This year we wanted to take a play from every extra-long Twitter thread of self-love, but having our writers focus on their incredible work from this year. So here are 26 stories selected by their writers, showing off their immeasurable talent with short explanations of why they have selected these pieces.
We love our writers. And here’s some of the best of their writing this year.
What happens when a horror story tries to manifest in the real world?
The Bleeding Edge
The FDA has failed for decades in its duty to oversee medical technologies, with women disproportionately falling victim.
New York Comic Con is a monument to hype with amusements deliberately designed to part fans from their money and/or time, but Sara would hate to miss the fantasy.
I Hate My Dream Job
After years of dreaming of getting paid to review videogames, Rob finally got that chance. Then, after almost a decade, he realized that he hated it.
Assassination Nation has Blood in its Teeth
The moral of Assassination Nation is that high school boys are terrible and you should kill them.
The Harmful Misconceptions Behind We Happy Few
Compulsion Games’ recent release rebukes psychiatric drugs in its attempt to build a commentary around them.
Top Ten Characters I Hate
September 2018 is the first anniversary of This Mortal Coyle and, to celebrate, Deirdre Coyle lists ten characters that make her blood boil.
The Gay Normalcy Fantasy
Sometimes we just want to escape into a power fantasy. For many gay people, there’s power in the fantasy of normalcy.
Studio Ghibli and the Climate Crisis
A pair of ‘90s Ghibli films reveal the depths of our environmental problem but refuse to give up hope.
Whether its NFL or RPG, A Party Trumps Its Players
How communities and players lose sight of the people behind their beloved teams.
The Boxes and Paraphernalia of Captain Spirit
Objects carry with them an innately human connection; but in Captain Spirit, what’s left behind when these items are taken away also conjures an achingly compelling narrative.
The (Sort Of, But Not Really) Radical Politics of Infinity War
To see the radical message in Avengers: Infinity War, all we have to do is ignore everything about it.
Nothing says summer like mystery, and the point-and-click adventure Unforseen incidents stirs up half-remembered recollections of murder cases and childhood towns.
Remembering Doom on SNES
Doom for the Super Nintendo was an incredible feat of technical trickery. It’s also my favorite game of all time that I never want to play again.
Ill Considered’s Sublime Echolocation
I watched Lost Highway alone at midnight, on a sweltering Northern California summer evening, and when it was finally over I only really retained two thoughts.
The Mathematical Brilliance of WarioWare
The annals of math rock is a motley of multifarious influences, from the understated sounds of minimal music to the aggressive intensity of post-hardcore.
Where Are the Disabilities in Visual Novels?
Nearly seven years after its release, Katawa Shoujo is still the most prominent visual novel with disabled characters. That’s not a good thing.
Whats the French phrase for the feeling you get when you watch a classic movie you’re sure you’ve already seen only to find you never have? In English, it’s probably “disorienting embarrassment.”
What if artificial intelligence reveals a different way for us to be human?
Monster Hunter and the Mainstream
Monster Hunter: World is a prime example of how a series can change itself to appeal to a mainstream audience without forsaking long time fans.
Halt and Catch Death
I used to believe I was immune to regret. I wore it like a tacky t-shirt. Now I know I have a virtually endless string of regret. Not bad choices, necessarily. Just so much taken for granted.
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine Betrays the Heart of Storytelling
Storytelling is dynamic. Where the Water Tastes Like Wine makes it feel static.
Dispatches from GDC 2018: Day Three
Amanda goes to GDC with a press pass. This is a Day Three of her experience.
Your Spoony Speedrunner
To watch Final Fantasy IV get flayed so fluently, with a mind-boggling grace not unlike a stolen car getting stripped for parts in seconds…
Digital Voyeurism – A Familiar, if Strange Game
We’ve come to regard phones as such intimate extensions of ourselves. That’s why taking the helm of another’s device is at once instantly familiar and strange.
A Culinary School Sim, with Dating Elements
Let’s start our month of regret with Pastry Lovers, the world’s premiere broken English baking otome.
Writer’s Choice: Favorite Unwinnable Stories 2018
No best of the year list is complete without a shout out to some of your other favorites, so we asked the writers to select some of their favorite pieces that are on the site from other writers. (Some of these stories were self-selected by the writers for the above section, so we just combined the commentary)
The Unstable Sexuality of Joji
He’s got a dangerous sort of attraction, a wild romanticism that calls out for attention in ways that the standard Asian male stereotype isn’t necessarily ready to handle.
The Kentucky State Fair
I’m one of those rural queers you never hear about. You haven’t heard of me, only of the places I’ve been.
Analyzing the Historical Context of The Last of Us Part II’s Violence
Colonialism haunts the post-apocalypse.
The Uncomfortable Thoughtlessness of Spider-Man
I love how David always challenges how things in games are portrayed, and this is just another example of that. - Jeremy Signor
Spider-Man works hard to portray Peter as a guy good, but it fails to find nuance in incarcerated populations, foreigners and the ecosystem of New York itself.
here’s 2300 words on twilight and new moon
Twilight at its core, is barely functional as a romance, but deeply fascinating as a tragedy where two distinct cultures interact and implode around each other.
Procreation of the Wicked
“They rip him apart as he grins, nerve-endings aflame with the liquor of pain, finally accepting an eternity of obliterative bliss.”
I loved the way this piece used personal experience to illustrate a broader point about a major blind spot in the narrative perspective of not just a game, but an entire literary genre. It nails everything that good games criticism should be. - Ben Sailer
How the genre's formative works focus on white men, and what it could mean if they didn't. - Deirdre Coyle
Cyberpunk stories don’t generally want, or need, to change society. It seems, rather, that they’re perfectly content partying in the rubble.
The Origins of Assassin’s Creed
Really great consideration of a game through historical & personal contextualization. I really admire pieces like this that go outside of the traditional perimeters of gaming as a field in order to better discuss gaming. - Adam Boffa
This is hard, because there are so many stories I loved this year, but I have to go with Yussef Cole's "The Origins of Assassin's Creed." The process of editing this one was so thought-provoking and the final product such a rewarding read that it made me interested in videogame in a way I haven't been in a long time. - Stu Horvath
Yussef Cole explores the complex relationship between Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Egypt and blackness.
Art vs. Artist
There comes a point where death is too good for the artist.
A jewel in Deirdre's always-excellent column, her analysis of Bea Santello from Night in the Woods cuts straight to the heart of what makes great characterization: reality. As she deftly articulates, Deirdre doesn't just find Bea to be believable when she encounters her in-game, she knew her before she ever started playing. - Sara Clemens
My favorite of Bea’s qualities is that she’s tired.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance – Myth-making and Historical Accuracy
“Making Henry believable is a process of selection – of sorting out what’s important to Deliverance’s designers and what isn’t. It reflects, in its own small way, their priorities.”