A Week in the Life of a 41-Year-Old Gamer: July 8-14, 2016


The Best Week in the History of Gaming

On May 18, 2010, Red Dead Redemption released on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Only five days later, on May 23, Super Mario Galaxy 2 debuted on Wii. This makes May 17-23, 2010 the greatest single week in video games. Both games made Edge Magazine’s “Top 100 Games of All Time” list (at #14 and #7, respectively). Both age beautifully.

Thanks to Xbox One’s backwards compatibility, I was able to jump back into Red Dead Redemption, purchasing the game digitally for a little more than the price of a cup of coffee. Given that there has never been a PC release, Xbox One is now the best way to experience the game, according to Eurogamer. You get a more stable frame rate.


Like few other games, Red Dead Redemption envelops players in a fully realized space. The wild west feels open and endless. Towns feel cozy and lived-in. Folks pass by with interesting things to say; they tempt you with booze, gambling and the comforts of paid companionship. Friends are kind and caring, and they quickly make you feel like you are part of a small family.

Unlike so many adventure games, the hero is not a voiceless cipher. John Marsten is a sympathetic figure who sticks to a clearly defined code of ethics, but is paradoxically willing to resort to murder when it’s called for. He’s a family man. He loves his wife and kids, and cares about his brother, who has become a dangerous criminal.reddead2

Battles use the same cover mechanic that is employed by nearly every third-person action game, and the snap-to reticule is even more generous than the one in Call of Duty. So nothing innovative there, but battles are fun and satisfying, and the game never forgets that the real joy is found by getting on your horse and making your way through the frontier. It’s all about the journey.

red dead 2

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is perhaps the greatest game ever made, in my not-so-humble opinion. Every ten minutes, the game introduces a mechanic that’s so fun, it could sustain an entire game… and then they throw it away and give you something new. It’s a wellspring of terrific ideas, brought to life by the best development team on Earth, Nintendo EAD. The recent Super Mario 3D World was a fun multi-player game, but it can’t hold a candle to the single-player Super Mario Galaxy 2. The pacing, mechanics, and aesthetic in SMG2 are perfect.


When the week of May 17 passed, I don’t think anyone realized that they just experienced the industry’s most important seven days. Since then, the market landscape has changed dramatically. We’ve seen a lot of innovations disrupt the market, both exciting (VR) and depressing (unlimited spend models). New audiences have risen up, and development dollars are no longer strictly targeting novelty seekers. The dialogue about quality in games has become less pronounced. Back in 2010, publishers were focusing on making the best, most entertaining games possible, so they could get a good Metacritic score. That would help ensure strong sales. Now, it seems that few in the industry want to talk about quality… most only want to talk about habituation and monetization. Investors want service games that can wring an endless stream of dollars from dedicated (i.e. addicted) players. mario2

But here is the good news: neither Red Dead Redemption or Super Mario Galaxy 2 can ever be “sunset”. They will live forever, thanks to the lasting power of physical media. So while data-driven junk like Game of War: Fire Age will come and go, the best games on Earth will be readily available for the rest of our lives.


  1. Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360): $7.99
  2. Undead Nightmare (Xbox 360): $9.99

Total YTD: $1,231.96


  1. Mirror’s Edge Catlyst (Xbox One): 2h 49m
  2. Runner 2: Secret Legend of Rhythm Alien (Vita): 1h 16m
  3. Severed (Vita): 2h 10m
  4. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii): 3h 14m
  5. Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360): 2h 26m

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