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USgamer in Review

In honor of 2017 concluding, we've picked out our favorite stories we've done from the past year.

Feature by Kat Bailey, .

It's been a great year for USgamer. It's also been a year of transition.

Back in January I formally took the reins from my mentor Jeremy Parish. In the months that followed, I hired Caty McCarthy and Matt Kim in San Francisco, and Tom Orry and Hirun Cryer in the UK. With Jaz leaving at the end of April, more than half our team was turned over in the span of just four months.

While all this was happening, gaming was moving faster than ever. The Switch exploded on to the scene with Breath of the Wild—possibly the best Zelda game ever made (if not, it's in the conversation). EA shot itself in the foot with the Mass Effect Andromeda (a precursor for things to come). And we… uh… didn't like Horizon Zero Dawn very much.

We survived this trial by fire, and our team really came together at E3 2017. The latter half the year saw a host of great features from Caty (this Mortal Kombat retrospective is a particular favorite of mine); Matt's maturation into a great breaking news writer, and the revival of our flagship podcast. Nadia and Mike also continued to bring their own unique qualities to the team. Mike works harder than anyone I've ever seen—I'm not entirely certain that dude sleeps—while Nadia is also the funniest and one of the most passionate writers at any gaming publication anywhere. Paired with the tireless work of Tom and Hirun on the guides side, we were able to see record traffic through the fall. November 2017 was our best month ever.

I'm proud of what this team has accomplished, and I'm excited for what the new year holds. Until then, here are some of our favorite articles from throughout 2017. Please enjoy, and thank you for your continued support of USgamer.

Kat Bailey Editor-in-Chief

When you take over as Editor-in-Chief, you naturally have a lot less time for writing. Nevertheless, I pitched in as best I could around the topic that I love most: RPGs. I interviewed Katsura Hashino, Josh Sawyer, and Toshiro Kondo. On top of that I revisited the early days of StarCraft with Blizzard's Bob Fitch while railing against the assertion that Skyrim is the best RPG ever made.

With a very capable team now in place, I will be increasingly stepping behind the curtain as Caty, Nadia, Mike, and Matt capably handle the day-to-day of the editorial. But I'm nevertheless proud of my exploration of the final days of Black Isle Studios; my dive into Chrono Trigger via Axe of the Blood God, and my in-depth Fallout: New Vegas retrospective. I may be busy playing manager, but I hope I can find some time to hit that standard again in 2018.

Mike Williams Reviews Editor

I am the oldest USgamer staffer. Not the oldest in terms of age, but I'm the only one on the current team who was here when we kicked this thing off. Jaz, Jeremy, Cass, Pete, and Bob; everyone else has moved on to some other success. I started as an Associate Editor, then Staff Writer, then News Editor. Currently, I'm USgamer's Reviews Editor.

I've always taken it as a personal failing that I'm not more of an emotive writer. This was true since the site's launch and it remains true today. I was originally a news guy over at Gamesindustry.biz and before that I was a Technical Writer. I don't really have Kat's strong conviction, Caty's panache for storytelling, Nadia's quick wit, or Matt's way with words. I am more robot than man; my strengths tend to lean towards explanations and context.

My chosen articles largely reflect this, all being some flavor of "This is a thing that happened, this is why it matters." My lack of more emotional content is something I'm always trying to correct, but it's more of a process. The emotions I do have tend to come out on The USgamer Podcast and USgamer Lunch Hour streams, so I'm not all dead inside.

All in all, it's almost 2018 and I get paid to write about video games. I'd say that means I have a pretty good life. I hope I can continue to provide you folks joy and context in the new year.

Nadia Oxford Staff Writer

It's been my absolute pleasure to be with USgamer for another year. We grew tremendously over 2017, and much of that is owed to our EiC, Kat. She fell into the role as smoothly as an anvil falling onto the Coyote's head.

(I'm not an editor, which means I'm still allowed to write shudder-inducing similes. I know I shouldn't, but I can't help myself.)

My role at USgamer is a tad blurry; I do a little bit of everything, from reviews to opinions to news and the podcasts. My undefined role at the site let me branch out and write some fun stuff. I wrote a piece about Night in the Woods' clash of generations that's become increasingly relevant as Millennials continue to struggle for a foothold. I struck a lot of nerves with my piece about Pyra from Xenoblade, and I did my duty to society by untangling the Five Nights at Freddy's lore. That is getting a massive update after the holidays, by the way, since Five Nights at Freddy's 6 changed up the lore again (and actually tied up some loose ends), but I still think it's a fun piece, and I enjoyed writing it.

Finally, two particularly big projects I took on this year: I reviewed every game on the SNES Classic Edition (barring Super Metroid, which was reviewed by Mr Parish), and I covered the Nintendo World Championships in New York City.

Great times. Thank you for following us. Have an incredible holiday, and see you in 2018!

Matt Kim News Editor

This is my first year with USgamer so there was bound to be some exploration regarding my role at this website and what I could contribute. As the resident news guy, I moved away from the features and essays I built my writing career on and pivoted towards more investigative pieces of reporting.

As such, I collected five articles I'm particularly proud of this year and hope to bring you more of next year. They include in-depth dives into community stories like my report on Japanese developer Kotori Yoshimura, or the schism that split Epic's Fortnite community in two. There's also serious matters such as the layoffs at Telltale, which I believe is important for us to cover as games journalists to help establish a strong and independent games press.

There are also opportunities for fun little tidbits. My interview at BlizzCon with the Overwatch dev team unearthed some fun in-universe canons. And I got to preview Rainbow Six Siege, a game I wasn't very familiar with, from a personal perspective.

Here's to 2018 and more great articles from all of us at USgamer.

Caty McCarthy Staff Writer

Choosing just five pieces that I was proud of from this year was a grueling task, which I should take as a good thing. My "honorable mentions" includes about ten more stories, including talking to game designer Robert Yang about coding games progressively, writing a three-part series on Tokyo Jungle about five years too late, penning a fevered defense of Persona 3's Tartarus, accidentally stumbling upon an in-production game with a stellar team behind it (including artist Travis Millard and the creator of the cartoon Sanjay and Craig) on Instagram and tracking down its well-known creators, researching the VR revival of Kowloon's Gate knowing it will never be localized. And wow, I could go on.

Overall, this has been a really exciting year for me. I left my bad job (I won't dwell on that), and Kat descended like an angel in my time of need out of nowhere. It felt like fate, honestly.

Out of all the stories I wrote this year, the five listed above are my absolute favorites. In October, I tracked down (most) of the actors behind the original Mortal Kombat, only to discover they were once a tight knit group of friends who played D&D before becoming fighting game superstars. Around the release of Sonic Mania, I spoke with a bunch of creative Sonic fans to learn what kept the fandom so alive over the years, even in the face of critically panned games. I wrote about Nier: Automata, my favorite game of the year, extensively; my favorite piece of them was the one above. I spoke with PlayerUnknown himself over Skype, and after my original very-cool plan to play PUBG and report on our adventure together fell through (he said it might be hard to actually chat while doing that; and to be fair, it really would have), we instead talked about the game's pointed inspiration: the film Battle Royale.

Yet my absolute favorite story I did this year was one of the ones I worked the longest on. While I was playing Persona 5, I saw myself researching a lot about the conflicts that were happening in it, only to find they paralleled a lot of real-life issues in Japan. I saw a friend tweeting about the similarities too, which led me on one of the biggest research tasks of my career. My original (and very rough) draft for "The Real World Problems Behind Persona 5" was around 8,000 words. Luckily, editing saved it and made it focused. I'm probably the worst offender of being my own worst critic, but even months later, I'm actually still pretty proud of that one. (I can hear it now, somewhere out there Kendrick Lamar is saying, "Bitch, be humble.")

I look forward to expanding my role both in writing and helping curate features for USgamer in 2018, and I'm very excited about what's on the horizon! Happy new year everyone, and thanks for reading!

A toast from us and our favorite white wolf.

A Special Thanks to Our Freelancers

About half way through the year, I stepped forward to help out Kat in handling freelance stuff. That meant receiving pitches, discussing articles, doubling down on edits. We're a small site here at USgamer, with an even smaller capacity for freelance pieces. That means we have to be very choosy, and luckily, it hasn't failed us this far: this has been an amazing year for freelance contributors on the site. Whether it was saying hi to old, familiar faces or bringing in new voices, I hope that USgamer can only grow as an outlet for freelancers to turn to in 2018. After all, I was in those same shoes not long ago. Keep kickin' ass freelancers, whether you've written for our site yet or not, you all rule.

Here's just a small selection of the great freelance stories we published this year, from our old friend and former Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Parish contributing a great ongoing series called Design in Action, to new voices writing for the site for the first time like Nicole Carpenter and Blake Hester. It was a great year for USgamer and growing our ever-increasing freelance pool, and we only hope it gets bigger in 2018.

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Comments 15

  • Avatar for moochan #1 moochan A month ago
    Of all the weird stuff that happened this year happy on the gaming side things seem to look bright. Happy you guys all seem to have a good time digging in and writing about things you enjoy. Guess three cheers for a successful year and one more for next year.
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #2 cldmstrsn A month ago
    Still the best games site on the internet. I start my day and basically end my day with USGamer. Thanks for a great year and I know 2018 will have some fun surprises and great commentary from the community. Happy Holidays and a Merry New Year!
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #3 VotesForCows A month ago
    You guys are all the best, and the new staff membera have really improved what you're offering here. Still the only website that I read the majority of the available articles every day. I'm so impressed that the standard has stayed so high all these years.

    Hope you all have a great break!

    PS Mike - I'd say I speak for most readers when I say your writing is great just the way it is. Which is not to say you shouldn't follow your own inclination to grow and develop it ☺
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  • Avatar for LunarFlame17 #4 LunarFlame17 A month ago
    USGamer is easily my favorite website, and one of only 4 that I make sure to check on a daily basis. You guys are awesome, and keep on doing what you do!
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  • Avatar for TheEndless #5 TheEndless A month ago
    Congrats on the success. However, I've noticed a decline in this site's overall quality. I've been coming to USgamer since nearly the beginning, and I come here every week day because I can expect quality previews, reviews, interviews and retrospectives, and while I can still get those (kudos to the Black Isle and Neversoft interviews), they're fewer in number.

    The bigger problem, by far, is the increase in clickbait-style headlines (Skyrim's not the best RPG ever!), the occasional bout of pessimism in lieu of introspection (I remember reading a piece about Golden Sun on a Starting Screen article that was disproportionately negative, considering that it's a gateway RPG duology that saw modest success on the GBA) and the increase in news articles instead of the think pieces I like to read. It's clearly shown with how viewership has increased, but personally, I don't like it. If I wanted to see clickbait and pessimism, I browse Reddit and Youtube on the daily.

    If there's any advice I can give, it's the following: show some more positivity when writing about something you don't like, try not to use as much clickbait to attract new viewers and research your news articles. The content on the Battlefront controversy could have had a note that showed that the "40 hours to unlock Luke/Vader" claim wasn't rooted in fault.

    Other than that, good luck in the next year. I'll still be coming and the site's still been good even with my misgivings.

    P.S. Mike, if you read this, just know that I do appreciate your articles and you do have a human element and nuance in your writing that I appreciate. My go-to example is your article about fanservice in Overwatch and how insightful it was. You're professional and you add a personal touch without making an ostensibly professional article become your blog piece.
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  • Avatar for Daikaiju #6 Daikaiju A month ago
    Great year for US Gamer. Onward into the new year!
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #7 MHWilliams A month ago
    @TheEndless Why thank you! (The +1 is from me.)
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  • Avatar for docexe #8 docexe A month ago
    Still one of my favorite gaming sites. I wish you all the best.
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  • Avatar for Fallout2 #9 Fallout2 A month ago
    Mike, someone needs to look into the facts with cold rationality and remind the world Divinity OS 2 is a top flight game. Seriously, it's always a pleasure seeing your tagline.

    Happy holidays everyone!
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  • Avatar for mattcom26 #10 mattcom26 30 days ago
    Very happy to hear the site has done well lately. The new folks who joined in 2017 are great fits, and considering it’s a small team still bring a well-rounded range of opinions and specialties. A good “party” if you will. Also, I couldn’t agree more that Nadia is the funniest games writer I’ve read anywhere. The Mortal Kombat feature was definitely one of my favorites of the year. The rebooted podcast is fantastic... I didn’t think I could possibly fit one more podcast into my life but now consider this one a must-listen. I’m sure 2018 will be just as great!
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  • Avatar for StJudasOfSleep #11 StJudasOfSleep 29 days ago
    Best video game site on the net in 2017. Keep up the good work!
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  • Avatar for WiegrafFolles #12 WiegrafFolles 29 days ago
    I really had my doubts about the site in the mid-year where there seemed to be a drop in article quality, but you all turned it around with style. I especially am glad the flagship podcast is back! Looking forward to another year of your coverage!
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  • Avatar for Nuclear-Vomit #13 Nuclear-Vomit 27 days ago
    Great Job everyone! I nominate Nadia Oxford for MVP of 2017. Keep those awesome captions coming.
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  • Avatar for LeviTheGood #14 LeviTheGood 27 days ago
    I've really enjoyed the content this year. Some excellent stories, reviews, and great podcasts. Keep up the great work everyone. Looking forward to 2018!
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  • Avatar for IPA #15 IPA 25 days ago
    Bring back Parish!

    (Smash that minus button at your leisure.)
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