Header image by Margot Gabel
If you follow the world of games, there is a sense—to my mind a small one, but at times, a large one to the rest of the world—that games occupy a space altogether its own. To defenders of the medium, this division serves as a mark of pride, that games sui generis are somehow inoculated from the creative movements of the wider world. That view only apparently heightened games’ success, that they were engendered without the aid of cultural training wheels. The other side simply shrugs and says, “They’re only games.” That latter assumption is still prevalent and it is similarly misguided, but wholly devastating.
At Kill Screen, we’ve always carved out a middle ground. Games are both unique in their own process but are also in conversation with the wider world, whether intentionally or not. And fortunately, this year has been exceptional in that bleed between games in culture for better … or for worse.
Aside from the emergence of an online hate group that terrorized those inside and outside of games, there have been positive signs that games are writing the first draft of history. The acquisitions of Twitch and Oculus VR in a single year by Silicon Valley giants is only the first sign that what games possess is something unique, a testing ground for human behavior that points a way towards the way things will be. As I argued on-stage at the PSFK conference, games are the new R&D.
So for our first attempt at the Year in Ideas, we take a broad view at the myriad ways that games are both reflecting and incepting movements of shapes small and large. They are as simple as asking the provocative question of “What is a Game?,” invoking the wisdom and madness of the crowds, carving out new textures in architecture, and the curve of a digitally contoured posterior. (Seriously.)
Join us this week as part of our celebration of the year that was 2014 by looking back, only slightly, to point the way towards the days to come.
Also, check out our objectively determined, utterly inarguable list of the top 25 games of the year: