2015 is now officially the year that we are currently living in right now. How weird is that. With every passing year I get more and more terrified about the fact that I am living in the future, which is now the present. Goddammit. Time isn't a static thing? It's alive and continues to move forward? What the hell?
Anyway, I thought this might be as good a time as any to stop and evaluate the year that was. Was 2014 a good year for video games?
It's a difficult question to answer I think, which is why I'm keen to hear your viewpoint. Personally, I think 2014 was a terrible year for video game culture — for a number of reasons, but obviously one overwhelming reason. The game themselves? I think that's trickier. 2014 will not be remembered as a year like, say, 1998 when Half Life and Goldeneye were released. It's not a 2007 with BioShock, Call of Duty 4 and Super Mario Galaxy. It simply isn't one of those years.
It's not even a year like 2012, when well-polished 'indie' games like Journey became suddenly mainstream, important and relevant. I think 2014 will be remembered as a year when you genuinely had to search and move a little out of your comfort zone to find compelling interactive experiences. Strangely, when I think of 2014 I think of Desert Golf — a game that subverted just about every mobile gaming trope imaginable. Someone on Twitter — I can't remember who — said that Desert Golfing was "punk as fuck" and I agree with that wholeheartedly.
I'd also argue that, in its own way Alien: Isolation was "punk as fuck". It was brave and subversive in its own way, and in an environment where the stakes were way, way higher. More money, more expectation — the video game future of a billion dollar franchise was essentially at stake. The fact that a game like Alien: Isolation evolved from that figurative melting pot is a minor miracle.
But when I think of 2014 I also think of P.T. — probably the most genuinely unsettling interactive experience I've ever had in a video game. Familiar, dissociating, bewildering. P.T. was just phenomenally otherworldly in the way it messed with video game logic and messed around with the idea of a core 'loop'. Making that loop a visual space was an absolute masterstroke. I'll never forget that video game as long as I live.
2014 was the year where you had to search for those experiences. It was a year when the best games felt buried and staying in your comfort zone was not advisable. If you stuck with the staples — the Assassin's Creeds, the Call of Duties — you might have found yourself a little disappointed in 2014, but solace could be found where you least expected it.
That's how I saw it at least — how was 2014 for you?