Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Best Gaming Sites on the Web

Keeping up with the pace of the games industry is a full-time job, never mind recording and writing about it as well. So it’s a good thing that we have the internet to save us the effort of waiting next to fax machines for press releases or cold-calling Microsoft every day to see if Radiant Silvergun is going to be released for Xbox Live. Here’s a round-up of the best and brightest that the web has to offer for those who follow the scene.

Best for News – Kotaku

Kotaku is a great example of how a videogames blog can really work. A small editorial team spread wide across the globe from the US to Australia and Japan means they can post news 24/7 from every corner of the games industry. They’re often the first to break stories, particularly big (and not-so-big) Japanese game announcements and while some of their reporting is little more than sensationalist gossip, their sense of humour means they almost always get away with it.

Best for Reviews – Eurogamer
Eurogamer’s team of experienced games hacks take their reviews very seriously. Big game releases will be minutely examined over the course of several pages with the title’s every intimate nuance made public in explicit detail, and even smaller titles get more in-depth analysis than many sites are able to supply. This almost voyeuristic approach to games journalism keeps Eurogamer at the front of any sensible gamer’s mind when it comes to investing their hard-earned cash.

Best for Debate – The Escapist
Running completely at odds with the disposable-media culture of the internet is The Escapist, a gaming site that updates weekly with a handful of well-written features and goes beyond the standard preview/hands-on/review of most games portals. A fierce battleground in the ‘But, are games art?!?’ debate, this site’s varied mix of writers allows it to keep its content fresh and thought-provoking. Budding videogame philosophers are advised to subscribe to their weekly email to avoid missing an issue.

Best for Humour - Hardcasual
Hardcasual’s off-beat sense of humour may not be to everyone’s taste but its three writer’s surreal take on the games industry’s characters makes for unmissable reading. Pitched half-way between news review and creepy fanfic with occasional departures into the disturbing, soul of the obsessive gamer in all of us, Hardcasual is the magic mirror for gamers who aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves, and each other.

Best community - Guardian Gamesblog

While the Gamesblog rarely breaks news first, its three writers manage to strike a good balance of reporting that isn’t afraid to delve into gaming’s less glamorous facets, in particular social worlds and mobile gaming. What sets this blog apart from so many others is how most of the community manages to stay on topic and many even have informed, interesting opinions. Perhaps it’s because of the newspaper’s overt liberal leanings, but the Guardian Gamesblog is one of very few oases of relative civility while the rest of teh internets burn in fanboy flamewars.

Best Podcast- One Life Left
Ste Curran, Simon Byron and Ann Scantlebury offer their entertaining and chaotic take on games radio, combining nerdy banter, interviews with the heavyweights of the UK gaming scene and obscure remixes of the theme tunes to 8-bit classics. I’ve promised I’ll let them attempt a gaming world record one day, and am sure I’ll get round to it. Sorry guys.

Gaz Deaves, Video Games Records Manager

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