TIME Video Games

Video Games Were Never a ‘Boys Club,’ and Never Will Be

Anita Sarkeesian
Alex Lazara—AP Anita Sarkeesian is seen with vintage video game machines in Minneapolis, Minn in 2013.

Lauren Janik is a lifelong gamer and a history student at Northwestern University.

A young female gamer on why sexism isn't keeping her away from video games and why activist Anita Sarkeesian is so important to her generation

When I was six years old, my mother caved to the hype and consented to buy her children a PlayStation. But she didn’t buy that console for some boy in the house, she bought it for three little girls, and nobody loved it more than me.

My parents regretted the purchase almost immediately; they couldn’t pry the controller out of my hands. My leisure hours were dedicated to ensuring that my sisters would never be able to beat me in a Crash Bandicoot Team Racing tournament for as long as we lived. My most devoted ‘Player 2’ multiplayer partner was my twin sister, so I never saw gaming as a community where girls didn’t belong. As I got older, I consumed all the games I could with fervor.

By late middle school, I began to notice stereotypes. I saw that female characters were shallow, empty, in constant danger. They were decorative, not active. I didn’t identify with them. I could only see myself in the heroes, who were—almost without exception—men. I tried not to let this bother me. Most of my friends were boys who shared my interests. If I brought up the gender disparities in games with them I was immediately shut down, so I only ever talked about it with my sister. Regardless of my occasional discomfort with the material and my ambivalent friend group, I kept playing because video games were still my life.

Sometime while I was busy playing Resident Evil or Final Fantasy VIII, video games developed a public reputation as ‘boys only.’ I would object, and be met with dismissals like, “Well you don’t have to play them.” When Xbox and PlayStation created their online networks, I didn’t feel compelled to join. I already had a teammate in my twin, and the online community felt unnecessary. Besides, it was common knowledge that the easy and anonymous way to communicate in those forums can foster some pretty nasty harassment against gamers perceived to be female. Video games are my favorite thing in the world; why would I want to color that enjoyment with the kind of negativity I was practically guaranteed to find there?

In the middle of this tension, Anita Sarkeesian introduced a Kickstarter campaign for her Youtube series, Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, that points out the harmful patterns of stereotyping, sexualizing and dehumanizing female characters in the medium. When Sarkeesian began posting videos for her series, it was like coming home to a community I’d never known existed. I knew plenty of women played video games, obviously—we’re everywhere. I didn’t know so many shared both my love and my frustration with video game culture. Sarkeesian’s project proved I wasn’t alone in the occasionally paradoxical state of gaming-while-girl.

Even before she’d released a single video, Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter pitch made her famous for all of the wrong reasons. Some select, noisy members of the gaming community decided they would rather torment her into silence than spend ten seconds listening to what she had to say. The torrential harassment she withstood from the anonymous masses was a baffling slap in the face to me. I, who was excited about the upcoming series, had never felt so unwelcome in a world that I’d lived in and loved forever. If a targeted, vigorous and frankly nauseating hate campaign was what awaited female gamers who weren’t completely silent about their discomfort, what did that mean for my future with my beloved consoles?

It’s only recently that we’ve learned the worst of what she’s endured. Last week she published her entire Twitter feed, from the week of Jan. 20 through 26, and it documents the incredible endurance of the three year campaign of hate aimed her way. As a fellow female gamer, my first reaction to all the despicable things said to Sarkeesian has been anger and disgust; my second has been to scratch my head, perplexed. Many of her detractors claim to be opposed to a feminist intrusion upon the sacred, unassailable bastion of masculinity that is video games. But until they circled the wagons, I never considered video games to be ‘no girls allowed.’

Sarkeesian’s videos exposed all the biases that made me privately cringe, but her measured analysis also exudes the same appreciation of a long and happy history with video games that I enjoyed. Why not try to improve upon a medium we already love? I’d sunk as much money and time into my PlayStation and Xbox as anyone else. Her series is a resource calling out injustices that make female gamers feel excluded from something that’s shaped our lives.

And as Sarkeesian says as a disclaimer to every video, “it’s both possible, and even necessary, to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of its more problematic or pernicious aspects.”

Sarkeesian’s detractors believe she’s messing where she doesn’t belong. They think that women shouldn’t try and impose their presence and will over video games. It’s these objections themselves that really baffle me, more than their venomous delivery. Women are not intruding upon the video gaming world. We’ve been here all along. I’ve played video games for more than 16 years. Does that make me a feminist insurgent? No. It makes me a millennial. The attackers on Twitter are fighting for ownership of a world that has never really belonged exclusively to anyone. Just ask all the men who will never beat me at Crash Team Racing.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Video Games

These Are the 50 Most Anticipated Video Games of 2015

Check out the biggest games coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U and 3DS this year

These are the biggest games for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS due this year. Highlights include Bloodborne, The Legend of Zelda, Halo 5: Guardians and Batman: Arkham Knight.

  • Evolve

    Whoever put this Evolve trailer together did their best to make developer Turtle Rock Studios’ fire-breathing extraterrestrial monster frightening. It’s not (after you’ve seen you’re umpteenth Balrog-like, you’ve seen them all). But here’s what is: 4 vs. 1 cooperative play, meaning four players, each with unique abilities, who square off with a fifth player manipulating the deadly monster–a monster capable of “evolving” and becoming even more nightmarishly strong.

    PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows

    February 10

  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D

    Another New Nintendo 3DS launch title, Majora’s Mask 3D follows in Ocarina of Time 3D‘s footsteps: an enhanced remake of one of–if not the–best Zelda games in the series’ history. If Ocarina of Time was design legend Shigeru Miyamoto splicing cutesy storytelling with groundbreaking three-dimensional gameplay, Majora’s Mask is director Eiji Aonuma and Yoshiaki Koizumi’s edgier followup, pitting players against a leering, runaway celestial object and time itself.

    3DS

    February 13

  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

    One of the first games to highlight the New Nintendo 3DS’s view-swivelable C-Stick, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate kicks Capcom’s popular creature-stalking sim into vertical mode, allowing you to leap from ledges, climb walls and even grab-attack the new topographically-mindful monsters.

    3DS

    February 13

  • Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

    The latest Kirby platformer rolls Nintendo’s cutesy pink blob into a tiny ball, then sends him wheeling through colorful levels, guided by rainbow-like lines players draw on the Wii U GamePad’s touchscreen. Nintendo says the game will feature amiibo support for Kirby, as well as series regulars Meta Knight and King Dedede.

    Wii U

    February 20

  • The Order: 1886

    Imagine The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by way of T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, staged in Victorian London, with dollops of Lovecraftian horror. Wrap all of that around a third-person shooter that’s like a gothic Gears of War, and the only question’s whether the gunplay–criticized as ho-hum in hands-on demos–can live up to the visually ambitious set design.

    PlayStation 4

    February 20

  • Screamride

    Screamride is how you take a boring-sounding (albeit popular) older franchise (Roller Coaster Tycoon) and transmogrify it into a madcap, stomach-upending, gravity-bending, structure-exploding jamboree. Want to cobble together jet-propelled rail rides so G-force intensive they eject shrieking riders mid-loop? Lob wrecking balls at towering structures that collapse in gloriously intricate detail on horrified passerby? This is the American Society for Testing and Materials’ worst nightmare.

    Xbox One

    March 3

  • Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.

    It’s a new turn-based strategy game from studio Intelligent Systems (Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, Paper Mario), and that’s enough to make this list, but Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. adds a steampunk setting, third-person gunnery and a use-or-hedge resource system to heighten its novelty.

    3DS

    March 13

  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

    Didn’t buy a PlayStation Portable? Or you did, but didn’t play this action roleplaying battle mashup when it first hit in 2011? Here’s your chance, then, to play a high-definition remaster of what many consider one of the best Final Fantasy games yet published by Square Enix.

    PlayStation 4, Xbox One

    March 17

  • Mario Party 10

    The first Mario Party game for Wii U (and tenth in the main series) adds two new modes: Bowser Party and amiibo Party. In Bowser Party, four players can square off with a fifth (Bowser), attempting to reach the end of a game board without being caught, while in amiibo Party, up to four players compete on game boards specially tailored for each figurine.

    Wii U

    March 20

  • Bloodborne

    Revered Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls developer From Software’s latest vamp on the existential abattoir maintains the concept’s combat-focused, risk-reward core, but refines how you do battle, lending you more agile combatants and Victorian-styled weapons capable of transformations that let you vary melee tactics to counter a broader range of combat scenarios.

    PlayStation 4

    March 24

  • Pillars of Eternity

    The first of the mega-successful crowdfunded video games financing-wise, Pillars of Eternity promises to indulge fans of games like Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale, an old-school fantasy world-building exercise flush with isometric 2D visuals, real-time tactical gameplay (with pausing) and some of the genre’s most famous names–Tim Cain, Chris Avellone and Josh Sawyer, to name just a few–at the design helm.

    Windows, OS X, Linux

    March 26

  • Mortal Kombat X

    Mortal Kombat X looks like a modest gameplay overhaul of developer NetherRealm Studios’ 2011 series reboot draped in next-gen visual finery, but it sports a few notable changes: you can now vamp on environmental variables to reshuffle your battle tactics, and characters have different move profiles that significantly alter how they fight.

    PlayStation 3/4, Xbox 360/One, Windows

    April 14

  • Mighty No. 9

    A Mega Man reboot by another name, Mighty No. 9 takes that classic 2D platforming game’s ideas–a robotic protagonist, clever weaponry and crazy end-level boss battles–and adds unique transformational abilities gathered from defeated enemies.

    PlayStation 3/4/Vita, Xbox 360/One, Wii U, 3DS, Windows, OS X, Linux

    April 2015

  • Xenoblade Chronicles

    One of the smartest roleplaying games in the genre’s history comes to the New Nintendo 3DS (and only to the New 3DS–it’ll be the first that taps the new handheld’s souped up processor). This is your chance to play what by all accounts looks to be the definitive version.

    New Nintendo 3DS

    April 2015

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

    Two words: open world. That’s what sets roleplaying epic The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt apart from its celebrated predecessors: Polish developer CD Projekt Red turned heads when it described the game as roughly a full fifth larger, geographically speaking, than Bethesda’s vast Skyrim.

    PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows

    May 19

  • Splatoon

    Splatoon was one of the best things I played at E3 2014, both a whimsical sendup of carnage-laced competitive shooters and a clever rethink of the genre’s tropes. Imagine a 4 vs. 4 action game that lets you spray ink all over the screen like You Can’t Do That on Television‘s slime pumped through Super Soakers. The basic idea’s simple enough: whoever’s team covers the most square footage with their color of ink wins.

    Wii U

    May 2015

  • Batman: Arkham Knight

    The eponymous villain in developer Rocksteady’s third (and perhaps final) engagement of DC’s Batman mythos should hopefully breathe a little life into a series long overshadowed by the Joker. The biggest change, aside from the grander city and shift to newer platforms, is the inclusion of the Batmobile, like a grimmer versions of Ratchet & Clank, in which you shift between Batman and his ride to solve puzzles or augment battle tactics.

    PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows

    June 2

  • Adr1ft

    Everyone’s comparing 505 Games’ Adr1ft to Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, because both involve someone in orbit floating through the wreckage of who-knows-what. Best case scenario? We’ll get to play a video game that one-ups Cuaron’s Gravity (which needlessly mangled basic scientific principles) by making rigorous physics per the hostile extremes of orbital space the game’s unremitting antagonist.

    PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows

    TBD 2015

  • Below

    The characters and creatures in Capybara Games’ Below seem awfully tiny, but assuming you can zoom in (so you won’t go blind playing this thing), exploring a new, highly dangerous, permanent death-threatening game world designed by the studio responsible for Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is more than enough to draw my attention.

    Xbox One

    TBD 2015

  • Cuphead

    And now, something totally different: a platforming game–emphasis on run-and-gun with elaborate boss battles–that looks like an early 20th century cartoon. Cuphead sports hand-drawn visuals, mono-mastered (original) swing tunes and a protagonist with a candy cane drinking straw stuck in his porcelain brainpan. Who knows how it’ll play, but I could watch for hours.

    Xbox One

    TBD 2015

  • Deep Down

    Jump to the 4:25 mark in the video above to see developer Capcom Online Games’ original tease for Deep Down back in 2013, an extraordinary-looking dungeon crawler (even then) with optional multiplayer elements. It’s had to endure a barrage of presumptive comparisons to Dark Souls, but there are worse things, right?

    PlayStation 4

    TBD 2015

  • Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance

    Grander than any Disgaea game to date, developer Nippon Ichi Software’s recalibrated tactical roleplaying adventure will reportedly feature bigger battles (up to 100 characters on screen at once, courtesy the PS4) and new combat wrinkles, including team-up maneuvers.

    PlayStation 4

    TBD 2015

  • Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

    End of world stories are as cliched as Adam and Eve potboilers (we’re nothing if not species-obsessed with alpha/omega narratives). But this one’s by Dear Esther creator The Chinese Room (they’re actually located in Brighton, U.K.), and so worthy of notice–an existential “adventure” examining the lives of six people living in the English village of Shropshire as the apocalypse unfolds.

    PlayStation 4

    TBD 2015

  • Fable Legends

    Like Turtle Rock Studios’ asymmetric shooter Evolve, Fable Legends is a 4 (heroes) vs. 1 (villain) cooperative roleplaying game that borrows lightly from Bullfrog’s Dungeon Keeper. Up to four players tackle quests orchestrated by a villain (also optionally a player), including the battles, in which the villain can deploy creatures against the heroes in realtime.

    Xbox One

    TBD 2015

  • Fire Emblem

    The newest Fire Emblem game by the team behind Fire Emblem: Awakening (the most celebrated in the turn-based strategy Fire Emblem series) promises to marry global movement and local battle maps, while making your narrative choices more impactful.

    3DS

    TBD 2015

  • Halo 5: Guardians

    While the 2013 E3 trailer for “Halo on Xbox One” was about cinematically teasing Halo 5: Guardians, 2014’s “your journey begins” was all about the forwards-looking-backwards Master Chief Collection. Having remastered the series, Microsoft and developer 343 Industries will take the next inexorable step in Halo’s second trilogy, though experienced through the eyes of a new protagonist, Spartan Locke, searching for the missing-in-action Master Chief.

    Xbox One

    TBD 2015

  • Hyper Light Drifter

    What if hack-and-slash Diablo looked like an 8-bit console game and felt like playing a Studio Ghibli movie? Hyper Light Drifter sounds and looks just weird enough to maybe (just maybe) pull off that nostalgia-mashup trifecta.

    PlayStation 4/Vita, Xbox One, Wii U, Ouya, Windows, OS X, Linux

    TBD 2015

  • Inside

    Developer Playdead’s Limbo was a lovely little chiaroscuro-friendly puzzle game that sort of collapsed the second you went probing for deeper import. Their followup, Inside, looks to be a far more elaborate vamp on the dystopian platforming trope, at times appearing to take cues from Delphine Software’s groundbreaking Out of This World.

    Xbox One

    TBD 2015

  • The Legend of Zelda

    Tantamount to last year’s Wii U-saving Mario Kart 8, The Legend of Zelda is Nintendo’s most elevated of games, expectation-wise, this year. Teased at E3 last year and again in December, the first console-based Zelda game since 2011’s Skyward Sword for Wii looks to be Nintendo’s take on the open world genre, dropping you into a vast fantasy world while at the same time subverting many of the series’ tropes.

    Wii U

    TBD 2015

  • Let It Die

    Thought it metamorphosed from one game (Lily Bergamo) to another at E3 last year, developer Grasshopper Manufacture’s original hack-and-slash, extreme action, online-focused premise appears intact. The difference appears to lie in the way death works, prompting dispatched players to trade roles as they transition between sessions, and culling non-player characters from players’ deceased avatars.

    PlayStation 4

    TBD 2015

  • Mario Maker

    Want to build your own side-scrolling Super Mario Bros. levels? Skin those levels to look like different Mario games, from the NES’s glory 8-bit days to the Wii U’s slick, high definition New Super Mario Bros. U? Do all that from the comfort and convenience of the Wii U GamePad? Share your levels with others online?

    Wii U

    TBD 2015

  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

    The exploitable A.I. in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes pretty much broke the prequel/demo for me. Stealth-gaming entree Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain promises to deliver smarter enemies and a game world “200 times” that of Ground Zeroes…with a commensurate helping of director Hideo Kojima’s maddeningly (if often ingeniously) esoteric storytelling.

     

    PlayStation 3/4, Xbox 360/One, Windows

    TBD 2015

  • No Man’s Sky

    In your imagination, open universe ambler No Man’s Sky really is as infinite as developer Hello Games keeps boasting, giving you an endless, procedurally generated cosmos to plumb (and enough to do that you’ll never tire of doing it). In reality, no one has the faintest idea whether all the game’s random-seeded vastness is going to be beautifully significant, or astronomically shallow. Fingers triple-crossed, then.

    PlayStation 4

    TBD 2015

  • Ori and the Blind Forest

    Moon Studios’ otherworldly platforming adventure has so far trafficked exclusively on its sublime Miyazakian look, but if the sidewise leaping, clambering and puzzling live up to the set design, this could easily be one of 2015’s finest.

    Xbox One

    TBD 2015

  • Persona 5

    Developer Atlus’ fifth “high school shindig plus dungeon reconnoitering” roleplayer has enormous shoes to fill, after Persona 4 made just about everyone’s “best roleplaying game in forever” list. All we know about Persona 5 is that–weirdly but also intriguingly–director Katsura Hashino’s been pitching the game as an interactive self-help experience.

    PlayStation 4

    TBD 2015

  • Quantum Break

    Quantum Break is studio Remedy Entertainment’s next big thing after bringing us Max Payne and Alan Wake: a third-person adventure about three characters who gain the ability to manipulate time in various ways, say examining the future to better inform present choices, or freezing temporal activity entirely.

    Xbox One

    TBD 2015

  • Ratchet & Clank

    Alas, Sony has released neither a trailer nor screens of its upcoming Ratchet & Clank reboot (until then, you’ll have to settle for the film trailer above, first shown at E3 last year). What do we know about the game? That it’s essentially a remake of the original, released back in 2002 for the PlayStation 2, updated to take advantage of the PS4’s oomph and coincide with the film’s arrival sometime later this year.

    PlayStation 4

    TBD 2015

  • Rise of the Tomb Raider

    Studio Crystal Dynamics’ followup to 2013’s Tomb Raider is technically a timed exclusive (meaning it’ll eventually land on PC and PS4), but that may be all Microsoft needs to move systems in 2015 given the plaudits accorded the reboot.

    Xbox One

    TBD 2015

  • Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues

    The latest Ultima by another name, Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues is Richard Garriott’s return to epic computer roleplaying, a crowdfunded (and developed), episodic (five total), Ultima Online-like, optionally offline (with a solo story mode) fantasy reapplication of Garriott’s respected design principles.

    Windows, OS X, Linux

    TBD 2015

  • Space Engineers

    The glib-sounding pitch for Space Engineers seems to be “Minecraft in space.” That’s not my takeaway from the trailer (or the formal description, which sounds much narrower than Minecraft‘s freeform LEGO riffing, focused as it is on the “engineering, construction, and maintenance of structures in space.”) But I’ll grant this: it does look considerably nicer than Mojang’s opus.

    Xbox One

    TBD 2015

  • StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void

    Blizzard’s third and final Starcraft II real-time strategy installment, Legacy of the Void adds the alien Protoss to the mix (following humans and Zerg) as well as the latest multiplayer/eSports bells and whistles. Look for the public beta to launch sometime this year.

    Windows, OS X

    TBD 2015

  • Star Fox

    Nintendo hasn’t released videos or stills of its upcoming Star Fox game for Wii U–the brief above is of various putatively related mini-games–but I was one of a few allowed to go hands-on with an experimental version at E3 last summer. Still a spaceship-based shooter, the demo had me use the GamePad’s motion sensors to aim my Arwing’s weapons, simultaneously controlling the craft by thumbing the joysticks to accelerate or turn and pull off signature moves like barrel rolls, loops and the tactically essential Immelman turn. And the Arwing could still morph into a land tank, rocketing down to the surface of a planet, then rattling around the battlefield and laying waste to the landscape.

    Wii U

    TBD 2015

  • That Dragon, Cancer

    Unless you’ve had a child diagnosed with a terminal illness and lived through years of that process playing out, it’s impossible to grasp the magnitude of heartbreak involved, but the parents of just such a child are designing a game about their experience, as both a testament to their son’s life, and a way to help us understand.

    Ouya, Windows

    TBD 2015

  • Tom Clancy’s The Division

    Another epic angle on Ubisoft’s recent obsession with open-world games, The Division imagines a The Stand-like disease upending civilization, and a group of U.S. sleeper agents–trained to respond to just such a breakdown–emerging to do battle (in third-person) against the forces responsible for the virus’s deployment.

    PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows

    TBD 2015

  • Torment: Tides of Numenera

    Torment: Tides of Numenera takes its name from roleplaying touchstone Planescape: Torment, bringing a fantasy world designed by Dungeons & Dragons heavyweight Monte Cook to life wrapped in an isometric engine, tabletop-like rules and a trippy, existentially complex story set in a distant, earthbound, science-fantasy future.

    Windows, OS X, Linux

    TBD 2015

  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

    Since Uncharted series mainstay Amy Hennig abruptly left developer Naughty Dog last year, I’ve been worried about Nate and Sully’s fourth tour of duty. The game looks as terrific as you’d expect it to in preliminary gameplay videos, so the question’s whether the series’ conventions–another “lost treasure” adventure, clambering over elaborate scenery (mostly on autopilot in the prior games) and relentlessly gunning down hordes of foes–haven’t overstayed their welcome.

    PlayStation 4

    TBD 2015

  • Volume

    Robin Hood meets Metal Gear Solid meets Andy Serkis, who in fact plays one of the characters (Gisborne) in developer Mike Bithell’s anticipated followup to Thomas Was Alone.

    PlayStation 4/Vita, Windows, OS X

    TBD 2015

  • The Witness

    In development for years, creator Jonathan Blow’s followup to Braid looks like a straightforward puzzle game–a maze-like island divided into subsections that players explore, where each puzzle doubles as a teaching tool for later puzzles–that apparently conceals anything but straightforward things.

    PlayStation 4, Windows, iOS

    TBD 2015

  • Xenoblade Chronicles X

    There’s no more anticipated game than Xenoblade Chronicles X in 2015’s lineup, across every platform, for me. It may lack Halo 5 or Uncharted 4‘s star power and broader genre appeal, but I’d nonchalantly throw those games under a bus to play this one. (That is, assuming developer Monolith’s crafted something as vast, dynamic and compulsive as Xenoblade Chronicles–we’ll see.)

    Wii U

    TBD 2015

  • Yoshi’s Woolly World

    As yarn to Kirby, so wool to Yoshi: Yoshi’s Woolly World takes that notion–inflecting conventional platforming ideas with knitting materials–and wraps it around Nintendo’s iconic dinosaur. More than a visual re-skinning of the Yoshi’s Island series, Yoshi’s Woolly World imbues Yoshi with filament-manipulating abilities, including an entourage of colorific, puzzle-solving yarn balls.

    Wii U

    TBD 2015

TIME Video Games

This Is the Most Exciting Star Wars Development Yet

You can now fly X-Wings and the Millennium Falcon

Arcades aren’t quite dead yet, at least according to Disney and Bandai Namco. The two companies have launched an immersive new Star Wars arcade game called Star Wars: Battle Pod that lets players pilot iconic vehicles like the Millennium Falcon, an X-Wing, and Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced. The massive, 1200-pound cabinet features a 18-degree curved screen, as well as a chair that rumbles on impact and air blasts to mimic flight. The game recounts specific, iconic scenes like the Battle of Hoth (yes, you can fly a Snowspeeder) and the destruction of the Death Star II. Check out the video above for some behind-the-scenes footage of the development of the game.

Star Wars: Battle Pod launched in U.S. arcades this January and will arrive in other countries later in the year. Those who can’t manage to find one of these beauties out in the wild will have to be content playing the still-excellent Rogue Squadron for Nintendo 64.

TIME Video Games

These Will Be the Hottest 3DS Games of 2015

Check out the biggest Nintendo-exclusive games coming to 3DS in 2015

Here’s a look at the year’s 10 most anticipated games for Nintendo’s 3DS gaming handheld, including Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D and Xenoblade Chronicles.

  • Story of Seasons

    A Harvest Moon-like (developer Marvelous Entertainment is known for its work on the long-running Harvest Moon series), Story of Seasons lets players raise ye olde crops and livestock, but in this case you can peddle your wares in an online market composed of various “countries,” each with unique trade-related demands.

    March 10

  • Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.

    It’s a new turn-based strategy game from studio Intelligent Systems (Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, Paper Mario), and that’s enough to make this list, but Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. adds a steampunk setting, third-person gunnery and a use-or-hedge resource system to heighten its novelty.

    March 13

  • Fossil Fighters: Frontier

    Pokémon meets Jurassic Park–here you dig up fossils that morph into dinosaurs (called “Vivosaurs”)–in the latest Fossil Fighters game, where players sleuth for fossils while cruising around in buggies, carefully cleaning unearthed samples using the 3DS’s touchpad and ultimately squaring off in 3 vs. 3 online battles.

    March 20

  • Etrian Mystery Dungeon

    The dungeon-exploring Etrian Odyssey series meets the roguelike Mystery Dungeon games. It’s not clear yet how that mashup’s going to distinguish itself, but it presumably involves random-generated dungeons, three-dimensional environments and chess-like (I go, you go) combat.

    April 7

  • Fire Emblem

    The newest Fire Emblem game by the team behind Fire Emblem: Awakening (the most celebrated in the turn-based strategy Fire Emblem series) promises to marry global movement and local battle maps, while making your narrative choices more impactful.

    TBD 2015

TIME Video Games

Super Bowl Simulation Predicts Patriots Victory

of the 2015 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Elsa—Getty Images New England Patriots at the 2015 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Massachusetts.

The annual Madden simulation is pretty accurate

EA Sports has released its annual Super Bowl Madden simulation and it is good news for New England Patriots fans as digital Tom Brady and company were able to pull out an epic come from behind victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

In this year’s simulation, the Seahawks led 24-14 in the third quarter following a Marshawn Lynch touchdown run, but the Patriots dug deep and came storming back to win 28-24.

Computer Tom Brady threw for all four of the Patriots touchdowns in the simulation and was awarded his third Super Bowl MVP award.

The official Madden Simulation has an all-time record of 8-3 in predictions so while New England fans should be excited, Seattle fans should know there is some hope left.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME Video Games

Here’s Why This PlayStation 4 Just Sold For $129,000

Bidders went bonkers for this retro-style Sony PlayStation 4

How much would you pay for a PlayStation 4?

In Japan, the usual answer is 40,000 yen, or $340. But someone just spent $129,000 for one.

For the 20th anniversary of its console last year, Sony sold 12,300 retro-themed Playstation 4 units in a classic gray color scheme matching that of the original PlayStation. (The new generation is all in black and white.) The retro gray models were only a tad more expensive than the regular machines, but the No. 00001 unit had a special cachet.

In an auction last weekend, that unit closed with a final bid of 15.14 million yen, or $129,000.

“We appreciate all who participated in the auction and are surprised at the highest bid price, which was higher than our expectations,” a Sony representative told the Wall Street Journal.

The PlayStation 4 has sold more than 18.5 million units since it was introduced in November 2013, and has historically beaten competitors in sales, including Nintendo’s Wii U and Microsoft Xbox One. However, reduced prices for Microsoft’s console helped it trump Sony’s offering around last year’s holiday season.

(Read next: These will be the hottest PlayStation 4 games of 2015)

 

TIME Video Games

These Will Be the Hottest Wii U Games of 2015

Check out the biggest Nintendo-exclusive games coming to Wii U in 2015

Here’s a look at the year’s 10 most anticipated games for Nintendo’s Wii U console, including Mario Party 10, Xenoblade Chronicles X and The Legend of Zelda.

  • Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

    The latest Kirby platformer rolls Nintendo’s cutesy pink blob into a tiny ball, then sends him wheeling through colorful levels, guided by rainbow-like lines players draw on the Wii U GamePad’s touchscreen. Nintendo says the game will feature amiibo support for Kirby, as well as series regulars Meta Knight and King Dedede.

    February 20

  • Mario Party 10

    The first Mario Party game for Wii U (and tenth in the main series) adds two new modes: Bowser Party and amiibo Party. In Bowser Party, four players can square off with a fifth (Bowser), attempting to reach the end of a game board without being caught, while in amiibo Party, up to four players compete on game boards specially tailored for each figurine.

    March 20

  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars

    Sixth in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, Tipping Stars takes the classic approach–create your own side-scrolling, puzzle-driven levels, then share them with others online–then adds a “tipping” rewards system: stars you earn by beating levels can be cashed in for level parts, or passed along to designers you like, providing them with additional creative resources.

    March 5

  • Splatoon

    Splatoon was one of the best things I played at E3 2014, both a whimsical sendup of carnage-laced competitive shooters and a clever rethink of the genre’s tropes. Imagine a 4 vs. 4 action game that lets you spray ink all over the screen like You Can’t Do That on Television‘s slime pumped through Super Soakers. The basic idea’s simple enough: whoever’s team covers the most square footage with their color of ink wins.

    May 2015

  • Mario Maker

    Want to build your own side-scrolling Super Mario Bros. levels? Skin those levels to look like different Mario games, from the NES’s glory 8-bit days to the Wii U’s slick, high definition New Super Mario Bros. U? Do all that from the comfort and convenience of the Wii U GamePad? Share your levels with others online?

    TBD 2015

  • Star Fox

    Nintendo hasn’t released videos or stills of its upcoming Star Fox game for Wii U–the brief above is of various putatively related mini-games–but I was one of a few allowed to go hands-on with an experimental version at E3 last summer. Still a spaceship-based shooter, the demo had me use the GamePad’s motion sensors to aim my Arwing’s weapons, simultaneously controlling the craft by thumbing the joysticks to accelerate or turn and pull off signature moves like barrel rolls, loops and the tactically essential Immelman turn. And the Arwing could still morph into a land tank, rocketing down to the surface of a planet, then rattling around the battlefield and laying waste to the landscape.

    TBD 2015

  • Yoshi’s Woolly World

    As yarn to Kirby, so wool to Yoshi: Yoshi’s Woolly World takes that notion–inflecting conventional platforming ideas with knitting materials–and wraps it around Nintendo’s iconic dinosaur. More than a visual re-skinning of the Yoshi’s Island series, Yoshi’s Woolly World imbues Yoshi with filament-manipulating abilities, including an entourage of colorific, puzzle-solving yarn balls.

    TBD 2015

  • Xenoblade Chronicles X

    There’s no more anticipated game than Xenoblade Chronicles X in 2015’s lineup, across every platform, for me. It may lack Halo 5 or Uncharted 4‘s star power and broader genre appeal, but I’d nonchalantly throw those games under a bus to play this one. (That is, assuming developer Monolith’s crafted something as vast, dynamic and compulsive as Xenoblade Chronicles–we’ll see.)

    TBD 2015

  • The Legend of Zelda

    Tantamount to last year’s Wii U-saving Mario Kart 8, The Legend of Zelda is Nintendo’s most elevated of games, expectation-wise, this year. Teased at E3 last year and again in December, the first console-based Zelda game since 2011’s Skyward Sword for Wii looks to be Nintendo’s take on the open world genre, dropping you into a vast fantasy world while at the same time subverting many of the series’ tropes.

    TBD 2015

  • Wii Games on Wii U

    Missed the Wii’s halcyon hits? Nintendo just added native Wii support to the Wii U, meaning you can now purchase and play discounted Nintendo eShop versions of games like Super Mario Galaxy 2 (available now), Punch-Out!! (January 22) and Metroid Prime Trilogy (January 29) without the need to clumsily boot into “Wii Mode.” And if the game supported the Wii Classic/Pro Controller, you can sub in the Wii U GamePad, too.

TIME Video Games

You’ll Soon Be Able to Play Xbox One Games on Your Computer

cooperatively
JOHANNES EISELE—AFP/Getty Images A control of a Microsoft's Xbox One game console is pictured in a shop in Shanghai on September 29, 2014.

Microsoft announced Wednesday that Windows 10 users will be able to play Xbox One games via their computer, tablet or phone

Want to play Xbox One games anywhere within range of your wireless network, but without dragging your Xbox One along? You’ll be able too soon, Microsoft promised at a Windows 10 press event Wednesday. All you’ll need is a device powered by Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 operating system, slated for release sometime this year.

Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash. event was mostly geared towards showing off new features of Windows 10, which will run on PCs, tablets and mobile phones. But after the company spent an hour touting Windows 10’s new multi-platform focus and universal app-driven DNA, Microsoft Xbox honcho Phil Spencer took the stage to talk Xbox One-related Windows 10 integration.

Where the company intends to bring Windows 10 to all sorts of devices from PCs to tablets to phones, it’s holding the Xbox One off in a kind of walled garden. Microsoft noted that Windows 10 is “coming to Xbox 10,” but not in what fashion, or when. Instead, the company announced an Xbox One app for Windows 10 devices.

Think next-gen SmartGlass — in other words, an app designed to bridge the Xbox One / Windows 10 platform firewall, one that’ll allow you to share gaming highlights and activities across all of your Windows 10 devices. Those activities will include, among other things: cross-platform chatting with friends, browsing activity feeds and sharing (to Xbox Live or any other social network) recorded video clips–including ones captured in Steam, automatically saved at 30-second intervals.

What’s more, Microsoft appears to be reintroducing cross-platform support for Windows and Xbox One (last seen circa 2007), demonstrating two players—one on Xbox One, the other on Windows 10—cooperatively playing Lionhead’s forthcoming Fable Legends action-roleplaying game.

Spencer took a few moments to tout DirectX 12 as well, the company’s new game programming API, showing a complex scene rendered in realtime on two separate computers configured with the same hardware (one running DX11, the other DX12) to illustrate the performance advantages of DX12’s ability to more directly access your computer’s graphics processor.

Spencer claims DX12 will “increase performance of games by up to 50%,” adding that it’ll also “cut power consumption in half” when employed on mobile devices. And in a significant coup, Spencer confirmed that DX12 is coming to Unity, the popular cross-platform development platform behind many critically-acclaimed indie games.

But the most significant announcement was the revelation that Windows 10 will support wireless streaming of games from an Xbox One to any Windows 10 PC or tablet. When? Spencer said to look for the new streaming technology to arrive “later this year.”

TIME Video Games

Nintendo to Shut Down Club Nintendo Rewards Program

Mario , Luigi
Jeff Daly—Invision for Nintendo Mario and Luigi take the field at Sun Life Stadium before the face-off between Florida State and University of Miami on Nov. 15, 2014.

But members will be treated to more downloadable content in coming months

Nintendo announced plans Tuesday to shut down its rewards program, Club Nintendo, after six years of operation in North America.

The scheme allowed members to earn free items — such as downloadable games, posters or character figures — in exchange for loyalty “coins” collected by registering products or completing surveys.

The company plans to release new downloadable content until the official end date on June 30, including their Flipnote Studio 3D software, which allows users to create and share three dimensional animations.

“We want to make this time of transition as easy as possible for our loyal Club Nintendo members, so we are going to add dozens of new rewards and downloadable games to help members clear out their Coin balances,” said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Nintendo says it will announce a new customer loyalty program at a later date.

TIME Video Games

5 Reasons to Buy the New Nintendo 3DS and 5 Reasons to Wait

Nintendo

Should you pick up Nintendo's newest handheld? Here's TIME's review

Picture your ideal gaming handheld. What does it look like? Dual joysticks? Ergonomic gamepad? A plus-sized screen? Headgear-free 3D? High fidelity sonics? The battery life of a Kindle?

You won’t get all of those from Nintendo’s “New Nintendo 3DS,” the revamped 2015 edition of its popular portable, but you will get a few. The question then becomes, should you fork out $200 for the new 3DS—especially if you already own one—when it becomes available in stores on February 13?

I’ve been playing with the system for a week, polishing off a long game of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (started back in 2011!), fooling with the forthcoming Majora’s Mask remaster, and having a look at Capcom’s Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. Here’s my take:

The arguments for buying one

You’re really into stereoscopic 3D

The 3DS’s feature namesake seemed very cool when I first tried it at the handheld’s E3 unveiling in 2010. Seeing three-dimensionally without headgear or eyewear of some sort still feels like Clarkeian magic. Trouble is, to maintain the illusion, you had to keep your head still. Move a bit either way, and the image garbled.

The New Nintendo 3DS rectifies this by introducing camera-based eye tracking, something the company calls “Super-Stable 3D.” Now, at setup, you’ll be trained to work within a field of view that’s pretty generous, allowing you to move your head more freely without jeopardizing the effect.

It still requires you hold the handheld at least a foot (Nintendo recommends 14 inches) from your eyes, and it’s not like an IPS monitor where you can twist the screen and still see everything clearly—you’re still limited to a few degrees of leeway either way—but it’s far more forgiving than it was. Enough so that I’d deem it usable. I’ve long considered 3D on the 3DS unusable, and simply turned it off; I’m reconsidering my use of the technology now that it basically works as it should have from the start.

The only caveat: I wear glasses, and noticed the eye tracking would occasionally get confused when I had them on, whereas it was rock solid when I had them off. (I’d say it works as advertised 95% of the time with glasses on.)

You’ve been waiting for a dual joystick Nintendo handheld

The new C Stick—it looks like a pencil eraser and sits just northwest of the face buttons—isn’t as precise as a true second joystick. But if all you need is a way to shift the camera around in a 3D game, it gets the job done. Nintendo launched something called the “Circle Pad Pro” in 2012, a kludgy-looking righthand joystick attachment for older 3DS models. The C Stick works in any game with Circle Pad Pro support (a partial list is here), albeit less exactingly, like the trackstick technology once popular in older laptops.

I wouldn’t want to have to rely on it to play games that require brisk reticle finessing, say I’m aiming a ballistic weapon in a frenetic shooter, but in others like Monster Hunter 4 and Majora’s Mask, where it’s employed to swivel the camera and eyeball the scenery as you maneuver an avatar through the world with the left joystick, it’s indispensable, and should be a system seller when Xenoblade Chronicles hits in April.

Better sounding sound

Nintendo isn’t advertising this one, but I think it’s noticeable enough to callout: the stereo speakers—now piped through five-point cross-shaped holes—sound notably louder and clearer than the ones on the older models. Did Nintendo include superior sound hardware (or algorithmic processing)? Or is it simply the size of the holes and/or the shape of the speakers? I have no idea, but something’s clearly different, and better.

The promise of future power

We’re taking Nintendo’s word here, but Nintendo of America CEO Reggie Fils-Aime claims the new 3DS’s leap over the old 3DS, power-wise, is tantamount to the 3DS’s processing leap over the DS. If the claim’s accurate, it’ll be a pretty serious bump, though all we’ve seen so far, game-wise, is preliminary video of Monster Games’s Xenoblade Chronicles port.

Nintendo says getting around the 3DS’s menus should also be faster. I haven’t done any comparison timing tests with my standard 3DS XL, but then interface speed never felt sluggish to me on the prior models.

The most tangible improvement? Download speeds. I had no idea how much data transfer from the eShop was hampered by the system itself in the older models, but the new system is wowsers fast, capable of pulling down 5,000-block files in a matter of minutes.

All the tiny but significant refinements

Want a battery that lasts slightly longer? An ambient light-sensitive backlight that automatically adjusts the screen brightness? Built-in amiibo and NFC wireless support, so you don’t have to buy an add-on peripheral? A web browser that can finally playback videos? A second set of shoulder buttons that mimic the secondary triggers on a gamepad? A volume slider that now sits comfortably on the lefthand side of the screen, parallel to the 3D one? All the activity indicator lights in one place? Easily depressible Start and Select buttons positioned where Start and Select buttons belong?

This is clearly the best version of Nintendo’s 3DS, in other words. If you’re into the games and the idea of two-screen gaming, this is without question the iteration to own. True, 3DS owners who’ve already paid hundreds of dollars have to fork out another $200, but when you consider what some people pay to upgrade smartphones or tablets annually—and as a mainstream gaming device, the 3DS leaves smartphones and tablets in the dust—it’s arguably a steal.

The arguments against buying one

You think stereoscopic 3D’s a gimmick

My regular 3DS XL’s 3D switch has been off pretty much since I bought it. I avoid 3D versions of films in theaters. I’ll never owned a stereoscopic 3D television. I have no interest in the current flavors of the technology’s crude, eye-straining, aesthetically pointless visual trickery. You can still disable the technology on the New Nintendo 3DS, but as a system-selling feature it’s still ironically the least interesting thing about the 3DS.

You’re waiting for a Nintendo handheld with a retinal display

The New Nintendo 3DS’s main screen still runs at the old 3DS’s 400 by 240 pixel resolution. On a nearly 5-inch screen, that’s pretty anemic, well below even the old NTSC standard (640 by 480 pixels) that games like Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask supported back in the 1990s. (By contrast, the PS Vita’s 5-inch screen has supported 960 by 544 pixels since 2011, and Apple’s 4.7-inch iPhone 6 runs up to 1334 by 750 pixels.)

It’s not a dealbreaker: games on the 3DS, new or old, look perfectly competent. But it’s past time Nintendo brought its handheld visuals up to par with industry trends. Imagine what a high-definition Nintendo handheld might do for the company’s coffers.

You hate glossy exteriors

My original Aqua Blue 3DS had a shiny, high-reflective finish. I didn’t mind because the non-black coloring mitigated visible fingerprint smudging. But I was happiest with the 3DS XL, which employed something nearer a matte finish, making it easier to grip and smudge-proof.

Not so the New Nintendo 3DS, which resurrects the old shellacked look in either red or black colors. Nintendo sent me the black model, so I can’t comment on whether the red finish mitigates fingerprint visibility, but the black model’s outsides look pretty grubby after extended use.

All the odd feature back-stepping

For instance: the New Nintendo 3DS doesn’t come with a separate AC adapter, though it’s compatible with any other 3DS adapter. The power button now weirdly sits on the bottom of the unit instead of on the interior lower half of the clamshell, which can lead to accidentally turning it on. It also trades SD for micro SD support and ships with a paltry 4GB card. Worse, a tiny screwdriver is required to remove the entire backplate just to access/change said card.

Of all the changes/subtractions, the removal of a hard “wireless off” switch and shifting of the stylus and game cartridge slot to the system’s underside make the most sense, but the rest—compromises based on form factor rejiggering, or in the adapter’s case, to keep the price at $200—leave a slightly sour taste.

You really wanted a non-XL option

The New Nintendo 3DS, which shipped in both basic and XL versions in Japan, is only available in XL sizing stateside. Getting specific, that’s a not insubstantial weight difference of 329 grams (XL) versus 253 grams (basic), and a proportions one of 6.3 inches by 3.68 inches by 0.85 inches (XL) versus 5.6 inches by 3.17 inches by 0.85 inches (basic).

Nintendo says it’s only selling the XL version stateside because that’s the version buyers prefer, and who am I to argue? (It’s certainly my preferred version.) It’s just a shame the market couldn’t accommodate the apparent minority looking for something a little lighter and more totable: the basic version was just barely pocketable; the XL definitely isn’t.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com