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Kotaku

Mad Men's Biggest Dork Guest Stars On You Don't Know JackPart of the fun of the very fun Facebook-anchored version of You Don't Know Jack is that because Jellyvision is constantly adding new questions and content, they can stay current. It also means, apparently, that they can have guest stars.


Today, the company announced that they'll be adding a new "Monthly Special Guest" episode featuring a fabulous! Hollywood! Star! Or… Rich Sommer, the guy who plays the feckless loser Harry Crane on AMC's Mad Men.


Actually, that's pretty great—Sommer has done a good job making Crane one of the saddest jerks on TV, and he's probably a pretty funny guy. The Sommer episode is available now on Facebook.


The next guest star will be noted geek-themed fragrance creator and America's Next Top Model winner Adrianne Curry.


After that? Who knows. If they keep up this string of random TV actors and celebrities, I'm hoping we get the guy who plays Wynn Duffy on Justified.


Kotaku

One of the greatest reasons to play a game on Facebook, the irreverent video game quiz show You Don't Know Jack expands to iOS and Android on Thursday, and once you've gone mobile Jack there's no going back.


I first played You Don't Know Jack in 1995, back when games came on CD-ROM discs. Twelve years later developer Jellyvision is older, slower, and probably less capable in the kitchen than ever before. This doesn't seem to affect You Don't Know Jack, which is still brilliant, especially since it moved to Facebook.


So brilliant, in fact, that we've written about it several times. Oh, and it won an award the other day.


Now imagine that Facebook game, only without all the Facebook. You're holding it in your hand. You're playing the same people you used to play on Facebook, only they are just squares on the side of the screen, instead of people trying to chat with you about ponies.


Here, I'll help:


You Don't Know Jack Hops from Facebook to Mobile, and It's So Much Better For It


Just imagine a frame around that. Pretend you're sitting on the toilet. Okay, you're pretending too hard now.


It's hard to explain just how perfect this version of You Don't Know Jack is, especially running on an iPad. Kicking back on the couch, the dulcet tones of Tom Gottlieb belittling you for getting that pot question wrong. A Gibberish Question pops up on the screen, hello there, old friend.


Update: Since I was apparently too vague, let me clarify: this is the Facebook game running on mobile. There is an option to play with random people without logging into Facebook, but it's the same five-question game. Like the Facebook game, it'll be free to play.


It doesn't feel like a game made for a tablet. It feels like tablets were made for this game.


So I've over-hyped it a bit. The game is out in three days. That's 72 hours, with a hype decay rate of 2.54. By the time Thursday comes around it'll be just right.


Until then, you can play the game on Facebook. It's just like playing on the iPad, only not as good.


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


Kotaku

Now here's an adorable story.


The folks at Jellyvision, the company behind wonderful Facebook game You Don't Know Jack, sent us the above video along with the following:


  • John Zekind reached out to us via @youdontknowjack on Twitter for help with a "secret mission"
  • Jellyvision DMd him and his request was that he and his girlfriend Kara Richter were both HUGE YDKJ fans and he was wondering if we might be able to help him customize a proposal: some audio from Cookie, a post, etc. We got super excited and created a game for them that only they could play where the fourth question was the proposal.
  • We had John fill out a questionnaire (see below) to help the writers create the actual proposal.
  • John then secured his ring and we sent him private test link to run through
  • John proposed this week and, as you can see, she said yes.

We are just really excited for both of them and it was a blast to help out.


Congratulations to John and Kara!


Kotaku

You Don't Know Jack Lead Writer Says Being Funny Is Serious Hard Work I've got a perhaps irrational fondness for trivia games. It's easy to like the genre when your brain is filled up with seemingly disconnected facts; trivia games give them a place to go. A tiny little factlet purpose in life.


One of my favorites is You Don't Know Jack, the intentionally irreverent trivia game. Once seemingly doomed to be a relic of the 1990s, YDKJ recently had a comeback on consoles and as a really great example of how to do a Facebook game right. It's somewhat amazing that the franchise works at all: timely humor is hard, and what was funny fifteen years ago may feel forced and dated today.


In fact, writing comedy at all is just plain hard, You Don't Know Jack head writer Steve Heinrich told the Gameological Society in an interview. Very few games aim for straight comedy, and it seems even fewer succeed. With YDKJ even access to a never-ending supply of successful comedy writers doesn't guarantee a funny game:


It's hard. You don't want to spend too much time on the comedy because people want to play the game. You don't want to spend all your time on the game because the comedy is what makes it work. We're in Chicago, and that gives us access to a lot of comedy-writing talent. We brought a lot of those people in over the years. We actually hold auditions when we begin making a game, and we have them come in and write samples. We look at which ones we like, then bring them in and say, "Now write some You Don't Know Jack questions." No matter how much we try to explain it to them, you end up going from having 400 really funny people to that one person who kind of gets it.


And even if someone does get it, the world around them shifts uncontrollably quickly. "Something can be popular, and then six weeks later it's dated," Heinrich explained.


In some ways, that sets up Facebook as the perfect venue for comedy games. Facebook is terrible for telling stories in games, but the ability to update on the fly keeps humor fresh and current. Old jokes can disappear before they get stale, and new ones can be added while they're still funny. And being on Facebook, in the middle of your stream of everyone's daily lives and up-to-the-minute updates, changes to stay on top of the day's or week's news feel organic and well-placed.


Of course, jokes are only as good as their writers. As long as You Don't Know Jack can find folks who get it, they can keep making Facebook funny.


Funny People: Steve Heinrich, You Don't Know Jack head writer [The Gameological Society]


Kotaku

You Should Try You Don't Know Jack on Facebook Right Now [Update]I have many fond memories of playing the original You Don't Know Jack and its various expansions back in the late 90's on PC. Starting today, the series' recent revitalization has hit a new high point: You Don't Know Jack has come to Facebook, and it is wonderful.


I actually played YDKJ on the Xbox 360 for the first time just this past weekend. It was an instant trip down memory lane; the game felt like it hadn't aged a day. Well… there were some mechanical changes, and the game didn't quite "feel" the same, particularly in that we never screwed the other player, but still. For the most part, last year's game was a fine revival.


But even as we played, my friend remarked at how the game felt like a slowly ticking clock—every game brought you closer to the end of the content you'd bought, and closer to not being able to play anymore. "You know what," we both said in perfect unison, "You Don't Know Jack really needs to be on Facebook."


What do you know? As of today, the game is out on Facebook, and it is fantastic. The game-show format works perfectly, and it's smartly designed around asynchronous play. In a given game, you "play against" your Facebook friends who have already played the level, timing your responses and rewarding you based on how fast you move.


It's a smart move, since it allows players to play on their own tempo but retains the feel of a live match. Of course, the fun energy of sitting with your friends and playing can't be replicated on Facebook, but that's okay.


The writing is back and as witty and random as ever, and in theory—I got to play a round of a game called "Elephant, Mustard, Teddy Roosevelt or Dracula?" The keyboard-requiring Gibberish Question makes a welcome return, and while the Jack Attack loses a lot of its thrill by making it possible for every character to get the answer right, the result is actually that the game is more balanced, and the final round isn't as much of an unbalanced game-changer as it's been in past games.


Best of all, the game's press materials promise that the editorial team will be constantly pushing out new content to stay topical and relevant.


You Don't Know Jack is free to play at first, and though you'll win new games as you score more points, eventually you'll have to buy more games to keep playing. Games are $2.00 for a batch of 5, with discounts kicking in at the 20-game mark. You can also buy "performance enhancers" that inflate your score, which is a bit bizarre—it's not clear whether the game is having a laugh. The final purchasable item certainly is a joke—for $2.00, players can buy an achievement called the "Buy this achievement achievement." Heh.


So, to sum up: Timely, topical triva updates, the same writing, humor and presentation of the classic game, and the ability to challenge your Facebook friends any time, any place. Sign me up.


You Don't Know Jack [Facebook]


Update: For some reason, the link doesn't appear to be working right now. It is the proper link, however, so the game might be down temporarily. We'll update when when know what's going on, or when it's back up.


Update 2: Yep, sounds like the site is temporarily down. An update on the game's FB page (separate from its app) reads: "Hey everybody, our first day live to the world has been a smashing success! And by smashing, we mean something got, uh, smashed. Have no fear, we're working on the fix right now, so stay tuned for updates." If you ask me, this would have been a choice moment for them to make an "Error 37" joke, but clearly the fine folks at Jellyvision are classier than I am.


Kotaku

The Kid Who Just Went to CollegeCollege is a special time in the life of any young man or woman. You're finally free from your parents, ready to meet new people, attend interesting classes, and probably drink with those people and during those classes. While the first year of college can be a very busy time, there's always space for some gaming. A great video game can be a big attraction in a dorm room, and can function as a great way to meet new people. Sexy new people, if you know what I'm saying.


But what gift to get for the college freshman in your life? It can be tricky. Now that he or she has headed off to college, everything has changed. A person's social life becomes an entirely new, much more complicated thing. Some games aren't that compatible with an intense college lifestyle, while others are perfectly suited to it. Here are a few gifts that would be great for any young matriculator.



The Kid Who Just Went to CollegeThe Sword & Sworcery and Bastion Soundtracks


One of the most fun things about arriving at college is sharing music with new friends. But it can also feel a little bit intimidating—what are you bringing to the table? Do you have anything new or interesting that your friends will like? Both Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP and Bastion have superb soundtracks that not only make for great conversation starters, they're soothing and great to study with. Both were released in a limited run of physical CDs or Records, but both have sold out, so digital is your only option. Fortunately, they're both inexpensive! (Update! The folks at Supergiant have just done another pressing of physical Bastion soundtracks, so you can order a hard copy for $14.99 here.)


$10 for Bastion, $7.99 for Sword & Sworcery



The Kid Who Just Went to CollegeYou Don't Know Jack


THQ's resurrection of this Jellyvision classic is a good thing for dorm-room gamers. This is an inexpensive, fun game to toss into a stocking. It'll sit, unplayed, near a gaming console for a month or so, until a snowy day brings everyone inside with nothing to do. And then, it will reveal itself to be a riot of a dorm room game.


($19.99 at Amazon.com)



The Kid Who Just Went to CollegeDungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook


Believe it or not, Dungeons and Dragons has gotten cool again. (Not that it ever wasn't cool! You know what I'm saying.) The embers of passionate late-night dice-rolling never truly extinguished, and at any college there's likely to be a group of RPG enthusiasts to join. The secret is: These are actually the coolest people in the school.


This may sound crazy, but hanging out with people who like D&D is the best thing a first-time college student could do. Rather than attempt to get some sort of all-encompassing set of books, start with the Player's Handbook. It'll be all anyone would need to get interested in the game and find a group of players, and they'll have the rest of the books anyway.


($34.95 online)



The Kid Who Just Went to CollegeExtra Xbox 360 or PS3 Controller


This seems like a low-key entry, but it could be the most useful one. Of course, you'll want to check if your intended gift-receiver already has several controllers. But it's often the case that a student will head to college with one or maybe two controllers, only to find that four-player games are ruling the day. But those controllers are so expensive! An extra one can be a very useful gift.


($45 from Amazon, available for cheaper used. Be sure to get an official Microsoft or Sony controller. There are a lot of knock-offs out there, and they are kind of… off.)



The Kid Who Just Went to CollegeMortal Kombat


Dorm life and single-player gaming don't mix all that well. There are so many people around all the time, and most of the fun comes from meeting them, getting to know them, and drunkenly fooling around with them and then being awkward about it the next day. Fighting games are a natural fit for this kind of scenario, and for laid-back social gaming, Mortal Kombat is the king. It's not the most balanced or well-designed game—it's no Street Fighter IV—but it is brutally fun, easy to pick up and play, and hilariously cheesy and violent. Best of all, it allows for 4-player tag-team gaming, and it's gory enough that it's fun to just hang out and watch people play.


($45-55 New Online for either Xbox 360 or PS3. Cheaper Used at Half.com)



The Kid Who Just Went to CollegeAstro A40 Gaming Headset & Mixamp

But not all college gaming needs to be social; sometimes you just want to get away from everyone. The Astro A40 headset is great for that—the big headphones block out outside noise and create a deep well of sound, which is powered by the A40 small, ingenious dolby headphone mixer. And when it is time to play online with others, the A40's integrated headset and volume controls work flawlessly.


If your gift-reciever has already got a good pair of headphones, you can go with the mixamp alone, which generates dolby headphone surround and works with any pair of commercial headphones.


($249 online from Astro, $139 for Mixamp alone)



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.
Product Release - Valve
YOU DON’T KNOW JACK® is now available on Steam in North America!

Loaded with outrageous questions and blistering humor, YOU DON’T KNOW JACK® has over 70 Episodes & 15 hours of cranium-contorting questions.

...

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