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FEATURED VOXPOP oblivion437 Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that.  It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece.  I strongly recommend anyone...


Posted on Friday, December 30 @ 11:12:13 Eastern by Duke_Ferris

Having been around for about a decade, Game Revolution has seen a lot of years. Ten of them, in fact. We're pretty familiar with the way years work - they last roughly 365 days, span approximately 12 months, and are comprised of all sorts of smaller units like hours, minutes, seconds, moments, instances and, of course, pwnages.

And, without fail, they are filled with video games.

But let's be frank - 2005 doesn't come around often. A year like this one, a year only five ticks past the turn of the millennium, well, that sure seems like an unusual year. It might even be unique, if you believe what it says on the collectible trading card.

So since we're such experts on the subject, we figured it was well within our professional bounds to apply our critical minds and whimsical pens to the breakdown, discussion and subsequent analysis of the past year. Fact? Opinion? History? Call it what you want, but don't argue with the pros.

We can review anything.

The Plots Thicken

When it comes to story, 2005 absolutely, unequivocally delivered. This was certainly the most controversial year for video games ever, and the timing is no coincidence.

It all started with last year's version of this year, 2004. In the midst of a Halo 2 media frenzy, it was announced that video games had actually surpassed Hollywood's box-office in earnings, and nothing attracts circling sharks faster than the scent of money. 2005 marks the year that, in public perception, video games changed from fringe entertainment for nerds to big business for bloodsuckers.

Serious money was out there to be made or lost, and nothing drove that point home more clearly than EA's 5-year lockup of the NFL. It was a brutal kick in the jimmy for Sega, Sony and 2K Sports, the biggest licensing deal in video game history.

Suddenly, gaming was considered an acceptable cocktail party conversation topic. Where we were once shunned as social misfits, our jobs immediately became interesting as everyone wanted to ask us about 'the Grand Auto Theft for Nintendo.' People who didn't know anything at all about video games suddenly had opinions and were more than happy to share them with the world. Apparently, either video games were the next evolution of human innovation, or they were the fourth sign of the apocalypse.

Vocal activists turned up on CNN to link video games to any crime that happened within 50 meters of a Playstation. Politicians, sensing a possible bandwagon, forgot all about that war in that desert country and pushed each other out of the way to jump on board. Speech after speech, made by people completely ignorant of the facts, bemoaned the fate of our children being poisoned by filthy video games.

In 2005 nearly every state put forward some sort of anti-video game legislation. We have to give a big thumbs-up to the courts, however, for protecting our cherished freedoms. Censorship, they reminded the country, is one of those things they do in shady foreign places where people disappear for criticizing the President-For-Life. With nary a hesitation, the courts have shot down every single one of these laws as unconstitutional. And by the way, did we mention you Justices looked damn fine in those robes?

Until you started sipping coffee, that is. Some lonely hacker found disabled code for sex scenes in GTA: San Andreas, bringing down all manner of evil hellfire upon our cozy little industry. The media positively frenzied. Normally dependable folks like Senator Hillary Clinton went nuts, gathering her pals for an anti-video game fiesta (pleasantly enduring some fallout in the L.A. Times). The National Institute on Media and the Family even issued a press release referring to Game Revolution as a pornography site, despite the fact that most people would pay to not see us naked.

But no firebrand waved his flaming, uh, brand, with as much vigor as Florida attorney turned egomaniacal lunatic, Jack Thompson. Testifying before government committees, appearing on any TV show that would let him talk, issuing countless press releases and open letters, and suing anything that moved, Jack had a very busy 2005. He even tried to have us arrested.

Fortunately, Jack is so crazy, he pretty much negates his own effect; his behavior even got him tossed off his own Strickland vs. Sony lawsuit by the judge and led to his temporary Alabama law license being revoked (did we mention you judges totally rule?). Even other anti-video game groups tried to distance themselves from his antics. It's a shame that there's a Jack Thompson out there, but honestly, we're glad that it's him.

Back in the surreal world, Roger Ebert started an Internet flame war with gamers by declaring on his website that video games were not, and never could be, art. Considering that the debate over the definition of art has raged (in a quiet, academic sort of raging) for thousands of years, I doubt the issue will be settled in Mr. Ebert's chatroom. OMFG ebart iz teh suxxorz111, followed by opinions of artistic merit from the guy who gave Space Jam a thumbs-up.

Speaking of which, 2005 also marked gaming as the latest hip thing in filmmaking. The hype that surrounded the Doom flop-o-matic was unbearable (not to mentioning watching that crap), but that hasn't stopped movie studios from snorting up game licenses like the party favors at a Viper Room VIP party. The ideas range from the bad to the obvious to the inexplicable. Dungeon Siege: The Movie is in production now, and Microsoft sold the Halo movie rights for presumably a bazillion bucks. But it's just getting silly when MTV Films buys the movie rights to Mark Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure before the game is even out. You know what these films won't be? Art.

But all this nonsense just made for a more newsworthy year than we can remember. The plots were awesome, complex, far-reaching and substantial, the players famous and preposterous and the fallout simply delicious. What 2005 lacked in poise in made up for in sheer drama - you won't find a better year anywhere.

But how about a better experience? << PAGE 2! >>

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