I haven’t played a game in weeks. My skills are drying up, my thumbs shriveling. Remember me as you knew me, friends—a pretty good D.va player, romancer of monsters, and die-hard Alistair fan. No worries, though, I’ve still got your news roundup right here!
A Natural 20 for Tabletop News
This year’s Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming went to a surprising recipient—instead of a particular game, person, or organization, it went to the concept of Actual Play. Actual Play refers to the practice of recording and/or broadcasting play sessions, such as in streams or in podcasts. According to the Diana Jones Award committee, the concept of Actual Play is receiving the award because:
Actual Play puts the focus on the fun. It inspires gamers new and old to start up games of their own, or to improve the games they’re already running. Roleplaying game sessions have been described as twenty minutes of fun packed into four hours, but Actual Play demonstrates how players and game masters can become amazing and fine practitioners of this challenging and ephemeral art. They take what many of us have known in our private lives for years and make it obvious for everyone to see: gaming is perhaps the best kind of fun.
As a marker of how interest in tabletop games, particularly tabletop RPGs has flourished in recent years, some Seattle-area teachers held a summer camp to teach young girls to play Dungeons & Dragons. Even better, many of the tips and tricks used at the summer camp are explained in the linked Geek and Sundry writeup, giving parent, educators, and anyone else the tools to get their own kid-focused tabletop game off the ground.
Horizon: Zero Dawn has a board game on the way! Brought to you by the company behind the Dark Souls and Resident Evil board game adaptations, the game will be coming to Kickstarter in the future.
Games On the Way
Life is Strange 2 has a release date and a teaser trailer. Maybe by September 27, we’ll understand what the heck is going on in this teaser.
A new journey begins.
— Life is Strange (@LifeIsStrange) August 2, 2018
Are you ready to farm with your friends? The multiplayer update for Stardew Valley is out for PC/Mac! Bye, starting the virtual version of the beautiful commune I’m always threatening to start with my friends.
Sunless Sea, a game I love dearly but for some reason never seem to open, is coming to PlayStation 4! Perhaps this is the push I need to force my beloved Zee-captain to explore the hidden depths of the Unterzee and find madness and treasures.
Meg Downey got a sneak peak at Insomniac’s upcoming Spider-Man game, and boy howdy, this sounds awesome.
I played the first few hours of PS4 Spider-Man the other week and the most important thing I can tell you: in the menus you can access the official Spider-Man twitter account Pete runs and read his timeline, which populates with new tweets on the regular. It is GOOD.
— Meg Downey (@rustypolished) August 2, 2018
Apparently D.va said “Nerf this!” one too many times, because hey, look, Blizzard did.
Here comes a new challenger! 🐰
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) August 3, 2018
Gaming News Tidbits
Kotaku’s Cecilia D’Anastasio covered the culture of sexism at Riot Games, the studio behind League of Legends, this week. Troubling as it might be, it’s essential reading; as fans of games, we have to understand that a company’s branding of itself as inclusive and diverse means little if they don’t uphold those values behind closed doors.
The number of people playing games on Steam has decreased by 17 percent since January of this year. Though there’s no clear reason for this change, it’s possible that it’s due to the increasing popularity of other gaming services like itch.io and GOG.
To help cut down on item scams, Steam has implemented warnings when initiating item trades with people who have not played the game from which an item comes. Some of these safety measures come from concerns that arose after it was discovered that Abstractism, a game on the Steam marketplace, was using unnecessary amount of computer resources and may have been mining cryptocurrency. Item generated by the game were found to be impersonating drops from other games, leading to fraudulent trades.
GameFly’s streaming service is sadly flying away. Streaming will end August 31.
Activision Blizzard made a ton of money in Q2 this year, much of it coming from in-game purchases. Call of Duty: WWII, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, and Destiny 2 were the main sources of money this quarter.
Interactive fiction writer and game designer Stu Galley has passed away.
RIP Stu Galley, Infocom pioneer, writer of Witness, Seastalker, and Moonmist. He wrote the 2nd gen Infocom parser. In a 1986 interview he was asked if he enjoyed his work: "…I had no idea that this was what my dream was because I had no examples to go by." 🙁 pic.twitter.com/nTPe5PuiB1
— Mike Mika (@MikeJMika) August 3, 2018
EA claims that the earlier censoring of Colin Kaepernick’s name from a song in Madden 19 was a mistake. Kaepernick has filed grievances against the NFL alleging collusion, and Madden does not have the rights to use his likeness in the game. Kaepernick is mentioned in the song “Big Bank” by YG, featuring Big Sean, and EA claims that the verse containing Kaepernick’s name was censored due to a misunderstanding of what rights the company had. An update was released Monday to address the soundtrack issue and uncensor Kaepernick’s name.
That’s it from me for this week! Soon I will play a game again. Soon. Soon.
Welcome to Games Bleat! I’m Joesph, your local gaming connoisseur, and I exclusively play PlayStation 2 games because they’re all aged like fine wine. This week I’ve taken a break from sniffing the back of my Nintendo 64 power supply port (it’s a fine vintage) to show you some of my more modern sensibilities. To begin with, here are some new releases that are sure to titillate the palate.
Our first new game is Spooky Ghosts Dot Com, a Metroidvania about hunting ghosts! Growing up I loved ghost shows from Paranormal State to Danny Phantom, so this is straight up my alley. Jump on some platforms, shoot some specters, and even befriend a cat! What’s not to love?
Next is the sequel to one of my favorite couch co-op games, Overcooked 2! The chaotic restaurant simulator puts communication and problem solving skills to the test in the most hectic and fun way possible. It probably also has a single player mode, but mashing buttons with friends is what really makes Overcooked to me.
Now I’d be betraying many of our Sidequest contributors if I didn’t include Dante’s Infernya, a game tailor made for at least two personal brands. You play a sociopathic cat hell bent on destroying their owner’s things. The goal is to use some powerful jumps to shatter as many valuables as possible before you’re caught. Talk about a catastrophe (-‿◦☀)
Finally is a cozy game about sad, possibly queer, nerds—Basements & Bugbears. It’s a melancholy take on those final sessions of D&D right before the friend group changes forever. In the words of the developers, “Roll some dice, give some smooches, and slay a dragon. Maybe be a punk and smoke a joint? I don’t know, we won’t make you.”
And now some absolutely delicious deals!
That’s it for this week’s bleat! I’m off to go sample my Sega Genesis cartridges to see which one has the most satisfying insertion feel. Catching you next week!
Melissa Brinks is Sidequest’s editor in chief, co-creator of the Fake Geek Girls podcast, author of The Compendium of Magical Beasts, and an aspiring beekeeper. She once won an argument on the internet, and tweets at @MelissaBrinks.