As hard as it is to believe, 2013 is almost over. Soon, a new year will be upon us, and with that comes New Year's resolutions. You could make the standard promise to eat healthier or get organized, but we're all gamers here. Why not try something video game specific? Here are a few goals we'd love to see gamers aim for in 2014.
Stop the instant backlash
This year, several games were released to huge acclaim — BioShock Infinite, Grand Theft Auto V, and The Last of Us, just to name a few. Almost immediately after, those games were drowning in a wave of backlash. Sometimes, games don't live up to the hype, and it's fine to be disappointed. However, with these games, the backlash dominated the conversation, to the point where it was hard for the people who did like the game to discuss them.
When you do dislike a popular game, why not critique it in a more thoughtful way? Detailed reasons for your dislike will inspire more discussion than "this sucks" will, and will make you response seem less like kneejerk hatred of something well-liked. It may also help you understand why other people enjoyed the game more than you do. Writing a good critique may not change anyone's mind, but it'll help keep comment sections everywhere from devolving into flamewars.
Tackle your backlist
The backlist is the bane of every gamer. Every year, more games come out than anyone could possibly play, and potentially interesting games get moved to the list of stuff you'll get to someday. It's easy for a backlist to become massive, and actually playing through it seems impossible.
Why not try to make a real dent in your backlist this year? Steam, Humble Bundles, and PSN sales make it easier than ever to acquire old games on the cheap. Instead of buying that new release you're on the fence about, play some older titles. It'll save you some money, and watching your backlist shrink is oh-so satisfying. If you need a little extra motivation, try setting up a Backloggery account.
Tone down the console wars
A new console generation is exciting, but a fresh new wave of console wars isn't. Any news about the PS4 or Xbox One is met with comments about how much that console sucks, and those comments receive responses about how much the other console sucks. The Wii U is like an awkward bystander that keeps getting dragged into the fight in weird ways.
It's fine to have a console preference, or to have negative feelings towards a certain console. The problem is that extreme negativity and fanboyism wind up overshadowing what's really important — games. There are some amazing looking games headed to new consoles next year, like Watch Dogs, Titanfall, and the new Smash Bros. Let's give the console wars a rest and focus on the games in 2014.
Try something totally different
The variety of games on the market is incredible, but it's still very easy to fall into a rut. Maybe you've been playing a slew of shooters, or were focused on open world games for a little too long. Now is the perfect time to shake things up with something completely different.
Take a plunge on that weird little indie game you saw on sale. Borrow a JRPG from a friend. It doesn't matter what you play, as long as it's something different. You may not wind up liking the game, but you'll have tried something new, and that's always a good thing. Better yet, you may discover that you like something you would have never expected you would. Branching out can give you a new appreciation for all kinds of games.
Don't let controversy overshadow gameplay
Over the course of the year, several games were mired in controversy long before they were ever released. People spent so much time talking about character proportions in Dragon's Crown that almost no attention was given to the game itself. Many folks made up their mind about DmC without ever picking up a controller. Before these games were released, coverage about them was constant, but afterwards, the gaming world was silent.
Sometimes games are going to be controversial, but that shouldn't eclipse the game itself. How DmC plays should matter more than Dante's haircut. The controls in Dragon's Crown are more important than the Sorceress' cleavage. The contentious aspects of a game should be discussed, but they shouldn't steal the spotlight from game itself. Everyone should remember that there are games behind the controversy, and that those games are worth talking about.
Let yourself have fun
We all play games to have fun, but sometimes, it winds up feeling more like a chore. Earning trophies and achievements or boosting your rank in online multiplayer can quickly go from entertaining to tedious. None of this is stuff we have to do, but it can quickly become a compulsion.
Give yourself permission to forget all that. Don't worry about achieving your in-game goals. Just worry about having a good time. You can always go back to trophy hunting later, but you can't get back time you've wasted. Gaming shouldn't feel like a job, and if it does, it's time to start doing something else.
2013 was an incredible year for gaming, and 2014 looks like it could be even better. There'll be new games to play, new announcements to get excited over, and new trailers we can ooh and ahh at. No matter what kind of resolutions we may make, it's clear that gamers have plenty to look forward to.