Welcome to the exciting return of The Casual Gaymer! This is column from AIPT Gaming that occasionally appears until it suddenly goes on hiatus for months! Luckily for you all, I’m back. New year, still queer, still casually gaming when I find the time and energy.
It’s about halfway through the first month of the new year. What a great start, huh? Between Australia’s catastrophic fires (here’s a couple of the several places to donate and support relief efforts) and our government assassinating Iran’s military leaders (registering to vote is quick and easy!), 2020 is shaping up to be one hell of a year. Luckily for those of us with the privilege of disposable income and the occasional hour or two to sit down and escape, there are video games.
So! Let’s talk about them. I want to start by reflecting a bit on 2019. As I was following various outlets’ end of the year coverage, what I most appreciated most was how across the board, 2019 was a year for “smaller” games to shine. With a bunch of big releases getting pushed to 2020, no Red Deads or Gods of War soaking up all the coverage, there was time for titles from indie or smaller developers to be discussed, praised, and otherwise allowed the time in the spotlight they’d otherwise not receive in a “bigger” year.
Notice my use of scare quotes. There were some murmurings on some podcasts to the tune of “Yeah, we had stuff like Sekiro or Outer Wilds, but I think we can admit it just wasn’t that great a year for games.”
I am only lightly paraphrasing. That kind of sentiment threw me for a loop because it is because we got games like Sekiro and Outer Wilds that 2019 was an excellent year for gaming. To say nothing of games like Disco Elysium, Control, Luigi’s Mansion 3, Untitled Goose Game, etc. Instead of hearing about the same Triple-A blockbusters about straight white men maybe having an emotion or two being hailed as the greatest works to ever grace the Earth, I got to see recognition given to games with women at the lead, with Japanese men at the lead, with a goose at the lead, with blue four-eyed space explorers at the lead.
Seriously, did y’all play Outer Wilds? I didn’t finish it, as is my way, but I genuinely believe it’s one of the best games ever made. Clockwork, within clockwork, within clockwork and all of it works. I also didn’t finish Sekiro, as is my way, but when that parry hits and you get that CLANG of metal on metal? The beautiful way the bosses’ bodies move as they fight? Goosebumps. I’m clearly focused on my two favorite examples from last year, but the games that were at the forefront of 2019’s end of the year coverage were weird and new and I loved it.
Okay, enough about the past. 2020! All those big releases that got delayed are coming out, right? New console year! Big, big stuff on the Animal Crossing: New Horizons that will punish everyone’s wallets as the Big Three’s coffers grow all the richer. We’ve got remakes of Final Fantasy VII and Resident Evil 3, a new Animal Crossing, Cyberpunk 2077, The Last of Us Part II, and all before E3!
Luckily for me, there aren’t a ton of big releases I’m looking forward to? Trust and believe, my time off request at work for the weekend Animal Crossing comes out was approved and that will be my top priority for the foreseeable future afterward. But when I look at the “big” releases for the year, there aren’t a ton I’m really hype for. I’m interested in Final Fantasy VII, because I’ve never played it. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot sounds neat, because I love Dragon Ball. But unless Nintendo uses E3 to announce the Breath of the Wild sequel is coming this Fall, no other games coming out make me nearly as excited to play as Animal Crossing does.
And I’m kind of good with that. Maybe this will be a year of capital-B Big releases and all the outlets will be busy talking about Cyberpunk and The Last of Us and whatever other “prestige” titles while I have me another 2019. Probably literally, as I still need to finish Sekiro and play Disco Elysium and Later Alligator and Wattam and probably watch a Let’s Play of Control because I was just trash at that game’s combat. And when I’m not catching up on last year’s weird, “smaller” releases, I look forward to the weird, “smaller” releases of 2020.
For now, I’m playing a 2018 release called, Heaven Will Be Mine which I hope you’ve already heard of, but would forgive you if you hadn’t. It’s about queer women in mechs in space flirting and fighting for the future of the human race. It absolutely slaps and I recommend everyone go to that itch.io I linked ASAP and pick it up. It’s on Steam too, but more money goes to the devs on itch. Support queer art!
See? New year, same queer.