I fell behind on 2018 games thanks to my “Let’s Study Horror Games” series. Things kind of worked out in the end, though, because 2018 ended up being not quite as supersaturated with games as 2017. To be sure, it was a year of big releases, both on the mainstream AAA front and on the indie front. But it didn’t have the sheer firehose volume of 2017.
Since my mid-year post handled January through June, I was originally intending this post to mostly cover games that came out from July 1st onward. It turned out there were plenty of stragglers I missed in the previous post, so that organizational scheme ended up going out the window. A jumble of things below the jump.
I will shock no one by saying that videogames, like architecture, sculpture, or gardening, have the potential to be a richly spatial art form. It has been twenty years now since Janet Murray, after playing DOOM (id Software, 1993), reported that “the fluid navigation through the enormous three-dimensional spaces was rapturous in itself.”[i] It has been nearly as long since Espen Aarseth characterized games as being, above all else, “essentially concerned with spatial representation and negotiation.”[ii]
And so, while my last three categories (“pacing,” “characters,” “stakes”) have been elements of storytelling common to any form of narrative, I wanted to call this category something other than simply “setting.” Videogames don’t have “settings” in the same way that literary works do. They offer up spaces, places, worlds: opportunities for virtual exploration that exceed the possibilities of non-interactive media in their richness.
And so the games on this list don’t just just represent my favorite “settings.” They offer up some of my favorite places to visit, to spend time in, to explore, to discover.