The Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition 2016 is a bit of a strange thing.
Some of you may remember that I wasn’t very kind about the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition 2016, or MineCon 2015 for that matter, in a news item earlier in the year.
The fact that MineCon itself set a new record for the most attended single-game event ever – a thoroughly impressive ten thousand – was pretty awesome, but some of the other records were a bit low-key and specific; like the most cobblestones collected in three minutes on Minecraft Pocket Edition.
The folks at Guinness heard about my ranting and raving, and offered to send me something to try and change my mind. Alas, it wasn’t a year’s supply of Dublin’s finest: It was a review copy of the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition 2016, in the hopes that reading the whole thing – not just hearing about a few specific records in isolation – might bring me round on the idea.
Our review copy of the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition 2016 turned up, several weeks prior to the book’s release. We read it a couple of times and to be fair it’s nicely put together and fairly entertaining, so I started prepping some notes to write a review for release week.
Then I lost it. Misplaced. Mislaid. I couldn’t find it. Anywhere.
I looked high and low, but I couldn’t lay my hands on our review copy of the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition 2016, no matter how hard I tried. I checked back to my notes, and they were sadly incomplete.
To write a review based on a few scraps of paper and some shreds of information I could vaguely remember (on a book ostensibly filled with facts) would’ve been a bit of a dick move; it wouldn’t have been fair to the folks who put the book together, and we wouldn’t have been happy running it.
Then this morning, it turned up, as if by magic!
If only the book could talk, and tell of the adventures it had been on and the sights it had seen! One can only presume it has been travelling through an alternate dimension (because we sure as hell couldn’t find it in this one) but the important thing is that it’s back, and we can pick up where we left off.
The Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition 2016 is 215 pages of high-colour, high-impact design. It’s crammed to the gills with screenshots, box art, character models and people in cosplay – more on that later – and if you can find a solid paragraph of text on a flat white background, you’re looking far harder than I am.
I’ll confess, I haven’t read a standard-issue Guinness World Records book in a long time, but I remember them being a lot more staid and structured than this – like an encyclopedia with pictures – whereas the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition 2016 feels more like a teenage annual from my youth; those glossy super-magazines that are trotted out as Christmas gifts for fans of whatever band or artist is popular at the time.
The feeling of an annual continues when you flip through the content. In largely alphabetical order, the book is split into sections per game (or in some cases, sections of ‘things’ like controllers or eSports) with most games or ‘things’ getting 2-page spread. A few games get more coverage than a single spread – like Halo or the Legend of Zelda – but there’s one game which gets far more coverage than anything else: Minecraft.
There is a whopping 22-page section dedicated solely to Minecraft – that’s ten percent of the entire book – and for a while, you can forget you’re reading a generalist gaming book and think you’ve stumbled into the Minecraft Annual 2016.
I understand why they’ve dedicated a big section to Minecraft, I really do – it’s the biggest-selling, most popular game in the world that you can literally do anything you bloody well please in it, so the potential for setting new records is essentially endless – but it does make the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition 2016 feel a little too far off-balance for me.
Speaking of the potential for records, the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition 2016 isn’t strictly a Bible of the pinnacle of gaming achievement by the players. In amongst the obligatory feats of digital derring-do – speed-runs, high-scores, biggest winners and highest earners – are a bunch of statistics, facts and figures that couldn’t strictly be called records.
Taking an early two-page spread as an example, let’s look at Borderlands: You’ve got the fastest completion records for the three games in the series thus far, which makes sense in the context of a record book; but you’ve also got the factoids that 29% of players chose Axton in Borderlands 2, and that Wilhelm (having previously been a baddie in Borderlands 2) is the first playable antagonist in Borderlands: The Pre Sequel.
Flip on a couple of pages and we can see the same thing on Destiny’s spread: You’ve got the (obligatory) record that Destiny is the largest budget for a first-person shooter, and even the first solo completion of the Crota’s End raid solo without firing a single round; these are nestled in amongst the factoids that only 3.37% of players have unlocked the Guardian Lord trophy, and that the most popular primary weapon is the scout rifle Vision of Confluence.
Admittedly some of these factoids are interesting, but they’re hardly record-worthy. There’s also game summaries, sales charts, timelines, and even ‘did you know?’ and ‘tips ‘n’ tricks’ sections… but to be fair, the book probably would’ve been a bit dull if it was just high scores and speed-runs – particularly as not all of those are entirely that impressive either.
While for example completing Fallout 3 in 18 minutes 53 seconds is ludicrously impressive, and so is completing Ocarina of Time in a measly 17 minutes 55 seconds for that matter, toppling Assassin’s Creed II in 5 hours 42 minutes is frankly just a bit dull.
Yes, in order to achieve those times in Fallout 3 and Ocarina of Time you need to be able to exploit flaws in the game’s design – like being able to move faster backwards than forwards in Ocarina of Time, or utilising glitches or warps to miss out major sections of the game – and I’m sure Assassin’s Creed II in under 6 hours is very impressive in a generally doing-it-properly sense; but unless you’ve played a game to such destruction that you can bend the very laws of physics themselves to get your speed-run time so ludicrous as to make me spit out my tea, then I’m really not that interested.
And achieving some of these lesser records is certainly no justification for the cosplay assault you have to suffer while reading through the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition 2016. A couple of them are quite good, but others… well, see for yourselves…
Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition 2016: In Summary
The Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition 2016 is nicely put together, and it’s certainly interesting to flick through. While it’s attractively presented – cosplay aside – it’s unfortunately not quite grown up enough to be a coffee table book, but would make a better gift than an annual for a gaming fan. Particularly if they like Minecraft.