The Reticule Turns 10 – Ben Borthwick Returns
It’s been a funny old decade, hasn’t it?
When Chris asked me to write something for the tenth anniversary of The Reticule, I looked back at my previous work on the site, and 2012 now seems like a lifetime ago. During my time here, I had the privilege of reviewing such classics as Portal 2, games that surprised me in a good way like Driver: San Francisco and games that I’d rather not talk about, like Call of Juarez: The Cartel.
Eight years later, the games world has changed significantly. A huge milestone was when The Reticule went from a PC only website to covering all formats, today’s consoles – with their extra apps like Netflix, video streaming and sharing to social media feel more like PCs than ever. PCs themselves went through a period where they started to become more like consoles with innovations such as the Steam Link and Steam Controllers.
Social Media of course became bigger than we could have possibly imagined, and people creating their own content with their consoles exploded. Capture cards, live streaming and Twitch, YouTube channels. Magazines and websites are still around but are wildly different from a few years ago to the point they’re almost unrecognisable. People have more say than ever in how games are made, with more direct access to their developers than ever before, for better or worse.
Then we’ve seen handhelds get smaller, get bigger. Mobile games go from a curiosity to a global worldwide phenomena. We’ve even seen hybrids with the advent of the Nintendo Switch. Expansion packs became DLC, microtransactions and whole debates around the value of a game both in terms of money and time. Games with unique controllers became games with toys, and games with no controllers in the Kinect, games where you build the controllers like Labo. The rise of VR. New business models like Kickstarter, Early Access, episodic – some have worked, some have failed.
What has remained is that gaming has always been this nebulous, ever changing thing that never sits still. It can be exhausting, it can be draining and sometimes we see stuff that makes us roll our eyes. But by the same token, it can bring unbridled joy. It can bring people together, it can form relationships, it can do so many things that it’s hard to pigeon hole the medium into one category.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to be sure that everyone can enjoy it. We’ve made great strides over the last few years, in accessibility, in making people feel welcome, in not letting gaming ever be one particular thing for one particular type of person. We’ve got one hell of a lot of work to do and keep doing to truly get there and I don’t think we’ll ever finish, but I’m not sure we’d put that effort in regardless for any medium we didn’t love and care about.
Many of us took to gaming because it was the main thing that welcomed us when we felt other things in our life wouldn’t. There’s nothing to be gained by then keeping that away from other people, as it only would serve to make the medium more insular. The best thing about gaming is that it is so malleable, it can be everything other media are and then more on top.
I’ve no idea where gaming will go in the future, of course. I don’t think that’s entirely possible to predict. I’m excited to find out, and I’m sure it’ll continue long after me. It can be relevant, irreverent, serious and silly, take on and tackle deep rooted and contentious issues, it can be light-hearted and fluffy. It can be everything in between, if it wants to be.
But no matter what happens, when I look back on these last ten years, I’ll always remember the time I compared Kane & Lynch 2 to a drunken blowjob.
Happy 10th Birthday, The Reticule!
//Ben Borthwick is still freelancing having contributed to several major UK games publications, websites & books including most recently as a project coordinator on Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play by Meagan Marie, which is available from December 4 2018. He can also be found @The_B on Twitter.//