Well, we now know that the Mayans were wrong. It’s time to uninstal that “end of the world” app you so excitedly downloaded, for 2012 has come and gone, and here we are with our smartphones in one hand, tablet in the other, and the lingering burden of choice in our hearts (for our reasons for choosing an operating system are seldom governed by rationality or reasoning, eliminating “mind” from the equation). It’s been an amazing year for both gaming and technology, with both having their fair share of ups and downs, but nobody can deny the sheer amount of entertaining news we’ve had all year on both fronts, from patent disputes to amazing new products, all the way to absolute duds and things that never were. Let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of a few things that happened this year, says VIDEEP VIJAY KUMAR
Journey makes best “games are art” argument yet, gets nominated for Grammy. If there ever was something that could make a case for games being art, Thatgamecompany and Sony Computer Entertainment’s Journey was it. Not a game in the traditional sense of the word, Journey offered its players an experience that was both surreal and transcendent. Brief and beautiful, it helped that Journey was backed up by a musical score of the highest quality. In fact, composer Austin Wintory's soundtrack has received a Grammy nomination under the “Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media” category.
Error 37 proves to be the most frustrating metagame of the year. Diablo III might have been the highest selling PC game of 2012, but that didn’t stop it from giving its players the rawest of raw deals. Blizzard’s action/RPG required (and continues to require) its players to be constantly connected to its servers even for solo play, which basically resulted in some all-round unpleasantness. It would have been great if the login system worked as advertised (it didn’t), and now everyone’s favourite memory of Diablo III is the wonderfully frustrating Error 37 metagame, where the ability to experience a product you paid $60 for is left entirely to chance, and/or the whimsy of our Blizzard overlords.
Fans take ownership of Mass Effect 3. The “retake” Mass Effect movement showed us that fans take their games seriously. The “George Lucas effect” was felt by Bioware this year, who were accused of everything from ruining a series they created to false advertising. This tremendous overreaction was, of course, a direct response to the ending of what was possibly the year’s best shooter/RPG, Mass Effect 3. Bioware’s retort — a near-compromise on artistic integrity in the form an extended cut of the ending (a free download, at that) — something unheard of in entertainment history.
The Wii-U and Playstation Vita are released. Tablets seem to have influenced the design of not one, but two consoles that debuted in 2012. First, it was the Playstation Vita, which sported a touchscreen as well as a rear touchpad, and then the Wii-U whose touchscreen controller (which also functions as a stand-alone gaming device) works in tandem with the games console allowing players to experience games on their big screen TVs. Both have games that take advantage of their respective technologies — let’s hope there’s a good stream of content rolling out in 2013.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 trailer the most viewed trailer on YouTube in 2012. While it might not have a whopping 1 billion views like Psy’s “Gangnam Style”, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 topped YouTube’s trailer charts for 2012. Black Ops 2 collectively notched up nearly 65 million views for its “Surprise” and “Reveal” trailers (which took the number 2 and 1 spots respectively), overcoming the likes of The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall.
Gadgets & Technology
Apple launches India store for music and video content. We’ve had to wait a few years, but we’ve finally got it (or its unpopular cousin, we’re not entirely sure): the Apple music and video store. But what we do have (without question) is the convenience of legally purchasing movies and music through our computers and Apple devices. The catalog isn’t as vast (it is growing, however) as first-world Apple stores, but we’ll rent the HD version of Ek Tha Tiger a few hundred times in the meantime, won’t we?
4K & HFR — consumer and exhibition technology takes a giant leap forward. The way we experience visual media is probably going to change forever. Sony and other leading display manufacturers are all set to roll out 4K UHD displays capable of showing you around 8-million pixels of visual data (that’s 4 times as much as today’s 1080p standard). In the exhibition space, Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey became the first movie to be released at 48 frames per second, twice that of 24fps, today’s standard. The immersion of HFR (high frame rate) movies could quite easily become a standard going forward. This new format continues to receive a lot of negative feedback from cinema “purists”, but so did 3D.
Tablets, operating systems and smartphones galore, but did anyone actually have the last laugh? Android phones came into their own with the Samsung Galaxy S3 leading the pack; Apple launched a preposterous sum of 3 tablets, while both of them exchanged kisses on the courtroom floor. In other news, Microsoft launched an exciting new operating system and tried to make a bunch of tablets (or should we say “surfaces”?) which collectively accounted for less than 1 per cent of U.S. tablet traffic in 2012 (according to Data analytics firm Chitika). So, who had the last laugh? Bottom lines always bring smiles (which morph into evil laughs depending on the number of zeroes) to faces, so we’re going to ignore the fact that nearly every court judge outside the US of A ruled against them and say, “Apple”.
Best comeback story that never was – Blackberry 10. The once-ubiquitous Blackberry almost rose from the ashes this year, but it wasn’t to be. Canada’s tech giant, RIM reckons that BB10 will hit retail only come March next year (and not in January as expected). Loyalists would say that BB10’s improvements would make it a serious competitor to iOS and Android devices, but realists would argue that it is all but RIM’s death rattle, only for Samsung to ride in on a glorious white steed with the elixir of life (in the form of a licensing or acquisition contract) in hand.
The entertainment industry gave more reasons for consumers to hate them. First it was the hugely non-transparent Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and then it was the illegal investigation and arrest of MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom; the entertainment industry chose to play Godfather in 2012, trying to lobby and muscle its way to profits while walking all over those who stood in its path. Not only has it managed to graduate in degrees of villainy (into “arch villain” from “bad guy”, possibly), it has managed to make the unlikeable/unethical Kim Dotcom look like a victim in the process.
This article has been corrected for a factual error