Ice-T said something about games this week. That's literally all that happened. No it isn't.
What happened: The internet whipped itself into a tear-stained frenzy over a cinematic trailer of Techland's upcoming first-person zombie brutalizer, Dead Island. “Can games make you cry?” is a question that gets thrown around all too often, but we're not sure game trailers have ever taken up this much of the spotlight.
What it means: That whoever created “that trailer” can cut together a damn fine piece of cinema. And beyond that? Not much, honestly. CG trailers – no matter how hard they tug on our heartstrings – don't exactly have the best track record with honesty. Speaking of track records, this is still Techland we're talking about – the very same Techland responsible for the rootin', tootin', incredibly alright time that was Call of Juarez. Granted, early (and we mean early) Dead Island previews have been extremely positive, but let's be realistic here: early previews of Daikatana were also extremely positive.
What happened: Braid creator Jonathan Blow punched a nice, big hole in social gaming's sails, saying they're “evil” and display “selfishness to the detriment of others or to the detriment of the world”.
What it means: By and large, he's right. Social games – in their current form – pretty much turn you into a wriggly little leech on your friends' time and patience. But there's still merit in social game design. You just have to know where to look. Most interestingly, social games use your circle of (typically) real life friends as a base from which to expand your virtual world. Instead of throwing you frightened and naked into a pack of strangers, social games focus on the folks you already know. Combined with Facebook's ubiquity, then, there's something revolutionary lurking beneath all the exploitative muck.
What happened: Hot on the heels of casting Guitar Hero aside like, well, a dust-coated, closet-bound plastic guitar, Activision allegedly started sniffing around Take-Two as a potential buy. An unnamed senior executive called the rumor “very strong.”
What it means: We're going to have to agree with Michael Pachter on this one: it seems pretty darn unlikely. As he pointed out, Activision and Take-Two aren't so much an odd couple as they are two snarling wolverines eying each others' throats. Activision loves its annual releases while Take-Two's big names are very much “when it's done” types. If Take-Two didn't see a long-term relationship with EA working out, then we have to imagine its rejection letter to Activision will just be an envelope full of spiders.
What happened: Bungie's post-Halo Activision game is, apparently, a sci-fi person-shooter. This time, though, you're reportedly going to get an entire persistent playground to run around instead of a single pithy jungle gym.
What it means: It's still just a rumor, but we have to admit that we're excited by the prospect. After all, Bungie's always been excellent at inserting little details and story bits (like the terminals from Marathon and Halo 3) into its games, so a colossal world along the same lines has to be a potential winner. Also, the MMO space is still sorely lacking in truly visceral combat systems, and if anyone can turn that trend around, it's Bungie.
What happened: We never thought we'd see the day when a Sesame Street game qualified as “big” news, but here we are. Of course, with gaming's grandmaster of funny Tim Schafer at the wheel, people actually have a reason – aside from morbid curiosity about Cookie Monster's ongoing trips in and out of rehab – to tune in.
What it means: Double Fine may finally release a game that's, you know, purchased by human beings. Real ones. Lord knows Schafer and co deserve it. Also, gamers still cite incredibly fond memories of Monkey Island and other Schafer titles as defining moments in their childhood gaming careers. It stands to reason, then, that this game could introduce an entire new generation to Schafer's zany, charming sense of humor, more or less beginning the cycle anew.
This news also means that we're probably going to purchase a Sesame Street game. Only this time, we might actually admit to it.