The Game Guy

Where would video games be without humans’ competitive nature?  Single player games like Mass Effect, Assassins Creed and Farmville may remain popular, but one could argue that competitive video games account for the majority of the industry’s success.  With head-to-head, team-based games like Call of Duty, Starcraft and Halo throwing up gargantuan sales numbers it would be difficult to argue otherwise.  These days, competent multiplayer modes can make or break new titles.

So, in honor of our incessant need for superiority, here is my list of the greatest 1-on-1 competitive video games.  Some of them take meticulous planning, others require pinpoint accuracy and precision, but all require countless hours of practice to achieve mastery.  Two gamers enter, one leaves….

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It’s been a painfully slow week, not only for gaming news, but for releases too.  In lieu of a review this week, I thought I’d give you a glimpse into my favorite games.

I wish I could compose a list of every video game I’ve ever played.  A friend once asked me how many movies I think I’ve seen in my lifetime.  My quick response was, “Hmm, probably around 200?” Then, while working at an internship where the workload ranged from slow to nonexistent, I took it upon myself to attempt to create such a list.

I came up with a list of about 400 movies after spending hours clicking on links on IMDB and some from the top of my head.  Then my list stalled.  I knew there were too many out there, too many obscure titles that I would never remember or stumble upon again.

Since I write about video games, a complete list of games I’ve played would be much less - shall I say - gratuitous than my movie list.  Unfortunately for me, there is no site for video games that is as definitive as IMDB.  Instead of a full list, I’ll have to settle for posting a much smaller list on video games; my list of personal favorites.

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It was Independence Day and family was celebrating the birth of the nation.  After the deliciously grilled American cuisine, it was time to casually catch up with friends and family.  But there was something different this year: It was quiet.  The younger celebrants whose ages ranged anywhere from 19 to 32 were buried in their smart phones.  We weren’t performing the usual antisocial deeds like checking Facebook, Twitter, or the baseball scores on ESPN.  We were playing Zynga’s newest games, and we were playing each other.

Zynga is quickly carrying out its plan for world domination, or at the very least casual game domination.  Nintendo dreams that families play the Wii as much as people play Farmville, Mafia Wars, and Words With Friends. 

The company’s progress has been nothing short of staggering.  When founded in 2007, it began with four developers.  Three years later, Zynga now has over 1,000 employees.  It has acquired over ten companies since its foundation.  Farmville, the company’s earliest goldmine, was popularized on Facebook and currently has at least 10 percent of the 600 million-plus Facebook users having played it at least one time. 

Zynga continues to thrive in the video game world with an incredible business model of completely free-to-play games.  You can download ad-supported versions of Words with Friends and Hanging with Friends for nothing.  If you hate ads, the ad-free version is two dollars. 

The Zynga Facebook games are also free to play, but you can get better items if you pay a buck or two for microtransactions. 

Now, Zynga’s sights are set on the mobile market with Words With Friends (the company’s take on scrabble) and Hanging With Friends (competitive hangman) for the iOS. 

Hanging With Friends is the newest addiction to come to mobile phones.  If you’ve ever played a simple game of hangman, you know how to play Hanging With Friends.  Zynga developers spice up the game with quirky graphics, as well as lifelines in case you’re stuck on your friend’s word.

You can play up to 20 games simultaneously with different friends. And its best feature? There’s no timer.  The developers understand that life is busy with family, typical occurrences, and – most often – a job.  Words with Friends and Hanging With Friends let you play your turn whenever you’re ready. 

The common board game has evolved along with our phones, and Zynga is leading the charge of developing the games of tomorrow.  If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, check out the many games that Zynga has to offer.  If you have any free time at all, you won’t after you download one of these games.  Based on its incredible fun-factor and its nonexistent price tag, Hanging With Friends is a must-play.


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It’s free demo time once again on the PSN and Xbox Live Marketplace.  If you’re not into seeing a sneak peek of upcoming games for free, well then what exactly are you into?

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Transformers: Dark of the Moon bucks the trend of games based on movies being horrible.  Dark of the Moon succeeds where almost all games in this category fail so conclusively.    

The Transformers name finally gained some street cred in the gaming world with last year’s War for Cybertron.  It was the first time a Transformers video game didn’t disappoint its loyal fan base.  Dark of the Moon was developed by High Moon Studios, the same company that worked on War for Cybertron, but Dark of the Moon isn’t a sequel.  While War for Cybertron focused on character designs from the comics, the characters in Dark of the Moon are based on the likenesses of the movie series.    

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