Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Guinness World Records 2010 Gamers’ Edition Impression

Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2010
Another year, another collection of world records but one that, since its inaugural edition in 2008, is a bit different. The Guinness World Records 2010 Gamers’ Edition not only captures achievements in video gaming but also provides insight and history into a 30+ year old industry and hobby. It’s not niche, its mainstream and part of the culture but where does the 2010 version sit? In 2008 gamers received a hardbound collection of every major system, their history along with interviews, records and collections of data on major gaming genres. In 2009 the history and records were updated, new interviews published but the meat of the book, the genre information, broke into categories that were sub-topic, sub-genre that did not fall into one genre. Instead of keeping the standard genre formula and adding to it’s each year the 2009 direction felt a bit off, a bit scattered.

Both 2008 and 2009 offered great data and detail but the lack of a set genre formula missed the appeal of an annual publication. Now 2010 hit the perfect cord with a mix of the two and content that needs to be repeated in 2011. How did they do this? Trial and error as 2010 is the book gamers should want moving forward even with the softest cover yet, let’s look at content.

Welcome to Gamers’ 2010
– Nice summary of the book and past year as well as tips on getting in on the record setting. Awards recap, top 10 games, yearly recap captures a roundabout look at the year that was in games unlike any single magazine or website does.

– PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360, PC, DS, PSP, Mobile and Future Gaming are all summarized on two pages each with top level highlights, system changes and a nice bit of trivia and facts. Only fault with this section is why is the PC ‘best of’ where other systems are not marked as so? PC games need to be covered a bit more even if give 1-2 more pages.

Record Breaking Games
– Getting the formula correct. A nice balance of top level categories that then break down into sub-categories. Each section contains an introduction followed by nice breakdown, for example in Shooting Games both Console FPS and PC FPS get their own two pages.

  • Shooting Games – Breakout of Console vs. PC FPS is nice. Shooters are deep as outlined in the 8 different sections.
  • Sports & Racing Games – American sports do get the shaft here but worth it to see more sports covered.
  • Action-Adventure Games – Solid breakdown in 7 sections.
  • Fighting Games – 2D and 3D get their due along with combat sports and weapons based, nice breakout.
  • Party Games – Wii brought them to prominence but they’ve been around since the Atari days.
  • Puzzle Games – Downloadable games have really helped this section shine as has mobile gaming. It’s not just Tetris folks, something casual fans have known for years.
  • Role-Playing Games – Japanese and Western get their own breakdown as well as three, THREE MMORPG sections … delicious.
  • Strategy & Simulation Games – Well, strategy and simulation is here … not much more to add.
  • Instant Gaming – An interesting way to capture arcade and mobile games and could this be the new way to capture such games moving forward?
Features – Future Gaming is hit and miss, failure section is nice. Miyamoto interview is more an homage that real in-depth feature while Couch Casualty seems to be the warning label on playing too many games.

Top 50 Video Game Series
– Ripe for debate with 1-2 sentence blurbs on every game, top three getting a bit more text. Fine reading and great to compare to prior years.

Twin Galaxies Leaderboard
– Host of records at the end of a record book. Interesting placement but gotta justify the name somehow.

what Guinness World Records 2010 Gamers’ Edition does right is get the top level genre and sub-categories to feel right. This was the challenge with 2009 in that it tried to break down 2008 further and just seemed like a mish-mash of content. 2010 is an easy read, mostly 2 page features and for the price of three gaming magazines it’s worth the purchase. 2010 is the first volume that is a must for gamers and if this formula continues then every volume after will be outlined so also.