Have You Played… 2014?

HAPPY HATS PARTY TIME YES

IT IS THE NEW YEAR. For the majority of us, it is our very first year. We didn’t exist until hours ago, but now blink in the hazy sunlight and wonder what to do with all these flappy bits that are attached to our bodies. A tiny fraction of our audience, however, lived through another year proir to this one. It was called 2014, and it is remembered… variously. Let’s share some memories of it below.

– The year Kickstarter games became flesh. Some were great, some were pretty much as expected, some underwhelmed. Broadly, PC gaming is more diverse for it, but it doesn’t quite feel that we escaped an old world of identi-sequels to fulfil decades of untapped promise. Really though, we didn’t get let down: those remakes and sequels happened, and they probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

– The year that Assassin’s Creed won. Even though it was Assassin’s Creed’s worst year ever – Unity’s launch issues were such that Ubisoft was willing to give away free copies of its other huge Winter game, Far Cry 4, as apology. But the Assassin’s Creed model took over – Shadow of Mordor, Dragon Age Inqusition, Far Cry 4 again were just a few games which turned fully to the icon-strewn map model of action game. This effectively creates the illusion of endless content, and keeps us busy for hours and hours, determined to clean up that map. We sure weren’t short of things to go and collect in 2014. I’d quite like to see big fat action gaming try other structures out now, however.

– The year space came back. 2015 will be the same, to be honest, but if there was a resurgent genre in 2014 it was the space sim. It’s gone from niche interest to headline factory, and disproved the long-standing belief that spaceships can’t be massively profitable.

– See also: the year joy/flight sticks come back. I do hope we get a resurgence of crazy hardware as a result.

– The year YouTube became the new everything. It’s an exciting new, barrier-free frontier for games coverage, but a perilously unregulated one too. I don’t think anyone has an accurate sense of where it’s ultimately headed.

– The year a hashtag happened. I’m not going to say much about it, as it only darkens any doorstep it’s invoked upon. It was a faith-shaking year though; a year in which many people who work in or with games questioned whether it was worth it. Whether or not the worst is truly over, it’s a relief to shut the door on 2014 for that reason.

– The year ‘indie’ finally became meaningless. It covers too many things, too many people from the penniless to the LA mansion-owning. Now it’s just ‘games’ again. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing – it means the stranglehold of big publishers has been broken, and the industry is now this vast spread of different-sized businesses, which anyone can be a part of. Labels don’t matter now the doors are open.

– The year esports crossed over. Esports have been The Next Big Thing for years, but these days they are simply A Big Thing, and growing bigger all the time. It’s not my world at all, to be honest, but as a sign that games have moved out of their dark corner of the room and fully into the light of the world, this is it.

– The year of Early Access. The game release date, at least on PC, is almost extinct. In its place is this strange, rolling entity that can weave in and out of existence as it pleases, that can have a new fuss made about it at any point, that can change direction even after it’s become publicly available. Similarly, the time between a game being announced and a game being playable is shrinking. It’s too soon to really tell whether Early Access is a net gain or a net loss, but now the barriers are down, and the precedent for unfinished games making bags of cash is there, they’re not going back up.

– The year Half-Life 3 finally came out. It was alright, though I’m still not sure about the Vortiguant dating mini-game.

Oh, by the way: Happy New Year from RPS. Thanks ever so for reading us.

74 Comments

  1. Filnis says:

    Oh,I loved the Vortigaunt dating minigame.
    Although I did not expect HL3 to be free-to-play.

    • Anthile says:

      I didn’t know what to think at first but when Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9, No. 2 started to play during the Dictatorship of the Proletariat level, I was blown away. Simply brilliant.

    • fish99 says:

      The big surprise to me was that HL3 was 250 hrs long. Was nice to finally find out what took Valve all that time though.

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        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        250 hours long if you count the Combine spinal fluid collect-a-thon.

        • LionsPhil says:

          It wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the hour-long unskippable cinematic every time you use the spın̈al tap.

          • Geebs says:

            That sequence trod the fine line between stupid and clever

          • Shadowcat says:

            Nevertheless, many publications predictably rushed to give the game a score of eleven.

          • Geebs says:

            The wait for Half-Life 3 was so long, you could go away, have a bite, and it’d still be going

          • Shadowcat says:

            People weep instantly when they play it, and they don’t know why.

    • RARARA says:

      Remember the bit where you had to employ physics to solve a puzzle to progress the story? That sure was crazy!

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      serioussgtstu says:

      Selling hats also seemed a bit redundant, it being a first person game and all.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Don’t jinx it.

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      Grizzly says:

      Anyone up for a grav-gun-only of the co op mode?

      • DigitalSignalX says:

        Which Combine tower do you have to scale to unlock the gravgun in co-op?

    • snowgim says:

      I’m still stuck in the Strider jousting arena. How many rounds do you have to win before you can marry Alyx?

      • bonuswavepilot says:

        I think it is like 6 or 7? Not worth it anyway – Alyx is a crap companion compared to the reformed G-man you get if you take the Bullsquid insurrection branch of the story. He has the funniest dialogue by far.

        • Crimsoneer says:

          Dog was by far the best romance option – way better cutscenes.

    • Zarf says:

      My favorite part was when Gordon and Alyx were tromping around, trying to find the Borealis, and then suddenly you are picked up by that hideous Sphynxomorph who asks you, “No sooner spoken than broken. What is it?” And Gordon being Gordon, of course, says nothing, and the Sphynxomorph is like, “Dang, man, you’re good at this.” and he gives you the gun the ancient aliens used to build the pyramids, and the game suddenly turns into a grand strategy game where you use your legions of returned alien pharaohs to take over the world, and then bring the fight to the Combine. I hardly even noticed the transition to a rhythm dancing game in between, which is exactly how those should be handled. Was Half-Life 3 the best cooking simulator of 2014, or the best of all time?

  2. Premium User Badge

    Aquarion says:

    Warning: The following contains spoilers for the recently released Half-Life 2:Episode 3 and Half Life 3 “Golden Box” multipack now available on Steam 2.

    I did like the dating minigame, but I thought the multiplayer went a bit Bioshock, not only in the extension canon-revelation that there really are millions of Gordon Freemens (Gordons Freeman? Gordon Freemen?), but I feel that the “Royal Rumble” fight to the death to see which is the best was a bit of a cheapening of an otherwise great concept. The run-and-gun was as good as you could ever expect a valve game to be, but I do feel that they have possibly had too much time to work on it now. In the same way that Duke Nukem Forever tried to be a parody game and ended up looking dated, the unification of the entire Valveverse seems to be a bit of a cheap trick. That the Left 4 Dead apocalypse was the reason why the US was distracted and hadn’t nuked the fuck out of City 17 clears up a few plot holes, but the dramatic appearance of the Borealis (Though a giant portal hanging in the sky. Fuck you, Valve, keep some universal consistency on how they work, *please*) and the revelation that Cave Johnson and Saxton Hale are cross-universe instances of the same person just made me think that they didn’t have anybody filtering out the good ideas from the “Wouldn’t it be cool, if” shit-shooting.

    The worst bit, though, was the “To be concluded” ending. Another ten years? Save us all. At least the final after credits sequence announced the Alien Swarm and Ricochet sequels we’ve all been waiting so long for, and that final trailer for the combination looks *magnificent*. Roll on Autumn 2015, modulo valve-time, of course.

    • shoefish says:

      I would unironically kill for an Alien Swarm sequel. One of the greatest coop games of all time.

      • Shadowcat says:

        Do I have good news for you!!

        The down-side is that you’ll need to install Steam to get it, but I imagine you’re probably willing to do that?

      • j3w3l says:

        Helldivers looks to be doing that.. from the magicka devs too

  3. Laurentius says:

    2014 was a year in which I’ve written a lot of angry rants in RPS comments I hope this year will be different :)

  4. Faxanadu says:

    The year Oculus Rift gets released this article will simply say:

    – The year Oculus Rift.

    Not sure if I’m too happy about the word ‘indie’ becoming meaningless. I think it’s just a classic example of how people these days tend to take a word and stretch its meaning so that it fits their own agenda, making it look better, until it pops and nobody believes anyone using the word anymore.

    • Shuck says:

      I don’t think “indie” has become meaningless, just because there’s a mansion owning indie developer called Notch. It still says something about how games are developed and sometimes marketed because publishers are still powerful. (Some indie games get released and marketed by publishers, in which case it only says something about the games’ development – but it does still say something.) Neither Kickstarter nor Early Access replaces a publisher; getting on Steam’s front page isn’t sufficient as marketing. A studio being able to bankroll the development and marketing of a game themselves still usually says something about the scale of the enterprise – that it’s small. AAA games are still the domain of publisher-backed studios.

      • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

        The difference is that, before, indie was the standout, and AAA was the norm. Your average best games wot came out this year would have one or two indies in the final spots, and the first one was guaranteed to be an AAA title. Anyone who had more indies than AAA’s, or gave the Big Award to an indie, was probably a person or website or other entity with a very defined taste that was very explicitly not being attended to by the big corps. Nowadays, your average GOTY list has as many indies as it has AAA’s, and while the big winner will likely be an AAA, no one bats an eye when a more niche website or a particular critic chooses an indie for their GOTY. It’s just a thing that happens.

      • plugmonkey says:

        I completely agree. ‘Indie’ is about having control of your creative vision, not being poor. You couldn’t possibly be more independent than being a self funding billionaire.

        Independent studios becoming increasingly successful validates ‘indie’ rather than invalidates it.

      • skalpadda says:

        Bad reply system. Bad!

    • Jonnyuk77 says:

      Words becoming meaningless… hack, hack this, hack that! I’m going to hack 2015….

      AArrrggghhhhhhh!!!

      hacky-sack

  5. frymaster says:

    Mordor was good though. In a year when Watch Dogs was an inner-city clone of Far Cry 3, and Far Cry 4 was a wilderness clone of Watch Dogs (it has to be said: I enjoyed playing Watch Dogs and I’m enjoying FC4), Mordor could have just been a third party clone changing the art assets, contriving an over-wrought fantasy plot, including some background tracks of some bird singing the musical equivalent of Enya fanfiction, and hoping lightning strikes in the same place. It was all of those things, but it also managed to innovate in the space, which was great not only for being really good to play, but for reminding people that innovation is possible in an otherwise formulaic effort. And despite my flippancy, the creative direction was pretty decent. The orcs hold up well, especially compared to the latest films, and some of the background audio that plays in the loading screens is done with affectionate attention to detail in the lore. I’m sure I’m not the only one who recognised that some generic orc chanting near the beginning was in fact them reciting the “One ring to rule them all” poem in orcish…

    • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

      That’s just it though, with the greatest respect, lore wise SoM is a complete aberration. *maybe* it serves its job as an adaptation of the themselves thoroughly mediocre Peter Hackson (showing my true colours there!) films, but it doesn’t do the proper legendarium justice at all, either metaphysically, historically, or visually.

      Still waiting for a game where one can play as Gil Galad or Turin Turambar myself, or the procession of the five wizards through Rhun, but then I have a suspicion that almost all licensed stuff draws heavily from the aforementioned dreck films first and foremost. This is quite possibly *the* most rich fantasy world in terms of source material one could possibly ask for, and certainly the one with the largest pre-existing fanbase, so it sticks in the craw that most of what there is available either slavishly sticks with the film or just makes shit up, as in this case.

      *Not a rant against you by the way, just Monolith. :)

      • Supahewok says:

        Most or all of the rights to the Silmarillion and its content is kept under lock and key by the Tolkien estate. The movies and various videogames can ONLY draw on The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. That does include the Appendices that make up nearly half of the Return of the King, which is where a lot of the “Extended Universe” for the video games come from, but aside from the brief histories in the RotK, there is nothing anyone can do with much of the First and Second Ages of Middle-Earth. Until Christopher Tolkien dies and eventually a descendant who never met J. R. R. decides to sell the rights, of course. Or until they become public domain. Whichever comes first.

        I’ve never played Shadows of Mordor, but everything I’ve heard, from friends who played it to reviewers, agrees with your claim. It seems that the only people who even like the story are those who have never given the books a serious read. (including the staff here at RPS) I did like the movies, because I felt that they remained true to the most important themes of the books, although they shoehorned in some stuff that wasn’t necessary and cut out some stuff that they shouldn’t have. SoM just throws it all out the window.

        • Zwebbie says:

          Having thought some more about Tolkien’s point with The Lord of the Rings and having read his article On Fairy-Stories, I have been wondering how people can reconcile Shadow of Mordor with it. Tolkien’s writings were based on the idea that we, as humans, need to read and write strange stories that follow a story structure that prefigures or invokes that of the Christian story (which is why those deus ex machina eagles keep showing up in The Hobbit and LotR — they mirror Christ’s unmerited incarnation) and thereby bring escapist joy. One of the main themes of The Lord of the Rings is that using the tools of the enemy — whether they be rings, palantíri or otherwise — will only corrupt and destroy and that the only way to beat evil is simply to be better persons. Then comes along Shadow of Mordor and it’s a… tactical guerilla simulator? If it were an adaptation of something as cynical as Game of Thrones, sure, but it seems like the last kind of thing Tolkien would have wanted his legacy to turn into, and I can’t blame the Estate for not allowing many people to adapt his work.

        • ffordesoon says:

          Oh, it’s officially licensed fanfiction in the worst sense of that term. Hell, it barely needs the license – it could just as easily be an original fantasy world, though that might not sell so well. I’m not even a fan of Tolkien, but as I understand it, it even throws basic rules of the setting out the window. Add to that a premise that is pretty darn uncomfortable when considered from an ethical or moral standpoint, and you have a fairly awful adaptation. I don’t think anyone with a working knowledge of Tolkien’s work – or even the movies, which don’t stray anywhere close to as far from the original stories as Shadow Of Mordor – could argue otherwise with a straight face.

          The thing is, that kind of doesn’t matter – not to me, anyway. I can see why it’d matter to a lot of people, but the saving grace of Mordor (mostly – once you realize that you’re an attractive white man come to impose his values on a race of big-lipped brutes who don’t speak grammatically correct English by killing, torturing, enslaving, and intimidating said brutes, the disturbing thematic implications of that premise aren’t easily ignored) is twofold:

          1) It’s a really goddamn excellent game with a remarkable story generation system at its center and smartly designed missions and controls that almost always sidestep or mitigate the tedious Ubibullshit foisted on players by the game it mirrors most directly, Assassin’s Creed.

          2) Its general mediocrity makes the authored narrative trivially easy to ignore. And, should you choose not to ignore it, it is at least well-produced and passably entertaining in a cheeseball-SyFy-movie sort of way. It’s also such an obvious bit of licensed fanfic that (for me, anyway) divorcing it from canon is simplicity itself.

          Also, to be frank with you, in consciously imitating legendry and mythology, I think Tolkien opened his work up to radical reinterpretations, whatever his personal feelings on the matter. I doubt the Greeks and Romans who spun tales of their gods would be particularly keen on God Of War, for example, but it exists nonetheless.

          • Geebs says:

            Not that I’ve had the time to play it yet, but isn’t it possible that SoM is a commentary on Tolkien? LoTR is full of “attractive white guy slaughters lots of people with darker skin” to begin with. I know that’s due to the period in which the source material was written, but I’d imagine the developers must have been aware of the trope.

            Tolkein is also full of tragic heroes whose downfall was getting too caught up in their desire to fight evil – isn’t the idea that the player wins a small victory against Sauron, through dubious means, in this game a set-up for their inevitable corruption and downfall? Or at least that’s how I would do it.

          • Xocrates says:

            @Geebs: Not very likely. The game feels like they designed the Nemesis system and then tossed in a story because they’re supposed to have one.
            While the collectibles and backstory do make it seem like the developers had some love for Tolkien, half the plot and characters themselves seem to exist in their current form because some focus group said that’s what they wanted.

            Fact of the matter is, while the “attractive white guy slaughters lots of people with darker skin” is common in Tolkien, it’s also very VERY common in videogames.

      • skalpadda says:

        Shadow of Mordor doesn’t exist because someone passionately wanted to tell a story in the Middle Earth universe, or even as a way to market to us book nerds who give a potato about the stories and the setting. It exists because Brand Recognition = Sales, just as pretty much every other sequel, prequel, spin-off, reboot or cross-over that gets spat out by our ever-churning media machine.

        At least Monolith seem to have cared enough about their own craft to put a good game in its own right in the box, which is more than one can usually hope for. I look at these things, think “not for me” and walk the other way – it saves on sanity.

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      MonkeyMonster says:

      Can I just add I had *thought* i’d managed to not succumb to purchasing SoM and now you went and said that… thanks, no really *Thank You*

  6. Monggerel says:

    Played like a violin.
    Then cut the strings.

  7. DestructibleEnvironments says:

    The year that I, as a doublefine fanboy, lost a whole of of respect for them. I even got a t-shirt, cup and signed poster from them a year back. Manage your sodding money better you curse words here.

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    Grizzly says:

    I must say this has been a splendid year for RPS (Grrgtrrrrr notwithstanding), with the supporter program adding a whole lot of interesting bits. For some reason, I also really really like the e-sports column, as part of me becoming a lot more interested in spectating sports this year. Somehow, the scene breathes character, which I adore.

    So keep it up RPS!

    • shoptroll says:

      Agreed! I think 2014 hit the right balance between features and news (and by that I mean, look at this trailer or screenshots) posts. I’m not sure if anything changed behind the scenes, but the coverage felt a bit different than in 2013 and in some ways felt reminiscent of when it was just Kieron, Alec, Jim, and John posting whatever they felt like. I hope 2015 continues this trend (or my feelings toward the site if there was never an intentional change to the site’s coverage).

      • Llewyn says:

        I suspect it’s no coincidence that at the start of 2014 RPS recruited a new managing editor. I assume Graham’s played a significant role in things like commissioning of articles from contributors, and the general structure of RPS’ output. Then in March we got a news editor, and I assume Alice has brought some oversight to the news output, making it perhaps better balanced. And to top all that, in Graham, Alice and Pip RPS has acquired three fine new full-time nodes.

        It was a very good year.

      • pepperfez says:

        The much larger roster of writers made a huge difference, I think. As much as I love the RPS regulars, all the new voices are wonderful.

  9. mpk says:

    Just bought it last night and I’ve enjoyed* my first three hours or so of Shadow of Mordor. But having never played an Assassin’s Creed game, my reference point for it is clearly Arkham Asylum/City. Obviously it was merely serious assault in Arkham and there’s a bit more murder in Mordor, but the combat system is a carbon copy, the XP/upgrade system seems pretty much the same and there’s a stealth mode complete with funky visual effect.

    In a year when I have slated Civilisation Beyond Earth for not being different enough from Civ proper, for being pretty much a reskin of the main game, is it odd that I’ll give Mordor a pass for doing the same thing with another set of franchises? Although, to be fair, Civ BE was really dull and unexceptional. Mordor is – much like Arkham Asylum before it – well put together, slick and just bloody good fun to play.

    What I do find odd is Gabriel Angelos following me about talking about elves without once mentioning xenos, killing of said xenos, unbelievers and the purging thereof, or anything approaching his usual attitude. I think he might have hit his head. And also lost a lot of weight.

    *and thoroughly enjoyed from the get go. Dont understand why Walker thought the first few hours were terrible.

    • Skhalt says:

      It is an open secret that Mr Walker is absolutely terrible at video games, the first few hours were probably the time it took him to unknot his fingers and start slaughtering orcs like a proper ranger :)

      And Paul Dobson hasn’t been anywhere near this game, so if you keep hearing Gabriel Angelos you may start worrying (especially if he tells you to burn things).

      • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

        Being bad at videogames is pretty much your first requirement for becoming a video game journalist. You don’t get to want to write a lot of words about videogames if you are actually good at them.

        source: personal experience

      • mpk says:

        @Skhalt

        You’re right, it’s possibly just my own fascist, genocidal tendencies coming to the fore.

  10. deanimate says:

    It’s going to be very hard to beat Evolve. Played the Alpha and it was ridiculously good fun.

  11. Wang Tang says:

    2014 was the year I played less games that came out in the current year than ever before.
    Less time than before, more excellent games in the backlog, less games that interest me are coming out (besides some fine adventures; Broken Age, TWD2).
    Multiplayer was covered with games from distant and not so distant past (AoM, Payday 2), singleplayer-wise there was nothing that interested me so much that I would have bought it full price. Give me new Mass Effects and DX:HR style games for 2015 please!

    Tbh, I find myself being behind current games a year or two: games are cheaper, most bugs are ironed out, there may even be “Gold” or GOTY editions of the game with all the content, without having to purchase everything at once.
    Nonetheless, I like reading up on new games on RPS, to stay in the loop, so a happy new year and keep it up!

  12. Heliocentric says:

    I like the glass Horace on the table of what i can assume is the lobby of Penthouse Shotgun.

  13. melnificent says:

    The year I started on my backlog. I finally got around to my steam summer badge on the 31st of December

    link to i.imgur.com

  14. RedViv says:

    To me, the year of reducing my backlog by… well, with the new stuff on it, about half. By focussing on the smaller games first. This will be the year of long games I was not daring to touch, then. As well as new titles I just can not delay playing. Business as usual.

    And I will mess that hashtag up with a big great maul with rusty nails sticking out if it dares grow instead of dying as it mostly has been doing for months.

      • Buzko says:

        @Milord Custard: Who is this Smuff person anyway?

        • pepperfez says:

          A man who is intensely self-satisfied despite not being able to spell very well.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Indeed. That Hashtag made the latter half of 2014 quietly miserable for me, and not-so-quietly miserable for many people I respect. Granted, some of them were already being made miserable by some of the same people, but that only makes the creation and explosion of That Hashtag all the more difficult to stomach.

      May it slowly and painfully die in the year ahead, may the otherwise good people who still bafflingly support it against all reason wake from their moral coma, and may the regressive attitudes That Hashtag represents finally be dealt a mortal blow.

      • Reefpirate says:

        If you’re so weary of it why don’t you just let it die instead of insisting on bringing it up again? Just to let everyone know how much you hate ‘those people’?

        Frankly I reckon I’m twice as sick of it as you are because I never bothered to pick up a flag on either side of that ‘fight’. Plenty of immaturity and raving lunatic noise happening on all sides of that hashtag.

        • jalf says:

          Frankly I reckon I’m twice as sick of it as you are because I never bothered to pick up a flag on either side of that ‘fight

          Yes, because nothing says “I have the moral high ground” like “I refuse to have an opinion on a movement that actively tries to ruin the lives of so many people in the games industry and in gaming in general.

          Fuck that.

          • Distec says:

            It’s not inconceivable that somebody may take issue with the assumptions in the argument you just made, or in many of the arguments made by either “side” in this shitshow.

          • Chris Cunningham says:

            There are few things as contemptible as the belligerently apathetic, not least because of the frequency by which such types seem to think they deserve a medal.

          • Reefpirate says:

            No I don’t want a medal, thank you very much.

            However if you ever do find something worth putting some energy into besides standing under one tent while flinging insults at some other tent let me know.

            What’s hilarious is how you’re now bringing me up as the ‘evil moderate’, the ‘finicky fence sitter’ as if I’m trying to get in the way of chopping Louis’ head off. Go ahead and chop off as many heads as you want. Hopefully it will tire you out and you can go back to doing something more productive with your time.

            You have absolutely no idea where I stand on gender politics, or any politics for that matter, and yet you’re so wrapped up in some fake crusade against mean people that you’re willing to insult me and assume I am morally bankrupt. Take this as a first example, if you have a lack of other examples, of stupid things you might be unknowingly committing while dispensing justice on the internet.

            Or have you convinced yourself that you’ve accomplished anything by being angry at a bunch of trolls on Twitter? What good has come of all of this? I’ve yet to find anything good to take away from it all.

          • Leafy Twigs says:

            I think when a tiny group of angry reactionaries tries to speak in the name of a much larger group, it’s important to speak up and say “No.”

            And I don’t understand at all how you can say both sides are the same.

            One side started with a slut-shaming hate mob, attacked many other women, tried to reduce gaming journalism to something astonishingly bland and uninteresting, tried to jerk gender politics back to the 19th Century, and was just deeply anti-intellectual and very much affiliated with various reactionary conservatives.

            The other side… fought back. And it looks like they’ve won since the hashtag is nowhere to be found unless you go looking for it.

            And good has occurred, thanks to people fighting back. Twitter has a better anti-harassment policy. A lot of good people united in taking a stand. Future attacks of this sort on women in the industry will find much less fertile ground. Much of the industry, both in journalism and the studios, now knows they can do the right thing and the majority will stand with them. It’s been a huge defeat, in many ways, for the darker sides of the Internet. Chan culture tried to come into the mainstream and was pushed away with a deep repulsion. Sarkeesian, and other feminists approaching gaming, have a much bigger audience.

            You may have a fear and loathing of fighting back, and that’s fine. Not everyone wants to get in the trenches. But it shows a complete ignorance and a lack of nuance to say “both sides are bad.” This is so rarely the case in any situation.

          • Reefpirate says:

            I don’t remember saying that both sides are the same, but they do tend to look alike in a lot of tactical ways. I’ve gone on similar rants ‘behind enemy lines’ I’ll have you know.

            As I browse around the morass of hatred, more of which has come spewing out of you in paragraphs here, I just quickly get tired of it. It’s like some social media civil war blew up about nobody-knows-anymore and now I’m expected to chant one or the other sides’ slogans or else I’m cast out as a traitor.

            Sorry I didn’t give you guys the secret salute of modern feminist trench warfare, but I have no idea how it goes. Heaven forbid I’m a moderate. Those are even worse than traitors! Can’t be trusted, you see? Patriarchy probably already has its hooks deep in his thought processes. After all he’s a white male who plays video games… We wouldn’t have to listen to him anyways so what’s the point? Just jump him. Retweet and pile on the shitlords!

            You should listen to yourselves get all spun up about this crap. I’m all for new protections against harassment on Twitter (newsflash: so are plenty of the enemy), or anywhere on the internet. I’m also in favor of less militant language on all sides when arguing about a hashtag that is only very loosely associated with anything relating to gender studies these days.

        • ffordesoon says:

          I don’t hate those who choose to affiliate themselves with That Hashtag. I pity them. Because they’re burning down their own house to avoid having to share a pizza. It’s madness.

          And there are no “sides” here. “Sides” implies forces which are roughly equivalent, and that’s simply not so here. There is That Hashtag’s army, and there is everyone else. For the “both sides” narrative to work, I need far more than a few errant tweets composed in anger by the overzealous and scattered incidents of harassment both quickly condemned by prominent anti-That Hashtag individuals and connected to support of That Hashtag through questionable logic. I condemn the use of That Hashtag’s tactics no matter who’s doing it, obviously, but for me to believe there is a demonstrable anti-That Hashtag “side” that is “just as bad,” I need more than scattered incidents.

          I need death threats – not “can be construed as death threats if you look at them a certain way,” but death threats. I need sustained harassment and intimidation actively and/or implicitly encouraged by influential players in the anti-That Hashtag scene, and I need months of it. I need slander and spurious “scandals” dredged up by people who don’t understand how the business they’re criticizing actually works. I need bogus “operations” with stupid names organized for petty reasons like “This one mean lady wrote a scathing editorial about us!” I need proof that one is truly just as bad as the other before I’ll buy that narrative. All That Hashtag has proved is that some people in two closely related businesses are personal friends, and that occasionally someone who is against That Hashtag says something shitty about people for it. Say what you will about either fact, but neither is worth setting Videogameland on fire for.

          And all that’s just what I’d need in order to feel that there were two sides to this particular story. That Hashtag would need to have done many, many, many things differently going right back to the start to earn my support, including (but not limited to) actively discouraging many of the things I listed above, and not founding their movement on malicious gossip about a developer’s personal life.

          As for your profession of neutrality, I’m willing to accept that you believe what you believe, but I cannot support neutrality toward something that has done and continues to do real and lasting harm to the culture we presumably share, and to people within that culture whom I respect. If the price of that stance is to annoy someone I have never met with my lack of neutrality, so be it. I’d rather speak out against something I believe to be harmful than refuse to comment because someone might get stroppy with me. It’s healthy to be skeptical of any cause or principle others blindly embrace, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t causes and principles worth embracing. Sometimes, “a pox on both their houses” is wise. Other times, it’s willful blindness at best, and cowardice at worst. This, to me, is one of the latter times.

          And yes, I’m acutely aware that someone of my level of influence (i.e. just another gamer) denouncing That Hashtag on social media and in the comments sections of videogame blogs is probably not going to change any minds or win any hearts. But, hell, it might, and since when did anyone need permission to speak out against shitty things anyway? Call me self-righteous if you wish – you wouldn’t be wrong. But at least I won’t look back on this shit and feel guilty for saying nothing when it might have mattered.

          Does that answer your question?

          EDIT: Corrected a few rhetorical errors.

          Oh, BTW? The only person who’s using military language here is you.

          • El_Emmental says:

            I’m afraid the reality of it is even more frightening – looking deeper into it reveals the failure of the binary monochrome model: you progressively see an infinite number of groups, temporarily forming factions and ephemeral alliances, giving the illusion of a conflict with two “sides”, when it’s actually several ideological, cultural and structural conflicts all happening at the same time, with their own factions, battles and pace.

            The more you scrutinize the conflict, the more you realize there is no chain of command, no victory conditions or real synchronization between the participants, you only have a few iconic warlords rising up and down in visibility and popularity among their “side” but none of them hold any power (that would results in responsibility and accountability, and eventually, negociations). The participants can only regroup at the operational levels for a few weeks (until the momentum of the operation is not enough to move all the groups, all the factions, towards some common objectives). Analyzing such conflict like a formal engagement between two organized groups made of trained troops is missing all the dynamics at hand.

            Much like the Middle-East warfare, the Balkans warfare (and western European warfare before the states became strong enough to transform their territory into nation states, smashing local powers) it’s a very complex and ever-changing game of influences, alliances, betrayal and fight for regional and internal power.

            Like one shouldn’t reduce the Syrian conflict to “Evil Assad vs the Glorious Rebels” or “Savior Assad vs Evil Terrorists”, or the Israeli–Palestinian conflict to an “pure innocents locals vs evil terrorists” or “evil invaders vs self-defending civilians”, the hashtag discussed here is (sadly) not a binary conflict, there is no “bad guys” to vaporize with a cruise missile and go home knowing our job is done here. There is horrible people committing crimes/immoral acts, but one day it’s a faction, the next day it’s another – firing missiles at whoever you can find won’t fix anything at all, that’s shooting people randomly at night during a riot.

            That’s the most painful thing about it : two people are fighting each others to death, and they’re both urging you to do something (cf. neutrality instantly making you guilty of a crime) ; so in that situation it seems you have to kill the evil twin – because there must be an evil twin – at least one of them is the good twin and it must be saying the truth – or at least everyone hope that. Uncertainty is such a mental torture, that most of us either walk out of it (exit) or pick a side (voice). By doing that, we often stop analyzing and scrutinizing the situation, and fail to properly understand it.

            I almost did that at the beginning of the situation – first because I strictly refuse to jump the gun, I prefer to be late and slow than wrong and first, second because I was disillusioned enough about it. However, I realized something was amiss when several outsiders got involved with both “sides” and started to exploit the situation, recruiting people in makeshift militias, presenting the situation like a bigger, civilization-wide conflict – de facto elevating it to that level. What started as a border incident rapidly became a war, because some groups felt the tense atmosphere formed an opportunity, a chance to grow bigger in the conflict. I need to stress that everything said above apply to all “sides” of that hashtag as well as military conflicts in the regions/periods mentioned earlier.

            What saddened me the most was how circling-the-wagon turned out to be a natural reflex of nearly all people affected by the situation no matter their origins, cultures, education – no matter how prepared they seemed to be. Structurally-speaking, no matter what happens, no matter what the situation is (rationally speaking), the vast majority of a group will turn away from reason and scrutiny. Neighbors who used to enjoy barbecue parties and help each others suddenly hide weapon crates in their basement, burn the houses of their “enemies” and kill them at night. Perhaps it’s survival instinct to regroup and form packs during a fight, but it’s severely undermining our efforts at building more elaborate social and cultural structures.

            I won’t discuss the history, the content and the ideological/cultural aspects of the specific hashtag or any military conflict here, as it is not the place for that: this news entry is about 2014 and mostly about the positive aspects of that year, it would be rude to ruin it for everyone. But I warn against simplifying cultural conflicts: peace and change will not happen if we turn ourselves away from the multitude of problems emerging during these difficult times. Evil is not something we can bash a sword at; no matter how frustrating it is, reality is not a video game.

          • dahauns says:

            @El_Emmental: Very well put.

      • pepperfez says:

        I’d much prefer it go quickly and painfully if it’s all the same to you.

  15. thischarmingman says:

    The year I stumbled upon RPS, and as a result, picked up XCOM and started playing games again. Great year.

  16. weebob says:

    2014 was the year my I5 2500k died. 2014 can suck my swingers.

  17. Kerr Avon says:

    Alec, are you testing us to recognise anyone in the header photo? You know, the one that looks like a group of Freemasons or Bonesmen living it up at Bohemian Grove? It seems a certain chap there looks familiar but I’m not too sure… anyway, I think the answer is: 2nd from left top row is of course David Braben’s grandfather, while top row far right that’s Peter Molyneux’s great uncle Jean-Luc “Pepé” Molyneux right there. Happy New Year to you all, by the way ;)