It isn’t bold to say that this year sucked, but it’s equally as played out to say that video games have helped people get through things a little easier. In a year where some of the best games of the generation were released, I found my play habits changing. Games that I used to finish in days took me weeks or months, and far fewer games appealed to me enough to commit to them. Nights that used to be for continuing a single-player adventure were taken over by connecting with friends in multiplayer. I even fell in love with an open-world game; shocking, I know! But even as I grow older and the way I play shifts and reforms, I still can’t help but appreciate the decisions that go into making an experience come to fruition.
So as has become tradition, I want to discuss the pieces of design that stuck out to me in my favorite games of the year. 2020 brought a lot of the innovation from genre mixing. While there were three incredible examples of unconventional narrative structures, most of the list leaned heavily on tested ideas from new angles. While we often fixate on the groundbreaking design ideas, it’s the constant improvements and reinventions of these that push the field of game design forward. I talk about these not necessarily to sell you on them, but to allow myself to dig into why they stuck out in the first place.Continue reading →