Our first-ever preview: Chris played four hours of “Horizon Zero Dawn.” Then, “Yakuza 0” and the disappearance of the medium-budget video game.
What was your favorite video game of 2016? We asked 23 of the smartest people we know–game designers, podcasters, YouTubers, journalists, a screenwriter, a playwright–and got 19 answers.
Counting Chris and JJ, that’s 25 people and 20 games in our second annual GOTY Podcast Spectacular. Plus, intense disagreement about the merits of “The Last Guardian.”
STARRING, in order of appearance:
Jason Concepcion & Ben Lindbergh, hosts of Achievement Oriented;
Chris Remo, Idle Thumbs host and Campo Santo developer;
Austin Walker, Waypoint editor-in-chief;
Carolyn Petit, Feminist Frequency writer;
Nina Freeman, “Cibele” designer and Fullbright level designer;
Theresa Duringer, founder of Temple Gates Games;
Adrian Chen, staff writer for The New Yorker;
Jon Lovett, a Keepin’ It 1600 host, screenwriter, and former speechwriter for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton;
Stephen Totilo, editor-in-chief of Kotaku;
Susan O’Connor, writer for games like “BioShock,” “Gears of War,” “Far Cry 2,” and “Tomb Raider”;
Virginia Heffernan, author of “Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art”;
Clive Thompson, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, a columnist for Wired, and the author of “Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better”;
Anita Sarkeesian, founder of Feminist Frequency;
Lucy Prebble, playwright of “The Effect”;
Meg Jayanth, writer of “80 Days”;
Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman;
John Davison, Glixel general manager;
Gabriel Winslow-Yost, assistant editor of The New York Review of Books;
Jason Killingsworth, writer for Riot Games and co-author of “You Died: The ‘Dark Souls’ Companion”;
Brett Douville, lead programmer for “Skyrim” and “Fallout 4” and Dev Game Club host;
Simon Parkin, contributing writer for NewYorker.com and author of “Death By Video Game”;
Laura Hudson, writer for FiveThirtyEight, Wired and Slate
Brett Douville, a former lead programmer at Bethesda Game Studios on games like “Skyrim” and “Fallout 4,” talks about why he sees himself in the kill animations for “Skyrim,” why he loves “Rez,” and what he’s doing for “Tacoma,” the next game from Fullbright.
Spending 300 hours of your life on “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” staying awake until 3 a.m. playing “Civilization VI” and reliving the release of the Xbox 360 through the Xbox One’s “Gears of War 4.”
Screenwriter and former political speechwriter Jon Lovett, who created the NBC sitcom “1600 Penn,” talks about whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama plays video games, why he loves “Portal” and “Portal 2,” and what HBO’s “Westworld” has to say about our interactive fantasies.
Is this the game we need, or the game we deserve?
An interview with a British political journalist that isn’t about Brexit: Helen Lewis, the deputy editor of the New Statesman, talks about why “BioShock” is her favorite game, why she plays as Queen Elizabeth in “Civilization,” and what “Fallout 4” might tell us about the future of America.
Frank Lantz, the designer of “Drop7” and the director of the New York University department of game design, talks about why “Crackdown” is his favorite game, why video games are worth studying, and which games (“World of Warcraft”! “Galcon”! Poker!) he has spent the most time playing.
Keza MacDonald and Jason Killingsworth, the authors of “You Died: The ‘Dark Souls’ Companion,” talk about how “Demon’s Souls” hooked them, whether “Dark Souls” is a 21st-century “Super Mario Bros., ” and why “Souls” players are like figure skaters.
MacDonald is the editor of Kotaku UK and Killingsworth is a writer for Riot Games, the studio behind “League of Legends.”
Two games are played. One ascends to the Shall We Play a Game? canon. The other is tossed onto the ash heap of history. For newcomers to “Life Is Strange,” a spoiler-free verdict of the entire series begins at 20:55. The spoiler ’cast for the fifth and final episode of “Life Is Strange” begins at 24:52.