Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, I remember being awed at when the TV specials based on the Guinness Book of World Records would show up on network TV. I'd see really big things! Really small things! Weird life forms out of 1950s monster comics! A guy who'd never cut his fingernails, like, ever! One after another, images and feats that seemed otherworldly burned themselves into my brain. That's what comes to mind when I see the words "Guinness" and "World Records". Sadly, the Gamer's Edition of the Guinness World Record franchise doesn't engender the same kinds of thrills.
Part of it's because actual living breathing human beings are in short supply in this book. Oh, they're there, but wind up shuttled into smaller blurbs and into an end-of-book appendix. Mostly, Guinness World Records 2012 Gamer's Edition is a compendium of company achievement or intellectual property achievement, sidelining the awe-inspiring feats of endurance that real-life gamers do.
Some of these things are so obviously set up as PR stunts ahead of time, as opposed to cool acts of skill or perseverance that the people do just to see if they can. Too many entries come off as overly specific, lodged in categories created specifically engineered to say that a title made it into in the Guinness Book. Here's one: "First Country Music-Themed Dancing Game." That goes to GameMill's Country Dance, which is as far as I can tell is the only (?) country-music-themed dancing game. Even if it's not, why is its mere existence worthy of a GWR nod? Gamer's Edition 2012 is rife with this kind of pandering.
When reached for comment, the powers-that-be at Guinness World Records had this to say:
"The Guinness World Records 2012 Gamer's Edition recognizes video game records both large and small, from all corners of the industry. As the chronicler of all things superlative, it's up to us to diligently record all achievements in the interactive world to stimulate discussion and make sure we produce a book that is as comprehensive as possible. As with previous editions, this year's book also expands beyond records to include facts, trivia, interviews and features designed to engage all kinds of gaming fans."
Qualifying statements aside, take a look at the dubious accomplishments that made it into Guinness World Records 2012 Gamer's Edition.
First HD Stealth Game Remakes: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Trilogy (pg. 102)
A publisher takes back-catalog installments of one of its most popular franchises and spiffys them up for modern consoles. A money-making move to be sure. But a feat worthy of note? Not hardly.
First Use of Computer-Controlled "Help" Feature: New Super Mario Bros. Wii (pg. 107)
I'm calling bullshit on this one. While the Super Guide feature that debuted in New Super Mario Bros. Wii is an innovative and welcome way of assisting players of all skill levels, I'm highly dubious that this is a first. Firstly, can an automatic playthrough of a level be called help? It's doing the job for you, not aiding you. Secondly, AI partners and dynamic difficulty algorithms have existed for years now, and they're more helpful than anything that removes control from the player.
Most Formats for a Handheld Open-World Title: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (p. 99)
Yay, Rockstar! You've never met a handheld format you wouldn't port Chinatown Wars to. Let's get you a Guinness certificate!
Largest Range of Bombs in a Stealth Video Game: Assassin's Creed: Revelations (p. 97)
Why didn't they just give Revelations a Most Grey-Bearded Italian Sneaky Guy award?
First Downloadable Stealth Games Based on TV Show: Doctor Who: The Adventure Games (p. 103)
Another case of we-created-this-award-just-for-you!
Most Expensive Eye of Judgment Card: Dioskuri (p. 87)
When you see the words "most expensive" in the context of Guinness World Records, your thoughts turn to crazy riches. I'm talking Dubai money. Now, $150 for one single card is pricey. But World Records-worthy? Someone needs to try harder.
Most Real-Life Mountain Ranges in a Video Game: SSX (p. 57)
This game isn't even out yet. What if some of these mountain ranges get cut? What then, Gamer's Edition? What then?!
Most Prolific Fictional Video Game DJ: DJ Atomika (p. 57)
Please note: this disc jockey from the SSX games is not a real person. This is a disembodied character voiced by an actor. His accomplishment isn't picking records or getting people to turn into a specific frequency. All he did was show up on time. Not "Tricky" at all, actually.
Longest Wait for the HD Remix of a Shooter: Radiant Silvergun (p. 46)
Yes, there was much rejoicing when Treasure's 1998 classic shmup got a shiny polish for its recent re-release. But was anyone marking time on a calendar for it to happen? Methinks not.
Longest Time Playing a Video Game While Traveling in a Crate: Jordan Long (p. 155)
There's a lot to admire about Jordan Long's physical endurance as concerns cramming himself into a shipping container and playing Lord of the Rings Online as a piece of performance art. But, looking at Long's personal site, the gaming part seems incidental. And coming across it on the two-page spread for the MMO category, it feels incidental, too.