The First GamingLives Alternative Games of the Year Awards

If there’s one thing that we all want deep down, it’s recognition. After all, why put in hours of labour if the results aren’t going to be appreciated. What about spending years of your life to something, only for no-one to care? With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that we love awards. Nothing acknowledges the great work you put in like an award, and when it comes to gaming, there’s little we love more than championing our favourite titles from the mountaintops, whilst chucking the worst the scene has to offer off a tall ledge, hoping it doesn’t survive the fall. However, we here at Gaminglives didn’t want to do the standard routine of dishing out awards based on the best graphics, or the best innovations, or the sexiest character of the year, because not only would we never reach a full consensus, I’m not actually in any games, and until that issue is rectified, that latter vote would be an utter farce.

Instead, I tasked our writers with devising their own awards; something unique that no other company or game would find hanging on their mantlepiece or nestling in their trophy case. The results? The first GamingLives Alternative Game of the Year Awards.


Most Creative Use of Hats As An Alternate Revenue Stream
Winner: Valve
Ensuring that they never actually have to release a game ever again and allowing them to churn out their own console, OS, controller, VR headset, sex toys and more without ever having to worry about money again, Valve have managed to turn what was once merely a humble head covering into figurative gold. Shame about Half Life 3 though.

Launch Fucktastrophe of The Year
Winner: EA – Sim City
There was a strong line up this year: EA DICE made a late surge with Battlefield 4 after looking like accidentally launching a functional multiplayer game, while 505 Games eliminated themselves from the running after admitting that Ashes Cricket 2013 was broken & pulling it from sale rather than stubbornly insisting it was fine and continuing to sell it. In the end, the only real choice was EA for Sim City; a launch fucktastrophe of epic proportions with endless server queues, lost saves, lies, patches, more lies, removed features, additional lies, restored features, shameless adver-DLC, half-truths and general dickery from start to finish. Congratulations, and let’s hope they can one-up themselves in 2014.


The Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey Award – South Park: The Stick of Truth
For the most ridiculously and pointlessly repeatedly delayed game.
As a man who considers Back To The Future his favourite trilogy and regularly watches Doctor Who despite them willingly casting Catherine Tate, I’ve often found myself wanting to leap forward in time to avoid the wait for shows, gigs or the occasional videogame. As such, this award goes to the game that I wish I had a time-machine for the most, because the wait for it has totally killed any enthusiasm I had of ever playing it. As a man who rabidly devours anything associated with Trey Parker and Matt Stone to the point that I routinely watch BASEketball and yearn for a sequel, the idea that they’d finally been roped in to help write, animate and produce a videogame for the long-running South Park was a dream come true, and all I had to do was wait for THQ to release it.

Then, THQ died, and the license was shipped off to Ubisoft, months before it was due to be released. Then it was moved back to later in the year. Then it was moved back to mid-December in a release window where most sites have already shut down for the year and past the point any large titles dare to release. Then, it was finally moved to March 2014 – on consoles considered “last-gen” with no PS4 or Xbox One versions to speak of – a week before Titanfall – widely considered to be the first “big” launch for 2014 – is set to release. Honestly, it feels like Ubisoft are trying their hardest to make it flop, and the fact that Trey and Matt seem to be in the dark about when it’s releasing – judging by the many exasperated slights and references in the latest series of the show – has helped South Park: The Stick of Truth go from one of my most anticipated titles ever to something I’m not even sure I’ll bother to pick up, even if it’s just to support the creators.

Runner-Up: Watch_Dogs
I saw Watch_Dogs on the show-floor of Gamescom, and what followed was a presentation so full of errors and mistakes that it was actually embarassing to watch. Every enemy would instantly spot you the moment you stealthily took out one of their friends, the presenters couldn’t make basic features work or look interesting, and the Smartglass functionality was so broken that one of the people guiding me through it flat-out admitted that it didn’t work properly and wouldn’t be in time for release. As a result, I barely blinked when Ubisoft announced they were delaying it from their November slot to some time in 2014, which also had the neat knock-on effect of killing most peoples’ enthusiasm for being an early adopter of next-gen consoles. Really, Watch_Dogs doesn’t get a runner-up because it killed my enthusiasm (because it made me glad they’re bothering to fix it before release), but because before the delay ads ran claiming “Two months are enough to visit Los Santos”, and as a result of their misjudged slight against Grand Theft Auto 5, the PR ended up with more egg on their face than the time John Romero wanted to make everyone his bitch.

The Golden Baldrick – David Cage
For the person(s) whom people still consistently put their faith in, despite their ridiculous incompetency.
Growing up, I credit two TV shows in particular in getting me obsessed with comedy – alongside playing Monkey Island until nothing else existed – The Simpsons, and Blackadder Goes Forth. Even at whatever age I was at the time, I knew that despite Baldrick being an utter idiot who’d screw up at whatever chance he was given, the others would still put their faith in him every single time. I laughed thinking that there was no way that’d happen in reality, but then someone gave David Cage a career.

Back in the day, Cage made Farenheit (or Indigo Prophecy if you’re American, and wrong); a crime-thriller that made you play as both a(n inadvertant) murderer and the cops trying to track him down. The premise was great, but utterly ruined by the sudden introduction of mystical elements and a twist where the internet became sentient and tried to rule the world. After bungling the end result so horrendously, you’d be forgiven for thinking no-one would trust Cage again, but then plenty of people put their blind faith and optimism into his next offering Heavy Rain – a crime-thriller whodunnit where one of the playable characters was a serial killer – and went on to produce something so awful that I’m pretty sure it’s libellous to refer to the congealed mass of words as a “script”, or the perfunctory quick-time events as “gameplay”.

Then, he offered us Beyond: Two Souls; a thriller following the life of Ellen Page as she’s haunted by some ghost-thing while Willem Dafoe – who was the Green Goblin once – is also there for some reason. Despite all the signs that it’d be another QTE-fest with schlocky content, I still saw person after person fall for the hype, and despite David Baldrick – sorry, I mean Cage – being as trustworthy as a scorned ex with a phone full of naked pictures of you, too many people put their faith in him yet again. The wonky android’s resulting attempt at deciphering what we humans call ‘emotion’ was as convincing as putting a dead slug under your nose and calling yourself Charlie Chaplin. Personally, I gave up several hours in after playing a copy at a friend’s house, because even knowing that Cage would screw it up yet again, I found myself laughing as hard as the first time I saw Blackadder tell Baldrick to deny everything.

Runner-Up: Microsoft
They wanted to spy on you with Kinect, force you to check in online every day, and charge you to lend or borrow pre-owned games. They wanted to make it more TV than games console, struggled to display some games in anything higher than 720p and then expected you to pay far more money for the damn thing despite it being technologically inferior to the PS4. Yet, people are still buying the Xbox One in droves. I really don’t understand people sometimes.


The Colour-blind ADHD Game of the Year (that has Dwarfism) – Rogue Legacy
I shudder to think how many brave men and women of my family line have perished in their attempts to storm the family castle. It seems as though the castle itself is against them, for the insides are different for each intrepid explorer to enter, each of whom are as different from their predecessors as the castle is. Being inflicted with colourblindness, or dwarfism, or giantism, or ADHD changes their chances of success, but each are unique and when they invariably fall – for they will invariably fall, their loss is mourned even as their own heir prepares to take on their mantle and challenge the castle despite being hampered by their flatulence (or any number of other unique issues). Rogue Legacy is probably my favourite rogue-like (or as I like to call them – die endlessly, but it’s fun-like) game since Spelunky made them cool again, simply because of the individuality and emergent gameplay that it offers.

Now that I’ve got the writer speak out of the way, I can be honest about the real reason I love this game – it lets me play as a midget with a farting problem. What more can a man ask? I suck at it, but it’s totally awesome. There is no runner up for this award, for no other game offered me the option of a playable character with a random cocktail of genetic mutations. Which is clearly a massive problem with the gaming industry and should be rectified as soon as physically possible.


Best Game Where You Plod Around and Don’t Do Very Much: Gone Home
Gone Home isn’t just a non-game; it’s the non-game that made me realise that, you know what, some of these non-games are better than any “real” game I’ve played in months. I quietly loved Dinner Date back in the day, but I never would’ve invited others to play it because I realised just how niche it was. I balked at Proteus but picked it up anyway, and couldn’t help smile at parts. But Gone Home was when it really, truly hit me.

For a while I stared at the price tag and questioned why I would pay that price for a game where you essentially walk around a house and touch things. I could’ve done something incredibly similar by stepping out of my room for the first time in a few days and stroking my fridge. But I was spurred on by the debates happening on Twitter, the talk of how moving the story was and how incredible the whole experience was, and I took the plunge.

The entire experience was a struggle for three very distinct reasons:

One: my laptop can hardly handle Gone Home, so much of my experience with the game was choppy, with me jumping from spot to spot rather than walking seamlessly. The audio cut out as my fan whirred rapidly, and I prayed the poor machine wouldn’t catch fire in its effort to provide me with a touching tale of a young woman returning home after travelling through Europe.

Two: it just so happens that Gone Home is one of the creepiest games out there. It’s a perfectly normal house, and there’s nothing hiding round the corners to kill you, but it’s still terrifying. Most of the lights are out. Sometimes a TV has been left on, flickering static into a darkened room. Sometimes lightning flashes outside and thunder rolls. Or sometimes you stand, petrified, at the top of a set of stairs leading into a hidden basement room, not knowing what will be there, and you have to close the window for half an hour while you psyche yourself up for the horrors of what may lie ahead. I have done that. I am not ashamed. I didn’t unlock every aspect sheerly because one room has a broken light, and there wasn’t a hope in hell of me going into a dark room by myself.

And three: it’s really, really emotional. I was nearly in tears. And not just at the central narrative. There is a story that unfolds around you as you find certain items, and you learn about your sister growing up without you there to be an emotional rock of any kind. That story is beautiful, no doubt, and it’s very well-written and is the first of its kind that I remember encountering in a game (trying not to spoil anything here). But it’s the little things you find around the house about your parents that really got me. Letters to your father asking him to stop writing about his life in reviews, which is something that resonates deeply with myself. A bookmark being used by your mother that hints at her falling for someone else. A leaflet for a couple’s retreat. There’s this heart-wrenching tale of a marriage falling apart that you’ll only find if you go through every single touchable item in the house, and even then you’ve got to piece parts of it together yourself. It’s beautifully subtle in execution, and that makes it even more of a joy to discover.

If you break it down into its basic components, then Gone Home is a game about wandering round a house, rifling through your family’s belongings, and so it wins the award for that. But I hope I’ve made it very clear that this is really not the case; there’s so much more to it than that. Don’t let the price sway you, this is a game that is worth every penny, if you’ll just give it the time and open yourself up to being moved by it.


The ‘How Has KSI Not Won This Award?’ Award for Biggest Cunt: Microsoft.
You pay £430 for an Xbox One and a further £50 for Forza Beleventy and they still nickel and dime you when it comes to car and track pack DLC? Fuck you, Microsoft. I hope your Kinect becomes self-aware and inexplicably sets fire to your face.

The ‘Last of the Summer Wine award for thing that has gone on far too long enough for its own good by half’ Award. – Assassin’s Creed
Assassin’s Creed. Who the fuck even buys these games anymore? I’m the only person who liked the first one and I got pretty bored of the series after the second. This last one was set on boats or some shit. Fuck your boats, Ubisoft.

The ‘Standing on the Rooftops’ Award for Game most in need of a restraining order – Killer Is DeadKiller is Dead was an alright hack and slasher from the ever-overrated Suda 51. It let itself down however by throwing in the sketchy Gigolo missions that see you deliberately perving over the naughty bits of women. Even by the worrying standards of the Japanese this is all a bit ‘offenders register’ for my liking.


Best Fusion of Childhood Memories With Modern Gaming – Saints Row IV
I’d like to nominate Saints Row IV for the moment when it plays Stan Bush’s ‘The Touch’ whilst you and the bad guy say:
Zinyak: One shall stand, one shall fall.
Leader of the Third Street Saints: Why throw away your life so recklessly?

All taken from the battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron in the classic Transformers: The Movie (1986 animated, not that Michael Bay crap). I got goosebumps. For realsies.


The Next Nolan North – Troy Baker
Even though he might not quite be a gaming household name just yet, chances are you’ve played at least one game starring Troy Baker this year. Having voiced everyone from BioShock Infinite’s Booker DeWitt to The Last Of Us’ Joel all the way to Saints Row IV’s President of the United States (well, one of them anyway), Mr Baker is rapidly becoming as synonymous to gaming as the man in which this prestigious award is named after. Who knows, in a couple of years’ time it might be called The Next Troy Baker award.

The “We Can’t Make Up Our Bloody Minds” Award – Microsoft
It requires an internet connection; it functions perfectly well offline. Used games can’t be played; pre-owned is still supported. Kinect must be connected at all times; the console works fine on its own. It wasn’t so much Microsoft’s policies that were the problem with the Xbox One reveal as much as their calamitous messaging of them. With hundreds of interviews posted on hundreds of sites contradicting each other, it seemed apparent not even key Microsoft executives knew what was going on. Ultimately, Microsoft made the right call to reverse their forward-thinking policies, but by the time the dust had finally settled and everyone knew what the Xbox One was about, for many, the damage had already been done.

Most Pointless Prequel – God of War: Ascension
For a God of War game, Ascension was uncharacteristically unspectacular in its set-pieces, dismally uninspired in its art design (if Beigest Game of the Year was an award, this would win hands down) and wrapped it all up in a story that nobody wanted to hear. Granted, the year’s other big-name prequels may not have been entirely successful either, but Kratos’ latest struggled to justify its existence from both a narrative and gameplay perspective. No wonder he’s so angry.


The “Thanks For Making Me Ashamed To Have Ever Considered Myself A Gamer” Award For Utter Braindead Cuntishness
This one goes out to all the twats who help to make up the sludge at the bottom of the gaming barrel; the dregs of humanity who, time and again, remind us that gaming isn’t all about people from all over the world coming together to enjoy that one same form of entertainment and that, somehow, it’s all about hatred, disrespect, sexism, and a general lack of acceptance. The nominees for this one were aplenty, including the faceless assholes who called for transgender journalist, Carolyn Petit, to be fired after her (yes, HER) review of GTA V was slammed by militant fanboys after it received a soul-destroying score of only 9/10.  Yes, almost a perfect score… but that’s not good enough for the GTA crowd.  The hatred towards Carolyn had already been evident, with various YouTube videos calling for her to be fired, beaten or have “what’s left of his dick cut off and ass fuck him with it”, for no reason other than they chose to live their life as a woman rather than a man, but daring to score a Grand Theft Auto game with less than 10 pushed the asshats over the edge. Further support for the transgender community was shown when, at this year’s Eurogamer, Microsoft representative Fraser Millward pulled Laura Dale up on stage along with four other men and asked if any women wanted to come up, referring to her as “he”, “it” and “that person”.

But it’s not just this sort of wankery that makes my blood boil; it’s the sense of entitlement that gamers seem to have for their beloved IP, leaving all humanity at the door in the process.  When Jennifer Hepler made a few changes to the Dragon Age series, which were implemented in Dragon Age II, she received death threats against her and her children, forcing her to resign for their protection.  In an odd twist, when Kotaku writer Tina Amini ran a story about Hepler, she too received death threats.  Then we have Black Ops II dev David Vonderhaar who had the audacity to do his actual job and make slight tweaks to the rate of fire of the DSR 50 and Ballista weapons, as well as reduce the damage caused by the AN-94.  Naturally, for his crimes, he received threats against his own life and was told that his family would be murdered.

Everyone’s favourite bearded hat-wearing guy (granted, there aren’t many of those), Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, also had threats made against his life when he closed down a website that gave Minecraft away for free.  He, along with his team, created the game and for years allowed people to download and play it for free, and when it became fully monetised (because, you know, getting paid for doing your job is a rare thing, it would seem) and no longer wanted it made available for free… that was punishable by death.  Paradox Interactive, after releasing a particularly buggy Hearts Of Iron 3, had threats made against the organisation where people pledged to tear down their building and individuals within the organisation received personal threats, being told that they ‘knew where they lived’ and would be murdered in their own home.

Perhaps the worst incident of gamer cuntishness, however, was directed at the former face of the Call of Duty series, Robert Bowling.  One particular tweet from @JamesMcMullan5 read “Today I go out buy a sniper rifle kill you and your family sell you’re body to a convicted rapist that is also a necrophiliac!” but, being used to the ridiculous nature of a small number of gamers, Bowling knew to ignore the threats and move on.  That was until photos of his two-year-old daughter were posted up along with threats against her, with others posting up his home address as well as his girlfriend’s telephone number, calling for people to do what they could to make their lives hell.

I could go on.  I could talk about how games journalism has degraded to the point where big-name sites are no longer making an effort to actually write decent content and are instead happy to paste a single line into a title field and embed a YouTube video, or regurgitate a press release near verbatim in order to get the scoop on other sites.  Over the past five years, I’ve watched this industry descend to depths that I never even knew were possible and, sadly, I find myself becoming more distanced from it.  There is a cancer within the video games industry, as well as within the fans on the outside looking in, and it needs to end.

Here ends our inaugural Alternative Game of the Year Awards. Did you find any entries you disagreed with, or nominations we should have considered? Have you thought of any awards we could add to the ceremony posthumously? Let us know in the comments below!

Last five articles by Edward



  1. Rook says:

    For the most ridiculously and pointlessly repeatedly delayed game you could have also chosen Duke Nukem Forever; 10 years it took to be released. Or Alan Wake – originally shown as a launch title for Xbox 360 which came out 5 years after the console.

  2. Edward Edward says:

    Aye, but neither of those were released (or rather, delayed) this year ;)

  3. Pete Pete says:

    I particularly like Mark’s award and the rant that goes along with it. The whole situation baffles me beyond belief and I really, really don’t get that level of “fandom”, if you can even call it that.

    Ironically, the thing that has brought a lot of us together has also brought out the cunt in people who wouldn’t ever normally say boo to a goose, let alone publicly threaten rape, mutilation and murder on people they don’t know. Gotta love the interwebs for the good things it has given us, but fucking hell, it comes with some bad too.

  4. Maggie Biscuits says:

    @Rook. I believe The Last Guardian has that title now

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