GeekOut

What is a 'gamer' in 2011?

The word "gamer" was more prevalent than ever in our lexicon this year.

Zachary Levi recently chimed in with his theory that everyone is a gamer at some level.

CNN Geek Out recently spoke to hardcore gamer Morgan Webb, host of “X-Play” on G4, and asked her what it means to be a gamer and about the state of gaming in 2011.

“Unfortunately, it is a more confusing word now because there are so many different types of games and so many people playing games from on their cell phones, or on Facebook, or on many other things," she said.

"The word encompasses so many different groups, so it doesn’t really mean as much as it used to. I call myself a gamer, but someone’s mom who plays ‘Farmville’ all the time, maybe she calls herself a gamer too, and she should, because she is. I think we need words to start differentiating the subgroups.”

Webb got into gaming well before "Farmville," of course. Her first console was an Atari 2600, where she played “Combat” and “Plaque Attack” for hours on end. She is also an avowed fanatic when it comes to the “Centipede” arcade game.
Below, more of our chat with Webb about the year in gaming.

CNN Geek Out: This was a year for sequels. Every major title that came out had a number after it. Why is that?

Webb: We’re nearly at the end of a console cycle, so series that have begun at the beginning of the console cycle, they’re starting to finish up the series. People have made the investment in the franchise and they’ve got the art together and they don’t want to create something completely new when new consoles are starting to be on the horizon.

CNN Geek Out: Were there any games that surprised you this year?

Webb: "LA Noire" from Rockstar. Rockstar traditionally makes very good games, but we were surprised and delighted that the game had a very different perspective on the traditional "Grand Theft Auto"-style open world game. That was a great surprise and a great game.

Geek Out: What’s going to be different in the next generation of consoles?

Webb: I think they are going to have a lot of cloud functionality. You’ll be able to play games on the cloud. You’ll definitely be able to have saves on the cloud. They’re going to start transitioning people off of discs. That doesn’t mean they aren’t going to have disc drives because they are. But we’re going to start having consoles with big hard drives that you can gather those games because you’re going to have much better bandwidth. You’re going to be able to download those games more often. They’re going to want to start that transition and start cutting out the actual game stores just like how book stores have been cut out from books. On the gaming side, we going to see very powerful graphics cards and we’re going to see very powerful processors. They’re going to be very powerful computers that are going to sit next to your television and they’re going to be very good prices for what you are going to get.

CNN Geek Out: With the Wii U and the PlayStation Vita coming out next year, is this where we are headed with more motion controls and less button pushing in gaming?

Webb: I think there is room for both. Core gamers - the hardcore gamers who play games like "Gears of War," "Call of Duty," "Assassin's Creed" and Skyrim" - that gamer is definitely more interested in using a controller for a lot of their experiences. The problem is that [with] the [PlayStation] Move, these motion experiences aren’t nuanced enough to actually give the player as much control as they would have with a [regular] controller. For example, if you are swinging a sword on a Wii game, you slash to the right and it does a right slash or slash to the left and it does a left slash, but it doesn’t really track or there is no skill involved. Now you are just standing up there making slashing motions for three hours.

CNN Geek Out: Are the console wars still alive or has the battle moved to specific game titles?

Webb: I think there are people on the Internet who sit there and decide that everything on the PlayStation is awesome and everything on the Xbox is awful and people who think that everything on the Xbox is great and everything on the PS3 is terrible. We call those people trolls. People become emotionally invested in the console they purchase, so that’s the reason they get so attached to it. I think in general most people are saying, "Hey, I have an Xbox and I like it, and lots of good games come out for both consoles." Each console has their exclusives and they are great exclusives on each. The Wii tends to have fewer rabid proponents because it tends to aim for a more casual audience.

While Webb would not name her 2011 Game of the Year, she did have some recommendations that players should pick up if they can:

“The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” – “You have adventures in this world that is very living and you have hundreds and thousands of choices you make and it all seamlessly works together.”

“Uncharted 3” – “This is what we want the ‘Indiana Jones’ movies to be. You are living and playing that ‘Indiana Jones’ treasure hunting experience.”

“Resistance 3” – “A little off the beaten path. It has funky, over-the-top weapons, but funny weapons, weird crazy weapons that you aren’t going to see anywhere else.”

“Saints Row The Third” – “A GTA style game that is hilarious and over-the-top and crazy. Not for kids!”

“Portal 2” – “There are some great puzzles in there.”

Click here for more of CNN's coverage of gaming in 2011.