Video gaming is a seething, heaving morass of competing ideas, alien cultures, self-serving charlatanry and bouncy-house fun times. As the year wanes, it behooves us to recall the madness, malevolence and foolish motley of the past 12 months, to celebrate all that is weird.
After spending a long time wading through Polygon's news archives, we came back with the following 20 stories which we hope will paint a vivid portrait of gaming in these interesting times.
You may recollect some other events worthy of note. If so, please make full use of this story's comments section below. You can also read our round-up of the biggest game stories of 2015 here.
Nintendo hiring a new vice president of sales is not normally the sort of stuff that makes headlines, yet alone end-of-year round-ups.
But when that fellow is called Doug Bowser, all bets are off. Nintendo's press release said Bowser's name was "well-known in the Mushroom Kingdom" before going on to detail his resume and his educational achievements, all of which are moot next to the fact that his name is Bowser. Social media wits danced like wild koopas.
Behold the mighty work of one Yavin Four, who boasted of hauling in 3,600 kills and 50 green engrams while he slept.
He basically taped down the right bumper on his Xbox One controller, the one for a melee attack. He then feathered in the means of shooting while punching, and finally added a motor to move his thumbstick so the actions don't appear as a bot to Destiny's anti-cheat patrol.
"I started at level 16.5 yesterday afternoon, and reached 20 sometime while I was asleep," said Yavin Four, as he yawned and tucked into his Rice Krispies.
Rinse and Repeat, a cheeky first-person game set in a men's locker room was prohibited from Twitch live-streaming. Twitch's rules of conduct state that "nudity can't be a core focus or feature" of a streamed game. Rinse and Repeat's soap and suds gameplay fits that description, though its nudity is partially obscured by genital pixelations.
Robert Yang, the developer behind the steamy game, called Twitch's decision "fucking disgraceful," adding that Twitch allows streaming for plenty of games that feature nudity as well as some that revel in "unnecessary exploitative bullshit."
When Mortal Kombat fans demanded more information about the return of Kung Lao in Mortal Kombat X, series creator Ed Boon took to Twitter to promise them a "trailer" (pictured) dedicated entirely to the great Shaolin warrior. Who says game developers have an underdeveloped sense of humor?
In February, developer Paradox released some player stats for its strategy epic Crusader Kings 2 showing that one player had logged 10,500 hours with the game.
To put things into context, that chunk of time amounts to 437.5 days, or 40 percent of the total, actual, real time that had passed since the game's release, prior to the report. That person makes us all feel better about our own shameful time-logs, the precious hours that can never return.
In August, Time Magazine gave a cover over to virtual reality. Normally that would be great for the fledgling technology. Unfortunately, the images were a bit silly (see above). The story inside seemed to have been written by a person from the 1950s, slightly bemused by this odd new thing called technology. The story inspired mocking reactions and joke videos across social media.
As the United States wrestled over what public display, if any, is appropriate for the Confederate flag, Apple took the step of outright banning the image on its mobile games store. This came as an unpleasant surprise to the makers of games like Ultimate General: Gettysburg, which were suddenly unavailable for purchase.
Developer Game-Labs spent an anxious few days calling Apple before the game was restored. Game-Labs said it would not countenance removing the flag. "True stories are more important to us than money," thundered a company statement.
We've seen a fair smattering of weird payment models sweeping across gaming these past few years, but A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build's offer was a first. During a springtime promotion, the price for the game was set according to the weather.
Specifically, the daily price was fixed by the temperature in London at "teatime," which is around 5 p.m. local time. London temperatures vary a great deal at that time of day and year, but are generally around 9 degrees Celsius (that's in the high 40s in Fahrenheit) translating to a cost of $9 for the $12 game. Not exactly the deal of the year, but every penny counts. You could even call the modest savings "climate change."
Bryan Henderson is the man who won 22 Cans' much publicized Curiosity mobile game challenge, which the company's founder Peter Molyneux promised would feature a "life-changing" prize including a royalty check from the revenues of the game Godus.
In reality, Godus suffered all manner of development delays and disappointments. When Henderson was invited to visit the company, he found himself largely ignored by the team and definitely lacking in any promised cash. Molyneux — one of gaming's most famous figures — apologized and promised to do better in future.
Following the ensuing media frenzy, the once publicity-eager developer took himself out of the limelight, saying he was done with press interviews and, presumably, publicity stunts too.
Back in May, details of numerous materials seized during the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden's Pakistan residence were released. And it appears that some of the residents passed the time in the remote safe house by playing video games.
Listed among "documents probably used by other compound residents" was a game guide for Delta Force: Xtreme 2, a first-person shooter from California-based studio NovaLogic. A publication referred to as "Game Spot Videogame Guide" also appeared in the list, with no specific video game mentioned.
The archive only included documents like books, news articles, manuals and letters, so it's unclear if actual copies of Delta Force: Xtreme 2 or other games were found at the house.
For years, the never released "Nintendo Play Station" was viewed as the unicorn of gaming history. It was a prototype of a pre-PlayStation era deal between Nintendo and Sony, a deal that fell apart.
Only 200 of the consoles were said to have ever been made and all of them were ordered destroyed, back in the early '90s. But maintenance man Terry Diebold found one while clearing an abandoned office and, being somewhat of a hoarder, put it in his attic.
Years later his son Dan found the contraption, took some pictures and posted them on the internet. The internet, as you can imagine, took notice. It remains to be seen what the Diebold's will do with their treasure.
There were plenty of people cosplaying at Evo 2015 this year, but one of them attracted special notice. Hollywood star Jamie Lee Curtis was at the fighting game tournament, dressed as Street Fighter warrior Vega. The 56-year-old actor was attending as a high school graduation treat for her son.
Dreeps is a role-playing game for mobile phones. Like many RPGs, it features a cute character exploring an alien world, interacting with objects, talking to people and getting into battles.
The only major departure from standard norms is that, in this game, the player is not required to offer any input. The game just plays itself. You, the player, make no contribution whatsoever, above and beyond turning the game on.
The game's designer says Dreeps' main function is to act as an alarm clock. Players can check in on progress when they are awoken, or any time really.
At a behind closed doors Gamescom demo event, various attendants managed to secretly film some pre-release Fallout 4 footage, smuggle the stuff out and post it on the internet.
But just as soon as clips popped up online, they were stamped out by Fallout publisher Bethesda. Except one. Video footage was posted onto porn site Pornhub and has stayed there ever since, garnering hundreds of thousands of page views.
Porn sites are becoming favored hosts for bootlegged video game material, while other mainstream hosts become more compliant at dealing with official complaints and take-down notices.
In 2014, Twitch commenters used collective text commands to beat the original Pokemon on GameBoy. In 2015, they went way, way further, taking on the notoriously difficult combat game Dark Souls.
Twitch users managed to beat the game by inputting a command and then pausing the game, before the next person made a move. It took 43 days for the game to be defeated.
A British bookmaker set odds on esports coming to the Olympics. Online bookie Betway laid 49-to-1 odds that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive would be included in the 2030 Winter Olympics. Dota 2 was 79-to-1 to make the Olympics, Hearthstone was 99-to-1, and even World of Tanks was on the board, at 499-to-1.
Those who ordered the Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain special edition PlayStation 4 got a typo in the bargain. The console came decked out in a Metal Gear Solid 5 color theme, with text meant to resemble the stenciling on a fuselage or piece of equipment.
The text cautions the user not to use "molybdeum lubrication." The actual element (No. 42 on your periodic table) is spelled "molybdenum." To be fair, it's not the most common noun in the English language. The error may even increase the value of the collectible.
Video games marketers are sometimes known for thoughtless, face-slapping ideas. This year's dumbest stunt came from Treyarch for a Call of Duty Twitter campaign.
In September, an account called "Current Events Aggregate" started posting news of an explosion in Singapore. It was the first in a series of updates on the increasingly dire situation. The account seemed to have the story exclusively. Except it wasn't real news. Nothing out of the ordinary was happening in Singapore.
The whole thing was fiction related to Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. Following general uproar at the stupidity of this campaign, it was swiftly dropped. Treyarch later apologized.
An esports writer and a prominent professional gamer were involved in a backstage fight at DreamHack Winter 2015, in Sweden. Organizers acknowledged that Jonathan "Loda" Berg, a Dota 2 pro, (pictured above, right) and Richard Lewis of Breitbart (pictured above, left) were involved "in a verbal dispute that escalated into a physical confrontation." Lewis and Berg later took to social media to accuse each other of being the aggressor.
When an 11-year-old boy handed over control to his Destiny game to an older friend-of-a-friend — via PlayStation 4's Share Play feature — he was under the impression the older boy would offer up some useful progress aid.
In fact, the 17-year-old would-be Good Samaritan deleted the kid's advanced save games and characters, including a level 31 Warlock and a level 26 Titan.
"I thought it would be funny," said the malefactor when he was tracked down by a reporter. His advice to the distraught kid was to "suck it up and move on with life." I'm sure we all wish that person a very Merry Christmas.