The 2016 Short List
If you detect a sort of zeitgeisty je ne sais quois in Wolinsky’s interviews, just look to the name of their series. Don’t Die is at once elegiac and beseechingly hopeful—making it a perfect read for the year that was 2016.
See: Don’t Die
Caldwell’s Ridealong series calls to mind those plucky reporters who, every year, have the task of interviewing a Triple Crown jockey from the back of a moving horse. His prose is jostled and bumped organically as he pursues his subjects across their digital haunts, a stranger in strange virtual lands.
See: Ridealong – Stalking a Wounded Deer with the Hunter
Yin-Poole’s colossal feature on the demise of Lionhead Studios was one of the definitive longreads of the year. That he found time to write it, tucked in between the beats of his high-tempo reportage is perhaps another story itself.
See: Lionhead: The Inside Story
Aevee Bee’s writing floats and stings like the proverbial butterfly and, well, bee. The founder of zine darling ZEAL dances and weaves whole paragraphs at the tip of the fingers, before suddenly pivoting and delivering a sentence that floors you.
See: Review: The Overwatch Lore
Since 2010, Goodwin has tinkered away at one of gaming’s best and most discursive blogs, Electron Dance, digging up old Atari reactor simulations after Fukushima, or coining “vaulting the grave” to perfectly encapsulate AAA inanity. More recent forays into video, like The Unbearable Now, bring Goodwin’s unique aptitude for historicizing games a new audience.
See: The Unbearable Now, an Interpretation of The Witness
Delightful things happen when Franklin’s inquisitive style of critique meets The Beginner’s Guide, a game that (coincidentally?) happens to remark less-than-favorably on just the sort of work Franklin does. For a lesser critic this might be a source of frustration or confusion, but in Franklin’s hands it becomes an opportunity for playful introspection.
See: The Beginner’s Guide
If game criticism has a white whale, it might be that rare piece which is able to use a game’s code as an inroad to critique. Lo hooks it with How Rimworld’s Code Defines Strict Gender Roles, a work of criticism that finds matters of broad social consequence hidden in the ones and zeroes of a game’s anatomy.
See: How Rimworld’s Code Defines Strict Gender Roles
Campbell’s veteran hand stewarded a number of important, weighty stories through to wide acclaim in 2016. His in-depth reporting brought scrutiny to the use of the term “mechanical apartheid” in a game’s promotional materials, and informed a signature piece in The Game Industry’s Disposable Workers.
See: The Game Industry’s Disposable Workers
Next Page: The 2017 Short List