2012 Faves: Games and Visual Media

Trying to compile these entries has taught me that I need to keep better records of my media consumption each year. Let me give it a go anyway…

Videogames

Portal 2
One of my favorite games of ALL TIME. I love logic puzzles, and the collaborative mode of this game had me scratching my head then whooping with joy every time I solved a new challenge. LOVE LOVE LOVE. The single-player mode also has the fabulous character Wheatley who is worth the price of the game by himself. All people who love spacial relations and puzzle solving MUST PLAY THIS GAME.

Little Big Planet 2
Brilliant, bizarre, and laugh-out-loud funny. The second in this series is a little easier than the first, meaning I could actually play most of the levels. There are so many creative ways to enjoy this game — designing your own levels, decorating existing levels, changing your own character’s costumes… If I had a child, this game would be a must-have. (PS3 only)

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
The latest World of Warcraft expansion is my favorite so far. Gorgeous settings, epic story lines, and a PLAYABLE PANDA RACE. Game play remains mostly the same, but Blizzard continues to tweak the system to keep it interesting and fun for casual players like myself. LOVE.

2012 New (to me) TV Shows

Parks & Recreation
Feminist, funny, and featuring a wonderful created family. Start at season 2 or 3 if you’re having trouble getting into it. Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is now one of my favorite characters of all time. (Netflix & NBC)

Adventure Time
Tim Pratt is to blame for getting me into this awesome animated TV show. It’s not something I would have watched normally, and some of the episodes are still turn-offs. But the world building and bizarre storytelling surprise and delight me on a regular basis. (Cartoon Network)

The Legend of Korra
Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of my favorite TV shows of all time, animated or not. Korra doesn’t have the same magic for me, but it’s still one of my favorites of 2012. The animation and martial arts are mind-blowingly good and I’m hoping the plot and characters work better for me in season 2. (Nickelodeon)

Bunheads
Although the show needs to seriously up the diversity in its cast, I really enjoyed the first season. It’s funny and features a wide array of (white) female characters, each unique and interesting. (ABC Family)

The Newsroom
My love/hate relationship with Aaron Sorkin TV shows continues. The Newsroom is infuriatingly misogynist at times, but I find other aspects compelling enough to keep me watching. Now that the election is over, I’m curious to see if it becomes any less sanctimonious. (HBO)

Continuing TV Shows

I continued to watch and enjoy SyFy’s triumvirate: Eureka, Warehouse 13, and Haven. (Sadly, Eureka is no more.) I also kept up with Castle, Make It Or Break It, and Drop Dead Diva. I finally gave up on White Collar and Leverage, although I may catch up on them later.

Reality TV Shows

I love love love SyFy’s show Face Off about battling special effects/makeup artists. The challenges are always interesting (Underwater monsters! Dinosaur people! Zombie Alice in Wonderland!) and it’s fascinating to watch the competitors conceive their ideas, sketch, sculpt, fabricate, and paint their creations. Highly recommended if you’re interested in the creative process. Other favorites for me continued to be Project Runway, Top Chef, and The Next Iron Chef.

Movies

The Avengers
I loved this movie and, I’m not sure why, but it sent me into an obsession spiral. (This involves reading as many related comics as possible and scanning Tumblr for such tags as #Avengers, #Hawkeye, and #BlackWidow.) I’m over the worst of it now, but I still think the film is great — at its heart, a story of created family.

The Cabin in the Woods
I can’t watch horror movies at all, but I’m so glad I braved this one and saw it before the plot was spoilered. It was fun, funny, and kept me thinking for weeks. (I saw it at the same time I saw The Hunger Games, which I think has many of the same underlying themes but that undermines its themes with its spectacle.) As much as I enjoyed Avengers, this is the film I’ll remember most from this year.

Other favorites include:

Moonrise Kingdom – Fun, quirky, coming-of-age romance heaped with style.
Safety Not Guaranteed – Fun, quirky romance with a sci-fi edge.
Haywire – Hopefully the first of many films for MMA badass Gina Carano.
Chronicle – One of the best visions of what real-life superheroes would look like.

Documentaries

Forks Over Knives
This documentary convinced me to finally try giving up dairy. It’s heavily pro-vegan, plant-based diet, so if you’re not in the mood for that, then give it a pass. But if you’re considering making changes in your diet, then I can’t recommend it highly enough. (Netflix)

Indie Game: The Movie
At turns depressing and uplifting, this documentary applies to creatives of all sorts, not just game designers. I saw many parallels with game creation and being an author. (Netflix)

Other documentaries I enjoyed: (A)Sexual, Being Elmo, First Position, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Kings of Pastry

Web Series

The Guild
Felicia Day’s web series based on a World of Warcraft guild continues to ROCK. Season 5 (I still haven’t caught up on Season 6) follows the group as they head to a huge gaming convention. It may be my favorite season yet, probably due to Kevin Sorbo’s brilliant cameo. (Netflix & online)

Burning Love
This spoof of Bachelor/Bachelorette-type reality shows is laugh-out-loud funny… except for some blatant transphobia. Hopefully Ken Marino’s next project will be a homerun. (Online)

Husbands
This cute series, written and created by Brad Bell and Jane Espenson, follows two men who get married during a wild night in Vegas. Fun, but too short! (Online)