Game Pile: The 2021 Wrapup

Script follows!

We’re gunna talk about the Game Pile, and for 2021, that means I’m going to talk about three things. First, I’m going to link you to ten game pile articles I liked the most this year. Second, I’m going to list ten games that didn’t get into the Game Pile that I played the most this year. And then, Third, I’m going to list the ten videos I’m happiest with this year and why.

And look, I play a lot of games that don’t get into the Game Pile. Especially old games, because all I can really do there is introduce the game to you – to show you hey, here’s this game you haven’t heard of, here’s some way it relates to the way it was made or some useful idea you can get out of it, but because you likely don’t know the game, I have to then explain to you what the game is like (and yes, I know I’ve done this kind of Game Pile lately).

Point is, I like using games as ways to explore or explain ideas. Having to explain the game itself is part of that, but it works better, I think, if I don’t have to explain the whole game itself, or if the point I want to explore doesn’t require an in-depth appreciation of a complex game.

Here then are just a buch of games I played this year, that didn’t get into the 2021 Game Pile, to try and give an honest presentation of the way I spend my time.

  • Star Realms
  • Gazillionaire
  • The Swindle
  • Kingdom: Classic
  • Minecraft
  • Numerous Jackbox games

And just to be clear, Star Realms is on my phone. I play that game a lot when I’m in the bathroom or when I’m waiting for something at say, like, a clinic. In fact, of this list, that top three are easily half of the time I go to play a game when I reach out for something, because they load fast and play fast and my brain can handle them between doing other things. If I made Game Pile all about the games I played most recently, that would be – well, that would be the bulk of what you saw. Lots of Gazillionaire lets plays.

That said, here are ten, randomly sorted, articles from my Game Pile this year that I think explain an interesting idea or delve into an interesting game.

  • Draftosaurus, where I reflected on how much the ability to share games with people has been suffocated under the now.
  • Les Manley In: Search For The King, where I complain about the idea of capitalism serving to archive art.
  • Among Us, where I talk about a game controlling attention.
  • Blackthorne, where I reflect on how art shields artists.
  • Final Fantasy VI, where I talk about the in depth experience of a classic beyond its basic classicness.
  • Gene Wars, where I reflect on how we treat individuals as avatars for complex systems.
  • Syndicate Wars, where I reflect on how the Syndicate franchise has gotten more cyberpunk over time.
  • Kyrandia 3: Malcolm’s Revenge, where I talk about using content to obscure content.
  • Root, where I talk about the distinction between material and digital versions of board games.
  • Wingspan, where I talk about how much a single big experience can outdo a lot of small, subtle ones.

And now, on to the video gallery, with each video chosen at random.

I’m really fond of this video about Traveler. I wish I’d really come to terms with this particular way to record this kind of game earlier, because I’d like to put more Twine and small-scale games forward on my channel too. If I could weave this kind of thing in, it could wind up being a nice kind of content, maybe even making it as content for ‘between’ weeks.

Here’s a really long form introduction to a class concept, of choosing a methodology and considering the idea of what you’re working on. I was also proud of how many of the parts of this video came together. There’s the rotating rings around the avatar, there’s the avatar itself – there’s the Gex joke, there’s the tiles and snapped in pieces. I even wrote an article about all the bits here.

This was a fun video to make because I had to try and reproduce a kind of historical aesthetic with the tools I had. And I’m really glad I got to do that!

This was one of the semi-scripted videos. I had a lot of fun with it, and I spoke to my friends about the fight game under the lesson too. This is a great video if you’re curious to learn about the ways you can apply Marshall McLuahn’s work to media in general.

I explain Postmodernism while playing a game I think is pretty cute and neat.

I’m still really happy with this video on a lot of levels. The thumbnail, for a start – I’m really happy with how it evokes Second Sight’s box cover. I also like that I was able to use footage from the game (that someone else recorded) to make my point, without showing specific spoilery kind of things (even though I do discuss spoilers).

This video was lots of fun to make and I really loved playing this game. It’s a long form video of just my very personal, in-the-moment reactions to replaying a game I loved, and I think that’s something I don’t get to do much (or very well when I do it).

This was something I’d always been planning to cover in Dread Month, but it turns out that real life and a pandemic made that coverage a little more dark than I’d been expecting. A Mortician’s Tale is a lovely, interesting, intricate little game, but I wanted to use it as a way to launch off what it means to practice feelings in games.

This is something I’d meant to do for a while, revisiting an old text article in video form. I intend to do more of these, but this was the first one I intended to treat this way. The result is this piece where I get to explain Gerard Geanette’s idea of paratext as it explores outwards into the idea of, well, the hyperintertextual.

And probably my favourite video I’ve made this year, I found a good video to use as the base for me to talk about the weird history of Dungeons & Dragons as the work of Gary Gygax. I got to talk about Buck Rogers, about investment strategies, about latch-hook rugs (I will never not bring up Latch-hook rugs) and even make a Free Ettin joke.