Pour yourself a pitcher of egg nog, fire up a yule log, and join the GameCritics.com family as we reminice about the year that was. We'll reveal our game of the year, and discuss the best and worst 2009 had to offer. Featuring Chi, Brad, Mike, Dave, Dan, Richard, Tim, and a special appearance by one of our favorite listeners, Hargrada. Thanks to everyone for listening; we really do appreciate it. Have a happy and safe New Year's, and we'll see you back here in January.

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Award Categories:

  • Surprise (Good) of the Year Award
  • WTF of the Year Award
  • The "Brad Gallaway is Single-Handedly Keeping Indie Developers in Business" Award
  • Non-2009 Game of the Year
  • Most Disappointing Game of the Year
  • The Too Human Award for Inexplicable Excellence
  • Developer We'll Miss the Most
  • Best Argument for Abandoning Discs
  • Most Promising New Franchise
  • Nail in the Coffin Award
  • The Internet Has No Idea What They're Talking About Award
  • Best Argument for Games-as-Art
  • The Steaming Pile Award
  • 2009 Game of the Year

Please send feedback and mailbag questions to podcast (at) gamecritics (dot) com.

Tim Spaeth

Tim Spaeth

Cleveland native Tim Spaeth grew up in a happy household – a household with a father whose major client happened to be an Atari games distributor. This led directly to Tim's first nickname: "The kid who got Atari games before anyone else." Indeed, he knew Pac-Man and E.T. were colossal bombs weeks before the rest of the world, and the resulting celebrity brought him great pleasure.

Through the years every aspect of Tim's life has been touched by gaming. He mastered typing thanks to Space Quest, honed his poker skills on The Sierra Network, and learned to hate after a particularly traumatic game of Tecmo Super Bowl.

Today, Tim lives in Chicago with his three kids and strives to find that perfect balance between family, career, and Warcraft. He enjoys broadcasting, martial arts, rock and roll, growing and shaving his beard, singing show tunes to the homeless, and losing at Mario Kart to his lovely, talented, and amazing girlfriend.

In late 2008, Tim became the producer and host of the GameCritics.com Podcast, and he's thrilled to be bringing GameCritics' unique editorial voice to a brand new medium.
Tim Spaeth

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44 Comments on "GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 28: Game of the Year and Best/Worst of 2009"

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Matt
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Matt
6 years 5 months ago
Interesting listening to this podcast in regards to Mass Effect 2. I do agree that the looting and exploration elements have been dumbed down a bit. However, I do not feel this effects the Role Playing elements. A role playing game after all allows you to play a role. It allows character customization and the development of the characters around you. I do not know many other games that do this better than Mass Effect 2. The looting and exploration elements have nothing to do with this. What Bioware did do however, is allow you to play different classes and… Read more »
ckzatwork
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ckzatwork
6 years 6 months ago

Yeah, the Turkish prisons innuendo. I thought I was the only one being bothered by that.

Shane
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Shane
6 years 6 months ago
Yeah 2 gay jokes Within the first 15 minutes of the game makes me SOO happy i was playing a so called “non sexist”, game. I SHOULD be bothered but am not because its uncharted!!! The writing is completely banal, and i am somewhat baffled that you chose uncharted as an example of a NON SEXIST game? At the end of the game both women are waiting for his choice only to have the one he does not choose talk about her ass is not liberating (although absolutely funny), and completely sexist. As someone for equal rights, i think being… Read more »
shun
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6 years 6 months ago

For a moment I was beginning to wonder if you’re a Filipino, coz we often end our sentences with “ha”, ha!

Goatart
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Goatart
6 years 6 months ago

it was meant jokingly, pointing more to the paradox of the terms.

the particular is always engaged with the general (an event isn’t singular, always involving the other), and the general cannot be composed without particulars.

The concepts, necessary perhaps, illusory nonetheless.

But that’s neither here nor there, because we have both generalities and particulars right? Thus the cyclical headache.

Odofakyodo
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Odofakyodo
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Tera Kirk]People who don’t experience a type of -ism have a tendency to not notice it (e.g. accuse marginalized people of finding it where it doesn’t exist) or think that it’s “just individuals being jerks.” This is partly because -ism isn’t just about keeping people down; it’s about building the (dominant) people up in ways they don’t always notice. For example, though people often argue that accommodating people with disabilities is too much work, they have lots of accommodations for non-disabled people. Most public places have light for sighted people, and chairs for people who don’t use wheelchairs to sit… Read more »
Brad Gallaway
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Brad Gallaway
6 years 6 months ago

Ditto.
Our writers are free to express their veiwpoints on anything, as long as they do it intelligently and civilly… Matthew’s post was a well-written one and did a good job of explaining his viewpoint, even if some of the other staff didn’t agree with it.

here at GC, we don’t insist on maintaining a homogenous site-wide front, we’re more like a platform for smart, well-spoken folks to say what they want to say.

Tim Spaeth
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Tim Spaeth
6 years 6 months ago

[quote=Tim]Not only am I appalled by the hypocrisy, but I should remind everyone about the old adage regarding stones and glass houses. By tearing down another’s choices, you don’t rise above them. Next time you decide to call out another site… think first.[/quote]For what it’s worth Demon’s Souls was meant to be our Podcast GOTY, not necessarily that of the entire site. Nor do I think Matt’s article was meant to represent the position of the entire site. No hypocrisy here; just different voices expressing different opinions.

Richard Naik
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Richard Naik
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Tim]Games journalism intended to call out other outlets is questionable at best, and unprofessional at worst. But when the writer’s own site chooses the said game as game of the year as well, these kinds of articles become more than questionable–it becomes hypocrisy. I’d love to see an official response on this. If Matthew is prepared to call out another outlet (which is not appropriate, though I recognize that this happens on a frequent basis on this site), he should be prepared to call out his own. If he cannot stand by the decision elsewhere, he should not be able… Read more »
Tim
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Tim
6 years 6 months ago
I saw a Tweet from Atlus announcing GameCritics’ choice of Demon’s Souls as its game of the year–yet also read a long (and reactionary) article from Matthew Kaplan criticizing this same choice on GameSpot’s part. Games journalism intended to call out other outlets is questionable at best, and unprofessional at worst. But when the writer’s own site chooses the said game as game of the year as well, these kinds of articles become more than questionable–it becomes hypocrisy. I’d love to see an official response on this. If Matthew is prepared to call out another outlet (which is not appropriate,… Read more »
Goatart
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Goatart
6 years 6 months ago

Forgot about Laura Mulvey!!! Despite the problems in her seminal essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema…an essay like that applied to video games would go a long way.

Then again the academic approach to games is emerging, so perhaps essays like this have already been written and I just have some catch up to do…at least it’s being discussed, alex was a great addition to the gamecritics already critical squad.

Goatart
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Goatart
6 years 6 months ago
tera- agree with your very succinct post The problem that always arises of course is that you can’t talk about the general without the particular, and vice versa, making the headache cyclical. We just have to understand that there is no particular…ha. Chi also made some poignant points. I thought it was pretty clear in the podcast that they weren’t referring to choosing which woman dies (which would clearly be INSANE..films are bad enough, but to make a player who could very well be a female CHOOSE which female dies, hahahaha), they were talking mechanics. All adding to the argument… Read more »
Tera Kirk
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Tera Kirk
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Trent Fingland]”I think the problem here is that Brad and Odo seem to be talking about an instance, either spiderman or uncharted 2, while ollie and alex are talking about a trend.”[/quote] Disclaimer: I haven’t listened to the part of the podcast being discussed yet. But I do see what Trent is talking about in this thread: one group talking about general trends, and another talking about specifics. What I notice often is when a member of a marginalized group or three (women, people of color, trans women and men, people with disabilities, gay, lesbian, bisexual and asexual people, etc),… Read more »
Tera Kirk
Guest
Tera Kirk
6 years 6 months ago

[quote]I mistakenly said that Valkyria Chronicles cane out in April 2008. While the Japanese version was released in April, it didn’t make it to North America until November. [/quote]

The record has been purged. No one (who reads the transcript) will ever know :).

Li-Ion
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Li-Ion
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Tim Spaeth]It’s “The Bells Are Ringing” by They Might Be Giants, off Factory Showroom. The second best Christmas song ever, after Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”.[/quote] Thanks! Will be played during the next Christmas dinner for sure πŸ™‚ I want to congratulate you to the music choice anyway. I noticed it especially in episode 27 and here again. Awesome! And the idea to buy a PS3 is in my head since beginning 2009. But back then it was way too expensive (now it’s just expensive ;)) and I was not convinced by the PS-exclusive lineup. With games like… Read more »
Chi Kong Lui
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Chi Kong Lui
6 years 6 months ago
I don’t think any semi-intelligent person would deny that there is rampant sexism in video games since this is an industry largely marketed towards teenage boys and young men. I also happen to be familiar with the Women in Refrigerators issue thanks to the amazing comic culture blogging done by Heidi MacDonald on The Beat. I also find it ironic and baffling that anyone would suggest a site devoted to diversity, has for 10 years published content benefiting deaf and disabled gamers and one that recruited and promoted Alex Raymond to partake in the discussion, as being “hostile”. Anyone here… Read more »
Richard Naik
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Richard Naik
6 years 6 months ago

@RandomRob

That was perhaps the finest piece of literature I have ever read. You deserve like eight Pulitzers for that.

@Trent

Well said. For real.

RandomRob
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RandomRob
6 years 6 months ago

Yes.

Trent Fingland
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Trent Fingland
6 years 6 months ago
I think the problem here is that Brad and Odo seem to be talking about an instance, either spiderman or uncharted 2, while ollie and alex are talking about a trend. I think laboring over one specific example is taking the conversation in the wrong direction and making an understanding more difficult to reach. When taken in a vacuum where no other media exists, one instance of a male protagonist having to choose which girl to sacrifice would probably not be sexist. Or rather the sexism of it would be dependent upon how it was presented, and not just based… Read more »
Odofakyodo
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Odofakyodo
6 years 6 months ago
oliemoon, thanks for taking the time to write out a response. And Alex, thanks for giving me your perspective. At the very least, you’ve given me some heightened awareness to the WIR issue. Let me see if I get this straight: Someone writes a story. The protagonist in this story has a love interest. The love interest dies solely as a plot device to develop the protagonist’s character. Now if the protagonist is male and the love interest is female, then this is sexist because many other stories have done this? So now no matter what, any time a female… Read more »
Tim Spaeth
Guest
Tim Spaeth
6 years 6 months ago

[quote=Richard Naik]I mistakenly said that Valkyria Chronicles cane out in April 2008. While the Japanese version was released in April, it didn’t make it to North America until November.

Had to correct myself before some astute Internet citizen did so :)[/quote]I’m working on a new edit right now; in it you’ve been removed from the show completely. We simply cannot have such an atrocity associated with the podcast.

Richard Naik
Guest
Richard Naik
6 years 6 months ago

I mistakenly said that Valkyria Chronicles cane out in April 2008. While the Japanese version was released in April, it didn’t make it to North America until November.

Had to correct myself before some astute Internet citizen did so πŸ™‚

oliemoon
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oliemoon
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Odofakyodo]The entire point of the scene is to present a very dramatic moral choice for Peter . . . Now it is entirely unclear to me how the threat of MJ’s death makes the scene sexist. The whole point of death is that it is FINAL. The choice is a decision Peter would have to live with FOREVER.[/quote] I think your description of the scene very clearly illustrates what is sexist about the bridge showdown in Spider-man. You keep saying, it’s about Peter’s moral dilemma, it’s about making a choice that he will have to live with forever…and this is… Read more »
Tim Spaeth
Guest
Tim Spaeth
6 years 6 months ago

It’s “The Bells Are Ringing” by They Might Be Giants, off Factory Showroom. The second best Christmas song ever, after Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”.

Regarding PS3 — There are certainly enough titles to justify the purchase but part of me likes the idea of not being able to play any of them. My “to purchase” list has 11 games on it already and I have countless titles in my backlog. The hardest part about doing this podcast is that it creates a compulsion to play everything, and that’s just not healthy. πŸ™‚

Li-Ion
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Li-Ion
6 years 6 months ago

Looks like I _really_ should get a PS3 now… and I noticed listening to the podcast how many good games I missed this year…

btw. what was the song at the end?

Brad Gallaway
Guest
Brad Gallaway
6 years 6 months ago
Everything Odo said, ditto. he was more thorough and well-spoken than I’d have been, so just… ditto. Moving on- To clarify this now-infamous bit of podcast, the whole point was about missed dramatic potential in UC2 (and really, any game that takes choice out of a player’s hands.) People shouldn’t be so quick to see sexism where it doesn’t exist. This missed dramatic opportunity near the end of UC2 (the kind of which occurs in games, books and films ALL the time) had nothing to do with who was male and who was female. It would have been equally dramatic… Read more »
Odofakyodo
Guest
Odofakyodo
6 years 6 months ago
Alex, I accept that you don’t think all men think women are worthless. Glad you cleared that up. You are absolutely correct in that I do not understand what you’re criticism is. I fully admit that and I’m not trying to hide anything (in fact it was the very first thing I said to you!). Hence the reason I asked those women the question. I did NOT intend for it to be the crux of my argument, or really much support for my view at all since it is obviously anecdotal. The reason I mentioned it in my post was… Read more »
Li-Ion
Guest
Li-Ion
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Odofakyodo]I live in a pretty progressive region of the country, and I asked three women I know who identify themselves as progressive “You know that scene in the Spiderman movie where the Green Goblin forces Spiderman to make a choice between Mary Jane and a bus full of kids? Do you think it is sexist?” All three of them answered in the negative.[/quote] I live in the Netherlands (talking about progressive ;)) and I find the scene sexist. But I notice everyday racism and sexism quite easy and often. And for the record: I didn’t study anything related to the… Read more »
Alex R
Guest
6 years 6 months ago
By “I know that” I meant I know that shit about men and relationships. I was being sarcastic that all men think women are worthless; I’m not an idiot. The WIR trope is the thing that implies women are worthless outside of their relationships with men: girlfriends of the hero are often killed off. I also didn’t make ANY assumptions about your identity or experience, which is why I added a qualifier; I don’t presume to be THE AUTHORITY here, but I DO have SOME authority because of my experience. I didn’t call you a misogynist pig, either. If you… Read more »
Odofakyodo
Guest
Odofakyodo
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Alex R]Please keep in mind in this discussion that as a woman, a feminist, and someone who has been writing about sexism and games specifically for over a year now, I have a pretty deep understanding of what sexism is; so unless you’re a woman and/or have studied sexism, it’s probably best if you trust me on the issue of what’s sexist and what isn’t.[/quote] Trent is correct, all that the pompous authority speak does is annoy people. I do not know you and your background other than from a couple of articles and comments here at Gamecritics and a… Read more »
Richard Naik
Guest
Richard Naik
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Alex R](Massive topic-change!) My WTF of the year would definitely be UbiSoft going all, “Beyond Good and Evil 2? What’s that? I don’t know what you’re talking about” after releasing a goddamn teaser trailer at Ubidays last year, and that gameplay footage leaked. WTF?! That’s just bizarre.[/quote] Last I heard they were still in pre-production despite the leaked footage. It was never “officially” announced but Michael Ancel has alluded to it a number of times in some recent interviews. It’s hard to guess what they’re doing, since Ubisoft is sending so many mixed signals. Speaking of which, I should probably… Read more »
Alex R
Guest
6 years 6 months ago
Well, the only thing I had access to is what was actually on the podcast, which I’ve listened to twice, and I know I didn’t mishear anything. I’m glad that’s not what Brad meant, but it is what he said, or what could have reasonably been taken from what he said. @Trent yeah, after all, it is still a product of the entertainment industry… the “beautiful=good, ugly=evil” thing is particularly annoying. (Massive topic-change!) My WTF of the year would definitely be UbiSoft going all, “Beyond Good and Evil 2? What’s that? I don’t know what you’re talking about” after releasing… Read more »
Tim Spaeth
Guest
Tim Spaeth
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Richard Naik]You know, if there’s one thing I can take away from the two podcasts I’ve done so far, it’s that I hate, nay, despise the sound of my own voice. Apologies to all for having to endure it.[/quote]Oh, relax. You sound great. In fact you could do professional voice-over work and I think you should start auditioning. [quote=Trent Fingland]A) I was really hoping to hear that awesome little Christmas tune it played in town in the original Shenmue somewhere in there. Maybe next Christmas? C) No mention of Bionic Commando? No tears shed for Grin? Shame on all of… Read more »
Trent Fingland
Guest
Trent Fingland
6 years 6 months ago

A) I was really hoping to hear that awesome little Christmas tune it played in town in the original Shenmue somewhere in there. Maybe next Christmas?

B) Bottlerocket is dead? I can’t decide it that bothers me a lot or a WHOLE lot. That Splatterhouse game looked like garbage, but if it just turned out to be Mark of Kri 3: Featuring Rick from Splatterhouse, I would’ve been satisfied.

C) No mention of Bionic Commando? No tears shed for Grin? Shame on all of you. You specifically Brad πŸ˜›

Richard Naik
Guest
Richard Naik
6 years 6 months ago

You know, if there’s one thing I can take away from the two podcasts I’ve done so far, it’s that I hate, nay, despise the sound of my own voice. Apologies to all for having to endure it.

That is all. Carry on.

Trent Fingland
Guest
Trent Fingland
6 years 6 months ago
I see. Well, as I said I haven’t seen all of it, but I’m glad you clarified that you don’t see the game as “progressive full stop”. I’d agree that the game did take some obvious steps in the right direction that hardly any other games have, while still falling short of being totally forward thinking. [quote=Alex R]Please keep in mind in this discussion that as a woman, a feminist, and someone who has been writing about sexism and games specifically for over a year now, I have a pretty deep understanding of what sexism is; so unless you’re a… Read more »
Chi Kong Lui
Guest
Chi Kong Lui
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Alex R]Ok, I wasn’t criticizing you, Chi, I guess it was Brad then (I am still having trouble distinguishing voices that aren’t yours or Tim’s), he specifically says that (paraphrasing now, I just re-listened) he was waiting for the moment to choose, for the villain to put a gun to his head or something and force him to choose and it would have been a “cool moment”. No. It would not have. It is something that happens in almost every superhero movie (“save this bus of small children, OR YOUR GIRLFRIEND”, like in Spiderman). And it’s cliche’d, sexist, Women-in-Refrigerators BS,… Read more »
Alex R
Guest
6 years 6 months ago
Please keep in mind in this discussion that as a woman, a feminist, and someone who has been writing about sexism and games specifically for over a year now, I have a pretty deep understanding of what sexism is; so unless you’re a woman and/or have studied sexism, it’s probably best if you trust me on the issue of what’s sexist and what isn’t. @Odofakyodo dude, I know that. I was being sarcastic. And that trope (forcing the hero to choose which woman dies, or whether she or a bus of children die, or whatever–specifically the killing aspect, not simply… Read more »
Odofakyodo
Guest
Odofakyodo
6 years 6 months ago
Alex, I have to be honest: It may be cliched (though that’s arguable), but I am at a loss to see how choosing between two women in a dramatic moment is sexist. If anything, I should be deeply offended and angry by the implication of your posts – namely, that a guy only chooses a woman because she’s fucking him and that if she’s not then she’s worthless to him. First of all, in a video game, the player isn’t actually fucking either one of them, so there isn’t exactly a huge degree of sexual pleasure there. More importantly, however,… Read more »
Trent Fingland
Guest
Trent Fingland
6 years 6 months ago
I see where you’re coming from Alex, and I actually watched that particular scene earlier today while my brother was playing. I was very much viewing the game with an eye out for its handling of gender issues, largely due to your high praise, and I couldn’t help but feel that outside of a few instances, it still promotes the male as leader/provider/superior just as much as any other games. While the women in the game are displayed as capable, it almost feels as if a bone is being thrown to a female audience, rather than a full-throated support for… Read more »
Alex R
Guest
6 years 6 months ago
Ok, I wasn’t criticizing you, Chi, I guess it was Brad then (I am still having trouble distinguishing voices that aren’t yours or Tim’s), he specifically says that (paraphrasing now, I just re-listened) he was waiting for the moment to choose, for the villain to put a gun to his head or something and force him to choose and it would have been a “cool moment”. No. It would not have. It is something that happens in almost every superhero movie (“save this bus of small children, OR YOUR GIRLFRIEND”, like in Spiderman). And it’s cliche’d, sexist, Women-in-Refrigerators BS, as… Read more »
Chi Kong Lui
Guest
Chi Kong Lui
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Alex R]Okay, obviously Matthew covered the response to the criticisms of Uncharted 2, but I have to say I am deeply offended and angry at the suggestion of having a scene where Nate/the player chooses which woman dies and which he ends up with.[/quote] If you go back and listen to the podcast, Brad does *not* say the player should get to choose who lives or dies or even who Drake ends up with (which was my point). What Brad said is it would have been cool (i.e. dramatic) to put the player in a rock-and-a-hard-place-type hostage situation where the… Read more »
Alex R
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

Got a little angry there, sorry! This is a bit of a hot button issue for me. It’s hard to express how relieved I was that UC2 avoided (and even subverted) so many offensive, sexist tropes from both movies and games, so any suggestion to fall back on those tropes freaks me out a bit.

And by “human” in that last sentence, I meant treated as a person, as opposed to a prize the male protagonist wins as a result of saving the day, or whatever.

Alex R
Guest
6 years 6 months ago
Okay, obviously Matthew covered the response to the criticisms of Uncharted 2, but I have to say I am deeply offended and angry at the suggestion of having a scene where Nate/the player chooses which woman dies and which he ends up with. Because god forbid a woman lives who isn’t attached to the player/main character. If she’s not fucking the main character, she’s worthless, right? And hey, it would give Nate some great angst fodder, wouldn’t it? Carry on that grand old Women in Refrigerators tradition! One of the great things about Uncharted 2 is how NON-SEXIST it is.… Read more »
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