It’s Thanksgiving in the United States. Usually, it’s a time to gather with family for tasty food. This year is a little different, but we still have plenty to be thankful for.
Last year, I put together a piece titled Three things gamers should be thankful for this Thanksgiving. While I was tempted at first to just re-publish that piece, it didn’t feel right. 2020 has been a rough year for a lot of people, myself included. But there are still silver linings, especially in the gaming community. So let’s reflect on what is good.
Building a sense of community has never been more critical. We may be physically distant, but we can still be connected thanks to technology. Gaming in particular provides an avenue for building that sense of community and belonging, especially if you are into multiplayer games.
One of my favorite gaming memories from 2020 was playing Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout with Cliff. It’s a silly game, so it’s perfect for just having some fun and de-stressing. I normally don’t play a game with voice chat, but getting together with a friend online and remotely enjoying each other’s company helps make surviving 2020 less of a challenge.
It’s possible to play a game just about anywhere and anytime. Sure, you could bring a Game Boy with you to grandma’s house twenty or thirty years ago, but you were limited in the number of cartridges you could carry. Batteries were also an issue, at least for handhelds like Sega’s Game Gear.
That’s not a problem in 2020.
Choice is the name of the game. Now you can play console-quality games on your smartphone, desktop computer, laptop, handheld (Vita still has active indie development), or your shiny new next-gen console.
Heck, even televisions have built-in gaming options these days without the need for a console. And as soon as 2021, we may be able to stream Xbox Game Pass directly from a smart TV without a console.
Gamers got even more choice this year with the launch of Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5. We also got new cloud game streaming options with Amazon Luna to compete with Google Stadia. And we still get free games every week from Epic Games Store.
This all ties back into building community. No matter who or where you are, you have options for playing games. You could play Words with Friends 2 with your grandma or challenge someone from across the world in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. You don’t even have to pay for games these days thanks to a plethora of free-to-play options like Valorant.
As I wrote last year, game developers deserve our thanks:
The people who spend countless hours rummaging through code, designing the characters that we love, and writing complex interwoven plotlines are at the top of the list for me. They make the games that we love possible. Despite this, their jobs can often involve long hours, online harassment, and without due credit.
Sure, we can all name the Hideo Kojimas and Shigeru Miyamotos of the world, but how many programmers and character artists can you name off the top of your head? Their names don’t appear prominently in the credits or on the box. They don’t have studios named after them, yet no one can honestly question their contributions.
This is even more true in 2020. Making video games – especially AAA titles with huge teams – has never been more challenging. So at least for one day, let’s cut them some slack and say thank you for their hard work and dedication. Yes, it’s disappointing to see highly-anticipated games delayed, but we should remember the constraints developers are facing.
To any developers, designers, artists and support staff reading this, thank you for your hard work and dedication.