Anna Anthropy (Auntie Pixelante)
Out with the old: I'm really proud of how the industry has finally acknowledged and overcome its rampant sexism and hostility toward women. Wait, whoops -- this is an answer from a year in the future. You'd all better make sure it comes to pass, or there's gonna be a killer paradox.
In with the new: I appreciate that Game Developer magazine has moved away from having to include a two-page spread of a white dude with a huge gun in every issue. I hope this trend continues into the future.
Shout-outs: Swordfight made me experience greater professional jealousy than any other game I've ever seen. That's the one you play by wearing Atari joysticks in strap-on harnesses, trying to press the other player's button with your shaft. Also, your hands are cuffed behind your back. I wish I'd made it.
One-sentence review: Freaks, normals, amateurs, artists, dreamers, dropouts, queers, housewives, and people like you still have a lot of work ahead of us.
Clinton Keith (GDMag advisory board)
Out with the old: We haven't grown out of the blatant sexism just yet, but we're far more conscious of it than we were a year ago due to some outspoken individuals.
In with the new: Kickstarter. I love seeing studios like Double Fine getting serious strings-free money directly from consumers before a game is made.
Shout-outs: I've been impressed with so many studios. I can't choose one.
I told you so: Valve's employee handbook reveals that we can treat game developers like trusted creative professionals and build a culture that breeds success.
One-sentence review: After 20 years of development, I've never seen a better time in which to make video games!
Nels Anderson (Klei Entertainment)
Out with the old: It seems we've mostly gotten over motion controls, which I think isn't unwelcome. They're still very well suited to particular domains (Harmonix continues to absolutely nail it with Dance Central), but in general, motion controls felt like a solution looking for a problem. It feels like we're past that wave of pseudo-Holodeck fetishism that motion controls were supposed to provide, which I think was a distraction from the real goal of finding ways to design games that are more intellectually and emotionally engaging.
In with the new: This is probably a little of a cheat, but next year is probably when we're going to see a lot of the big Kickstarter games come to fruition (or not). There have been a few already, of course -- most notably FTL and Diamond Trust of London -- but things like Double Fine Adventure, Republique, Wasteland 2, and others are probably going to start blooming next year. Hopefully they'll all be fantastic games (or at least most of them) and they'll demonstrate that the whole crowdfunding thing can be viable, and more importantly, a reliable way of making games.
Shout-outs: Again, a little bit of a cheat, but I didn't play Dark Souls until this year (ed. note: We'll allow it, thanks to the PC release), and wow, I cannot begin to discuss how transfixed I was (and am!) by the game. The design is a tempest of beautiful whirling contradictions. It's so tight and focused, but broad and allowing for a tremendous diversity of choice. It's restrained but has so much faith in the player's desire to richly explore the game's offerings. It's confident, both in its own design and in its audience. From Software did an absolutely breathtaking job.
As a second shout-out, Telltale is absolutely killing it with The Walking Dead. The writing is smart and mature (in the proper sense), the characters are robust and interesting, and it really commits to its notion of player choice.
I told you so: The shine coming off vapid social games. As hollow treadmills that offer vanishingly little while making increasing demands of the audience's time and/or wallet, I think the shallowness of many of those games is being increasingly acknowledged, both by players and the industry.
One-sentence review: 2012 was a year of innovative design and bold games that found success by refusing to cleave to tired and mundane tropes.
Noel Llopis (GDMag advisory board)
Out with the old: Good riddance to physical media! It had it coming for a while, and I expect it'll disappear with the next generation of consoles. So liberating not to have any more game boxes, DVD cases, or books to lug around!
In with the new: Without a doubt, the "cloud." Seamlessly keeping data on the network and making it available at any time from any device is a complete game changer. Whether it's Steam games, iOS game saves, iTunes Match music, tool data, or even Kindle books, it's clear that the future lies in that direction.
Shout-outs: I was most inspired by The Binding of Isaac by Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl. The game is a fresh take on rogue-likes and has a sublime pacing and difficulty curve. It shows the amazing depth possible in an indie game created over a few months.
I told you so: The rise of free-to-play games on most platforms (and the rest are coming). Unfortunately, most free-to-play games are much worse than games with traditional payment models. Here's hoping that changes next year as we learn how to design better games that fit that approach.
One-sentence review: A year of indie games of amazing quality and quantity, and the distribution channels are starting to get saturated.
2012 According to Twitter
Here's what our Twitter readership had to say about 2012:
"2012 is the year when free-to-play was no longer the hip thing to do... It became the *only* thing you could do." - @ShnSmit
"Creativity Wars: The Indies Strike Back." - @evans_gr
"I think our 'friends' over at EA put it best: 'Consumers won't pay for crap.'" - @thesmall001
"It's been one hell of an up-and-down roller coaster ride!" - @Tephlon212
"Calm before the storm." - @originx1
"Another year of closing great studios." - @noahbradley
"The indies are rising." - @tgdfweb
"Independent breakthrough innovation." - @heatherross
"Indie dev became mainstream." - @grindheadgames
"Tumultuous." - @DaveVoyles
"The year of no fear." - @VitoGesualdi