:

    gamertag: Bookninja

    Backlog recommendations: Alan Wake, Fable 2, Super Meat Boy, Shadow Complex, Mass Effect, Bioshock, Gears of War 2+, Assassin’s Creed 2+, Batman Arkham Asylum/City


  3. Jaybird says:

    If it’s primarily job-related (reviews!) it’s tax-deductible. Save the receipt!Report

  4. E.C. Gach says:

    Great to hear Erik. 

    I only just got my X360 last summer, So I’ve been catching up with all the RPG franchises, most notably Mass Effect and Fable. 

    I just beat the first Mass Effect last October and it blew my mind.  I also picked up Fable II because it was $4.99 used and is apparently still better than the third.

    Alas, unless your a hardcore bro-shooter fan, I wouldn’t rush to Gears of War.  Coming to the series fresh I was entirely underwhelmed.  The hardest thing about maintaining one’s love of video games despite growing up is dealing with some of the horrible writing that persists.  Especially for anyone who’s knee deep in the movie/television scene, or fantasy/sci-fi books like yourself, you start to wonder why if the dev studio is spending tens of millions to put out this title, they couldn’t afford to pay one or two B+ list writers to put out/tell a good story.

    Bioshock remains distressingly exceptional.Report

    • Pyre in reply to E.C. Gach says:

      The problem with that notion is that writing a novel and writing a game don’t have a lot to do with each other.  In fact, a lot of game companies make a rough outline, design all the set pieces, then tell the writer to write the story around what they’ve made.  Even when that’s not the case…..well, look at Gears 3.  They hired Karen Traviss to write the third one and it is easily the weakest one in terms of story and character development.

      (That also works in reverse.  Chris Roberts, the guy who created the Wing Commander Universe, was also behind the Wing Commander movie which was……disappointing.)Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Pyre says:

        Matthew Lillard, Freddie Prinze Jr, Saffron Burrows, *AND* Jurgen Prochnow???


      • E.C. Gach in reply to Pyre says:

        Plenty of movies are built around great looking set pieces as well, and yet many more appear to have found a way to marry the two.Report

        • dhex in reply to E.C. Gach says:

          i find it a bit hard to reconcile these two statements:

          I just beat the first Mass Effect last October and it blew my mind. 

          The hardest thing about maintaining one’s love of video games despite growing up is dealing with some of the horrible writing that persists. 


          bioware and good writing are kinda at odds. maybe not an eternal struggle, but definitely a pretty serious smoldering resentment kinda deal.

          even planescape torment – aka the most well written game of all time – is kinda ehhh. it’s a good ehh, but good for what it is. which is good, mind you, butReport

          • Jaybird in reply to dhex says:

            I still find Infocom (specifically Zork) to have the best written games of all time.

            The universe was created before the puzzles.

            When you can solve puzzles without knowing that they are puzzles because you think the way the creators think? Now that’s good writing.

            After Zork 2, I think we had to wait until Wasteland for writing of that quality again… and from Wasteland we had to hibernate until Fallout came out if we wanted to survive the winter without writing.Report

    • Kim in reply to E.C. Gach says:

      Sometime they got Niven on something… and Adams wrote his own videogame.

      Thing is? theyc an’t afford jack, now that the prietty pictures costs so much. Because what you need to afford is gameplay, interactivity — and that’s not what writers do.Report

      • E.C. Gach in reply to Kim says:

        That pretty pictures, in contrast with a handful of poor writers, cost so much more is precisely why they should be able to afford better writing.Report

    • wardsmith in reply to E.C. Gach says:

      EC, you do realize the video game industry now dwarfs the movie and music industries combined? It also surpasses the book industry by a comfortable margin or soon will. My son worked at Microsoft on the Kinect at their beautiful Studio campus. He was very disappointed with management’s willingness to break their (self-imposed) mold. That’s why he’s at Google now, but completely away from gaming development.

      Someone will crack this nut eventually, I just don’t expect it to ever be Microsoft. They’ll do what they always do, sit around and wait for someone else to do something innovative and try to steal it if they can, and buy it if they must.Report

      • E.C. Gach in reply to wardsmith says:

        Break the mold of…good video game story telling?

        Plenty of developers have, if it were injected into a game with polished mechanics and a beautiful exterior (Gears 3) I can’t imagine it would hurt them.Report

        • wardsmith in reply to E.C. Gach says:

          Arrgh meant to say unwillingness. Without giving away too much of what might be considered proprietary, Microsoft is very formulaic about these things and decidedly unimaginative if you get my drift. Their best products you’re familiar with were never developed /by them/ but purchased from others. Sometimes those purchases include stringent non-disclosure agreements so to the outside world it appears to have been self-developed.Report

  5. Morat20 says:

    For family fun — Lego Star Wars, the Complete Series, Lego Batman and Lego Pirates of the Carribean are all good. Lego Indiana Jones is nice, but defintely the weak game of the series — badly designed jumping puzzles and erratic difficulty make parts of it frustrating and annoying.

    Still, they’re all good games with a lot of humor. Rock Band is worth the accessories if you’re a music fan (although you can spend tons of extra songs!).

    For RPGs — Mass Effect 1 and 2, Dragon Age Origins (have yet to play DA2) are all good — I hear solid things about Fallout: New Vegas (I’m still poking at Fallout 3).

    Their arcade and Live stuff is pretty good — I picked up a copy of Jade Empire (an older Bioware game) that way, and of course things like Puzzle Quest and Plants versus Zombies….

    Carcassone is a fun little game too.Report

  6. Ian M. says:

    Oh, and check out 2011’s game of the year – Saint’s Row the Third. That wasn’t my ironic voice.Report