PC Gamer
Walking-Dead GOTY


Questions surrounding the portrayal of women in games, and the treatment of women in the games industry, have been with us throughout the year. Encouragingly, the resulting discussion, and events like #1reasonwhy, managed to rise above the vomitous whirlpool of anonymous abuse that characterises lowest dregs of internet discourse (which exist far away from here, of course). The issue is here to stay.

With that in mind we decided to take a look back across the year and celebrate the games that have done a good job of intelligently portraying a broad range of characters in terms of gender, race and sexuality. I'm happy to deliver an official PC Gamer fist-bump to Telltale games for their work on The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead derives its dramatic momentum from the frictions that spark among its diverse cast members. It succeeds not because it brings together such an interesting group of human beings, but because it simultaneously elevates them above the race and gender cliches that, under the pens of a less thoughtful writing team, could easily come to define them.

In The Walking Dead we meet men and women, young and old, black and white, cowardly and proud, angry and mistrustful. Every trait is a feature of each character's personality, not a direct symptom of their race, gender education or background. In Lee Everett we have a rare example of an african american main character. He's a professor. He's a killer. Kenny is from the deep south but he's not a hick. Young Clementine is vulnerable, but intelligent and independent. In a medium where lazy characterisation based on race and gender is the norm, The Walking Dead represents a breath of cool air. Every character resists cliche. The result is one of the most engrossing and surprising stories of the year.

Props go out, too, to Mass Effect 3. A close runner up. Bioware have gathered a fine team of interesting and capable women, men, androids and space toads for the glorious finale and for the first time in the series they introduced fully written same-sex relationships. The writers blogged about it too.

"I’m fortunate to have gay and lesbian friends at BioWare who were willing to take a look at Traynor for me and help me edit a few bad lines that played into negative stereotypes. As for the fans, the reaction has been very positive so far – I think the nicest thing I’ve heard was, “I think I’ve actually had that conversation in real life," said writer Patrick Weekes.

BONUS AWARD: Most adroit three point turn out of the mindset and values of the 21st century - Hitman Absolution

The fact there have been so many gender-related gaming scandals this year may be a good thing: in previous years these sorts of things have gone largely without comment or complaint. This year’s cavalcade of calumny is proof, at least, that there is an increasing will to change things.

Change things like, say, a game trailer in which the male protagonist brutally murders a host of sexy BDSM nuns in graphic slow-motion. Or the atmosphere of an industry in which women are routinely patronised or abused as evidenced by the #1ReasonWhy Twitter movement. Or games in which female characters appear only to be objectified or killed. Take Black Ops 2’s cast of speaking roles for women, for instance: one (“probably some whore”) gets burnt alive and then blown up with a grenade. Another gets her throat cut (though, in fairness, this can be avoided through the game’s branching paths). The third is a pilot - promising! - although she gets shot out of the sky and our character jumps in and is able to fly the plane with no prior experience.

The longest, loudest facepalm of the year was triggered by the sight of Hitman: Absolution's rubberised nunssassins, and the Facebook campaign that invited friends to order Facebook "hits" on girls for having “awful make-up," "strange odour" and "small tits," and on guys for having a "hairy back," a "big gut" or a "small penis," which at least gave men and women equal opportunites to offend one another. The Facebook campaign was quickly pulled. Hopefully we'll see less of its like next year, and all the years beyond.
Dec 27, 2012
Kotaku

The Year In Zombies I didn't notice how fairly quiet a year it's been for zombies until doing this round-up of all the flesh-eaters this year's media has to offer, but there were definitely some highlights that more than fill those gaps. Some duds, too, but you can't expect such a watered down narrative to always go over so creatively.


So let's take a look back at 2012 and all the zombie media that it had to offer. From games to comics to TV shows to film, here are a few highlights. If we missed any you're keen on, share your noteworthy selections in Kinja below.



The Games

The Walking Dead

The Year In Zombies


This is the star of the list. Telltale's wonderfully harrowing episodic series was a somber exploration through your personal judgments as the game threw increasingly difficult decisions your way. The point-and-click adventure game also featured some refreshingly interesting characters, including a remarkably enjoyable young Clementine and a steadfast Lee. Though definitely the mediocre platform of the bunch, the iOS version available was an alternative to non-console gaming users. Which is great, because the more people that play this touching eye-opener the better.


Resident Evil

The Year In Zombies


There were hits and misses embedded in this franchise's 2012 existence. Resident Evil 6, for instance, was incredibly underwhelming. As much as the game tried to make interesting changes to the series, it felt too outdone by other games. Resident Evil: Revelations was a surprise hit on the 3DS, combining a quality Resident Evil vibe with an episodic structure that suited the mobile game well. And then Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City ran somewhere in the middle at mediocre.


DayZ

The Year In Zombies


The mod so good it's getting its own standalone game, DayZ has had an incredibly good year. It's marked by hundreds of compelling player tales on survival and trust, and a bunch of funny videos, too. Truly an experience unlike any other MMO or zombie game.


ZombiU

The Year In Zombies


Not only is ZombiU arguably the game that makes best use of the Wii U's GamePad capabilities so far in the early launch days of Nintendo's new console, but it's also a fascinating game. The shooter experiments with new concepts—like having to kill zombified versions of your previous lives—and includes an incredibly fun multiplayer mode, too.


Black Ops II

The Year In Zombies


But, wait! This is a first-person, war shooter! Well it also has a multiplayer option completely dedicated to zombies. And it's quite good, if not a little tough.


Zombro

The Year In Zombies


Zombro is a clever, bright puzzle game where you can dismember your zombie body to roll, bounce, and crawl your way around each level. It's a lot of fun.


Rebuild

The Year In Zombies


Deploy survivors, give them tasks, and survive.


Zombies, Run!

The Year In Zombies


Here's an interesting take on the world of zombie games. Zombies, Run! is an exercise game. As you go for a run around your neighborhood, you'll be listening to the story and taking instructions from the game, picking up supplies while being chased by zombies.


The Movies

Resident Evil: Retribution

The Year In Zombies


I imagine viewers are split on this one, as video games adapted into movies are never great. But our movie reviewer, Matt Hawkins, thinks that there are enjoyable elements to the latest film. Like great action sequences and some actual nods to the game, albeit not always too accurately.


ParaNorman

The Year In Zombies


This stop-motion animated zombie flick is different than what you're used to. It leans to the comedy variety rather than a horror film. Protagonist Norman has to use his ability to speak with the dead to fend off against the living dead. It's an adorable entry in what is normally a gross and scary one.


REC 3: Genesis

The Year In Zombies


Perhaps not the most unique of zombie movies, REC 3: Genesis is at the least packed with gore and ludicrous action. What else can you expect of a wedding gone awry at the hands of a disgusting and infectious illness?


The TV Show

The Walking Dead

The Year In Zombies


AMC's The Walking Dead, based on the comic book series, started off strong. Though losing some of its viewer loyalty somewhere near the end of season one and a whole lot of boring farm episodes in season two, the show has since picked up the pace in recent months with season three where the group of survivors finally starts to make more moves. The highlight of which has to be Daryl, who is certainly my favorite character, and unique to the show.


The Comics

The Walking Dead

The Year In Zombies


Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead series is absolutely fantastic. Artist Charlie Adlard's powerful black-and-white imagery adds to the many, many tense moments in the series that has been ongoing since 2003. It follows a group of survivors as they meet their biggest threats head-on: other survivors. Think of the series as less about zombies and more about the world zombies have left in their wake.


Marvel Zombies

The Year In Zombies


From Evan: If you only know Robert Kirkman from The Walking Dead or his other creator-owned hits like Invincible, you may not know that he delivered a gleefully gross mash-up of superheroes and shambling undead a few years back. Marvel Zombies gave us versions of Captain America, Hulk, Spider-Man and others who devoured every human being on their home planet and went battling across the multiverse to hunt for more fresh meat. This year, a massive anthology collected all the MZ mini-series between two covers. It's good gory fun that makes the good guys very bad. Get it for the zombie lover in your life.


PC Gamer
walking-dead GOTY 2


Writing is as much about structure as conversation and character. This year Telltale's experimentation with the episodic format has finally worked. Their survival horror adventure game, The Walking Dead played to the strengths of its format beautifully, tearing its characters out of each situation just as they started to settle in. It's an apocalyptic road trip that delivers satisfying, self-contained two-to-three hour plot arcs, but always quietly builds to a grand finale that, for many, provided the emotional payoff of the year.

There are lot of layers to storytelling in an interactive medium, especially in an adventure game in which you spend most of your time talking to folk. Walking Dead's structure means it has more opportunity than most games to show off, but that also means plenty of opportunity to offend with a momentary lapse in sense, a sudden unexplained right turn in a character's motivations, or the sudden introduction of a cavernous plot hole.

There's a difference between a character behaving unpredictably, but within the range of plausible action, and a character stepping out of themselves entirely. It's a line Telltale walk finely with Lee's companions. Making friends and gaining their loyalty requires you to juggle their motivations and constantly assess their perceptions of you.

Then, just when you think you're in control, something explodes and you must choose which relationship is more valuable, sometimes at the behest of a ten second timer.

It's cruel, but that's what the Walking Dead does so well - the bait and switch. It offers you scraps of security, and replaces it with sudden, violent calamity. And into the chaos they thrust a young kid who needs a helping hand. It's traumatic, but quite brilliant.

A second season of The Walking Dead is expected next year. I can't wait.
Kotaku

Some War Z Images Were Ripped From The Walking Dead


As promised, the strange saga of War Z just keeps getting stranger. Turns out this promo screen for zombie survival game, which was pulled from Steam earlier today, was plagiarized from The Walking Dead.


A Kotaku reader sent over the following image to show off just how much of this War Z title screen was plagiarized from other sources: (Click to expand.)



Some War Z Images Were Ripped From The Walking Dead

It looks like the top few photos are from fan zombie gatherings (assuming they're not from actual zombie invasions). We couldn't track down the bottom-left photo—I think it's from Shaun of the Dead?—but the bottom-middle one is straight out of The Walking Dead.


The bottom-right photo, which was mirrored for the leftmost female zombie in the War Z image, is also from The Walking Dead.


For a clearer comparison:


Some War Z Images Were Ripped From The Walking Dead Some War Z Images Were Ripped From The Walking Dead


Will this story ever end? Stay tuned.


Kotaku

More shows need Christmas specials. The UK The Office and more recently, Downton Abbey both had some pretty outstanding specials; surely The Walking Dead could use one?


This video from Jawiin imagines just such a scenario. The jokes are hit or miss, but the impersonations are all pretty great. "I'VE GOT THE HAM."


Are you with me that this most recent half-season of TWD was the strongest the show has been? Or do you think it's been good all along? What other shows deserve weird Christmas specials? I'd watch a Breaking Bad Christmas special.


Chat about that or whatever else, here or over in the Talk Amongst Yourselves forum. See you tomorrow.


Kotaku

See If You Can Beat The Walking Dead Creator's Video Game ChallengesTelltale's The Walking Dead game might be getting the lion's share of press lately, but there's actually another very good Walking Dead game out there: The Walking Dead: Assault for iOS. No, really: it's good!


Walking Dead author Robert Kirkman has been having fun promoting the game, and has launched a new Twitter campaign called "Play the Walking Dead" in which he'll regularly issue new challenges for the game via Twitter through December 21 (You know, when the world ends). It's the kind of thing that could be cool, or could be obnoxious, depending—but still, cool to see the author of the series engaging with the game so directly.


Full details from the press release:


Beginning today, Skybound, publisher of The Walking Dead: Assault and Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, Invincible, Thief of Thieves and Super Dinosaur, will host "the 10 days of the Apocalypse", a celebration of our forthcoming apocalypse as predicted by the Mayans.


To celebrate this pivotal event in human history, Robert Kirkman is hosting a "10 days of the Apocalypse" event, where every day at 11AM PST on his Twitter feed, @RobertKirkman, he will set a new daily challenge for players of The Walking Dead: Assault.


Winners of each challenge will be awarded prizes that will be kept secret until the challenge is made, however, know that some of these will be very special items you will not be able to find anywhere else.


So, sure, it's really just a stunt to promote The Walking Dead: Assault. But hey, the game is good, and this gives the welcome opportunity to beat the creator of The Walking Dead at his own game.


PC Gamer
The Walking Dead Episode Five


Telltale's episodic Walking Dead series of drama-laced survival hit shelves today as a boxed edition compiling all five episodes of the first season. Retailing exclusively at Best Buy stores for $30, the collection charts the struggles of Lee, Clementine, Kenny, and other memorable characters as personalities clash and mesh during a widespread zombie outbreak.

Previously available as individual digital downloads through Steam and Telltale's Season Pass, the boxed Walking Dead provides a means to scoop up the entirety of the first season's cliffhangers, moral ambiguity, and bloodstained shovels. Seeing as the culminating fifth episode alone yanked enough on our heartstrings to include the series in our Game of the Year selections, it's definitely a worthy buy for those seeking the entire experience.
PC Gamer
GameFly End of the World sale


When facing the end of time as we know it through a cataclysmic prophecy, it's time for a sale to mark history's end with a bang. To wit, GameFly's End of the World event nixes 75 percent off select titles for the next 12 days, providing valuable buys such as a $15/£9 Witcher 2, a $25/£15.50 XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and $12.50/£8 for The Walking Dead, among others.

More games will appear throughout the sale's duration, but current offerings include Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for $2.50/£1.60, Batman: Arkham Asylum for $10/£6, and Crysis for $7.50/£4.70.

If you haven't yet taken shelter in your fallout bunker cheered at the increasing arrival of awesome holiday sales, Origin's Green Monday sale are still around for just one more day with 40 percent off on tons of noteworthy titles such as Battlefield 3 ($24/£15), Crusader Kings II ($24/£15), and The Sims 3 ($18/£11). Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a couple of asteroid-repelling planks to board up.
PC Gamer
PC Gamer GOTY Nominees


At the end of each year we hand out awards to honor the experiences that live in our best memories of the preceding months—the games that moved us with their ambition, quality, and pioneering spirit. None of the decisions are ever easy, and there's no secret formula: we pit opinion against opinion with straightforward, old-fashioned arguing until one winner is left standing in the GOTY battle cage. Look below for the first landmark of that exciting week-long debate: a list of our eligible winners in 11 categories, including Game of the Year.

Beyond recognizing what games we loved most this year, though, it’s crucial to call attention to a truth that connects them all: PC gaming is exploding. Our hobby is many-tentacled and unbridled—practically every niche, genre, and business model mutated in a meaningful way this year. Two shooters built on new, PC-only technology released (PlanetSide 2 and Natural Selection 2). Dota 2 grew into its adolescence. League of Legends’ Season 2 Championship drew an audience of 8.2 million—the most ever for an eSports event. Modders resurrected content that was thought to be lost. So many remakes and spiritual successors to old school PC games got crowdfunded that we're sure we’d miss some if we tried to list them all.

That said, the following list marks the peaks of this mountainous year, and you'll find out which games won in the next issue of PC Gamer, and here on the web soon.



Dota 2
Dishonored
Mass Effect 3
PlanetSide 2
The Walking Dead
Tribes: Ascend
XCOM: Enemy Unknown



Crusader Kings II
FTL: Faster Than Light
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
XCOM: Enemy Unknown



Guild Wars 2
PlanetSide 2
Rift: Storm Legion
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria



Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition
Diablo III
Mass Effect 3
Torchlight II



Borderlands 2
Dishonored
Far Cry 3
Max Payne 3
Spec Ops: The Line



Hawken
Natural Selection 2
PlanetSide 2
Tribes: Ascend



Dota 2
League of Legends
StarCraft II




Black Mesa: Source
Crusader Kings II: A Game of Thrones
DayZ
The Sith Lords Restored Content Mod



Lone Survivor
The Walking Dead
Thirty Flights of Loving
Resonance




FTL: Faster Than Light
Hotline Miami
Legend of Grimrock
Thirty Flights of Loving



Euro Truck Simulator 2
aeroflyFS
XPlane
Football Manager 2013
Kotaku

The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different TaleIf the Video Game Awards are actually an awards show, and not just a keynote for promoting upcoming games, then the big news from last night was The Walking Dead: The Game. Eminently quotable analyst Michael Pachter said before the show that if this title, a downloadable self-published game, took home Game of the Year, he'd eat his hat. To his credit, Pachter later tweeted out a request for one, presumably to consume.


But the surprises don't just stop there. The Walking Dead won Game of the Year coming out of the Best Adapted Game category. Except for 2003, the first year of the VGAs, when things were very different from today, only two adapted games have even been nominated for GOTY: Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, and neither won. This is a different time in games development, with publishers looking for games whose characters and stories they fully own.


Some might look to a licensed or adapted work and consider that the game derives its significance, or at least the attention given to it, because it draws on some other franchise in popular entertainment. So it's strange that a licensed, adapted work reminds us that story, and characters, and choices, and the memorable experiences they create, matters most.


Here's another surprise nugget: The Walking Dead: The Game earned its makers five Video Game Awards. The next big winner? Journey, with three (including a nomination for Game of the Year.) Borderlands 2 also took home three awards, the best haul for a traditional boxed console game.


So if you're thinking this might have been a different Video Game Awards, in its 10th year, you're probably right. Had the show given more attention to that purpose—only a handful of these awards were actually presented in the broadcast—we might be pondering it as a landmark year. The VGAs are often accused of being an industry popularity contest, but maybe this year they acquired recognizable critical heft. We'll have to see what happens next year, and the year after.


So here are the 25 winners of the 2012 Video Game Awards, plus the Game of the Decade. Two fan-voted awards gave Character of the Year to Claptrap from Borderlands 2, and Most Anticipated Game to Grand Theft Auto V.


The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Game of the Year

The Walking Dead: The Game

Telltale Games


Also nominated: Assassin's Creed III, Dishonored, Journey, Mass Effect 3
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Studio of the Year

Telltale Games

Also nominated: 343 Industries, Arkane Studios, Gearbox Software


The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Xbox 360 Game

Halo 4

Microsoft Studios/343 Industries


Also nominated: Assassin's Creed III, Borderlands 2, Dishonored
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best PS3 Game

Journey

Sony Computer Entertainment/thatgamecompany


Also nominated: Assassin's Creed III, Borderlands 2, Dishonored
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Wii/Wii U Game

New Super Mario Bros. U

Nintendo


Also nominated: The Last Story, Xenoblade Chronicles, ZombiU
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best PC Game

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

2K Games/Firaxis Games


Also nominated: Diablo III, Guild Wars 2, Torchlight II
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Shooter

Borderlands 2

2K Games/Gearbox Software


Also nominated: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Halo 4, Max Payne 3
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Action-Adventure Game

Dishonored

Bethesda Softworks/Arkane Studios


Also nominated: Assassin's Creed III, Darksiders II, Sleeping Dogs
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Role-Playing Game

Mass Effect 3

Electronic Arts/BioWare


Also nominated: Diablo III, Torchlight II, Xenoblade Chronicles
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Multiplayer Game

Borderlands 2

2K Games/Gearbox Software


Also nominated: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Guild Wars 2, Halo 4
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Individual Sports Game

SSX

Electronic Arts/EA Canada


Also nominated: Hot Shots Golf World Invitational, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13, WWE '13
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Team Sports Game

NBA 2K13

2K Sports/Visual Concepts


Also nominated: FIFA 13, Madden NFL 13, NHL 13
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Driving Game

Need For Speed: Most Wanted

Electronic Arts/Criterion Games


Also nominated: Dirt: Showdown, F1 2012, Forza Horizon
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Song in a Game

"Cities" (Beck) for Sound Shapes

Also nominated: "Castle of Glass" (Linkin Park for Medal of Honor: Warfighter); "I Was Born for This" (Austin Wintory for Journey); "Tears" (Health for Max Payne 3)


The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Original Score

Journey

Sony Computer Entertainment/thatgamecompany


Also nominated: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Halo 4, Max Payne 3.


The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Graphics

Halo 4

Microsoft Studios/343 Industries


Also nominated: Assassin's Creed III, Dishonored, Journey
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Independent Game

Journey

thatgamecompany


Also nominated: Dust: An Elysian Tail, Fez, Mark of the Ninja
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Fighting Game

Persona 4 Arena

Atlus/Arc System Works/Atlus


Also nominated: Dead or Alive 5, Street Fighter X Tekken, Tekken Tag Tournament 2
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Handheld/Mobile Game

Sound Shapes

Sony Computer Entertainment/Queasy Games


Also nominated: Gravity Rush, LittleBigPlanet (PS Vita), New Super Mario Bros 2
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Performance by a Human Female

Melissa Hutchison for The Walking Dead: The Game

Also nominated: Emma Stone for Sleeping Dogs; Jen Taylor for Halo 4; Jennifer Hale for Mass Effect 3
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Performance by a Human Male

Dameon Clark for Borderlands 2

Also nominated: Dave Fennoy for The Walking Dead: The Game; James McCaffrey for Max Payne 3; Nolan North for Spec Ops: The Line
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Adapted Video Game

The Walking Dead: The Game

Telltale Games


Also nominated: Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Downloadable Content

Dawnguard for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Bethesda Softworks/Bethesda Game Studios


Also nominated: Leviathan for Mass Effect 3; Mechromancer Pack for Borderlands 2; Perpetual Testing Initiative for Portal 2
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Downloadable Game

The Walking Dead: The Game

Telltale Games


Also nominated: Fez, Journey, Sound Shapes
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Best Social Game

You Don't Know Jack

Jellyvision Games


Also nominated: Draw Something, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, SimCity Social
The Biggest Winners Helped This Year's VGAs Tell a Different Tale


Game of the Decade

Half Life 2

Valve Corporation


Also nominated: Batman: Arkham City, BioShock, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Mass Effect 2, Portal, Red Dead Redemption, Shadow of the Colossus, Wii Sports, World of Warcraft


...

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