The biggest gaming surprises of 2012

It doesn’t matter how closely you follow the news or how often you refresh your browser; some companies can still manage to catch the gaming public completely unaware. Here are some of our picks for the biggest surprises of 2012.

MAGFest: A long weekend of games, music, and heavy drinking (interview)

Nick “the newibe” Marinelli talks MAGFest: a long weekend of playing the Atari 2600 all the way through the PlayStation 3, listening to bands like Minibosses and Earthbound Papas, cosplaying, attempting game challenges, watching discussion panels featuring Sid Meier and Chris Hazard, and drinking with abandon.

Kids and video games: Why children should play more

Parents, politicians, and educators often criticize video games as a waste of time that distract kids from healthier activities such as school, outdoor play, sports, and community service. Just one problem: Research is quickly proving the theory wrong and illustrating that gaming can be a beneficial and well-rounded part of a healthy, balanced media diet. Moreover, due to their interactivity, at odds with passive mediums such as television, kids’ video games can actually be one of today’s most powerful tools for sparking learning and creativity.

With fifth version, Civilization is still the best board game on the computer (review)

Whenever a new version of Civilization hits the PC, productivity goes down around the world. That’s the case with Sid Meier’s Civilization V, the new game developed by Firaxis Games and published by the 2K Games unit of Take-Two Interactive. It’s sort of like playing the board game Risk on your computer, but with many more sophisticated nuances and more strategic considerations to think through.