What 2013 Meant to Me

A retrospective of 2013 and my personal game of the year.

Ever since I joined this site, my appreciation for the video games medium have grown. I used to take games for granted, not realizing the detailed artisanship it takes to create such pieces of entertainment. It is for this reason that I create a blog post as this every year, which celebrates the gaming mementos of the past dozen months, months that have shaped the gamer I am today. Today, I celebrate what made 2013 so great for me in the world of video games.

I will remember 2013 for…

Narratives in Video Games

Last year, the biggest thing I learned was to not to be afraid to go out of my comfort zone and try something new. This year, I found that I really appreciate games that tell stories. I am not speaking about just any story, but rather stories that contain some sort of deeper meaning, a meaning that creates an emotional connection between the game and the player. This should not come as a shock to those who have been following me for the past year or so; I have written on the subject of video game narratives not once, not twice, not three times, nor four – indeed, it is a topic of which I have written about five times this year, one of which was a research paper for my computer games and society course at university. My experiences with games as To the Moon, The Walking Dead, and Mass Effect have made me realize that narrative does matter in the medium of video games and that it is something we should appreciate far more than we do now.

Mass Effect Trilogy

I know I mentioned this game in the above category, but I feel the Mass Effect Trilogy deserves its own dedicated section on this blog. The first two being some of the first games I have played this year, the series jump-started my curiosity towards the storytelling elements in video games, and made me marvel at the living, breathing universe constructed by games like those. Sometime down the line, I picked up Mass Effect 3: Special Edition on the Wii U, the first console shooter I had purchased since Call of Duty 4 on the PlayStation 2. Though I far prefer a mouse and keyboard when it comes to these types of games, the Mass Effect 3 is still my favorite in the series (despite its controversial ending, which I quite enjoyed), rounding off the best trilogy of games I have ever played. And while none of the three games made it to the top 25 list I created earlier this year, the trilogy as a whole easily fits into my top 10 games of all time.

Saint’s Row: The Third

Going into this game, I did not expect it to become one of my favorite games of all time. I had originally purchased this title from a Humble Bundle, mostly because I had heard good things about it, despite not playing an open-world style game in years. On the day before I left for college, I decided to call up one of my closest friends and try out Saint’s Row: The Third myself. Eight hours later, I was absolutely out of breath laughing, finally calling it quits at three in the morning, wondering to myself if I could have ever wanted to spend my last day at home any other way. Well, I could not. The first eight hours of Saint’s Row: The Third was among some of the best times I have ever had with a video game, and yes, it did indeed make it to my list of favorite games of all time.

The Nintendo 3DS

If there was one console I appreciated the most this year, it was my Nintendo 3DS. It is no secret to anyone that Nintendo’s handheld system had a record-breaking year, with hit after hit coming out on the platform practically every month. I personally have expanded my collection with games such as Fire Emblem: Awakening, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and, currently, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. More importantly, however, is the way the 3DS played a role in my newfound college life; as a portable platform, it was the perfect console to play on the go, and given most university students have a 3DS now, it also made me realize just how amazing Streetpass is.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

There is one title, however, that stood out amongst the rest of my 3DS library, and that is Animal Crossing: New Leaf. I purchased it solely because I needed something to play over the summer, and Animal Crossing fit the bill perfectly. I sunk dozens and dozens of hours into that game, enjoying all it had to offer, marveling at the ingeniousness that is the game’s core design. I did not expect it to be so engrossed in yet another Animal Crossing game so quickly, but New Leaf proved me wrong, which is why for the longest time I was sure it was destined to be my game of the year.

My Game of the Year: Antichamber

Then Autumn Sale showed up on Steam, and I was able to get Antichamber on the cheap. The indie title had always intrigued me, but I never really knew what it was about, nor did I ever get a chance to pick it up thanks to my ever-increasing backlog of games. Moreover, the game itself is quite obtuse, so much so that I felt it too convoluted for its own good. Indeed, for the first hour or so, I felt like I was playing against some sort of conceited robot constantly trying to remind me how “brilliant” it is, never mind the fact that it is a freaking robot and I could not care less. Nevertheless, after pushing through that initial hour, the game began to shape itself and the pieces began to fall together. Before I knew it, I was in love with how the game teased you with its puzzles, offering just the subtlest of hints to help you on your way. Struggling through Antichamber was half the fun, and the other half was pure satisfaction.

The 50 Plus Other Games I Played

Then there were the other fifty or so games I have played and rated this year. That is… quite a lot of games – almost one a week! To give you some more perspective, the total number of games I have played is only 159. Yes, about a third of all the games I have played in my lifetime, I played in the last twelve months.

Many great games have been played this year indeed. Happy new year everybody! What will you remember 2013 for? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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