Y’all we made it. I don’t know how. I’m still taking it all in, but we managed to make it out of 2014 with most of our wits about us. The wits that we lost, we’re probably better off without them. Oh, hey, yeah -- I’m writing for you to read this. I know, it’s been a while and I’ve been all productive outside of my video game writing, but we can catch up later.
Right now I’m just going through my tweets, cellphone photos and friends writings and reminding myself of the beautiful mess that was 2014.
So without further ado, let’s get the easy mac’n cheesy out of the way.
2014’s “Best Game I’ve Played While Hiding My Flaws In The Bathroom” Award:
Winner: Desert Golfing
Runners Up: Hitman Go, Threes, Dino Hunter: Deadly Shores
Hey remember when Isaiah said he was gonna publish his games writing for others to read and then didn’t because f**k that? Yeah, I do too. As a result, I’ve played a lot of smaller games and taken notes for myself to remember why I really think games are special. Special, but -- you know, just not special enough to share with y’all in some long form writing diatribe.
Desert Golfing is exactly the game you need to get you through a night where things aren’t going too well. It teeters on the edge of reminding you just how much time you’re potentially wasting escaping to a world of bleeps and bloops. But Desert Golfing also has these little nuggets of surprise, err, umm -- nuggets of something. And these nuggets play with the player. “Did I just see a cactus? Wait, where did it go?”
I like it when games do more with less. Creating constraints, then pushing their vision to the borders of the holding pen. Unfortunately, more games are surprising players by doing less with more. Large budgets that result in several weeks of critical bug fixes. Get it together games. Justin Smith, I salute you and look forward to the next game you put a cactus in.
2014’s “Why Are You Still Playing This S**t Isaiah, Seriously, Why?” Award:
Winner: Tekken Revolution
Runner Ups: KOF XIII, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Demon’s Souls
My 2014 proved to be some combination of depression and angst with games. Anytime I tried picking up a controller to play something out of my daily norm, there was a wall. I went through a similar form of ‘game depression’ back in 2001, it lasted for about seven years. It revolved around me playing 4 fighting games concurrently. I played them competitively, so there’s a little feather in my cap. But I hated the idea that I had to start over with something new. Sheesh, says a lot about me.
Tekken Revolution, as someone who competitively played every Tekken between Tekken 2 to Tekken 5 -- this game is not a good game. The invincible “red” moves break the game. The online is spotty and drops most bouts after five matches. Also it’s free-to-play which means a large portion of the game is centered around grinding to make your character more broken. This results in playing against people who have potentially spent money so they can kill you in seven hits.
It’s just a darn shame I’ve had so much fun with it. “How much fun have you had with Tekken Revolution Isaiah?” Goodness I thought you’d never ask. The game is sectioned off in daily sign-ins. And I’d say a normal session is about an hour for me. I have about 285 daily sign ins total. So, yeah. I’ve probably clocked over 285 hours in this free to play game I’ve spent, maybe $5 dollars on. No, please, I know I’m like the coolest person in your eyes right now. Don’t bother telling me how cool you think I am, because I already know.
2014’s “S**t. White People Have Discovered Us Here Too? Dammit.” Award
Runners Up: The Back Of The Club, Cosplay Conventions, College Campuses
It really sucked seeing my friends get harassed for, just about as long as I’ve been on Twitter. And this will be covered later, because I’m still mad at my friends for trying to start a damn “Let’s Go Back To Facebook” movement. Y’all, Facebook is the Florida of social media. Only thing on facebook is an even more closed network of folks that really wanna give you their two cents on Obama’s birth certificate, or whatever. Oh, and your exes.
Let’s not mince words here, men’s rights activist, gamers, redditors, youtube commenters and every slice of filth within these circles decided to learn how to use twitter this year. A couple of the leptons called their movement “Gamergate” but these anti-history buffs couldn’t manage to change their avi’s to an actual image of themselves much less string together a tweet that didn’t center on co-opting black struggle and harassing women. Couple this with misguided women and people of color signing up for this aimless bowel movement, only for white figureheads [Milo, Mike, Total Biscuit] to use them as the, “how can this movement be racist or misogynistic? Some of our favorite gaters are black.” Yet they still tweet. And yet, I still live.
They always existed in some form. They always will. I bounced back and forth between giving them attention, and just pointing and laughing around their incredibly harmful and toxic conversations. They disturbed conversations that were already happening and now we have to wait until these babies stop shouting so that we can continue on with the great work and great talks we were having prior to us smelling their sh**ty diapers.
Well I ain’t waiting Gamergate. You do you. I’ll be over here not giving a f**k about your ethics.
2014’s “Best Thing About Social Media” Award:
Winner: Black Women Existing And Flourishing
Runners Up: Pictures of food, “Doing it for the Vine,” NSFW Third Shift Twitter
My biggest sticking point of social media, specifically Twitter. I see a great deal of folks disturbed with seeing vocalized anger. Especially when this supposed anger is coming from voices they weren’t privy to prior to the invention of the internet. Its also been made clear to me, given the current protest movements against police brutality, that merely speaking bluntly as black person auto-magically makes you a rage-filled demon beast.
Doesn’t seem to occur to twitter users that they not opted-in to following us and now want us to speak in a softer tone. Tuh. Even I have to kick myself for not championing the voices of black women and indigenous women prior to this crude tool called Twitter. I wanna give a quick thank you and shout out to the following: Janice Taylor [Mom], Zahira Kelly, Cherell Brown, Carmen Perez, Lauren Chief Elk, Jamilah Lemieux, Mikki Kendall, Trudy, Feminista Jones -- goodness. I’m missing people. I love you all and thank you for going upside my head a few times.
I hate it when people in games culture try and tie things back to something ‘gaming related’ in their writing -- but I’m doing that. Because of black women’s voices growing stronger and louder -- its made me look at my time spent in games writing. It’s made me reassess the folks I boost and where I’ve come up short. So I wanna give a huge shout out to: Latoya Peterson, Gita Jackson, Mattie Brice, AngryFanGirl, Monique Mendoza, Aaminah Khan, Sarah The Rebel, Soha, Dina -- goodness am I forgetting someone? I know I am. Please feel free to punch me in the face to remind me of your impact.
Your voices are valuable. Incredibly valuable to me. Not every day was a sunny day. Somedays I got annoyed seeing your problems -- and I’m sorry. I needed to learn how to step away -- and I did. I’m sure some days y’all got tired of me butting into your convos and posting vines of monkey’s peeing in their own mouths, or something of that nature. I’m still growing and I know you’re not responsible for that -- but damn did you help me get this far.
2014’s “Game I Can’t Wait To Play In 2015” Award:
Runners Up: Terror Aboard The Speedwell, Zeno Clash 2, Remember Me
It’s so hard to get this laptop to do anything that isn’t typing-related. But after a year with it I’m finally ready to use this low-end laptop to experience some high end art of all forms [I’m even installing Photoshop as I type this -- I am also drinking whiskey as I type this]. Looking forward to playing TJ Thomas’s Joylancer. I’d only seen screens of it and have managed to avoid all video of the game running so this is one of the few games that can only surprise me in the future.
There are a few games stacked next to my table that I have to get to. One of which is Dark Souls, but I’m not emotionally ready to hop back into a Zdzisław Beksiński nightmare just yet. And with itch.io making waves, these next few months I might actually be too busy pressing buttons than to write.
Drop me a line if you’ve got any recommendations. After listening to the podcasts and reading the articles of major outlets, it was quite telling. Seeing “Game of the Year” lists from outlets that employ voices with the hopes of having a varied and wide perspective just didn’t do it for me. A lot of lists in recent years fought to have big budget games that did too much and resulted in doing too little. This year in particular we saw indie games finally be referred as -- plain old games. Partnered side-by-side with huge blockbusters that “kinda sorta” worked out of the box.
Be that as it may, if you know of any games, of any size that do what they do, well -- hit me up. I’m here for it.
2014’s “People Of Privilege Say The Zaniest Things” Award
Winner: Owen Good
Runners Up: Just About Anything Said By Dan Rykert, Just About Anything Said By Helen Lewis
I’ve often said the good and bad that comes with being a black person, especially in games culture, is that when you angrily shout -- nobody hears you. So no matter how crude, or frustrated I may be with the representation of non-white, straight, cis men in games -- nobody can hear me. Or nobody wants to hear me. This year we saw a lot of social issues ‘bubble to the top’ of the minds of folks hired to write about what they love. A love shared in many ways by us all.
When people are protesting about their representation, their very existence, in media -- from CNN to IGN it helps to see writers in positions of power boost our voices. It helps that they hire us. It helps that they merely acknowledge our lives. When that doesn’t happen. When there is silence. It hurts. Worse even is when pressure is applied by the very people they want to read their work and they respond in a manner that reveals their true feelings.
Owen Good did that. Owen Good is still employed and has fans and I wish him well. But outbursts like the one seen above, centered on a movement that zeroed in on harassment of marginalized people -- Owen decided to hurt, rather than help. Twitter ain’t for everybody. And if you have issues talking about social issues, isn’t that more of a reason why we need to have these conversations -- in public -- for all to see?
We can do better in 2015.
2014’s “Best Dance To Keep Love In Your Heart And Music In Your Ears” Award:
Winner: New Style Hustle
Runners Up: Rockin’, Breakin’, Waackin’
Since my January 4th trip to New York in 2014, everyday I’ve been practicing New Style Hustle. I figured writing about video games, bboying, rock dancing and running wasn’t enough on my plate. So this little dance is something I’ve been working hard at, and I love it so much. I love how it feels to show someone a move and then they show it someone else. Or when you think you got one move down, but your partner shows you what that move can turn into? Goodness.
Considering I’ve spent a large portion of my life being afraid of people, partner dancing is something I would have never guessed I’d be into -- let alone moderately decent at doing. Also, I’ve spent almost 15 years doing dances that were all solo expressions. It’s been quite the learning experience and I can’t wait to learn more!