The State of Video Games in 2013

Booker and Elizabeth

Booker and Elizabeth

No, I’m not talking about Cards Against Humanity, but video games. How have the games of 2013 rocked our world. Ten years from now, will any of the titles still be as revered as games like Goldeneye or the original Halo? Are any of the games released this year going to leave a major impression on either the gamers or the gaming industry on a whole? I know I couldn’t tell you because I don’t yet own the time machine that I’ve been mocking up. I can however, tell you that I can already see the impressions this year has left on gaming.

Strong Females

Lara Croft

Lara Croft

Strong Female characters have really surged this year and for the better. Early in the year, we received the reboot of Tomb Raider. Rather than focusing on her boobs like prior versions in the franchise, this game focused on the story. Thankfully, they didn’t just take a male storyline and slap Lara in it’s place. Instead, we got to see a female point of view. it is a nice change of pace as most games currently tend to either cater to men by utilizing a male perspective or go gender neutral. Having a female not just as someone strong and capable, but also as the protagonist could have been a bold move on the part of the studio, but it’s paid off. Tomb Raider was well received and I’d be surprised if we don’t see a sequel that follows along a similar vein.

Lara Croft wasn’t the other female in big games making an impact in a positive way. We also had Ellie from The Last of Us and Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite. Both females were behind their male protagonist, but in both cases they stepped away from the purely helpless female. in both cases, the women stepped in to help. Though admittedly Ellie seems like the bolder and stronger of the two women, while Elizabeth came off as a bit sheltered. Regardless of their degree of capability, their presence in the games was a welcome change in the portrayal of women in games. We got a closer look into them, while reinforcing that women don’t always need to be protected like some games portray.

Storytelling is Key

Ellie and Joel

Ellie defends Joel

The story told within a game has always been important. However, this year seemed to reinforce just how important and how intense a story could be when done well. Many games are subject to having a cohesive story that will allow for the various gameplay scenarios that have been imagined. Some games, particularly this year, have rose above the call to just be a cohesive and substantial story. The stories in games are now becoming the compelling notion that will draw people in. If you look at many sites game of the year lists, either the games are some technological stroke of brilliance by the way they utilize controls and engage an audience, or they possess stories that are magnificent.

Again, I mention The Last of Us which is the most compelling post apocalyptic games I’ve ever played. We are drawn into the world that was created by Naughty Dog. We move through the story wanting to know what is next. The gameplay facilitates this. Rather than shoot, shoot, shoot, watch a cutscene that explains everything about the story you’re supposed to know thus far, The Last of Us, manages to weave the story throughout and not just in cutscenes. Similar to last years The Walking Dead: Season 1 by Telltale, the story was the most important factor. The game was a vehicle to tell a story. I won’t get into games that took this idea too far, like Beyond: Two Souls. Ultimately 2013 was a year in which the story was just as important as the gameplay. I’ll champion this all day because it brings a new weight to the arena of video games to become more than mere entertainment, but riveting stories.

Side note: I know I never mentioned GTA 5. It was a marvel that can’t be denied, but I’ve never been able to get into it.

What stood out to you in video games for this year? Any games that left an impression on you? Did you notice any recurring themes? What do you think were the best games of 2013?

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