Norway's Underwater Restaurant →

Instant addition to my bucket list - an underwater restaurant that could double as the lair of a Bond villain:

“If the weather is bad, it’s very rough. It’s a great experience, and to sit here and be safe, allowing the nature so close into you. It’s a very romantic and nice experience.”

(Although can you imagine how sick you’d be if you booked this restaurant and didn’t get a table right by the window?)

Carly Rae Jepsen Rpg →

A higher number means you’re better at LASERS (technology; science; cold rationality; calm, precise action; mechanisms). A low number means you’re better at FEELINGS (intuition; diplomacy; seduction; wild, passionate action; convincing).

This sounds perfect. I can’t wait to try it out.

Best Games I Played in 2018

Previously: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

It’s probably obvious but still worth mentioning that this entire list is based on an extremely incomplete sampling. I had very little free time in 2018, so I had to be ruthless with the games I played. For example, I slowly made my way through 2017’s Assassin’s Creed: Origins somewhere around the middle of the year. And I loved it so much. It probably would have been in my list of favourite games of 2017. But am I in a hurry to drop another 60 hours on Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey now? Am I fuck.

Anyway, here we go.

Minit

Minit

My son – my second child – was born in March, which meant that my free time in 2018 was more precious than ever before. Thank fuck, then, for a game like Minit, which respects the player’s time. I was able to dip in and play this in tiny drops.

Florence

Florence

It’s pretty rare to see a video game even try to tackle the subject of interpersonal relationships, and it’s even rarer to see one incorporate the subject into the mechanics of the game.

Captain Toad Treasure Tracker

Captain Toad Treasure Tracker

Is this a bit of a cheat because it’s a remaster of an old game? I don’t care. I played through this all over again on the Switch and I loved it all over again.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2

This is everything I wanted from a sequel to one of my favourite games of all time: a giant cowboy sandbox, with sliiiightly wonky controls that make everything just that little bit more interesting.

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Marvel's Spider-Man

For a while there towards the end of the year, this game was very much my happy place. It still is. When I want to relax and shut out the world for a while, I’ll fire up Spider-Man and just swing around the city. Maybe not coincidentally, this is the first game on the PS4 that I’ve platinumed.

Gorogoa

Gorogoa

I still don’t understand how a human mind could have created something like this.

Return of the Obra Dinn

Return of the Obra Dinn

When I was 12 or 13, I got a Panasonic 3DO for Christmas along with a copy of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Serrated Scalpel. And while the 3DO isn’t the best console in the world and this Sherlock Holmes game is definitely not the best game in the world, they both have a really special place in my heart. When I think back to my time spent playing that game and the way it had my dumb little 12-year old brain cracking its mysteries, I’m reminded of all the things around the game. Like I remember that Christmas being the last one where everyone I knew and loved was happy. Like, genuinely, sincerely happy. And so it’s a very warm game for me.

It’s a strange comparison, I know, but Return of the Obra Dinn gave me those same feelings and the whole time I was playing it, I was brought right back to that Christmas, on that couch in my Ma’s front room. Which is pretty spectacular when you consider it’s basically just a giant logic puzzle

Tetris Effect

Tetris Effect

Every year, it feels like there’s one game that stands out for me because of the way it helps me tackle whatever anxiety or depression or other emotional issues I might be going through at the time. This year, it’s Tetris Effect. A real joy of a game that will be unfairly overlooked because it’s “just _Tetris_”.

Subnautica

Subnautica

With games like Minecraft, the most entertaining and the most magical part of the game is the first few minutes, when you’re first getting set up and exploring and struggling to survive. Subnautica somehow managed to sustain this feeling for hours.

The Cost of Living in Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet Empire →

Articles talking about how Facebook destroyed the personal, friendly, welcoming internet are fairly common now, but this one by Brian Philips is actually worth your time.

Before I started writing, I did a Google search for “Facebook” and “annus horribilis,” which showed that dozens if not hundreds of media outlets — The Guardian, the BBC, El Mundo, Die Welt, The Atlantic, the Silicon Valley Business Journal — used this phrase, Latin for “horrible year,” to describe Facebook’s 2018. But 2018 wasn’t an annus horribilis for Facebook. It was an annus horribilis for us, the people who actually faced the surveillance and dishonesty and abuse. It was an annus horribilis for us because of Facebook.

To get on my soap box a little bit here, if none of these stories – the Cambridge Analytica story, the whole Russia thing, this most recent one about giving media companies back-room access to personal private data – if none of these stories make you want to delete your Facebook account, then what will? Where is the line for you?

To go a little further: if you haven’t deleted your Facebook account by now, then you are complicit in all of this shit.

People from all over the world are sending emails to Melbourne’s trees →

Melbourne gave 70,000 trees email addresses so people could report on their condition. But instead people are writing love letters, existential queries and sometimes just bad puns.

This is just lovely. My favourite line is “Hope it all goes well with the photosynthesis”.

Peter Sagal - The Case Against Running With Headphones →

I have a friend who wears headphones on long solo runs because, he says, “I can’t spend that much time alone in my head.” I disagree. He can, and he should. Spending that much time inside one’s head, along with the voices and the bats hanging from the various dendrites and neurons, is one of the best things about running, or at least one of the most therapeutic. Your brain is like a duvet cover: Every once in a while, it needs to be aired out.

As someone who can’t do basic household chores like washing dishes or folding laundry without a pair of headphones, this cut me deep.

Titanic in Unreal 4

We visited the Titanic museum in Belfast last year and it was a great museum but honestly, this connected with me on a much deeper level. There’s a good reason the narrator keeps saying “just imagine”.

Because just imagine.

The Graphic Art of Incredibles 2 →

The best part of The Incredibles 2 wasn’t the story but the amazing world they built. This is a great, tiny peek into the design process behind creating that world.

The Night Watch

This is some pretty cool news - the Rijiksmuseum in Amsterdam will be livestreaming their restoration of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch.

If you don’t know much about this painting then you can do a lot worst than checking out Peter Greenaway’s film Night Watching, which is a weirdly mesmerizing primer on the history behind the painting, told as if it was a Rembrandt painting itself.

The Google Pixel 3 Is A Very Good Phone. But Maybe Phones Have Gone Too Far. →

My neck hurts. I am never not looking down. When I am not looking at my phone, I become slightly anxious. And then, when I do actually look at it, I become even more so. It reminds me of how I once felt about cigarettes. I experience the world with a meticulously crafted, tiny computer slab between me and it. I am an asshole. But so, maybe, are you?

Instead of the usual gushing over the new shiny, I wish more people wrote phone reviews like this.