Kotaku

Is Portal 2 Kotaku's Game of the Year? What Valve did this year seemed impossible: they improved on the perfection that was the first Portal. That feat was accomplished, surprisingly, by making everything about players' return to Aperture Science less perfect. We got a scuffed-up, messier experience that resonated more deeply than any other game this year. Can Portal 2 open a rift to the top of this year's GOTY contenders? Let's see.


WHAT I LOVED:


Heart-ificial Intelligence: Portal 2 pulled off an amazing role reversal: it made the humans playing it feel like computers and the dueling AIs vying for control feel human. The character arcs traveled by Wheatley and GLaDOS didn't seem robotic at all, and each AI felt, at turns, poignantly insecure and needy. And, at the end of the single-player portion, I felt like a problem-solving machine, electric and sharp, able to coolly think my way out of the game's inscrutable puzzle rooms.


Broken Beauty: Portal 2 fractured the clean minimalism of its predecessor and created a different kind of splendor by peeling back Aperture Science's gleaming white layers. Playing through the grimy, rusted-over past of the research firm didn't just introduce cool new mechanics. It showed us the aching soul of a beautiful loser named Cave Johnson, and generated an unexpected empathy for GLaDOS.


WHAT I HATED:


Invisible Woman: I wanted Portal 2 to create more of a connection to the series' mute heroine Chell. It's great that other, newer characters get fleshed-out backstories, but that just makes it harder to care the character I'm controlling when she remains a near-total cipher.


Slightly Off-Key: A game's theme song usually doesn't count for much in overall scheme of things. But, c'mon, this is Portal, the series that gave us "Still Alive." After firing that last teleportation blast, I expected a tune that lived up Jonathan Coulton's previous classic. Sadly, "Want You Gone" did nothing for me, even after repeated listens.



Kirk Hamilton responds:


I loved the crap out of Portal 2. It was a triumph, a huge success; I'm making a note here, etc. It is an entirely worthy candidate for GOTY, even though in the end I didn't choose it for my own nomination. Here's what I think:


WHAT I LOVED


High-larious - Portal 2 was the funniest game of 2011. The excellent one-off gags, the winning animation work on all of the robots, and Stephen Merchant's show-stealing voice-over performance… I spent 90% of my time with a huge grin plastered on my face. Why can't all games be this funny? I don't know. Writers Erik Wolpaw, Jay Pinkerton and Chet Faliszek, my hat is off to you.


Brainy Gamer - Portal 2 was a real brain-tickler. Solving a tricky puzzle before sending yourself careening through the air to the finish line was one of 2011's great gaming pleasures.


Musical Heart - The way that Valve integrated Mike Morasky's super-cool music into the gameworld was creative, unexpected, and my favorite addition to the Portal formula.


The Ending - Best grand finale of the year, hands down.


WHAT I HATED


Thick in the Middle - The single player campaign's middle act felt largely unnecessary. Too many of the puzzles were, basically, "Find the White Wall To Continue."


Unnecessary Answers - A pervading sense of ominous mystery was part of what made Portal (and for that matter, Half-Life) so cool. I can't say that the sequel benefitted from adding GLaDOS' and Aperture's backstories.


PC Loading Screens - Come on, Valve. Seriously?



Luke Plunkett responds:

With Valve terrified of games including the number "3" in them, this is probably the last we'll ever see of Portal. Unless they do a Portal 2.5. Or Portal: The Portal Chronicles: An Origin Story: Chronicles. Good thing it was a great game, then.


WHAT I LOVED
Funny Bones: Good Lord, this game was funny. Consistently, massively funny. Great writing, top-shelf voice acting. That should be the norm in blockbuster video gaming, but it's not, so Portal 2 gets a big thumbs up for this.


Meat On Them Bones: The first Portal was a puzzle game. Room after room of puzzles and little else. Portal 2, with its bottomless chasms and walkways and transitions, felt more like a flowing game, which really helped matters as far as pacing and story-telling were concerned.


WHAT I HATED
Too Much: On the one hand, I appreciated the variety of challenges and tools at your disposal in Portal 2. On the other, the game often felt like there was too much going on, and it lost a little of the first game's watertight focus as a result.



Stephen Totilo responds:


What have we here? Oh! It's the best game I played in 2011.


WHAT I LOVED

Playing it - Yeah, yeah, looking at it was lovely. Listening to it was cool. It is a video game, so I am happy to confirm that actually playing Portal 2 was a wonderful experience, too—a delightful experience of thinking, trying, experimenting, leaping, rushing, panicking, hoping and also just having a grand time.


Playing it with another person - Of course, the single player of Portal 2 was good. It was an iterative improvement on the ingenious design of Portal the first. Co-op was better. I played it online. I played it on the couch. I played it with a regular friend. I played it with my wife. We were dropping four portals in the labs to solve crazy puzzles, one of which had us taking off from face-to-face ski jumps of sorts, making us smack into each other in mid-air. If another game wins our GOTY vote, I will not be convinced its players had more fun than I had with Portal 2.


WHAT I HATED

Nada. It made me laugh too much. This game's a gem.



Mike Fahey responds:

Everything about this game fills me with pure, unabashed joy. Going into these discussions I was 100 percent certain my pick would be Skyrim. Now I only want it gone.


WHAT I LOVED


Did I Mention Joy?: There hasn't been a moment during my multiple play-throughs of Portal 2 that I've felt anything less than completely pleased with my time investment. From the moment I woke up in the simulated motel room to the final lines of Jonathan Coulton's "Want You Gone" my smile never faltered. Even during the game's most maddeningly frustrating puzzles, I was happy to be challenged by such a well-crafted experience.


Sharing is Caring: The addition of cooperative multiplayer in Portal 2 was handled brilliantly. By introducing two new robot test subjects to the mix Valve was able to craft a complex and completely satisfying game mode without compromising the integrity of the single player experience. And this is real co-op, not just two or more players shooting at the same enemies. Whether you're playing with a close friend or a total stranger, by the end of Portal 2's cooperative campaign you're two parts of one well-oiled testing machine.


WHAT I HATED


Do I Have to Have a Hated?: I suppose I could be cute here and say I hated that the game had to end, but in truth I felt the game ended exactly when it should have. I've got nothing.



There you have 'em, our arguments for and against Portal 2 as Kotaku's 2011 Game of the Year. We'll have one more argument this week, and then we'll vote and announce the winner on Monday, January 2.


Read the rest of our 2011 GOTY debates.


Kotaku

Portal Christmas tree is absolutely geniusHere's further proof that basically everything goes better with Portal. Check out Ryan Kelly and his coworkers' Portal-fied Christmas tree, which certainly beats the hell out of the 20 years' worth of musty tinsel I festooned all over my folks' Tannenbaum this very evening. Also, learn how to make this Aperture Science-infused arbor for next year.


Kelly broke down the construction process for io9 as such:


Basically, it's our artificial tree which comes apart in three sections. The top section is suspended from the ceiling by an adhesive hook so it simply hangs downwards. The other two sections are connected and placed upside down on the floor - the tricky part is that the branches are meant to be kept extended out by gravity, so there is fishing line attached between each branch and what is usually the base of the tree, pulling the branches up towards the ceiling.


We then got two sets of rope lights (blue and red as we couldn't find orange). We laid the red out in a tight circle around the tree on the floor. The blue was wrapped in a circle, scotch taped to hold together, and then hung on to more adhesive hooks on the ceiling. Then we cut two circles of black poster board and placed these beneath the rope light rings to give them the feeling of holes. You barely see the black with all the branches and the portals lit up so it plays fairly well.


Finally, the hanging top piece didn't have branches that extended all the way up to the ceiling, so to cover the obvious gap we bought some artificial garland and wrapped that around it to match up with the ceiling. That way it looks like the tree continues up into the surface.


With a little bit of finessing, you can hide any of the obvious gaps and have one seamless tree.


Rad! You can see some more photos of the tree below, including a photo of Kelly's friend Jason entering the portal. For more Portal-inspired sculpture, see New York City's giant Companion Cube.


Portal Christmas tree is absolutely genius
Portal Christmas tree is absolutely genius
Portal Christmas tree is absolutely genius
Portal Christmas tree is absolutely genius
Portal Christmas tree is absolutely genius


[Tymykal via Reddit/hat tip to Precious Roy]


Kotaku

Portal 2 Teleports into Gamasutra's Hearts, Snags Their Game of the YearThe industry- and design-focused publication Gamasutra has released their list of the top ten games of the year, with Valve's Portal 2 coming in at the top.


"All that extra 'stuff' isn't just superfluous," writes editor-in-chief Kris Graft, "every new addition has a purpose, and has a meaning. They made Portal 2 better than the original. Leave it to Valve to screw up the old adage, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.'"


It is, in my opinion, a freakin' solid top ten throughout, featuring Rayman: Origins, Super Mario 3D Land, Catherine and Orcs Must Die in addition to usual suspects like Skyrim and Batman: Arkham City.


Gamasutra's Best Of 2011: Top 10 Games Of The Year [Gamasutra]


Kotaku

Portal 2's Wheatley did not win an award at the Spike VGAs. Mildly disappointing, but then, given the Spike's themselves are mildly disappointing, I'm not losing much sleep over it.


Eeexxcccceeepppptttt for this. Being a virtual character, Valve had to make his acceptance speech in advance. Just in case he actually won. He didn't, but the speech exists, and here it is.


If Wheatley Had Won [Rock, Paper, Shotgun]


Kotaku

Portal 2 is Games Radar's Most Favorite 2011 Video GameTheir readers thought the best video game of 2011 was Skyrim, but the editors of Games Radar have picked Portal 2. It's their top game of the year.


The readers' second favorite game was Batman: Arkham City. But the editors? They didn't pick a second-favorite. The don't do silver medals at Games Radar.


GAME OF THE YEAR 2011 (FOR REAL): Portal 2 [Games Radar]


Kotaku

The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous ScreenshotsLast week, I was so happy to publish a feature about the incredible screenshots of DeadEndThrills, a.k.a. Duncan Harris. Duncan is regularly cranking out so many terrific shots over on his site that I thought it would be fun to share some highlights from each week, as well as a few classics from his many collections.


This week, he's been posting some crazy-pants screens from up-res'd versions of Wii games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Mario Galaxy, and appears to have just gotten his hands on S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, god help us all.


The gallery can be clicked through above (I recommend expanding the images or viewing them in a separate window to get the full, HD effect). As always, you're encouraged to go peruse his site, which contains many more great shots.


At top, we've got "Starman," which is the first of several shots from Super Mario Galaxy. Duncan is using a technique that Luke detailed for you last week to rip the (already owned) game onto a PC and run it in HD. The results are ridiculous looking, and have shattered my notions of how the great art direction of Nintendo's Wii games makes up for the system's lack of hardware prowess. Yes, Super Mario Galaxy and Skyward Sword still look lovely, but goddam would they look better in HD.


Duncan's notes:


Tools and tricks: Dolphin emulator (OpenGL), 2160p rendering, antialiasing (4xMSAA), textures patched (HUD, pause screen), free camera, bilinear downsampling.


The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots


Portal 2 Collection Shot

This shot is one of 50 included in a "DeadEndThrills Presents" collection of shots from Portal 2. They're all outstanding, given that that game and its engine are (in my opinion) utterly beautiful. And even better in motion, I think. This one might be my favorite, in that it captures the arachnoid grace of GlaDOS's character design.


Duncan's Notes:


About the screenshots. They weren't really possible until Valve finally patched in custom FOV to coincide with its release of the Portal 2 SDK. I'd tried this thing with combining timescale modification with the game's zoom function (an FOV slide, effectively) but it was a pain in the butt. There's also a quirk in recent versions of Source that makes 2160p unavailable when using triple buffering, and let me tell you it took ages to figure that one out. Finally, there are the extraordinary gymnastics required to get Chell in shot through the thirdperson camera.


The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots


"Veteran"

A great shot from one of Modern Warfare 2's most memorable bits—this is a great example of how a free camera can give a perspective on a scene that was unattainable while playing. I was personally way too concerned with not falling off the mountain to notice how gorgeous everything was.


Duncan's Notes:


Tools and tricks: game client 1.0 (boxed version), MW2 Unleashed command console patch, high quality ambient occlusion, custom LOD bias, 2160p rendering, antialiasing (FXAA), no-HUD, timestop, free camera, custom FOV.


The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots


"Ms. Platonic"

Another outstanding shot from Super Mario Galaxy. Some of these are almost unsettling, given how unused I am to seeing Nintendo's characters rendered with such clarity.


Duncan's notes:


Tools and tricks: Dolphin emulator (OpenGL), 2160p rendering, antialiasing (4xMSAA), textures patched (HUD, pause screen), free camera, bilinear downsampling.


The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots


Portal 2 Collection Shot

Another amazing one, of one of Portal 2's most striking bits of level design. Same notes apply as the last one.


The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots


"Beyond the Moon"

The last of the Super Mario Galaxy shots, and my favorite. Lookit that junk! Could you imagine if this game was playable in HD? I am much more excited about the WiiU than I have been previously.


Duncan's Notes:


Tools and tricks: Dolphin emulator (OpenGL), 2160p rendering, antialiasing (4xMSAA), textures patched (HUD, pause screen), free camera, bilinear downsampling.


The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots


"The Burning Season"

The first of what I hope will be many shots from S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. (God, do I really have to do the periods thing every time I write that game title?) This shot manages to evoke what makes that game so great—the openness, the bleak beauty, etc. I hope he tackles Far Cry 2 at some point.


Duncan's notes:


Tools and tricks: 2160 rendering, antialiasing (SMAA), free camera, time demo recorder, no-HUD, STALKER Complete 2009 mod, STALKER FOV Switcher 1.7.


The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots


"By A Nose"

Terrific shot from Super Smash Bros Brawl - it almost doesn't look like a game. In fact, I'll say that this image is a touch disconcerting… which I like.


Duncan's notes:


Tools and tricks: Dolphin emulator (OpenGL), 2160p rendering, antialiasing (4xMSAA), in-game Photo Mode, free camera, bilinear downsampling.


The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots


"Smoke on the Water"

It woudn't be DeadEndThrills without an epic Skyrim shot, so here is one of the most epic he's done. Fuck yeah. In Duncan's words: "Like much in Skyrim, this falls somewhere between being a massive anticlimax and the best thing ever." Notes on how he accomplished the look are here.


Kotaku

The Best Game Music of 2011: Portal 2Kotaku's "Best Game Music of 2011" is a multi-part series in which we'll be discussing the best video game soundtracks of the year. Today, we'll be looking at and listening to the interactive robo-crunch beats of Portal 2.


Portal 2 comes in near the top of a lot of critics' "Best of 2011" lists—it was a joyously brainy, well-written and brilliantly designed puzzle game. I have a soft spot for it partly because it inspired me to break out my dominoes and write the most fun game review I've ever written. But I also love how musical Portal 2 is—beats, tones, and rhythms run through its very core. In fact, I think that the game's rich musicality is one of the things that sets it apart from its hard-to-follow predecessor.


The score, composed by guitarist and electronic musician Mike Morasky, directly challenges the idea of a "score" when it comes to a video game. There are plenty of great musical tracks, all of which can be downloaded for free from Valve's site. But the magic of the game is how the designers at Valve incorporated the same musical elements from the soundtrack into their gameworld. There is a lovely and rare revolving-door relationship between the tones on the Songs to Test By album and the actual game Portal 2.


Rather than pick three favorite "Songs," I thought I'd just break it down by three great musical experiences found in the game.




"Laser Music"

Thanks to YouTube user llSoulfirell for posting this clip—this segment, taken from one of Portal 2's early testchambers, was the moment that I truly fell in love with the game. It's a tricky three-part laser activation puzzle, requiring careful placement of the reflector boxes to proceed.


Once a laser touches its designated receptacle, something very cool starts to happen—music starts to play. The first receiver triggers a rough, shifting synth that moves between a low E, F#, G# and D. Trigger a second receiver and you'll hear an A#, a G# and an F#, which combine with the first four notes to imply a tonality known as Lydian (technically lydian dominant, but we'll get into that in a second). Lydian is what's called a mode, a way of dividing up a scale to get a certain sound. It's the brightest sound you can derive from the major scale (better known as the scale sung in "Do Re Mi" from The Sound of Music). Its most distinctive aspect is that raised fourth note, which is what makes it sound like a major chord with a little window opened right in the middle, the better to let in some more light.


…Erm, okay, music nerdiness has gotten away from me. It happens. Anyhow, hitting the third and final laser receptacle triggers more variations of the notes we already are hearing— a second D combined with that lower D brings out a dominant tonality, making the whole thing a loose lydian dominant chord (or an E7#4).


Theory aside, the upshot is that one moment you're solving a puzzle, the next you're listening to a bright, mystical lydian soundscape. And of course, as soon as you hear it, that means you've solved the puzzle and will be moving on. The story continues, GlaDOS goes back to taunting you…but if you're anything like me, you're also just a little bit more in love with this game.



"Faith Plate"

Portal 2's "Faith Plates" (which are really just ironically named catapults) are another splendid use of dynamic music, made cooler by how they interact with and riff on the harpsichord music that plays in the background. This video gives a great example of that, with the two faith plates doing a harmonic and then rhythmic variation on the harmonies set forth in the canned classical music. (I can't for the life of me figure out what the piece is; hey man, classical music ain't my forté (see what I did there)).


(But of course, it is Bach. Thanks to the esteemed Matt Burns for the heads-up.)


I really enjoyed this video as well, which uses a user-generated level to make the faith plates interact more directly with the harpsichord. Music! Games! Science!




"The Entire Ending"

So obviously this video is of the ending of the game, so if you haven't finished it, don't watch it. Also, if you haven't finished it… go finish it! What are you doing?


I was gobsmacked by Portal 2's entire ending sequence—it was entirely unexpected and truly inspired, easily one of my top gaming moments of 2011. The whole sequence is paced so effectively—players are in shock after the whole mind-blowing "Shoot the Moon" bit, and suddenly find themselves on an elevator being serenaded by four turret-bots. It's charming and funny, but soon fades… until we are carried up to a cavernous chamber that is filled with bots of all shapes and sizes (even the animal king!), who proceed to let loose an auto-tuned aria that still gives me goosebumps.


Kick through that and up to Jonathan Coulton's funny closing song (which I must admit I didn't dig nearly as much as "Still Alive" from Portal), and you've got my favorite finale sequence of 2011. I sense I am not alone in this.


Hit that video and watch it again; it never gets old.



So there it is, one of the most adventurous mainstream gaming soundtracks of 2011. You'll notice I said "One Of," because… hmm… could it be that there were soundtracks that were even more adventurous? Only one way to find out. Our series will continue tomorrow with yet another of the best video game soundtracks of 2011.


Kotaku

This one's a bit of a stretch… but then, what am I talking about? It's never a stretch when it comes to Valve.


People are already parsing the video that the company showed at last weekend's Spike Video Game Awards show, in which the Portal 2 character Wheatley put in a humorous, short plea to the audience to A) give him the "Character of the Year" award and B) help him get home.


This being a Valve video, viewers are convinced that the video also contains clues to the studios inevitable (but maddeningly mysterious, eternally unannounced) follow-up to Half-Life 2. Found via Rock, Paper Shotgun, this 1/2-speed video helps to parse whatever clues there were in the 30-second video.


For starters, Wheatley ends his speech by saying "one, one, one," which of course adds up to… three. Also, the text in the video reads "Observation Satellite "Lanthanum," which (apparently) is Greek for "To lie hidden." It is also a medication for use helping those with kidney disorders, and is a chemical with the atomic number 57.


It could be a reference to just about anything, including Wheatley himself ("lying hidden"), but as RPS points out, the first letter of "Lanthanum" in Greek is indeed a Lambda, otherwise known as the symbol for Half-Life.


Hmm. Seems like a stretch to me, but then again, why the heck else would they choose to include a greek word beginning with "L" in their video? Oh, Valve. How you taunt us.


Source: Rock, Paper Shotgun


Kotaku

People Who Like Science and Other Thinky PursuitsIt can be a challenge to buy a gift for your brainy, science-obsessed friend. What kind of games might he or she like? The science brains among us can be so intimidating, partly because it's always scary buying things for smart people, but partly because who knows what those science people even like? Do they want beakers? A scale perhaps? Maybe some sort of assistance in covering up their secret meth-cooking operation?


This list is for you, weary gift-giver. It's here to help you find some fun science-ish gifts for the egghead in your life. And always remember: if none of these sound good, you can always tell them that your gift-selection process is "still in the hypothesis stage." Scientists love that kind of stuff.



People Who Like Science and Other Thinky PursuitsSpaceChem


One of the smartest games in recent memory, Spacechem and science go together like peas and carrots. I mean come on, it's called "SpaceChem!" And it lives up to that name. It's an ever-more complex game that involves creatively coming up with combinations of molecules to form new chemicals. It's open-ended, hugely brainy, and rewards lateral thought and creativity.


($9.99 on Steam)



People Who Like Science and Other Thinky PursuitsExtra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell


While we're talking about things that smart people like, Tom Bissell's 2010 book Extra Lives: While Video Games Matter, while not particularly sciency, remains one of the most purely enjoyable pieces of video game writing you can buy. Think of it as a more holistic alternative to Jesse Schell's book (later)—well-written, humorous stories about games and the people who make them.


($15.61 at Amazon)



People Who Like Science and Other Thinky PursuitsPortal 2 "Science to Do" T-Shirt


Since it's a safe bet that your friend will already have played Valve's smart and sciency Portal 2, what better way to celebrate both their love of games and their love of Portal than with a fun Portal T-shirt? This one, from ThinkGeek.com, seems particularly appropriate. One of the best things about Portal T-shirts is that they hold up even if the person viewing the shirt doesn't get the reference. There's science to do!


($18.99 at ThinkGeek.com)



People Who Like Science and Other Thinky PursuitsFate of the World


Fate of the World is a game that cries out for a scientific mind. A complicated and unforgiving simulation about global climate change and strife, it requires players to carefully navigate a minefield of potential disasters while working towards some sort of accord. Which usually never comes. A knowledge of world economic, political, and environmental affairs is required, and even the most seasoned leader will learn something after a few games. It's not easy, and it's not forgiving, but science never is.


($18.99 online)



People Who Like Science and Other Thinky PursuitsThe Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell


One of the smartest and most accessible game-design books out there, Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses strikes a great balance by being both hugely informative about the process of making games while not shutting out readers who may not know a ton about the nuts and bolts of game design. Schell himself—former Disney imagineer, professor at Carnegie Mellon, all around cool dude—is the main attraction here, and his inviting style makes for a tremendously enjoyable and educational read.


($30.87 at Amazon)



People Who Like Science and Other Thinky PursuitsPortal 2


When buying games and gifts for a person who loves science, it's important not to forget the most science-tastic game of all, Portal 2. While it's likely that most science fans have already played the game, it's worth making sure, since Portal 2 was easily one of the smartest and most enjoyable games of 2011. The puzzles are first-rate and make you to really use your brain, and the story is hilarious—you'll never look at robots (or potatoes) the same way again.


($42.75 at Amazon, Cheaper Used at Half.com)



You can contact Kirk Hamilton, the author of this post, at kirk@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.
Kotaku

Damn Good Japanese Socks Allow People To Wear Shoes IndoorsEvery year since 1957, the Good Design Award (aka "G Mark") has been awarded to a standout Japanese product. The award marks excellence in Japanese design. A committee of sixty designers is given in a broad category of products that enter in the selection process, whether that be home electronics, apartment buildings or apparel.


Today, let's look at some awesome Japanese-designed socks. They're called "Kutsu-Kutsushita" or "Shoes Socks".


Made by Sunayama Socks, these socks were awarded the G Mark back in 2009. They were inspired by the Japanese tradition of removing your shoes when entering a house. These playful socks allow Japanese people to keep wearing "shoes" while they are in their stocking feet inside.


From the socks' official site: "Imagine how good it feels without shoes, pretending 'with' shoes, on the airplane, at home, at the office, or wherever you are." Like many Good Design Award winners, the product packaging proudly has the G Mark, often as an effort to drum up sales. The original Xbox 360, whose outer shell was designed by a Japanese studio, also won a Good Design Award (and we know how that turned out).


"Imagine how good it feels without shoes, pretending 'with' shoes, on the airplane, at home, at the office, or wherever you are."

Since people do take off their shoes indoors, careful attention is paid to socks in Japan. Before moving to Japan, I'd often try to squeeze some extra life out of socks that started to wear thin or have holes. Not here—little kids are especially quick to point out holes in socks. Thus, since so much time is spent in socks, having ratty socks is embarrassing.


In America, socks didn't matter as much (shoes did!), because nobody saw them. In Japan, people see your socks all the time, so having holes in them is a bit like wearing a white shirt covered with ketchup.


Of course, not all Japanese socks are stylish or interesting like these. And American socks have made quite the impact on Japanese feet. Those infamous "loose socks" worn by Japanese schoolgirls in the 1990s? Those were E.G. Smith, American designed and produced socks re-appropriated by Japanese schoolgirls.


The Sunayama designs available are "Campus" and "Midtown", and while they did have the jump on many of the more recent "shoes-socks", they do bring memories of the recent, official Portal 2 knee socks screaming back. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.


To learn more about the Good Design Awards, check out the official site. For more photos, check out Gigazine.


(Top photo: logc_nt | Gigazine)
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