It's great to see Dishonored getting appreciation on so many end-of-year lists, isn't it? And it's also nice to see the love being showered on The Walking Dead for delivering an emotionally affecting experience. But a lot more than a few good game releases happened this year. Debates! Elections! NFL referee idiocy! Star Wars sequels from Disney?! Surely, video games have something to say about those real-world events, no?
Turns out game-makers do have some commentary on 2012 and that commentary is hilarious.
The Gameological Society commissioned four games built around news stories that captivated the public over the last 12 months and the results are really funny and surprisingly challenging affairs. Take Secret Agent 47%, where players control the guy who recorded Mitt Romney's infamous campaign speech. It's got great sound design and approximates the tenseness that the anonymous leaker must have felt during that fund-raiser.
And, even though it's built on a rock-paper-scissors template, Super Debate 20XX rightly acknowledges the fact that you can't be the guy parroting your opponent's line in a televised political showdown. You should really play as Obama and see what happens if you lose.
Remember all the fan buzz about who should get a hold of the upcoming Star Wars sequels after Disney announced that they'd acquired Lucasfilm? Star Wars: Sequel Debacle Simulatron lets you play that parlor game all over again and projects how much money Revenge of the Deathless would make if Nathan Fillion, Tina Fey and Paul Thomas Anderson were involved. Don't think you're not going to screw up a play playing the rhythm-matching penalty calling in Pareffa the Ref, either. Because you are.
If the premises behind these games aren't enough of a hook, you should check them out because a bunch of really smart folks are behind them. Like UI maestro Joe Kowalski, Cart Life's Richard Hofmeier and Pete Malamud Smith, who worked on that awesome Great Gatsby NES homage. Kudos to all involved for making the headlines of 2012 more enjoyable as games than they ever were as news.