Welcome to the I’m Just Playin’ Game Awards 2016. Hosted by Sid, Joseph and Brian in our very first summary of the year. It’s been a very interesting year for video games with some outstanding releases and some, not so much.

We believe that awards should have meaning, and without reasoning, nominations become arbitrary. Our aim has always been to add some colour to the conversation around video games. As a diverse group of people, we’ve worked to create a podcast that offers multiple viewpoints and be an entertaining and thoughtful outlet.

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Joining Sid and Joseph in this episode of I’m Just Playin’ is freelance journalist Carl Anka. In this episode we discuss beautiful worlds, character creation and the worst games of all time.

Carl opens the show and telling us about his time playing the Uncharted series after picking up Uncharted 4 in the Black Friday sales. The ludonarrative dissonance of one man mowing down armies of men has been a hotly debated subject over the years in games like this. Other games mentioned include Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian.

In order to make himself feel better, Sid’s been gathering achievements on Steam through little puzzle games leading him to have 19 perfect games on the platform. In addition to playing more Watch_Dogs 2, he’s been playing 1979 Revolution: Black Friday. A Telltale style game set in the Iranian revolution. A game that delivers a strong and powerful message, however it’s gameplay and presentation deliver a lacklustre experience. The performances from the characters in the game are the only thing that keeps players invested in the game.

Joseph makes a return to the show and discusses the numerous games that he’s played. With the acquisition of a new bundle, he’s been playing Big Pharma amongst other indie titles.

In the news, the Chinese Government have made it clear that game publishers who sell loot boxes in games as micro transactions must declare possible contents and drop rates of items. This pro consumer move from a China has come as a surprise considering it’s pro-consumer ramifications. Carl and Joseph both argue that something like this could “kill the magic.”

In other news, Arizona Sunshine, a VR Zombie shooter came under fire due to it’s gating of content. Rather than the traditional DLC model, the developers chose to partner with Intel and allow only users with a 5th, 6th or 7th Generation Core i7 CPU to play. It’s never advertised that limitations are imposed within the game, it sets a precedent that worse practices are possible.

As the main topic of discussion, Carl, Joseph and Sid discuss the POC problems that come from character customisation. People of Colour seem to have a hard time in creating a custom character with the limited choices in games. Carl explains the technical problems involved including the lighting, texture mapping and more that always favour lighter skin tones. One of the key issues include hair styles and why there only ever five natural hairstyles for POC’s and 30+ flowing hair styles for white characters.

To conclude the episode we go through the Guardian’s list of Worst Games Ever Made. Hilarity ensues.

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As 2016 draws to a close, Sid and Brian sit down to discuss a number of things. This includes the 2.5 hour advert called The Game Awards as well as the Top 10 Fails of 2016. We apologise in advance for any controversy.

We open the show with Brian discussing a rogue-like game called Curious Expeditions. A game where players must accrue fame and glory as they explore a procedural world in the 19th Century. On the other hand, Sid’s been playing the PC port of Watch_Dogs 2, a game following the events of the previous game. With a new cast and the meme-lord writings of Ubisoft, it turns out to be a fun and well-optimised game. Although it isn’t without criticism. It’s control scheme feels awkward, along with some of the driving mechanics. This, combined with the pseudo-terrorist feel that game gives you when supplying you with weapons, feels off. It’s highly recommended that you play Watch_Dogs 2 and play it in a ghost/non-lethal route.

The main crux of this week’s episode comes down to the Game Awards. Which turned out to be a two hour advertisement. Following successful years of the show, this year turned out to be one of the worst with CG trailers and sponsorships thrown all over the place. In the premier categories, a number of upsets include Overwatch winning more awards then it deserved, in our opinions. We’re all fans of Overwatch on the show, however it winning both Best Game, Best Studio/Game Direction and Multiplayer Game doesn’t sit right considering the competition.

Notable exclusions include ABZU not being nominated for Best Soundtrack and Stardew Valley losing out to Inside in Best Independent Game.

One of the biggest moments from the show include Ryan Green’s emotional speech after being handed the award for Games for Impact. After being handed the award by a smiling MatPat and Justine Ezarik (very awkward considering the context), Ryan gave a very heart-wrenching speech about the games development and his son. That Dragon, Cancer tells an autobiographical tale of Ryan’s son, Joel, and his fight with Cancer. The game sparked some controversy, however few have felt open to discuss openly about a game that profits from the the death of a son. It’s a tough subject to cover.

And in conclusion, Sid summarises 2016 in a glorious clickbait list. The biggest failures of gaming in 2016 including No Man’s Sky, CSGO Lotto, Battleborn and a surprise Number One.

 

In the 10th episode of I’m Just Playin’, Brian and Sid sit down to discuss the games they’ve played and a few shenanigans in the world of gaming including a speculated hostile takeover of CD Projekt Red.

The developer/publisher/overall good guys from Poland, are seen as the last bastion of developers in the world. Their business model and games are world renowned as some of the best. Their policy on DLC and DRM puts all their competitors to shame. With the news that a shareholders meeting discussing the buying back of their own shares, rumour has it that CDPR may be facing a hostile takeover. Speculation on whether it’s Disney, Tencent or EA are rampant. Which has gaming communities sitting on the edge of their seats. Sid believes this is all just speculation and that CDPR are simply trying to strengthen their company and take the Valve route by making sure that they have complete ownership of their games and platforms.

Brian’s been playing a lot of Cities: Skylines lately and they both discuss their opinions on the game and it’s merits. Sid points out that the expansion packs being released appear to be just glorified mods.

After what feels like an eternity Blizzard have finally revealed Sombra. After months of an overly long ARG across the internet, Sombra was revealed at Blizzcon 2016. The reveal came with a new film featuring Widowmaker and Reaper as they try to kill the leader of Volskya Industries. Sid and Brian discuss their dissappointment in Overwatch following a somewhat dull follow up to one of the year’s biggest releases. With only 2 new characters, one map and two events, Overwatch hasn’t been catering to players as much as what seems to be intended.

In conclusion, Sid goes out of his way to trigger Brian in a series of choices that upsets him.